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Read Introduction to 1 Corinthians

 

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.

 

Now in verses 14 through 16, Paul takes up the subject of illumination. Illumination is God’s intervention on the believer’s behalf to understand the Word of God. First, Paul deals with why the non-believer cannot understand divine phenomena.

 

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,

The word “natural” means soulish. We get our word “psychology” from this word. The” natural man” is all soul, pure psychology, and no spirit. He has natural capacity but no spiritual capacity (psuchikos). He does not have the capacity to relate to God because he has had only one birth; he has not had a second birth. He may outwardly be very moral or righteous, but inwardly he is dead to God. He is no more than a soul and without spiritual capacity. He cannot connect to God. 

The soulish man does not “receive the things of the Spirit of God.” He has no capacity to appreciate divine truth. God’s Word does not penetrate his thinking. The word “receive” means welcome. He does not welcome the Word of God into his soul because he is self-sufficient in his soul. God’s Word does not penetrate the deadness of his soul and he has no capacity to receive transcendent discernment. 

Non-Christians exist purely on the human or material level. They have a perception handicap and lack adequate faculty to know God (Ro 8:7). They are spiritually blind because they believe that the self is the measure of the person (solipsism). 

for they are foolishness to him;

The “things of the Spirit of God” are foolishness to the non-Christian. His starting point is negative volition toward divine truth; that is his presupposition about truth. He believes that all he needs is his own perception of reality. 

nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The word “discerned” is the word judged. A judge makes a distinction as to who is innocent or who is guilty. He makes a distinction between opinion and fact. The non-Christian does not have the faculty to make judgments about the Word of God because he is spiritually dead.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 3Buteven if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 

PRINCIPLE:

The non-believer does not possess the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.

APPLICATION:

The non-Christian lives purely on the human or material level. The non-believer has a perception handicap to spiritual things. He, therefore, lacks the faculty to know God. He begins with himself and ends with himself. He exists in a purely human condition. He is like a blind man who cannot see the sun. He is spiritually blind. Man believes that he is the measure of man. He is all that he needs. He does not need God. He is kind as long as he can have his own way.

Romans 8;7, Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

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