The child of God, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, is aware of his own rebellious nature and knows that he has not earned salvation. He confesses, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
The natural free will in regenerate people strives against God's Law, even after regeneration. Was it not much more stubborn and hostile to God's Law and will before regeneration? This is clear: (a) the free will, from its own natural powers, cannot work or agree to work anything for its own conversion, righteousness, and salvation, nor follow, believe, or agree with the Holy Spirit, who through the Gospel offers a person grace and salvation; (b) from its rebellious nature it resists God and His will with hostility, unless it is enlightened and controlled by God's Spirit.
The Holy Scriptures compare the unregenerate person to a hard stone. It is like a rough block and an unmanageable beast. This does not mean that a person is no longer a rational creature, or is converted to God without hearing and meditating on the divine Word. It does not mean a person fails to understand outward, worldly things, or of his free will do, or abstain from doing, anything good or evil. As Dr. Luther says about Psalm 90:
In worldly affairs, which apply to the livelihood and needs of the body, a person is cunning, intelligent, and quite active. But in spiritual and divine things, which apply to the salvation of the soul, a person is like a stone, like a lifeless statue, which uses neither eyes nor mouth, neither sense nor heart. (paragraphs 18-20)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.