(Rom. 3:11) Do humans seek for God or not?

CLAIM: The Bible teaches that we do and should seek for God (Acts 17:27; Mt. 7:7-8; Jer. 29:13). However, Paul says that “none seek for God.” Likewise, Jesus taught, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn. 6:44). However, he also taught, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (Jn. 12:32). Are these passages of Scripture contradictory?

RESPONSE: While no one naturally searches for God, we can supernaturally search for God through the aid, prompting, and conviction of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 12:32; 16:8). While no one seeks for God on his own, we are not on our own: God draws us to himself. Consider the previous verse: “There is none righteous, not even one” (v.10). On our own, no one is righteous. However, we are not on our own. As Paul notes in Romans 4, Abraham was credited as righteous because of his faith.

Paul’s purpose in writing this section of Romans (1:18-3:20) is to show that all people are under the fair and impartial judgment of God (3:9). His purpose is to show that “no flesh will be justified in His sight” (3:20). Paul is saying, “If it were up to man’s effort alone, no one would seek or find God. That’s why God is just in judging all men everywhere.”


Do humans seek for God?

Romans 3:11

Acts 17:27; Matthew 7:7-8; Jeremiah 29:13

Humans do not naturally seek for God (Jn. 6:44).

Humans do supernaturally seek for God with the help of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 12:32; 16:8-10).
Humans have no potential in finding God by themselves.

Humans have some potential in finding God with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

God is just in judging humans for what they would do naturally.

God is merciful in drawing all humans despite what they would do naturally (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).