Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Natural-minded non-Christian, the Holy Spirit & the Bible

1 Corinthians 2:15 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Review from yesterday
In the wider context of 1 Corinthians 2:1-3:4, Paul is concerned with helping the Corinthians understand why it is they are dealing with so many divisions. In his discussion, Paul lays out three types of spiritual conditions: two of which characterize Christians (spiritual Christians - i.e Spirit-led Christians and compromising or carnally minded Christians) and one of which describes the unbelieving man (termed "natural man"). With that brief summary, we will now briefly outline the Holy Spirit's ministry of illuminating (making clear) the scriptures and how such ministry is rejected by the natural minded unbeliever who doesn't believe.  I would refer the reader to yesterday's post regarding the spiritual Christian in relationship to the Spirit and the scriptures. Since there are three men described in these two chapters, we will cover the carnally minded Christian in tomorrow's post.

The natural-minded unbeliever is a darkened soul, with a dead human spirit clothed in a dying body
As you look at 1 Corinthians 2:8-9 and 14, you get a completely different but illuminating picture as to why unbelievers unaided by grace regard the Gospel as foolishness.  Unlike the description of the spiritual Christian in yesterday's post, we see nothing said of the natural unbeliever's human spirit in this passage.  Why? Simply put, he is dead in his human spirit.  Ephesians 2:1-3 lays out the true spiritual and moral condition of natural, unbelieving man:

1. Dead human spirit. (Ephesians 2:1)
2. Darkened soul in mind, emotions, will & conscience. (Eph 2:2)
3. Dying human body.  The natural man is led totally by his soul and natural bodily drives.  He aims only to please himself and not God.  (Ephesians 2:3)

According to Paul, the unbelieving rulers of Jesus' day did what they did to Jesus due to the fact that they were spiritually dead.  If they  would had been operating with the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in their human spirit, they would not had crucified our Lord. (1 Corinthians 2:9)  In 1 Corinthians 2:10, unbelieving natural man, operating as he does by his natural abilities from birth, cannot apart from saving grace understand nor grasp the Gospel with his mind, emotions, will and conscience (i.e his soul).  Think of some of the philosophies and world religions in our world today - none of them communicate the Gospel's main points: God the creator, man the sinner, God coming to earth as man, giving himself through death to be received by those who by His grace through faith believe. 

With the inability of natural man to receive the truth of scripture and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10) we see the inability of natural man to appreciate the things of God.  According to 1 Corinthians 2:14, natural unbelieving man cannot nor will not accept the Gospel on his own, since such things are "spiritually appraised". 

Appraising the value of jewelery - an illustration truth and relationship
Why is it that the natural-minded unbeliever sees the Gospel as a waste of time?  Quite frankly, they have never had a relationship with the Gospel's main subject - Jesus Christ.  A couple one time went to a jeweler with some old rings and two small diamonds.  They had hoped to receive a handsome sum, since gold and diamonds were valued quite highly.  When the couple walked into that jeweler, they confidently laid their "treasures" out on the counter.  The Jeweler put each one under her microscope and studied them.  The value she placed upon them was significantly less than the couple thought.  Her "appraisal" was by the appearance and substance only. Her life experience and reasoning made her conclude that the gems and gold were worth only pennies on the dollar.  As she told the couple about one diamond having a crack and another one being of poor quality, the couple politely thanked the jeweler and left.  It mattered not to them what was said, they saw the jewels differently. 

To the saddened couple, those gems  meant something, since each had a story and had been acquired through the years of the couple's marriage.  They had a relationship with those objects of their affections. As the scriptures says in 1 Peter 2:7 "This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone.  The Holy Spirit functions this way for the unbeliever, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).  The only way an unbeliever can believe on God through Jesus Christ is by the convincing work of the Holy Spirit working in their human spirit. (Romans 8:1-11; Ephesians 2:5-6)  Only by the Spirit's working can the unbeliever be brought into relationship with the Supreme object of faith's affection - Jesus Christ.  Unlike the gemstones of our earlier illustration, Jesus Christ is inherently most precious, being that He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Natural man only operates from his natural soul and bodily understandings
Natural man is called "natural", since his reasons for living are rooted in this "natural world" and in his "natural, sinful soul and body".  Natural man is a sinful soul, with a dead human spirit living in a dying human body.  The problem with unbelievers' lack of appreciation for the Gospel is not an intellectual one.  Many intelligent unbelievers with Ph.D's flat-out ignore the cross and the scriptures. Furthermore, there are some unbeliever's who live morally good lives, however they will not surrender to the Gospel, since they prefer there own human effort.  What gives? The Holy Spirit must accompany the preaching of the Gospel if anyone is to believe and be saved. (John 16:8-11)  Only He can convince them of the thrill of knowing the One who desires to make a home in their hearts.  Unless the Holy Spirit makes alive their human spirits, as so explained in Ephesians 2:5-6, the unbeliever will willfully, mentally, emotionally and morally continue in a course opposite of God and the Gospel. 

Being that the Holy Spirit is not indwelling the natural unbeliever's spirit, all they can go on is what they understand in their soul with their minds, emotions, will and conscience.  Furthermore, the drives and information gained from the five senses is interpreted by them to be the only thing worth living for - hence leading them to disregard the Gospel as foolishness. (1 Corinthians 2:15)

More tomorrow.....

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