“The Mind of Christ,” and “He that is Spiritual”
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
1st Corinthians 2:9-16
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 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.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 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. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.
There are a number of questions that ought to come to our minds as we read this passage.
- Who is the “we” and “us” in this passage?
- What does it mean to be a “natural man?”
- How can we be “spiritual?” (What does it mean?)
- How can we “have the mind of Christ?”
- (What other possibilities exist?)
Last time, we ended with verse 9. It says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” We noted that some modern writers claim to tell us, in great detail, “what Heaven is like.” There are several books on the subject.
However, the Bible indicates that they have either deluded themselves, or they are simply lying. God says we do not know, and we cannot even imagine it. He says that no one has seen it or even heard about it from any reliable or authoritative source. (Paul was quoting Isaiah 64:4, here!)
But, in that case, verse 10 seems strange, because it says God has revealed them by His Spirit. God reveals what He wants us to know. He revealed them by the Holy Spirit, in the Written Word. And it isn’t very much. He has told us some very confusing details in Revelation chapters four and five. Those details are very interesting, but not very enlightening. Why? Because what He has in store for us is a surprise!
What is a “Mystery,” in the Bible?
The Bible calls a number of things “mysteries.” In the Bible, a “mystery,” means “something that has not yet been revealed, but (usually) is about to be revealed.”
This is not like an “Agatha Christie murder mystery.” Agatha Christie truly does give you “all the clues.” In her case, (if her readers are reading carefully enough, and not missing her clues,) they can “deduce the identity of the killer,” before the end of the book. Unfortunately, I am too oblivious to catch more than a few of the clues she plants in her story. I can read and enjoy the book, but I will not solve the mystery.
But in God’s case, the “clues” for what awaits believers after the end of measurable time, have never been given. He says the knowledge has never been accessible even by our greatest flights of imagination and fancy.
God does Not Reveal “all” Mysteries to us.
There are some mysteries in scripture that are simply too deep for humans, though we don’t like to admit it. We think that we should be able to “ferret out all the facts!” We think we should know about all of the universe, including the nature of God. And we think we should understand it all! Consider what folly that assumption is, and what arrogance it reveals in us!
We don’t even understand the physical world around us. But we think we should be able to grasp the deepest knowledge of the One who Created all of it! Only by revelation can we can even learn to know Him. It is only through His Word, as He reveals Himself to us. In our physical lives, much of what He does is invisible, just as He is. We only see the results. Then, we may rejoice in His wisdom and kindness, or, we may scoff and thereby become blind to His presence.
We make up very silly (and dangerous) video games about “fighting demons”…shooting them, as if they were physical beings. They are unseen. they are invisible, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are unseen, and invisible.
We make such foolish mockery of the unseen world, mostly because we are utterly ignorant of its reality and the danger it poses to the ignorant soul. God takes pains to correct that thinking and to let us know the reality and the danger involved. But He also indwells every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, so that we do not remain unaware.
Who is “We?”
This one is pretty simple: Paul is speaking “to believers,” as we saw in the first few verses of the book. And, he addresses them as being fellow believers. Therefore, all the time Paul speaks about the revealed Mysteries, he uses the inclusive “we,” and “us,”
When he talks about the unbelievers, he shifts his pronouns to “they” and “them.” It is important to know who the writer is talking to. (Also, who he is talking about, when that is the case.)
How does God reveal the “Things of God” to Human Believers?
Every week, we stress the necessity of learning the things of God as He reveals them in the Word of God. Last week we saw once again the link between The Lord Jesus and the Word of God. We saw in John 1:18 that “No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.”
Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, is the One Who declares God! But in John 1:1, a few verses earlier, we can read that “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God.” In John 1:14, we read that “the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld His Glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and truth!”)
In Hebrews 1:1, it says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by whom also He made the Worlds.”
Jesus is literally the revealer of God! He is the only member of the Godhead who shows up in human form to communicate the truth of God to fallen Man. He was the One in the Garden, calling, “Adam, where art thou?”
The Word Declares God
And God calls Jesus “the Word:” the “communication of God.” The declaration of all that He is! Finally, in Revelation 19:13, He is labeled “The Word of God.” So, how does God reveal to us “the things of God?” It is primarily through His Word! Jesus is the Living Word, But He has given us the Written Word and He calls us to read it, to memorize it, to meditate upon it and to learn to use it as the “Sword of the Spirit.”
He is the Living Word, said to be “sharper than any two-edged sword.” But He tells us to master the use of the Written Word, which is the Sword of the Spirit.
His sword, the Written Word of God, is the only effective weapon against our unseen enemies. All that stuff about “zapping demons with faith-bolts” is strictly comic-book stuff. (You can play those video games if that is what you want to believe. But I truly do not recommend it! They are utter folly!)
