The last days of history – Part 4
2. Three Kinds of People: An Overview
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.” (1Cor 2:14-15)
BASIC DIVISION. Scripture typically divides all humans into two classes.
(1) The natural, or unspiritual, man/woman (Gk psuchikos, 1Cor2: 14) identifies the unregenerate person, i.e. one governed by mere natural instincts (2Pet2: 12). This kind of person does not have the Holy Spirit (Rom8: 9), is under Satan’s dominion (Acts 26: 18), and is enslaved to the body and its passions (Eph2: 3). He or she belongs to the world, is in sympathy with it (Jas 4:4) and rejects the righteous ways of the Spirit (1Cor2: 14). The unspiritual person is not able to understand God and His ways but instead relies on human reasoning or emotions.
(2) The spiritual man/woman (Gk pneumatikos, 1Cor2: 15; 3:1) identifies the regenerated person, i.e., one who has the Holy Spirit. This person is spiritually minded, thinks the thoughts of God (1Cor 2:11-13) and lives by the Spirit of God (Rom 8:4-17; Gal5: 16-26). Such an individual believes in Jesus Christ, strives to follow the leading of the indwelling Spirit, and resists sensual desires and sin’s dominion (Rom8: 13-14).
How does one become a spiritual man/woman? When a person accepts by faith the salvation provided through Christ, he or she is regenerated. The Holy Spirit imparts to him or her a new nature by an infusion of divine life (2Pet1: 4). He or she is born again (John 3:3,5,7), renewed (Rom12: 2) and made a new creation (2Cor5: 17) and recipient of God’s righteousness through faith in Christ (Phil 3:9).
Further Distinction Among Christians. Although born-again believers receive the new life of the Spirit, they retain the sinful nature with its evil inclinations (Gal5: 16-21). The sinful nature that remains in them cannot be made good; it must be crucified with Christ (Rom6: 6; Gal2: 20; 5:24) and overcome through the Spirit’s power and grace (Rom8: 13). Believers overcome by denying themselves daily (Mat16: 24; Rom8: 12-13; Tit2: 12), removing every hindrance or sin (Heb12: 1), and resisting all sinful temptations (Rom13: 14; Gal5: 16; 1Pet2: 11). By the power of the Spirit, believers themselves wage war against the sinful nature (Rom 8:13-14; Gal5: 16-18), crucify it (Gal5: 24) and put it do death daily (Col3: 5). By this process of self-denial and yielding to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work, they will be set free from the power of their sinful nature and live as spiritual Christians (Rom6: 13; Gal5: 16).
Not all Christians make the required effort to fully overcome this sinful nature. In addressing the Corinthians, Paul notes (1Cor3: 1,3) that some of them are behaving in a worldly or unspiritual (Gk sarkikos) manner. Instead of consistently resisting the inclinations of their sinful nature, they often yielded to at least some of them. Although they were not living in persistent disobedience, they were in the process of compromising with the world, the sinful nature and the devil in some areas of their lives, while still wanting to remain a part of God’s people (1Cor 10:21; 2Cor 6:14-18; 11:3; 13: 5).
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