The Time of God's Grace is Limited
Genesis 6:3
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh…

There is a time when God will strive; but when that time is gone, God will strive no more. To make this plain I will lay down these six things: —

1. I will let you see that it hath been so by testimonies of Scripture. (1 Samuel 15:23; Hebrews 12:16-18; Luke 19:41, 42)

2. I will show in or after what manner God deals with a soul in giving it over.

(1) The Lord changes His mind, and repents of the good He has done to such rebellious and stubborn creatures.

(2) The Lord gives over that man to the power of that sin, which He never did before when He strove with him; we must either lose our sins or our souls; and if no means will serve to bring a man home, then the Lord gives him over to commit his old sin (Psalm 81:11, 12).

(3) As God gives a man over to the power of his lusts, so He doth blast a man in regard of all abilities and gifts that formerly he hath had. Look into the world, and you shall see this plain. Great scholars, learned doctors and preachers, their learning hath been blasted; they were bright candles, yet in the end they became snuffs, men of corrupt minds, etc. Look upon other common Christians, who have given hope of coming unto God when they were in sickness or necessity, etc. Yet at last it turns to nothing; He sent leanness into their souls (Psalm 106:15). He gave them their request. One aims at honour; well, God gives it unto Him. Another will have profit; well, saith God, and thou shalt have it, but My Spirit and the excellency thereof thou shalt never have.

(4) The Lord hardens that man. He repents of the good that is done unto him; He gives him up to the power of his lusts, and blasts all his parts, so that he hardens his heart. And look by what means God sought to bring him unto Him, those means harden him; afflictions harden, him, which should have been the means to have recalled him. God brays a fool ten times in a mortar, and yet he is the harder, harder, and harder.

(5) The Lord lets that man build upon false bottoms, live by false principles: that man which hath been enlightened must have somewhat to hold upon; else he would be in a little hell, and ergo a man hath his shifts. Saul saith, I have performed the will of the Lord, I have done that which He commanded me. Have you so, says Samuel? What then means the lowing of the oxen? Oh, saith he, it is to do sacrifice unto the Lord.

(6) The Lord gives a commission to all means formerly used, that they shall never come to Him more; the Lord bids those judgments and mercies wherewith He sought to humble him before, never more to meddle with him. Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone (Hosea 4:17).

3. I will let you see what persons they are.

(1) Those that have lived a good while under the means of grace, but are still unprofitable and no good is wrought upon them; it is likely such men are given over (Matthew 23:34-37). And a man that hardens his neck when he is rebuked, shall suddenly be destroyed and cannot be cured (Proverbs 29:1).

(2) Those that have much calling and means and also many secret workings of the Spirit on them, that when they have gone out of the house of God have determined never to be drunk more, never to swear, lie, nor steal more, etc., and yet these come to nought. He that hath had many proclamations, as Ezekiel 24:13.

(3) Those that have much grieved the good Spirit of God in bringing in some sin contrary to the light of conscience and the suggestions of the good Spirit of God, as did the children of Israel, who resisted the good Spirit of God, and He sware, etc.

(4) Such as have a common, base, vile, and contemptible esteem of the gospel and ministers thereof. They mocked the ministers till the wrath of God broke out against them and there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:16).

4. Now I come to the fourth thing which is the grounds of it, viz. Why the Lord in this life doth give men over and strive with them no more. The grounds of this point arise from these two attributes of God, His justice and His wisdom.

(1) God is a just God; and is it not just that those who have rejected Him, that He should reject them? I have called, but you answered not (Jeremiah 7:13).

(2) God is a wise God. A man that knocks at the door if he be wise, will not always lie knocking if none answer: he gives over and goes away; so the Lord knocks at our hearts by mercies to allure us, by judgments to terrify us: yet He can find no entrance. Is it not wisdom then to be gone? Why should I smite you any more, saith God? (Isaiah 1:5).

(W. Fenner.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

WEB: Yahweh said, "My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; yet will his days be one hundred twenty years."

The Striving of the Spirit
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