The modern view of man is a curious compound of the Classical, the Biblical and the distinctively modern motifs. Modern man rejects sin as the centre of man’s personality, believing that sin is man’s will. They do not believe that man is a sinner in his will.
Today, there are many who believe that men do not respond to the gospel in the 21st Century because they have intellectual problems with the facts of Christianity. To set the record straight, no man responds to any Gospel message if the Holy Spirit does not prepare his heart for the reception. One can set forth the gospel in the most beautiful logic, the most beautiful system. Men are just as blind and dead to it as it is possible for a person to be. The only reason men do not respond to the gospel is because the gospel comes to them with the proclamation that they are dead in sin and they regard it as totally irrelevant.
They have been taught, they have studied, read their newspapers, read their magazines, listened to their parents, learnt at school, listened to their teachers. Each influence is designed to teach man that there is something essentially good within, and that if they would only look for it they will find it, or sooner or later it will manifest itself. That is why, when we come to man and say that he is a sinner, it is irrelevant to their thinking. However, there is no possible way for Preachers to get through to them and that is the difficulty, the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit allows room to bring man to a conviction of his sin, contrary to every kind of influence that he meets today. If we believe that man is essentially good, then it is only natural to believe in progress, which is a secularised version of the Biblical apocalyptic climax. In the case of the Bible, it is said that men are sinners, that they are indwelled, that there is a conflict between light and darkness, which will finally be shared in the great apocalypse.
This is based on the judgements of the book of Revelation and the second coming of Jesus. The secularised version of this is that man is essentially good, that we are struggling and making progress by looking at our accomplishments. Therefore, things are going to get better until we have a form of heaven on the earth, created by man and for man. The ideas of man as a sinner and man as involved in progress are related. Because society has influenced us for so long, it is difficult for us to think Biblically anymore.