Journey Through the Hymns: Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (Part Four)

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all

Scripture is very clear on our state before salvation.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 

Ephesians 2:1-3

Yeah, that’s pretty clear if you ask me. You can’t really say “you were helpless, ruined, absolutely unable to help, raise, or heal yourself” in a more simple or concise way than to say that “you were dead.” Dead means dead means dead. And there’s no exegetical or commonsense way to say that it means otherwise, especially when the witness of Scripture is so unwaveringly consistent.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions,

Ephesians 2:4-5 (emphasis added)

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions

Colossians 2:13 (emphasis added)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned — for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

Romans 5:12-14 (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit is God, therefore He is perfect and cannot contradict Himself. The Word of God is clear — we are all born dead in our transgressions, hostile to righteousness and at enmity with our Creator.

The Scriptures are equally unambiguous when it comes to man’s ability to fix himself.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5:10 (emphasis added)

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:5-8 (emphasis added)

This is the reason we need to be regenerated or recreated, because our very natures are at enmity with God and His character. Our flesh hates God and goodness from the moment we’re born, and we cannot do anything but hate God because we want to hate Him. We despise His law and sovereignty, and we cannot be reconciled to Him until He acts on His own to change our natures and desires.

Even if we are brought under some kind of conviction for sin, either through the preaching of the Word or the witness of godly people, we cannot ‘feel bad’ enough about our sin to be saved. We cannot be saved by trying to turn our lives around or abandon certain sinful activities. As the hymn testifies,

If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all

We cannot make ourselves better. We cannot rely on our repentance alone to save us. Faith in Christ alone for salvation must accompany repentance; otherwise our repentance is nothing more than a troubled conscience. As many great preachers have said, a bird can’t fly with only one wing. We must fly to Christ with both wings, repentance and faith. We must sorrow over the fact that not only have we sinned, but we have sinned against a perfectly holy, perfectly just and righteous God, and at the same time we must rely wholly on His ability to save us from His own wrath through the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. We can’t believe only that we can’t save ourselves; we must also believe that Christ can save us and will when we come to Him in godly sorrow and faith.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4


Top Photo by Pixabay on

Bottom Photo by Frank Cone on

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