are you a “natural?”
1. Illustration: As I speak there are a host of radio waves about us at a host of frequencies, yet we are virtually unaware of their presence and even existence.
(1) If someone turned on a radio, we would become immediately aware.
(2) If someone’s cell phone goes off, we will be immediately aware.
(3) Even then, it takes certain receivers to receive certain signals (e.g. AM / FM).
2. Read text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.
3. Regarding text:
(1) Paul is addressing divisions (1:10), contentions (1:11), problems and questions.
A. On one hand I some of these were matters of greater intensity & consequence, BUT…
B. You know, the very same thing that (to varying degrees of intensity) plague church today.
(2) Paul’s assessment = problems / issues are caused by “wisdom of men.”
A. Is wisdom a bad thing? (cf. elders).
(3) Notice 1 Cor. 2:1,2 – no “excellence of speech or wisdom.”
A. Paul was determined to know only Christ, and Him crucified.
B. Stood in contrast to philosophers (and there were plenty) of the day (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, schools of the Epicureans & Stoics in Athens, Jewish rabbis, Gamaliel, etc.)
(a) Excellence of speech – “not with art of rhetoric” (Clarke); “not with skills of arrangement” (Barnes).
(b) Wisdom – The “premise” of Paul’s words stood upon revelation.
(4) “Preaching Christ crucified” involves:
A. Focus upon the power and wisdom of God (vv. 3-4).
B. Preaching the “spirit of God” and rejecting the “spirit of the world” (vv. 10-13).
C. Preaching the spiritual man and rejecting the natural man (vv. 14-16).
(5) Notice Paul’s discussion of the spiritual and the natural man (cf. Phil. 3:17-19).
A. V. 12 – It is the Spirit of God who reveals beneficial truths to mankind.
B. V. 12 – It is Paul’s duty to pass on the truth inspired by the Spirit.
C. V. 13 – “Which things we speak” = God’s truths are revealed in words (not intuition, feeling, etc).
D. V. 13 – ”comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(a) ASV = combining spiritual things with spiritual words.
(b) ESV – interpreting spiritual truth to those who are spiritual.
(c) NLT – using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
E. V. 14 – “But the natural man does not receive the things…” (i.e. natural man = non spiritual).
4. We rightly give great attention to the word of God and our study of it (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Tim. 2:15), but preaching it, reading it, studying it can be much like the radio waves existing in this room at this moment.
(1) The radio will not receive the waves unless it is turned on.
(2) The radio will not receive FM if tuned to AM.
(3) The radio will not receive the waves if the interference / noise is too strong.
(1) Rom. 12:1,2 – God’s mercy is the basis for our responding to His will. Reasonable service.
(2) 1 Cor. 2:14 – “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them for they are spiritually discerned.”
(3) The mercy of God ought to cause us to tune-in (i.e. reject the natural man and accept spiritual).
DISCUSSION: The mercy of God ought to cause us to tune-in (i.e. reject the natural man and accept spiritual) in regards to --
I. self control.
1. A natural / unspiritual man can’t “tune-in.” Places little or no restraint.
(1) Consumes himself with excesses of life (physical pleasure over-rides).
(2) This is obviously the problem with drug addicts, adulterers, gluttons.
(3) Now I will meddle a bit. Isn’t this our problem on occasion.
A. We know that certain habits are not good for our health, but…
B. We know that our tongue can possibly set the world on fire, but…
C. We know that we personally are servants of Christ, but wait to be served.
2. A spiritual man, tunes in! He / She is able to exercise control of self!
(1) Sometimes he/she avoids behavior “because God’s word forbids it!”
A. Cf. Prov. 23:29-35; Eph. 5:17-18; Rom. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:11; James 3.
(2) Sometimes he avoids behavior because it is not profitable (1 Thess. 5:21; Col. 3:2).
3. The natural man fails to see the value and places little restraint upon lifestyle. A spiritual man understands that restraint is not a bad thing.
