The Natural, Spiritual Life
The Bible is clear that the natural man has no interest in the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14). Man’s focus is on self, especially on meeting his carnal desires. He is dominated by the flesh, which is ever-craving satisfaction. As we can all attest, satisfaction is short-lived when it comes to our body of sin.
Experts in every field are forever pressing the need for healthy inputs. We should eat organic foods, drink lots of water, sleep eight hours per day, and exercise regularly. We should limit screen time on our electronic devices, and remember…character counts.
The Bible warns us that the flesh is weak, and sin is crouching at the door (Gen 4:7; Mt 26:41). The devil is prowling like a lion, ready to devour the unsuspecting (1 Pet 5:8). The natural man is either interested or disinterested in his physical well-being, but he is definitely not interested in the deep things of God (Rom 3:10–12). He dismisses all the religious negativity that is causing all the trouble in the world…or so he imagines.
The healthy eater objects to the “poison” processed foods. He watches his intake of bad stuff. He, of course, will dedicate himself to personal discipline, and activism, if he is motivated.
The natural activist is driven by fear — a type of scarcity consciousness that is convinced we are running out of everything. He works very intently to inspire others and typically offends the “unbelievers.” The naturalist has his religion and deity in nature — the chemical, biological, and physical world.
There is also a religious man who imagines himself to be spiritual because he dedicates himself to a daily regimen of spiritual discipline. He goes to religious services, reads a portion of Scripture each day, and prays at least a certain amount of times. He loves church growth because there are more people to compare his spiritual progress with, in a visible race to holiness. He has turned Christianity into a measured experience that gives him temporary satisfaction…sometimes a bit of pride.
Our interest, however, is in the natural, spiritual man (1 Cor 2:15). This man has one catalyst that sets him apart from the naturalist and the religionist. This man has been born again by the Spirit of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). His dead soul has been made alive to God (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), which means there is a new life for Him to live (Rom 6:4). This is the life of faith, lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. “Christ lives in me,” is his testimony (Gal 2:20).
The heart of the spiritual man has new affections. His mind now meditates on goodness (Col 3:2). His eyes are on Jesus (Heb 12:2), who is the very One who gave him life and the gift of faith (Phil 1:29). He worships the Triune God, in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24). He delights in the Law of God that he formerly despised (Ps 1:2). He has fellowship with those of like mind (2 Cor 3:11).
It is the Holy Spirit, who unites Christians (Eph 4:5). Unity and the bond of peace are for those who are taught by the Spirit (Jn 14:26). Just as the Spirit led the unregenerate elect to Christ (Jn 16:13), convinced him of sin and the need to confess and repent of sins (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 17:30), so the Spirit helps us in our weakness, in the Christian life (Rom 8:26).
The weakness is the Christian’s flesh. His flesh is at war with the Spirit now indwelling him (Gal 5:17; Rom 8:9, 11). The mind of this spiritual man is set on things above (Col 3:2), where Christ is seated (Eph 2:6) and has gone to prepare a place for the saint (Jn 14:2–3), who is being sanctified by God’s Word and His Spirit (Jn 17:17).
If there is discipline in the Christian life, it is from God (Heb 12:4–11). It is like a natural spring which pushes its way to the surface. This is the natural spiritual life. It is Christ thriving with life within and flowing forth like rivers of living water. It is invigorating and renewed daily by the Spirit (2 Cor 4:16).
The natural, spiritual life cannot be manipulated because it is the Spirit of God issuing grace upon grace. The result is the Christian growing in grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
The knowledge of Christ is life and truth (Jn 14:6). The content is the Word of God, which is the Word of truth (Ps 119:160; Jn 17:17), which powerfully works to cut away that which hinders our personal relationship with God and the spiritual family He has formed for us (Mt 16:18; 1 Cor 12:13; 1 Pet 2:9).
Family is where we are known best. It is where we think freely, speak our minds and behave in the manner of our true selves. We do not have marketing schemes in family, nor do we create programs. Instead, we live life together.
Church is our spiritual family, where we feast together, have communion together, welcome new babes, and where we are real, in the presence of God. It is here that we are home in the Spirit (Rom 14:17). Because the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:20–22), we dismiss the intrusions of corporate leadership agendas, worldly entertainment, forced learning modules, and anything psychological, posing as natural spiritual life.
Jesus promised that His yoke was easy, like a growing branch or a grazing sheep. Here is the natural, spiritual life…resting in Christ, and trusting Him and His work, alone, until He is fully formed in us (Gal 4:19; Col 1:28).
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 11, 2022