The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV
The wisdom of God is foolishness to men. The idea that a divine being sent His Son to live as a human being and die on a cross in order to pay for the sins of mankind is ludicrous to them. It is a delusional fable at best, a diabolical lie at worst. But Paul would argue that the problem lies not with the message or with the intent of the messenger. It is that those to whom the message is shared are incapable of receiving it. They can’t understand it. It would be like an American trying to understand a message spoken to him in a foreign language. The message and the messenger could both be accurate, but the meaning would be lost because the one to whom the message is being given doesn’t speak the language. The message of the cross is heavenly in nature. It is a spiritually based message that requires interpretation by the Spirit of God. Natural man, as Paul describes him, cannot understand the words and wisdom of God. Paul refers to him as “natural” simply to say that he is not spiritual or of the spirit. Anyone who has not placed their faith in Christ ia a natural man or woman. They lack the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God. And as Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). The Spirit of God speaks wisdom from God. He reveals the mind of God. “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11 ESV).
It is impossible for natural man, under the control of his own sin nature, to comprehend the mind of God. Even those who have placed their faith in Christ as their Savior had to have help from God’s Spirit in order to believe. They had to have their eyes opened and their hearts regenerated by the Spirit in order to comprehend the life-changing nature of the gospel message. “The natural person can, of course, understand the gospel and experience salvation but only because the Holy Spirit illuminates his or her understanding” (Robert A. Pyne, “The Role of the Holy Spirit in Conversion,” Bibliotheca Sacra 150:598 (April-June 1993):204-5).
And the second the Spirit illumines the eyes of the natural person so that they can see and accept the wonderful message of God’s gracious gift of salvation through Christ, He comes to dwell within them. They go from being natural to spiritual. The word Paul uses is πνευματικός (pneumatikos) and it means “one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God” (“G4152 – pneumatikos – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible). Because of the Spirit’s presence within them, they have the capacity to understand the things of the Spirit, or as Paul refers to them, spiritual truths. It is not the wisdom or eloquence of men that make the things of God accessible and understandable. It is the Spirit of God. It is not human wisdom that makes spiritual truths discernible to men, but the Spirit of God. Even Paul admits, “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths” (1 Corinthians 2:13 NLT). Even a spiritual person who attempts to speak spiritual truth without the Spirit’s help will end up relying upon human wisdom and his or her message will fall on deaf ears. It will lack power. It will be devoid of truth. It may be eloquent, impressive, even well-received, but it will not communicate the wisdom of God or contain the power of God.
One of the primary benefits of having the Spirit of God within us is the ability He provides to discern and evaluate all things. We have been given the Word of God and the Spirit of God in order that we might understand the will of God. Jesus told His disciples, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 NLT). With the Spirit’s help, we can accurately evaluate and determine God’s will for any given circumstance. The Spirit guides and directs. He comforts and consoles. He provides strength when needed and patience when waiting is necessary. We have a supernatural source of wisdom that allows us to know the mind of God. In fact, Paul simply says, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16b ESV). With the Spirit’s help, we can know what Christ knows. We can see life as He does. We can live as He did. In other words, we can live Christ-like lives here and now. We have the capacity to live holy, righteous lives even though we still have our old sin natures and live in a fallen, sinful world. And the world will not understand us. Natural men and women will be incapable of discerning our ways. They will misunderstand us and be turned off by us. Our lives will make them uncomfortable. Our pursuit of holiness will leave them baffled. Our set-apartness will make them feel judged and so they will attempt to judge us in return. But because they are natural and not spiritual, they will never be able to understand what motivates and drives us. Our love for the Word of God will make no sense to them. Our trust in the will of God will seem naive to them. Our hope in our future salvation by God will come across as little more than wishful thinking to them. But we have the Spirit of God and, as a result, we have the mind of Christ.