Monday, November 20, 2017

The Natural and the Spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14–16, NASB95)

Through my early training with Campus Crusade for Christ I learned from these verses about two fundamental types of people. One of them is the person who is an unbeliever and who does not understand the things of God and whose life is structured around what he considers most important in life. This man, as we read here, is referred to by Paul as the “natural man.” He does not have the Spirit of God and considers the things of God as foolishness. Paul said that the things of God are “spiritually appraised.” In the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV) we read that these things are “spiritually discerned.” Appraised and discerned have the meaning being investigated, weighed or judged. It means that the things of God have been spiritually looked into and understood. In other words, since the natural man does not have the Spirit of God, the natural man is unable to properly weigh and value the things of God. To them it is foolishness because they don’t get it. (images from

The other man spoken of here that I learned about in Crusade is the “spiritual man.” This is the person who has trusted Christ for their salvation and received the Spirit of God into their lives. This is the person who looks into the things of God and orders his life around the ways of God. This is the person who “appraises” or judges all things according to God’s revealed will. This is the person who is justified by faith, declared righteous in Christ, and who lives free of condemnation before God and right before man. Sure, those who know us can see the chinks in our armor and they know our faults, but they are in no position to sit as our spiritual judge. This belongs to God alone, and He has judged us accepted in His Son.

Paul then quoted Isaiah 40:13, “For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? We have been given a great privilege as believers in Christ. We have been allowed to know the mind of God. We read, “But we have the mind of Christ.” We have been granted to know the thoughts of our Lord through the Word and through the Spirit. Speaking of the Jews who did not see the glory of God because of the hardness of their hearts we read in 2 Corinthians, “But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:14–18, NASB95)

“But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” These are incredible words of truth and hope. We have been enabled to see the glory of the Lord and we have the privilege of being transformed into His image. These are the two camps, and it is Christ who makes the difference. You either belong to Christ or you don’t. There is no in-between.

Our objective as believers in Christ is maturity in Him, and maturity in Him comes as we look to Him as the center of our lives. According to the little booklet (Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life? Or, what we called the “Bird Book” because of the dove on the cover.) we used with people who were new in their faith, some of the things that mark the spiritual person are “Christ-centered; empowered by the Holy Spirit; introduces others to Christ; effective prayer life; understands God’s Word; trusts and obeys God; experiences love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.” The booklet went on to add, “The degree to which these traits are manifested in the life depends upon the extent to which the Christian trusts the Lord with every detail of his life, and upon his maturity in Christ. One who is only beginning to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit should not be discouraged if he is not as fruitful as more mature Christians who have known and experienced this truth for a longer period.” (

It then went on to ask this question, “Why is it that most Christians are not experiencing the abundant life?” It is this very issue that the booklet next sought to address and the one which we will look at in our next post as we move to chapter 3.

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