The Ignorant Natural Man

Justin Johnson

“…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:…” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

The natural man is without Christ. According to the natural man wisdom is attained by pursuing the depths of human philosophy and science.

The natural man thinks the preaching of the cross is foolish religion and rejects it (1 Cor 1:18).

The Spirit of God has inspired every word of scripture (2 Tim 3:16). He spoke to the apostles and prophets to reveal the mystery of Christ and the power of God in Christ crucified (Eph 3:5, 1 Cor 1:24).

It is this mystery of Christ that we are to make all men see and is declared to be the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:8-9). There is no doubt that the paths to wisdom are different for the natural man and the man regenerated by the Spirit (Titus 3:5).

He Can Not Know

Yet, 1 Cor 2:14 does not stop at the natural man merely rejecting the things of the Spirit of God. It says that he cannot know them.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

To this the natural man feels threatened and asserts that he has studied the Bible, translated it, analyzed it, compiled it, catalogued it, and compared its doctrines to other religions. Surely, he says, he can know the things in the Bible. Not so.

However familiar the natural man is with the recorded scripture he can never know the things of the Spirit of God, experience the power of God, nor understand the deep things of God. This is not because he cannot read a book, but because he does not have faith in the book as God’s words.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” – 1 Thess 2:13

Spiritually Discerned

More specifically the natural man does not have the Spirit of God by which to discern the spiritual things of God.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” – 1 Cor 2:12

When we trust the gospel, a new man is regenerated by the Spirit of God. The new spiritual man can know the things of the Spirit of God. It takes one to know one.

How can the natural man put on the mind of God in the flesh without trusting Christ’s crucifixion as the power of God (Phil 2:2-8)?

Experiencing the quickening of our mortal bodies is impossible without the indwelling Spirit (Rom 8:9-11).

The comfort and joy of setting our affections on things above is lost on the carnally minded (Col 3:1-4).

How to walk in Christ the “way we received him” is unknown without first receiving him (Col 2:6-7).

None of these spiritual realities can be known to the natural man who rejects the gospel.

The man who has trusted the power of God unto salvation can know these free things of God. Although, we may still be growing in our knowledge of them, all of the spiritual blessings are given to us that are in Christ.

The natural man is without Christ, and he cannot know the things of God. We are all born ignorant natural men. Ignorance is curable: trust the power of God unto salvation.

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Published: October 1, 2011
Last Modified: March 24, 2017
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