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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 2:14-16


The Natural and the Spiritual Mind!  1st Corinthians 2:14-16.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Why are unregenerate people so callous toward the things of God, so heedless of the Gospel message, and so regardless of the danger of a lost eternity?  Could it be that there are those faced with the reality of eternity, yet the message of salvation seems to go right over their heads?  Or that there are those who sit in meetings, Sunday School etc., who through the years seem to grow harder and harder against the message of the Cross?  Or indeed that there are people living on the very edge of eternity, who will not surrender their lives to Christ! 

An old man in his nineties was in hospital.   Every day he read his Bible and prayed!  Every day he could be seen on his knees before he retired to sleep!  He had great church connections, and affiliated himself with a certain evangelical church!  A visitor asked him if he was saved!  No! I’m not!  I know the gospel, but I’ve never taken that step!  God was gracious to him, for a fortnight before he died, he accepted Christ!  Many are not so privileged, and go out into a lost eternity!

But why is there this seeming indifference to the things of God and the weighty matters of eternity!  This is the problem that Paul explores here in this passage.  He talks about two different characters.  The ‘spiritual’ man, the ‘pneumatikoi’ as opposed to the natural man, the psuchikos, the ‘soulish’ man! (psyche is just the ‘principle of life’ which is in every man, every animal etc) He lives for himself!  For what looks, feels, tastes, sounds good!  Because he cannot hear, or feel etc spiritual things, he simply cannot comprehend!  Paul’s conclusion is that the unregenerate man is totally incapable of any understanding whatsoever of spiritual matters!

Spiritual Dullness – the Cause!

V14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  • The Natural Man Introduced!  Why can this natural man not receive the things of God?  Why can he not receive them?  It is because of:-
    1. His natural state?  He has been born in sin!
    2. His present condition? For anyone outside of Christ is condemned already!
    3. The tragic results! John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.  Look at the awful results of sin in our lives:-
  • Dead!   Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace  Ephesians. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;cf  Ephesians. 2:5 Col. 2:13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
  • Blind! He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 2 Cor. 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  
  • Helpless!  Rom 8:8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • At war with God!  Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be
  • Lost! Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Luke 19:10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
  • The Things of the Spirit Indicated!  Contrasted with the things of the natural man are the things of the Spirit!  The attributes of God, Love, peace, justice, righteousness, holiness.  The plan of salvation, the necessity of the Cross, the person of Christ.  His miracles, his teachings, his Word.
  • The Awful Dichotomy ImpliedJohn 8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.  cf  John 14:16-17 . The only person who can tell us about God is the Holy Spirit of God!  The natural man himself can never fathom out the things of God, except that there is firstly an awakening of his mind by the Holy Spirit!  Paul illustrates this for us in verse 11, as he introduces this subject1 Cor. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. You can see what he is getting at here.  There are some things that are so deep within our minds and our beings, thoughts, and feelings, and emotions that only we ourselves, personally, know what they are!  We may never reveal such inner feelings to anyone else, to our parents, our spouse, our closest friends, or our beloved companions.  They are so deep and personal that no one will ever know them, unless we choose to speak about them.  Well, so it is with God!  How can we ever comprehend the depths of the mind of God, in our natural state, unless God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit so chooses to reveal these things!

* This is a challenge for Christians!  Are sinners then utterly helpless in their sins?  And how then can we help sinners to come to Christ?  Well, we cannot help them by natural means.  We cannot educate them to Christ, or ritualise them to come to Christ.  The answer must be spiritual!  If only the Spirit of God can awaken the sinner, then we must PRAY FOR SINNERS!  We must WITNESS to them!  We must BRING THEM UNDER THE SOUND OF THE GOSPEL!  We must get the SCRIPTURES into their hands!  But conversion from beginning to end is the Lord’s sovereign work!  Our task is simply to be faithful!

Spiritual Discernment – the Contrast!

V15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The Christian should have SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT!

His Judgement will be based on God’s Word!  We are to judge all things!  I once heard a conversation between two Christians.  One commented, “We are not to be judges” “Perhaps not” Said the other, “, but we are to be fruit inspectors!”  In fact you will find on a close examination of the Scriptures, that when the Bible speaks about Christians not judging others, it is actually referring to the Christian not meddling in the judgement of God on unbelievers!  We are told in the Scriptures that with regard to other professing Christians, we are certainly to exercise some judgement!  Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  The Holy Spirit within will help the Christian to make this kind of judgement!

The man who is spiritual experiences two wonderful things!

i.      The Spirit of God enters into his life and converts his body into the very temple of God! Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
ii.      The Spiritual man has partaken of the divine nature of God and has become a NEW CREATURE!    Ephesians. 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The Unbeliever will FREQUENTLY MISUNDERSTAND!  –  He has NO spiritual discernment!  He:-

Misunderstands the Scriptures!  He thinks that the Bible is outdated, or just a book of myths and fables.  He thinks that it is just a book for old people, or for theologians and philosophers.  He thinks it is full of contradictions and problems.  He persuades himself that it has nothing whatsoever to do with him and he never dreams of opening God’s Word!  (But aren’t there Christians like that too?)

Misunderstands the Christian Life!  He simply cannot fathom why a person would want to go to church!   A retired minister had moved into a new home, having left the manse when he retired.  His new neighbour would watch every Sabbath morning as the minister and his wife would leave the home to attend church.  One day, as he was washing his car, the neighbour called out to the retired minister, “Off to church then?  It’s a bit of an occupational hazard, I suppose!”  “Oh no!” Replied the minister!  “I love going to church!  This morning in church, I will meet with other Christians, I will hear the Word of God read and explained, and I will sing praises to the God of my salvation!”  The neighbour was completely mystified!  He had never heard anyone being so enthusiastic about church before.  Eventually he went along himself, just to see what it was like!

Misunderstands the Way of Salvation!  He thinks that all that you need to do to get to heaven is to be a decent person and try your best, or be baptised or go to church…  He seldom pauses to consider that Christ died for the ungodly, and that simple logic would dictate that if he could get to heaven by his own works, what was the point of Christ’s death?

Misunderstands the CHRISTIAN himself! He talks about Christians as being ‘Good living,’ or worse!  When the reality is that the Christian is someone who has realised that is anything but good, and has cast himself on the Lord for salvation! Romans 8:5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit

Spiritual Development – the Convert

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Notice that Paul implies here that the believer will know the mind of God! This is not to say that the Christian knows everything there is to know about Jesus!    But his mind is FOCUSED upon the Lord, and upon His Work and His Word!  Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Cf Philip. 2:5-8  

And the believer will be TEACHABLE as regards the things of God.  The Lord will instruct the believer, and change him, and he will develop and he will grow!  No matter how carnal, and how little understanding of Biblical matters the new convert may be, the Lord will lead him into more knowledge, and draw him closer to himself.  This is why we become somewhat sceptical of those who claim to be Christians, but remain in their sins, in their old worldly lifestyle!

Do you see that there is a progression in this part of the text?  We are naturally in a state of spiritual dullness, until the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds, revives our dead spirit and reveals to us our sin.  He grants us discernment, so that we worry about our sin, and we see the way of life plainly before us!  It is the Cross!  Our eyes being opened we wholeheartedly respond to the gospel message by casting ourselves upon the Lord for mercy!  Spiritual development begins!  We start to grow in grace!  We shall see how this is effectively worked out in the believer’s life, in our next study!

From → Sermon Notes

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