Summary: One of the major reasons for church problems then and now is carnality of the believers. Paul explains who a spiritual man is.
SPIRITUAL MEN IN THE LOCAL CHURCH 1Corinthians 2: 15 – 3:1
One of the reasons behind the troubles in the Corinth church was the carnality of the members. Paul does not hesitate to reveal his observation “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 1Cor 3:1.
In the first six chapters of 1st Corinthians, Apostle Paul is dealing with the various issues like division, indiscipline, court cases, immorality etc. prevailing in the local assembly at Corinth. Careful study of these chapters gives us valuable lessons to deal with similar issues that we face even today.
For a local church to be healthy, happy, and united the foremost requirement is that believers need to be spiritual. Who is a spiritual person and what are his distinguishing marks? Paul presents five basic features in this passage.
1. The spiritual man recognizes and appreciates God’s word. Cf. v. 13b
“The Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Who is actually a spiritual man? Paul contrasts spiritual man with natural man, who is an unconverted, spiritually dead individual. That is the state of every one born in the race of Adam. God in a miraculous way through the work of the Holy Spirit quickens the dead ones on the basis of the gracious work of Christ on the cross. Thus he is no more led and controlled by his soul, his feelings but by the Spirit of God who indwells in him. Ephesians 2:1; 5:8; 1Peter 2:9; Galatians 5:16 etc.
The moment this mysterious divine operation takes place, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins to teach him / her divine truths. Natural man who is an unbeliever does not recognize it, but a believer will understand it.
A born again believer who shows least interest in the word of God cannot be a spiritual person. Because not only it is one of the basic features of a spiritual person, but also it is the only way to nourish and sustain his spiritual life. John 6: 63
So, a spiritually minded believer loves and values the word of God more than anything else. Psalm 119: 97, 127. They earnestly look forward to the next opportunity to spend time with the word and meditate upon it. He will also testify the truth without any hesitation. Psalm 119:46
2. A Spiritual man has the ability to discern spiritual things. 1Cor 2:15a.
“But he who is spiritual judges all things...”
Spiritually minded believers have the ability to distinguish and differentiate between that which is right and wrong, holy and unholy. A true believer is not supposed to follow or accept anything that comes his way. He has to judge, discern and evaluate. Philippians 1:9; 1Thessalonians 5:21; 1John 4:1 etc.
Sad to notice nowadays many so-called believers, without any hesitation adopt various lifestyles of the unbelievers. That shows the utter absence of discernment and definitely that also reveals the fact about their spirituality.
It is the blessed privilege of a spiritual man to have spiritual senses exercised to hear, smell, taste and see that which many may not comprehend. Hebrews 5:14. Due to such sharp, active spiritual senses he perceives, judges and assesses anything in a spiritual perspective.
3. A Spiritual man has the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16b
“But we have the mind of Christ.”
Another mark of a spiritual man is his ability to look at life in God’s point of view. Having the mind of Christ does not mean becoming like Christ in every aspect. No one can ever be like Him; we don’t even understand Him fully. v. 16a cf. Rom 11: 33 – 35.
However, it pleased the Lord to reveal His mind to us that we are able to have a divine outlook. Apart from that, the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us to have the feeling and attitude of Christ by imparting His life. Phil 2:5 cf. Gal 5:22, 23; 2Cor 3:18. Such Christ-like lifestyle characterized by selfless service, sympathy, and humility will make believer a great blessing the local church. Gala 6:1; Matt 9:36ff
4. A Spiritual man is a growing Christian. 1Cor 3:1
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”
A carnal believer is one who is born again yet living according to the passions of his flesh. About him Paul writes they are babes, immature Christians, whereas a spiritual man is growing progressively.
Remember, the ultimate purpose of God for a Christian is to make him like His Son Jesus Christ. Rom 8:29. It happens gradually, little by little by the work of the Holy Spirit as mentioned earlier. Spiritual growth refers to the level of Christ-likeness we have attained. A spiritual man keeps on developing with more and more of the qualities of Christ-like grace, love, meekness etc.