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Ask John Wesley – “What do you think the pre-regenerated person is like,” and he will answer in his sermon entitled “Original Sin” by saying (among other things)…

And having no knowledge, we can have no love of God: We cannot love him we know not.

Most men talk indeed of loving God, and perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will acknowledge they do not love him: But the fact is too plain to be denied.

No man loves God by nature, any more than he does a stone, or the earth he treads upon. What we love we delight in: But no man has naturally any delight in God. In our natural state we cannot conceive how any one should delight in him. We take no pleasure in him at all; he is utterly tasteless to us.

To love God! it is far above, out of our sight. We cannot, naturally, attain unto it.

We have by nature, not only no love, but no fear of God. It is allowed, indeed, that most men have, sooner or later, a kind of senseless, irrational fear, properly called superstition; though the blundering Epicureans gave it the name of religion. Yet even this is not natural, but acquired; chiefly by conversation or from example.

By nature “God is not in all our thoughts:” We leave him to manage his own affairs, to sit quietly, as we imagine, in heaven, and leave us on earth to manage ours; so that we have no more of the fear of God before our eyes, than of the love of God in our hearts.

Thus are all men “Atheists in the world.” But Atheism itself does not screen us from idolatry.

In his natural state, every man born into the world is a rank idolater. Perhaps, indeed, we may not be such in the vulgar sense of the word. We do not, like the idolatrous Heathens, worship molten or graven images. We do not bow down to the stock of a tree, to the work of our own hands. We do not pray to the angels or saints in heaven, any more than to the saints that are upon the earth.

But what then? We have set up our idols in our hearts; and to these we bow down and worship them: We worship ourselves, when we pay that honor to our selves, which is due to God only. Therefore all pride is idolatry; it is ascribing to our selves what is due to God alone.

And although pride was not made for man, yet where is the man that is born without it? But hereby we rob God of his unalienable right, and idolatrously usurp his glory. [1]

This insight from Wesley helps me when I think about what must happen in the unconverted heart once God’s Spirit regenerates us.

The greatest proof of my regeneration is… Love for God!

I can pause even now and ask – looking in the mirror – “Do you love God?”

Loving God will be how a regenerated person talks about God.

And a regenerated person will think of God often rather than going hours, days, weeks, months, or even years without a thought of God. That person will love God with the heart and with the mind.

And a regenerated person will take joy in the Lord – loving God with the soul (the emotions and the heart).

Where the fallen person does not love God, takes no thought of God, no joy in God, and exalts self as god in the world, the person born of God’s Spirit loves God with his/her whole self, and is primarily concerned with the glory of God above all things.

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Notes

[1] Wesley, J. (1872). The Works of John Wesley (Third Edition., Vol. 6, pp. 59–60). London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room.

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