The Spiritual Man
There are a number of distinctives that distinguish the spiritual man from the natural man.
First, the spiritual man has received the Spirit of God. God promised to pour out His Spirit and make His Words known (Prv 1:23), to the offspring of Israel (Is 44:3; Ezek 39:29), to sons and daughters (Joel 2:28), and even male and female servants (Joel 2:29). This, God did at Pentecost (Acts 2:17–18), and He continues to do, today.
Second, with the receipt of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual man is regenerated (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). He is made alive to God (Eph 2:5), and the life of God has made His permanent abode in the hearts of God’s elect (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 4:6). He that is spiritual has been chosen for salvation (Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4–5; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10), being a vessel of mercy, prepared for glory (Rom 9:23).
Third, with the Spirit indwelling (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11; 2 Cor 1:21–22; Jas 4:5), the spiritual man has been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). The Spirit has the mind of God and searches the mind of God because He is God, the third Person of the Trinity (1 Cor 2:10–11). The spiritual thoughts and words now belong to the regenerate soul, who understands the Word of God, by the Spirit.
Fourth, the spiritual man has a divine Teacher. God Himself serves to elucidate the Bible to the adopted child of God (Jn 14:27; Rom 8:15, 23). Growing to spiritual maturity requires the knowledge of God and lots of grace (2 Pet 3:18).
Fifth, the spiritual man is afforded grace upon grace from God (Jn 1:16) Grace is for God’s elect, redeemed people. What the natural man does not have is grace from God. If he did have God’s grace, he would have the gifts of grace (Ps 84:11), freely given (charisthenta) to the spiritual man, including: the Spirit of grace (Zech 12:10); Jesus, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14, 17); faith (Acts 18:27; Rom 4:16); justification (Rom 3:24); righteousness (Rom 5:17); reign of grace (Rom 6:15); spiritual gifts (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12–14; Eph 4), and the grace that produces good works (Eph 2:10; 1 Cor 15:10); etc.
Sixth, the spiritual man has a new interest in the Bible, the Word of truth (Ps 119:160; Jn 17:17). With the Holy Spirit as his teacher and guide, the Scriptures provide a godly worldview. No longer is he tossed about by every wind of changing heretical doctrine; rather, there is now spiritual discernment (1 Cor 2:15).
Seventh, the spiritual man has a new battle he must fight (1 Tim 6:12). By his union with the divine dread champion (Jer 20:11) and victor (2 Cor 2:14), Jesus Christ, he is equipped for spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10–20) against principalities and powers in heavenly places. This is the war for truth that demands faith because we live by faith not sight (2 Cor 5:7).
Eighth, the spiritual man has hope and a future. The knowledge of God informs him of God’s predetermined plan (Acts 2:23) and the assurance of God’s salvation of His chosen people in Christ (Rom 5–8).
Ninth, in preparation for an eternity in glory, the spiritual man has the Holy Spirit and the Word sanctifying him (Jn 17:17). This means God is making this man to be holy (1 Pet 1:16), set apart from sin and the world, and set apart unto God for His purposes (Eph 3:11).
Tenth, the spiritual man has been positioned into a new group of people (1 Cor 12:13). These share the same Spirit and have the same mind and the same judgment (1 Cor 1:10). His membership is irrevocable. If Christ has called one to come to Him, to be in His spiritual body of people (Rom 12:5), the church, then that calling is sure (2 Pet 1:10).
Eleventh, the spiritual man has sacraments to refer to for comfort. His baptism serves to remind him to whom he belongs. His identity has changed, which bestows upon him the new name “Christian.” After his initiation sacrament (baptism) comes the invitation to dine at the King’s table, regularly.
The spiritual man is eating spiritual food. As he takes in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, they represent his taking Christ into his soul. The bread reminds him of the bread of heaven, Jesus Christ (Jn 6:41). The wine reminds him of the blood of the new covenant shed for him (Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25). These gifts are grace to his soul.
Lastly, the spiritual man himself cannot be spiritually appraised (1 Cor 2:15). He is the object of grace, in the hands of the Potter (Jer 18:1–6; Rom 9:21). God has begun this good, spiritual work in him, and God will complete His work however He intends (Phil 1:6). Judgment from men or even oneself is not necessary (1 Cor 4:3–4).
In conclusion, we confess there is much more that could be accounted for, to distinguish the spiritual man from the natural man. We close with the words of Puritan, John Owen, regarding the receipt of the Spirit, which makes one spiritual, “Where any work of grace begun in a person does not result in regeneration and the salvation of that person, it is because God never intended to regenerate that person, and so did not work that work in him.”
Owen continues, “There is an important doctrinal principle to learn here. When the Holy Spirit intends to regenerate a person, he removes all obstacles, overcomes all resistance and opposition, and infallibly produces the result he intended (John Owen, The Holy Spirit, [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960], pp. 84–85),
August 2, 2022