Is man capable of seeking God directly in this world? The Bible reveals that man fell off the grace of God when Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were both driven out of the garden of Eden and from the presence of God, and the way to the tree of life was forever shut: “Jehovah God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he put forth his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…’ Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed Cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:22-24).
But the question remains: Can man seek God freely on his own will? It seems like he cannot, for the Bible says: “For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 3:22-24). Man is under an evil power, and, therefore, unable to seek God: “You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). If all creation is subjected to an evil power, it is not God who is in charge, but the evil one; and God is not in this world.
We insist on the question: Can man seek God, or cannot he? He cannot, for man is subjected to Satan and has to be set free. Jesus designated the apostle Paul and sent him to the Gentiles to preach, saying: “To open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Jesus)” (Acts 26:18).
But men in all ages in history and in all nations insist on seeking God. Will they find him? Will they meet him? Will they receive from God anything? It is impossible for men to seek God, for they are all condemned. Condemned to bad weather, windstorms, hurricanes, blasting tornados; condemned to die of cancer, black death, aids, strokes, ulcers, flues, venereal diseases, rheumatism, arthrosis, bursitis, syphilis, Down Syndrome, and others, such as madness, paranoia, psychosis, schizophrenia, and hundreds of other sicknesses of body and mind. Hospitals and pharmacies abound. Men are condemned to experience hunger, as 90% of the world population is poor; humanity is condemned to the drug traffic: cocaine, marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol. The distressed fathers take their tender children to school, and they come home addicted. What tragedies penetrate the homes because of drugs! We are condemned to wars that wreck the souls, to monstrous terrorism, condemned to robberies, thefts, armed robbery, slavery, and homicides. There is the traffic of children, of women, of human organs, of influence. If God could be reached by men, certainly the chaos would be less pervasive. And the end of this unhappy journey of the human being is the inexorable death, to which he is condemned.
Men cannot seek God directly because they are dead, and God is not a God of the dead. The prophet Isaiah declares that man is mortal (Is. 51:12). David declares the same thing in Psalm 8:4: “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?” Someone will object: Man is mortal, but while he lives, he is not dead! But Jesus said to a disciple who wanted to bury his father: “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22). Now, Jesus explains here that the one who buries the dead man is also a dead man. We have one more explanation. When Jehovah condemned Adam, he said to him: “By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). When God said: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” he was saying that there was no difference between man who turns to dust, and man before he turns into dust, because before turning into dust man was already dust. This is why Jesus said: “Allow the dead to bury their own dead.” Man knows that he is going to return to dust, but he is not conscious of his dust condition, so he is vain, haughty, selfish, ambitious. He gathers riches for others for, being dust, he will return to dust.
Can he, or cannot he? He cannot, for man is a slave, and a slave does not have freedom to choose. He has to be redeemed. The apostle Peter is the one who explains this: “Knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a faultless and pure lamb, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Jesus redeems and delivers. He said: “If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). And men, delivered by Christ, have the power to seek God and become children of God. It was Jesus who declared this truth. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12).
We go on asking: Can man, somehow, seek God and find him? He cannot, for it is written: “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:12). And sin was introduced in the nature of men since Eden. “Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Sin brought with it the curse of death. In order too exit death, man has to exit sin first, which is its cause. This is impossible; therefore, men cannot seek God.
But since God is love, God, moved by love, sought man. Let us see: Man is blocked from seeking God, but God seeks man. Let us read: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4). Peter concludes the thought, saying: “Who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). The apostle John refers to this malignant disease: “You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. Whoever remains in him doesn’t sin. Whoever sins hasn’t seen him, neither knows him” (1 John 3:5-6).
If man keeps on sinning after baptism, it is because the old man has not been buried with Christ (Rom. 6:3-6), and the body of sin has not been undone. Also, man has not been born again, according to John 3:3-6. He is not a new creation, either, for the nature of the old Adam is still there (2 Cor. 5:17). When these men get before Christ at his return, they will say: “Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity’” (Matt. 7:22-23).