11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 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.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 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. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11-16)
The ministry of the Spirit
In verses 11-16 of the chapter, Paul focuses on the ministry performed by the Spirit.
The Spirit searches us… 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Only you know what is going on within your personality. Others cannot truly know what is going on deep within you. Likewise, we cannot know the deep things of God on our own. The Holy Spirit, however, can (and does) reveal this to us. Through the Holy Spirit, we become sharers of the life of God.
Look back to verse 9 (the quote from Isaiah 64:4)… “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.” But through the Holy Spirit we can see, hear, and receive the personality of God. The Spirit reveals to us the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
This understanding is not a work that we can achieve through developing our own knowledge and wisdom. This understanding only comes through a revelation (revealing) of the Spirit of God.
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
12 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.
This wisdom comes by the Spirit who is from God, not from the spirit of this world. Since every believer has received, the Spirit who is from God, every believer has the access to this spiritual wisdom. This is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes… Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
This does not mean every believer has equal spiritual wisdom. It does not mean we will understand all spiritual mysteries. It does mean every believer can understand the basics of the Christian message, which is unattainable (and undesirable) by human wisdom. The unbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit inside of him, and therefore cannot comprehend the mystery, the things of God. The ways of God are foolishness to the unbeliver.
To Timothy, Paul wrote… For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound [disciplined] mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Warren Wiersbe comments… We have a wealth of spiritual resources because the Spirit lives within us!
The Holy Spirit teaches
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
In John chapter 14, Jesus taught that… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)
Much of the life of a Christian is rejected by the world. Many of the foundational principles of the Christian faith are in direct conflict with the world. The world cannot (and doesn’t want to) teach us about spiritual things. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the spiritual things of God.
Warren Wiersbe writes… The successful Christian learns the vocabulary of the Spirit and makes use of it. He knows the meaning of justification, sanctification, adoption, propitiation, election, inspiration, and so forth. In understanding God’s vocabulary, we come to understand God’s Word and God’s will for our lives. If the engineering student can grasp the technical terms of chemistry, physics, or electronics, why should it be difficult for Christians, taught by the Spirit, to grasp the vocabulary of Christian truth?
We take the time to become knowledgeable and proficient in the vocabulary of our earthly professions. How much more important is it to become proficient in the vocabulary of or eternal identity?
Christians can relate to spiritual things… that unbelievers cannot relate to such as “Hating the sin without hating the sinner” and what “wordly love” is vs. “spiritual love”.
The Spirit discerns
14 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. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
The ancient Greek word for natural man is “psuchikos.” It describes the materialist, who lives as if there were nothing beyond this physical life. This is the kind of life common to all animals. The natural man is where we all start life, the life inherited from Adam. The natural man is unregenerate man, unsaved man. We have to deal with the material world, so there is nothing inherently sinful in “natural” life. God is not displeased when you have to eat and sleep and work. But life on this level is without spiritual insight: the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.
Spiritual things seem foolishness to the natural man. Why waste time on “spiritual” things when you could be making money or having fun? The natural man doesn’t want the things of God because he regards them as foolishness. What is more, he can’t understand the things of God (even if he wanted to) because they are spiritually discerned. It would be wrong to expect the natural man to see and value spiritual things, just as it would be wrong to expect a corpse to see the material world.
The natural man is unsaved. Too many Christians still think like natural men, refusing to spiritually discern things. When our only concern is for “what works” or the “bottom line,” we are not spiritually discerning, and we are thinking like the natural man, even though we might be saved.
Paul is not saying that every Christian is above every criticism (after all, much of this letter is criticism). No natural man is equipped to judge a spiritual man. The spiritual man has understanding that the natural man does not have. The natural man has worldly wisdom. However, the spiritual man has worldly and spiritual wisdom.
16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him?” (Isaiah 40:13)
May you have the understanding of the spiritual man of God.