Summary: You would probably be surprised if you opened your Bible and there on the pages of scripture was an eight by ten picture of your own face looking back at you.
You would probably be surprised if you opened your Bible and there on the pages of scripture was an eight by ten picture of your own face looking back at you. But you will see your portrait in scripture. The Bible talks about three different portraits and every one of us fits in to one of these three.
Do you remember a television show called To Tell the Truth? There would be three guests on the show. It would feature someone like a lighthouse operator. One of the guests would really be a lighthouse operator and the other two would be imposters just pretending they were lighthouse operators. People would question all three. What happened when a ship came near the rocks and was going to crash? What did you do?
The real lighthouse operator would give the right answer, but the two imposters would just make up something. Then at the end it was time for the real light house operator to stand up. They would all three shift back and forth and finally one would stand.
Now I want you to look at each of these three portraits as a contestant. Then ask if the real portrait of yourself in scripture will stand up. In other words when we look at the three kinds of portraits that Paul paints in these scriptures I want you to identify yourself.
The Natural Man
In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul speaks of the first portrait. This one is called the natural man. Now when you think of natural man you may be like me and think back to an old commercial when Euell Gibbons the outdoorsman and proponent of natural diets used to talk about all the things you could eat from nature, like a pine cone or whatever.
The Bible is not referring to someone who walks around in the wilderness, but as it is stated in the NIV, the man without the Spirit. In other words he is the one who is not a Christian. They live their life on this earth, but they have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ. They have never had an experience where they found the light of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul had an experience like this on the Damascus Road.
Let’s see this portrait. If you see the natural man, how do you recognize him? He may be the kind of person that stays out late at night getting drunk. Then you could look at that person and identify him as the natural man. A natural man could be someone who has had many hard breaks in life and he is homeless with no place to go. That may be the natural man.
At the same time the natural man may be found in places we do not expect to find him. He may have a cloak of decency. He may have a very prominent place in the business community. The natural man, as we use this term generically, could be a housewife that loves and cares for her children. The natural man could be one who works in a factory and sends his children to Sunday school.
The natural man is the one without the Spirit of God. He or she could look a number of ways. As we look around we can see hundreds and thousands of the natural man. These are people who have never put their trust in Jesus Christ.
God looks at this person as spiritually dead. There is no spiritual life at all because he does not know Jesus Christ. He lacks that new birth in Christ. The Bible says this natural man, “he does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.” He does not understand spiritually appraised things. That does not mean he is unfamiliar with the Bible. He may be able to quote verses. He does not understand spiritual things, but that is different than having knowledge about religious things.
The natural man cannot understand spiritual things. He may however be very intelligent. He may have advanced degrees from prestigious institutions. He just cannot understand spiritual things as the man who knows Jesus and is made alive in the Spirit. The natural man does not understand faith in God. These are the things that are spiritually appraised.
I met an example of the natural man. He was my tour guide in Israel. There is was a Baptist Pastor there who really knew his Bible. The guide and the pastor got in an argument about the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. They went toe to toe in a debate about the Bible passage. This guide knew the New Testament inside and out, but he did not know the Lord Jesus Christ.
This guide knew so much Bible knowledge, but he could not accept that Jesus was the awaited messiah. He could not accept that Jesus who was crucified was God’s Son. He could not accept that Jesus was fully God and fully man. These things are spiritually appraised. This man had the academic knowledge but the true heart knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ, he could not understand because he was a natural man.