II. introspection (“To look inward. To examine one’s mind…”
1. The natural man sees a strong self and relies upon own devices / wisdom.
(1) We might say egotistic or egocentric (Cf. Pharaoh in Egypt; Saul; Judas).
(2) Natural man thinks he has ability to overcome every obstacle of life.
A. World when listening to Noah’s preaching.
B. Naaman’s attitude at first.
C. Peter’s actions in garden.
(3) Natural man, sees himself as the standard for everyone else’s behavior. ***
A. Cf. David and Nathan (2 Sam. 12).
B. Pharisees and all Jews to a degree (cf. Crucifixion).
C. Us when we are quicker to see another man’s shortcomings than see own.
2. The spiritual man/woman sees first and foremost all his / her weaknesses.
(1) A spiritual man / woman throws self upon God’s mercy (Lk. 18:13).
A. Recognizing the need to overcome sin, but also recognizing he / she is powerless to merit any help (Eph. 2:8).
a. Thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil will not do it (Micah 6:6-8).
b. Read or reference Luke 18:9-14.
(2) A spiritual man recognizes one true standard for our behavior.
A. James 1:21-25. (NT is not without law!).
B. Christians have a law. It is perfect and it is a law of liberty.
a. Perfect because it is complete, and without defect.
b. Law of liberty because, while restraining us (law restrains), it sets free from death.
i. Drug addict, adulterer, compulsive liar all defy the law and operate without restraint.
ii. All the while they, while feeling unrestrained are in the greatest of bondage (sin / death).
3. The natural man will look to self for answers. The spiritual man will look outside of self to God for answers (i.e. liberty/restraint of God’s law / word).
1. The natural man sees no wisdom in it.
(1) He does not ask others for it, because he / she is convinced they not need.
(2) He / she tends not to extend forgiveness, because if they are strong enough not to ever need it, others should be as well!
(3) Cf. Mt. 18:23-35.
2. The spiritual man knows he needs forgiveness and is willing to extend it.
(1) Cf. Psa. 51; 1 Jn. 1:8-2:2.
(2) Knows that others make mistakes (Lk. 17:3,4; Lk. 23:34; Lk. 6:14-15).
3. A spiritual man will see forgiveness as a source of strength and not weak.
(1) Forgiveness “puts away evil” (Eph. 4:31-32).
(2) Forgiveness reflects the mind of Christ (Col. 3:12-13).
(3) Forgiveness confirms our love, just as it confirms God’s love (2 Cor. 2:7,8).
4. A natural man will see little or no benefit in the practice of forgiveness, but for a spiritual man, it is the essence of life.
IV. serving others.
1. The natural man sees the idea as detrimental to his position.
(1) Service / serving is valued only in the sense of what it will provide / gain me.
(2) Time for serving others is consumed in serving self (cf. Lk. 14:16-21; 12:16-21).
(3) If service is to be rendered, it will have to be by others, because the natural man is “too busy.”
2. Meanwhile, the spiritual man grasps the fact that being served is not the greatest privilege, but rather serving others is.
(1) He serves God for it is his duty and privilege (Eccl. 12:13; Mk. 9:35).
(2) He serves others with no ulterior motive.
A. Lk. 17:10 – We have done nothing more than his duty.
B. 1 Pet. 5:5,6 – Humbling self under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt...
(3) Spiritual man understands that none of his efforts in this life merit gain in the next life. We are all as an unclean thing and our righteousness as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).
A. I don’t have anything that God needs! He can take what I do offer and use, but He doesn’t need it!
3. Natural man = serves self and merits glory in this life. Spiritual man = merely a servant of God in this life who realizes I can never merit God’s grace.
1. There are radio waves traveling about in this building that we can neither see not hear, at this moment, because we are not “tuned in.”
2. The words of the Spirit of God are traveling about you at this moment. Are you tuned?