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I. What is implied in the assertion, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man?”

1. It is implied in this assertion, that the Spirit does some times strive with men. It is nonsense to affirm that He will not strive always, if the fact of His striving sometimes be not implied. Beyond all question, the text assumes the doctrine that God by His Spirit does strive sometimes with sinning men.

2. It is also implied that men resist the Spirit. For there can be no strife unless there be resistance. If sinners always yielded at once to the teachings and guidance of the Spirit, there could be no “striving” on the part of the Spirit, in the sense here implied, and it would be altogether improper to use the language here employed. In fact, the language of our text implies long-continued resistance—so long continued that God declares that the struggle shall not be kept up on His part forever.

I am well aware that sinners are prone to think that they do not resist God. They often think that they really want the Spirit of God to be with them, and to strive with them. What, indeed! Think of this! If a sinner really wanted the Spirit of God to convert or to lead him, how could he resist the Spirit? But in fact he does resist the Spirit. What Stephen affirmed of the Jews of his time, is true in general of all sinners, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” For if there were no resistance on the sinner’s part, there could be no striving on the part of the Spirit. So that it is a mere absurdity that a sinner in a state of mind to resist the Spirit should yet sincerely desire to be led into truth and duty by the Spirit. But sinners are sometimes so deceived about themselves as to suppose that they want God to strive with them, while really they are resisting all He is doing, and are ready to resist all He will do. So blinded to their own true characters are sinners.

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