Sermons to the Spiritual Man


So the Lord who saved them did not divide them into different strata of Christians. Certainly, some had matured more than others; some had grown in their spiritual disciplines more than others. So the natural man refers to every person in whom the Holy Spirit does not dwell. The living God does not dwell in him.

Notice how he combined the elements from chapter one concerning the wisdom of God in the cross of Christ and the work of the Spirit to bring that truth to light in a person 2: And what is that? The gospel of the crucified Lord of glory. Some mistake the things of the Spirit of God for extra-biblical revelation. The very thing that Paul battles against in the text—disunity, claims of special wisdom, class warfare among Christians—those people claim against the clear teaching of this text!

He may know all of those things better than most Christians and yet still be a natural man. Why is that the case? The state of his mind, his habitual practice is to not receive, not accept the things of the Spirit of God. So, he may have brief agreement with the truth but he does not accept it as the very foundation for life and eternity. He refuses to persist in receiving the gospel and bowing the knee to Christ as Lord. Yes, he hears the message of the gospel and maybe even agrees with it to a point intellectually.

Sermons to the spiritual man

But in the end, he continues to consider it nonsense, foolishness. Do these who are bound to only what they can perceive in the natural realm shout to the rooftop that the gospel is foolish? Others just maintain a settled disposition against the gospel. What is it that they think is so foolish? The idea of substituting Christ—and Him at the cross—for them, appears counterintuitive.

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Second, they likely have understood the implications in the gospel: That right has been willingly given to Jesus. Third, they realize that to bow the knee to Christ crucified is also an admission that he has been crucified with Christ, and so now he cannot live to himself. So how does the natural man get around the wisdom of God proclaimed in the gospel? He just considers it nonsense so that he might go on living for himself. They have looked at the gospel, examined it, and judged it as foolish, because the only way that this gospel can be examined and judged as truth and life is due to the light of the Holy Spirit.

Does this mean that his failure to see the gospel as the wisdom of God makes him innocent on the Day of Judgment? What we must constantly remember is that this human inability to understand spiritual things is a culpable inability. It is not that God makes us constitutionally unable to understand him, and then toys with us for his own amusement.

Rather, he has made us for himself, but we have run from him. The heart of our lostness is our profound self-focus. We do not want to know him, if knowing him is on his terms [The Cross and Christian Ministry, 58]. He prefers to be left in his lost condition; he only wants a god that he can have on his terms and at his bidding.

Prefatory Note

It reiterates what Paul has already declared with forcefulness. Third, he explains that the only way that we understand the things of the Spirit of God is by the revealing work of the Holy Spirit whom every Christian receives 2: Only by the Holy Spirit invading our dark minds with regenerating life and revealing light can we discern or appraise the gospel for what it is—the wisdom and truth of God for sinners to be transformed into saints through Christ.

Paul may have been taking some of the terms that the Corinthians had been using to hammer each other and flooded them with rich, biblical meaning. Being spiritual has nothing to do with some hidden wisdom found in the rhetoric of the sophists. But Paul makes the correction using their language.

It has nothing to do with levels of Christianity. The believer sees the gospel in a new light that he had not seen before. Think of what happens. A person hears the gospel, maybe for years, then one day he hears it differently. He sees it in a new way. It goes right to his heart. It illumines his mind. Instead of wanting to run in the opposite direction of Christ as Lord over every detail of his life, he runs to Christ.

He bows the knee and heart to Him. He sees the death of Christ as a death particularly for him. He puts his confidence before God, even his confidence in life, in what Christ has done on his behalf.

No Account?

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He glories in the cross of Christ. Can that be attributed to a sudden boost in his intelligence? Is it merely a moral reformation in his life? Oh no, instead, the Holy Spirit has invaded his life! He wanted nothing to do with the things of God except where it might make him appear more attractive in the community. As far as desiring Christ and embracing His Lordship, he wanted nothing of that. He could carry on discussion about it.

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He had strong opinions on what he considered the goody-two-shoes mentality of Christians, their oddities in singing praise to Jesus, the strangeness in giving their money to support gospel work across the globe, their taking seriously the commands of Christ, their attendance at church services when they could be sleeping or playing, and a hundred other things. But once the Holy Spirit invaded his life and brought the gospel home to him experientially, he realized that he had not understood Christians or Christianity at all!

It was far different than he realized. While before he thought that Christians were stuffed shirts and killjoys, he discovered experientially, joy immeasurable and full of glory! While it does not mean that we cannot learn from unbelievers, and even learn some things about the Christian faith or about the way we practice it, Paul does insist that the natural man has no capacity to truly appraise or examine Christians with clarity.

I listen and shake my head. But I should never be surprised because the spiritual man cannot be discerned without the same Holy Spirit that made the gospel real to him in the first place. So, do your best to explain what it means to be a Christian to those who are not, but realize, ultimately, unless the Spirit invades them in regeneration, they still will not grasp what it means to be Christian.

Preachers today are respected, unfortunately, for their gifts and not for the fruit of Christlikeness in their lives - in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly taught that false prophets would be identified by the lack of Divine fruit in their character Mt. Jesus also said that in the day of judgment many would come before Him and say that they had prophesied and done miracles in His Name. But He would reply that He never knew them Mt 7: They called Jesus "Lord" and had supernatural powers. But there was sin in their lives. This shows us clearly that much "Christian" activity and even supernatural gifts do not make a man spiritual.

To understand what makes a man spiritual, we could first of all make a list of all the abilities that Satan possesses. That would show us clearly the things that are NOT the marks of true spirituality. Consider activity, for example: Satan is a full-time worker who is active day and night Re. He never takes a holiday. He is always seeking for people whom he can accuse - and he has many helpers too!!

He also has plenty of Bible- knowledge, for he quoted the Scriptures even to Jesus. He has supernatural gifts, zeal, many co-workers, a great following and authority over many people. But he is not spiritual!! What makes a man truly spiritual could be summed up in three statements: An upward look, an inward look and an outward look.

Upward - in worship and devotion to God and Christ. Inward - in acknowledging and repenting of his unChristlikeness. Outward - in seeking to help and bless other people. God has called us first of all to be His worshippers - to hunger and thirst after Him. A spiritual man worships God. His one desire is God. He does not desire anything or anyone other than God in earth or in heaven Ps.

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Money does not mean more to him than God. As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so the spiritual man longs after God. He longs for God more than a thirsty man longs for water. A spiritual man longs for fellowship with God more than he does for ease or comfort. He longs to hear God speak to him daily. Those who worship money, ease and their own convenience, will always find something or the other to complain about. But the spiritual man never has any complaints, because he desires only God and he always has Him.

He is never disappointed with the circumstances of his life, because he sees the mighty hand of God in all those circumstances and he humbles himself underneath that hand joyfully at all times. Because a spiritual man is in touch with God he does not need any laws or rules to regulate his life. He has found the tree of life God Himself and so he has no interest in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because he is taken up with simple and pure devotion to Christ, he is not sidetracked by secondary issues. Looking at Jesus, the spiritual man becomes increasingly like his Lord year by year.

A spiritual man humbles himself constantly. And so God exalts him constantly. He is exalted higher and higher - into a closer and closer relationship with God. Such a man having seen the realities of the heavenly life will always seek to do his good deeds hidden from man's eyes.

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The upward look leads on to an inward look. As soon as Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, he immediately became aware of his own sinfulness Is. It was the same with Job, Peter and John Job When we live in God's presence, we become aware of many areas of unChristlikeness in our lives.