Summary: Class and caste have always charactorized humanity
Three Spiritual Plains by Gerald Van Horn
I Corinthians 2:14. “But the natural man received not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them.
I Corinthians 3:1-2 “And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food; for to this time ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.”
I Corinthians 2:15 “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Class and caste have always characterized humanity from the beginning of time. From these unwritten laws of segregation came inseparable barriers. For example we have the white collar workers, the blue collar workers, the hard hats and the soft hats. In the spiritual realm there is a clear distinction made. Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit divides mankind into three categories. They are not determined by social, financial or intellectual standards. They are classifieds by the ability to receive spiritual truths. The Word of God is the touch-stone and everyman falls into one of these categories.
1. There is the natural man.
The Greek word is “psuchikos” for the natural man. No matter how admirable the natural man may be in other realms, he is void of understanding things of the Spirit. He is unregenerated. This type labors under heavy and clear duress when it comes to spiritual things. Paul’s description of him is “he receiveth not the things of the Spirit.” This is a clear indication that he cannot know them.
Illustration: A lover of art will stand for hours admiring a painting of Raphael, Turner or Michelangelo. The beauty is obvious to them. A youth with no taste for refinement would pass it by without a second glance. He can see nothing appealing to him. The same youth may stand fascinated in front of a theater poster that is hideous and salacious. He does not receive the things of fine art. They are foolishness to him. His taste is different.
The natural man is as unappreciative of those things which constitute the charm and beauty of the spiritual realm. He sees no need for the Bible for daily spiritual food. It is foolish to him. He lacks the faculty to appreciate. He can no more understand spiritual things than a baby can understand the terrestrial. John 3:3 “Except a man be born again he cannot see (or understand) the kingdom of God.”
Illustration: A man born deaf is unmoved by an exquisite symphony. A man born blind cannot perceive the beauty of a sunset. Both lack the faculties.
The natural man is similarly handicapped in the spiritual. He might understand grammar, geography, history and ethics. But he can never communicate the spiritual sense to others.
Illustration: William Wilberforce, emancipator of the slaves, was an earnest Christian. He was deeply interested in the spiritual welfare of William Pitt, a brilliant prime minister at the age of 25. He invited him to attend a lecture by Robert Cecil. He was in hopes that it might lead to his conversion. Recounting, Wilberforce said he never heard Cecil preach with more power and command with innovative logic and unction. He asked the young man, “Well, what did you think of Cecil’s message?” The reply was , “I gave him my full attention but I failed to see what he was driving at!” Pitt was sincere, intelligent but he lacked the faculty to accept spiritual truth.
To use an Old Testament analogy - the natural man lives in Egypt. He’s of the world. He’s under bondage. Pharaoh is his taskmaster and for all his labor, all he receives is the lash on his back. He longs for a better day but it never comes.
2. There is the Carnal man.
The word Paul uses is “sarchikos“. He is the man of the flesh. He functions on the lower purely human nature. The word does not imply sexual sin as it so often does. Rather it is direct reference to the domination of the unregenerated nature. By his faith this man is united in Christ but he finds no satisfaction in Christ alone. There must always be a plus in his life. He is way ahead of the natural man because he possesses spiritual life. His characterization is vividly portrayed in Scripture:
* Spiritual infancy. He is a spiritual baby. I Corinthians 3:1. He should be eating solid food instead he is anemic. He can only digest milk from the Word. He has progressed no further in the Lord than he was one year ago. Baby talk and actions are cute in children but tragic in a grown man.