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The Natural Man 1st Corinthians 2:11-16


The Mind of Man

1st Corinthians 2:11-16.

Why are unregenerate people so callous toward the things of God? Paul’s conclusion is that the unregenerate man is dead in his sins, and is totally incapable of any saving understanding whatsoever of spiritual matters. Let’s see:

1 The Cause of Spiritual Dullness. V14

Paul introduces to us what he describes as ‘the natural man.’ the psuchikos, the ‘soulish’ man. Why can this natural man not receive the things of God? It is because of his natural state, for he has been born in sin. It is because of his present condition, for anyone outside of Christ is condemned already. The tragic results of our sinful nature is described by Jesus in John 12:40 Look at the awful results of sin in our lives. In our natural state we are:-

* Dead.  Rom 8:6  
* 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
* Worthless. Rom 8:8
* Alienated from God. Rom 8:7
* Lost. Rom 8:9 Luke 19:10

Now, how does this spiritual dullness manifest itself in the ‘natural man?” The Unbeliever will FREQUENTLY MISUNDERSTAND the things of God. He:

Misunderstands the Scriptures.  
Misunderstands the Christian Life.
Misunderstands the Way of Salvation.
Misunderstands the CHRISTIAN.

This is a challenge for Christians. If sinners then are utterly helpless in their sins, how then can we help those sinners to come to Christ? Not by ‘natural’ means. 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. Romans 10:17 We must get the SCRIPTURES into their hands. We must pray for PREACHERS!

Lord’s Day 25, Q65, asks, Since then faith alone makes us share in Christ and all his benefits, where does this faith come from? The answer is, From the Holy Spirit, who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments.

Heidelberg Catechism

So conversion from beginning to end is the Lord’s sovereign work. Our task in the conversion of sinners is simply to be faithful to God and to his word.

2 A Contrast in Spiritual Discernment. V15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The ‘spiritual man’ is examined now, – the ‘pneumatikoi’- the ‘new creature in Christ.’

• The Work of the Holy Spirit.  Contrasted with the things of the natural man are the attributes of spiritual man. The person who is spiritual experiences two wonderful things:-

• The Spirit of God enters into his/her life and converts their body into the very temple of God. Galatians 5:22-23

• The Spiritual man has partaken of the divine nature of God and has become a NEW CREATURE. Ephesians. 4:24

• The Christian should have God-given SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. – based on God’s Word. 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.  But with regard to other professing Christians, we are certainly to exercise some judgement. Romans 16:17 The Holy Spirit within will help the Christian to make this kind of judgement.

• The Revelation of God. 1 Cor. 2:11 The only person who can tell us about God is the Holy Spirit of 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.

3 The Convert’s Spiritual Development. 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. No matter how little understanding of Biblical matters the new convert may have, the Lord will lead them into more knowledge, and draw them closer to himself.

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 sorrow over 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 and we start to grow in grace.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night: then shone your glorious gospel ray; I woke! The dungeon flamed with light! My chains fell off; my heart was new, I rose, went forth and followed you!

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