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Natural Vs. Spiritual Man

Natural Vs. Spiritual Man

By Roderick Breem

1 Corinthians chapter 2 and into chapter 3 gives us tremendous insight into the contract between the natural and spiritual man. One of the biggest tricks of the enemy is to muddle light and darkness, spirit and flesh. I believe this is especially important and we draw even closer to the return of the Lord. Isiah 5:20 says “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Natural Man

The natural man uses excellence of speech.

The Apostle Paul starts off chapter 2 with “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the [a]testimony of God.” (v.2)

Right off the bat Paul revealed how the natural man primarily operates. He weaves his words in such as a way as to persuade the audience. See, when you are not walking in the Spirit there is the need to compensate in the natural. In verse four Paul furthers this point, contrasting the natural and spiritual man at the same point. “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[fn] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

The natural man judges according to the flesh.

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (v.2) Imagine, oh imagine, if we actually lived this out? Many of us judge others by the car they drive, the house they own, what they wear and so on. But seeing people through the eyes of the cross allows for the resurrection power of Jesus to operate. But notice how Paul had to determine himself. It didn’t happen automatically or even easy at times.

There is a powerful illustration of this found in Matthew 13. Jesus had been teaching in His own hometown. The people responded “’Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, [h]Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?’” So they were offended at Him.” (vv.54-57)

In respnse Jesus said “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (v.58) The spirit of familiarity is very dangerous. I the case of Jesus and his own country (region) not many miracles could be done because of unbelief. But the natural man, devoid of spiritual sight, can only see people according to the flesh.

The natural man does not receive the things of God.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (v.14)

To be spiritually discerned means you are unable to make a distinction. You are incapable of judging things with a spiritual eye. This person is only able to make judgments solely on what the five senses afford. No matter how good the preaching is or how anointed the music the natural man is incapable of receiving. This is why when we see a move of God in church and some still look spiritually dead.

Spiritual Man

The spiritual man walks in the demonstration of the Spirit and power.

The Apostle Paul confessed: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (v.4) The Greek word for “demonstration” is apodeixis and it means “a making manifest, showing forth.” Paul was saying he was not coming with human wisdom but with a manifesting of God’s kingdom through the Spirit.

Now, not all of us are workers of miracles or have the gift of healing. But we can all walk in the Spirit, manifesting His power in whatever expression He chooses through us. Don’t fall into the lie that it is someone else and not you who is to walk in the power of the Spirit.

The Spiritual man speaks wisdom among those who are mature.

Paul makes a comparison between the natural and spiritual man.

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” (v.6)

Paul was saying he refused to attempt to share the riches of God’s wisdom with those who were not yet spiritually mature. If I approached a baby and attempted to share with her the laws of gravity it would be a waste of time.

So the spiritual man knows his or her audience. They do not cast their pearls among swine. They are good at time management and discern spiritually with whom to invest their time. Let’s not forget that Jesus only chose 12 disciples when He could have had a lot more.

The spiritual man is a student of the Holy Spirit.

Below is one of the most comforting and profound portions of scripture.

But as it is written:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (v.9)

The word “prepared” is an interesting one in the Original. It is hetoimazō, meaning “to make ready, prepare.” The word draws from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable. The King Jesus has prepared our wy to the Father. Now, we, prepare the way of His Son’s return.

Jesus said to the disciples shortly before He left the earth: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) He was saying that the Helper, the Holy Spirit will come to us and teach us. Amazing.

Paul continues saying “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (v.10) The spiritual man is a searcher of spiritual treasure. He or she digs deep into the things of God, being led by the Holy Spirit. Think of it like those exploring caves in say Central America. Every cave expedition relies on a guide who has been in the cave before. Likewise, we will never come to know the depths of God unless we rely on the Guide, the Holy Spirit.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (v.12)

Part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal to us what we already have positionally. We need that knowledge to go from positionally to experientially. We can have things without ever really owning them. Think of the story of the Prodigal Son. Upon the return of his brother the younger son complained saying “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.’” (Luke 15:29)

The father answered “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31a) It can be said that the son didn’t have a full realization of what was his.

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