Not By the Spirit of the World
Notice that Paul says in verse 12, that the only reason we can even receive this sort of communication is that we have received the Spirit of God and are no longer led by the spirit of the world. He will explain this concept in verses 14-16.
An unbeliever can receive the initial message of the Gospel. He or she can make a decision based on that message. If they decide to “Believe God…” to “take Him at His Word,” then at that moment, whether they are aware of it or not, they also receive the Holy Spirit. He will permanently indwell them, and He immediately begins teaching them. After that point, they find that the Bible is increasingly becoming an “Open Book.”
Not by the Wisdom of Man
And in verse 13 he tells us not to take the received message, and try to pass it on to others using the “wisdom of man,” but rather, by the “Wisdom of God.” We are to compare scripture with scripture, so as to compare spiritual things with spiritual things. Remember, in Acts 17:11, God commended the Berean people for their response, “in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” That is a good response!
But, if we, as the messengers of God, are not “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” and using scripture to explain scripture, then the listeners cannot hope to “go look it up.” They have no “standard” by which to measure our message. But if we stick to God’s Word as closely as we can, then they can check our messages against the Bible and find assurance that we have faithfully declared the Savior and His Word.
What is “The Natural Man?”
The Natural man is the unbeliever in his “natural state,” whatever it may be. He could be an ignorant laborer or tribal farmer, or hunter-gatherer, with zero formal education, or he could be a highly trained professional of some sort: engineer, scientist, philosopher or theologian. But without the Spirit of God indwelling him, he remains a natural man. He cannot receive the truth of God, and the majority of God’s Word seems to him to be foolishness.
If we reject the “entry-level truth” of the Cross of Christ, then we disqualify ourselves to move deeper into a personal knowledge of God. That is what God says: if you have a problem with that, or if you think it is somehow elitist or exclusive, you would have to take it up with Him. The fact is, the Gospel is the opposite of “Elitist or Exclusive.” Jesus said He came to offer salvation to the whole world. He died for the sins of the whole world. He says, “Whosoever will may come!” And the invitation is to anyone willing to respond in faith.
The Spiritual Man
The Spiritual Man has received the Holy Spirit by faith and is currently in submission to Christ by His Word and by His Spirit. So, it does not include “all saved people:” it includes all saved people who are walking with Jesus, in obedience to His Spirit and to His Word.. There are many examples in scripture of people who were genuine believers, but they ignored God’s Word and “became blind” and in the end, were found to be “working for the Enemy.” (We just recently studied Samson in the evening Bible Study…he was the perfect example of such a person!)
The Third Option
In 1st Corinthians 3:1-3 (we are not going there, just yet: we are just peeking ahead) we will read of a third kind of person: the Carnal Man. He (or she) is living in the flesh: allowing his/her old sin nature to rule. Such a person is living for self, and not in submission to Christ. And it can occur in the life of any believer at any time.
We choose to make decisions in the absence of God’s counsel, just because that is what we desire. The consequence is that we have “re-submitted ourselves” to the tyranny of sin, and, until we repent (change our minds) and confess our sin, so that we can be cleansed, relationally, we cannot “move on with God.” Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (the assumed answer is “NO!”)
As long as we remain in that state, we cannot understand God’s Word, we cannot grow as believers, and we retreat further and further into spiritual immaturity. Hebrews 5:12-14 complained that those believers had (again) become babes. The ones in 1st Corinthians 3 were still babes, they were failing to grow. The ones in Hebrews 5 were going backward!
The Mind of Christ
This is an odd statement, but Paul says the spiritual man can “discern all things” (KJV says “judge,” but the word actually means to discern.) But then he says that others (unbelievers, perhaps?) cannot discern him. Perhaps it means they cannot understand his motives. I have seen that on several occasions, where I was making a decision by God’s direction, that would be totally clear to any believer, but unbelievers thought I was doing something completely crazy.
Why would that be likely? Paul quotes an Old Testament verse, Isaiah 40:13 to point out that no human is capable of understanding God’s Spirit or His thoughts. That is the reason! He gave us His indwelling Spirit, and He explains His thoughts and causes us to think as He thinks!
This is what we saw in Romans 12:2, where we are commanded to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” If you focus on God’s written Word, and look to His Holy Spirit to make it a living reality in your daily life, then you will truly be “thinking the Thoughts of God” and making decisions the way He would have you make them. In so doing, we literally have the mind of Christ! And the World will see us as strange and mystifying people!
They will see that we are doing right things: good things, even when it is to our disadvantage. (Psalm 15:4 “…he that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not.” You keep your word even when it hurts you! How about Proverbs 25:21, 22? “If thine enemy be hungry, feed him…” You are consistently kind, even to people who hate you!) Yes, they will think you are strange!
Lord Jesus, Raise us up as students of Your Word, and let us feed upon the Living Word until we truly have the mind of Christ! We know that we are strangers in this World, but we are Your Ambassadors as long as we are here! Teach us to honor you by our lives!