The Natural vs The Spiritual

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Not of Man, But of God

This is not teaching here that we have to be ignorant and unlearned in order to preach Christ and him crucified. Paul was definitely a very educated man. And he knew the Scriptures. So, this is not saying that we can’t speak with godly knowledge and wisdom. And just because some people are learned and they know the Scriptures and they speak them with confidence in the Spirit of God, it does not mean that they are puffed up.

Paul spoke with confidence and with conviction and in the Spirit but he was not prideful. He wasn’t trying to make a name for himself nor to raise himself up to superior status other than to acknowledge his calling of God so that the people would know that he was speaking from God and not from himself and so that they would listen to his words and so that they would receive them as they were, as from God.

And when Paul said that he decided to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified, he did not mean that he was limiting his teaching to the gospels and to the stories of Jesus’ literal crucifixion. He meant that the message of the cross of Christ, which goes way beyond the historical event, was his primary message. All his messages, in fact, stemmed from the message of the cross and what that means for us.

For Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our bodies (with our lives). And Jesus died to free us from our slavery to sin so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness.

[1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24]

1 Corinthians 2:11-13 ESV

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”

Don’t Quench the Spirit

Many people today are teaching that we can only hear God speak to our hearts through the written word, through the Scriptures themselves. But that is not what the Scriptures teach. Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to the earth to indwell his followers and to counsel, guide, direct, encourage, exhort, teach, correct, rebuke and to remind us of what Jesus taught. We not only have the written word, but we have the word of God living within us.

Now, we need to be discerning because there are other voices speaking to us, too. Satan likes to whisper things in our ears, and we have the world giving us all kinds of messages, and other people are speaking messages to us, and then we have our own thoughts and memories, too, which speak to us. So, we do need to test what we hear in our minds and hearts against the written word to make certain we are hearing from God.

But we are not to put out the Spirit’s fire. We are not to quench the Spirit out of fear of the spiritual world. We are not to deny the working of God’s Spirit in our hearts and minds. How else will we know what spiritual gifts we have? How else will we know what assignment we have been given by God? These things are spiritually discerned. So we need to have ears that are attentive to the Spirit’s voice so we know what God wants us to do.

We can certainly teach the Scriptures historically and as they were applied to people’s lives in that day and time, and we can certainly understand what applies to us and what does not regarding the words written down in the Scriptures, at least on a general basis, but the Scriptures are God’s living word, meaning God is still speaking afresh from them and he is applying them to our lives and to our specific circumstances today.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

The Things of the Spirit of God

When we believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit comes to live within us, so we now have the mind of Christ living within us, and we have the Word of God living within us speaking God’s truths to our hearts, leading and guiding us in the way that he would have us to go, counseling, correcting, and teaching us the things of God. But if we cannot hear the Spirit’s voice, as some say, then how can our spiritual gifts be led and empowered of the Spirit?

How can we walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit if we refuse to believe that we can hear the Spirit? Why not just say, “Walk in the Scriptures and be led by the Scriptures”? Why do we even need the Spirit if he serves no function in our lives? But many people fear what they can’t understand and so they do not accept what they can’t touch with their hands or see with their eyes and what they can’t control in the natural realm.

One of the beauties of our relationship with Jesus Christ is that he lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit and we can talk with him and we can hear him (not audibly, usually) in our minds and hearts speaking to us personally about what he has for us individually. When Jesus walked the face of this earth he spoke to individual people about what was going on in their own lives. Now we have the Holy Spirit to do what with us.

Another thought on this is that we are supposed to pray for wisdom and for guidance and direction, and usually we are inquiring about something specific to our individual lives. So we won’t have that direction or wisdom if we can’t hear the Spirit giving it to us. I would not be doing what I am doing today if I didn’t hear the Spirit of God call me to this specific ministry. Too many professing Christians are not walking in the Spirit.

Okay, so this says here that the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, so this is speaking of those who have not been genuinely reborn of the Spirit of God and therefore God’s Spirit does not live within them and so they don’t hear his voice. They are still operating in the flesh. But I will say here that discerning the Spirit’s voice is also something that is developed over time with maturity and consistent walks of faith.

But if we don’t hear the Spirit’s voice at all, then that should be cause for concern. For if we are in the Spirit we should be walking according to the Spirit and we should be being led by the Spirit, so we have to be able to hear the Spirit speaking to us. But test the spirits in prayer to God.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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