Let me, first of all, say that the world is a far better place to live in because of the many unbelievers in it with many traits of character that are received from God as Creator.
Let me, first of all, say that the world is a far better place to live in because of the many unbelievers in it with many traits of character that are received from God as Creator. For example, there are tender, kind, generous, humble, etc, unbelievers. They received these traits from the Creator and have allowed them to blossom with time.
God in Christ summed up all that was in the old creation (received from God as Creator) and sentenced it to death on the cross in one decisive act. In so doing, God revealed His evaluation of all that is of the old creation, all that is natural.
God’s verdict on the old creation with its good and bad elements is, “Away with it.” God has decided that all that is of the old creation cannot serve Him along with what is received from Him at the beginning of the New Life.
Because God has only one place for the old creation (the cross), all the elements of character that are received from Him as Creator and not as Father in the Lord Jesus, must be gotten rid of.
It is alright for an unbeliever to function in God’s world by using natural character traits. However, when the unbeliever becomes a believer, he is called upon to reject these traits, abandon them to the cross and, then, through resurrection, put on Christ.
Good natural character traits that have been through death and then resurrection can be used by the believer to serve the Lord.
The reason why a believer cannot use his natural abilities to serve God and satisfy the Lord is that such a person is of necessity unstable. Take natural love for example. A person with such a love will love all those who please him. The number of people in such a person’s circle may be large, yet he will love them. However, when faced with an enemy, what will happen to this capacity to love? It will betray itself. It will fail. Unbelievers cannot love their enemies. God’s twice-born children can. The Lord Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But l say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5 43-46).
Take another example of a person who is naturally joyful. Everything will go well until he is stricken with great sorrow and then it will be found that, because his joy was rooted in nature, it could not stand in circumstances that needed the supernatural joy of the Lord. Take another person who is naturally generous. He will continue to give and give for as long as his gifts are accepted and gratitude expressed. But what if they are unappreciated? Something will crack in him and die! However, the person in whose life the Holy Spirit, by way of the cross, has worked out giving, will give and give, irrespective of how his gift is treated. He will give like God who gave His only Son to undeserving sinners and who gave His Holy Spirit to those who murdered His only Son.
When a person has believed in the Lord Jesus, he must co-operate with the Lord Jesus to ensure that his natural endowments are yielded to death on the cross and then to resurrection. Resurrected natural endowments are the talents with which believers can serve God. All other talents are not only useless in divine service; they stand on God’s way. For example, a naturally tender person is more likely to disobey God when called upon to rebuke someone than if he did not have that natural attribute.