The Road Map to Maturity
I Corinthians Chapters 2 and 3
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:13
At the start of a brand new year it’s a good time to stop and evaluate: Where am I? What sort of person am I? What can be truly said of me now? The Bible is a road map to guide you, to get you where you need to be. But no map is of any use unless you first know one thing: where you are right now. The first question ever asked of the first person on earth—Adam—was this: “Adam where are you?” We’d do well to determine where we are today.
To begin with, you are one of three types of people:
a natural person, a spiritual person, or a carnal person.
Everyone is in one of those categories. If you’re what the Bible calls a “natural man,” you're lost and on the road to hell. If you’re a truly spiritual person, you’re living in victory. Or you’re in the 3rd group: a carnal person—saved, but no one would ever know it.
As we look at these three—natural, spiritual, carnal—which one are you?
The natural person just does what comes naturally. And “by nature, we are children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
Three marks of the natural person:
• Born into the natural world
Our problem is what we received at birth—a sinful nature. Romans 7:18 says in our flesh (our own nature) there is nothing good. We are by nature children of wrath.
• Blind to the spiritual world
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
Until you are born again, you'll never understand the Bible. You'll know the words, but you'll never get the music. They are spiritually understood.
The natural man or woman operates out of their own fleshly nature. The things of God are foolishness to the person who’s not born again. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. (1:18)
• Bound to the material world
When Nicodemas met with Jesus (John 3), he said he didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. He was telling the truth! Born to the natural world—blind to the spiritual—thus bound to the material world, this was the only world he knew. He was a materialist. He had no capacity for spiritual things.
But man is more than an animal. He has a capacity for God, and even if all our creature-comforts are met, if that’s all we have, we’re empty.
If the natural man does what comes naturally, the spiritual man does what comes supernaturally. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God. (1 Cor. 2:12)
Three marks of the spiritual person:
• Lives by the Spirit.
Born twice, born of the Spirit. He has received the Spirit 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 (v. 12).
Salvation is not merely getting man out of earth into Heaven. It’s getting God out of Heaven into man. Christians are not just natural people who decide to do better. Christians have been radically, supernaturally changed. A Christian is not like a tadpole who becomes a frog but a frog who becomes a prince by the kiss of grace. Not a gradual change, becoming more of what we are by nature, but becoming what we could never be by nature. We receive life from the Spirit, we live by the Spirit,
• Learns by the Spirit
We learn by the Spirit. It is a miracle. God turns the light on in our soul. He puts the oil of His Holy Spirit in that human lamp and God illumines you from the inside. The spiritual person sees with the mind of Christ.
• Liberated by the Spirit.
This world system doesn't squeeze him into its mold. He sees what’s happening in today's world and has a value system that’s completely different. He sees through things—from God's viewpoint.
The natural man does what comes naturally. The spiritual man does what comes supernaturally. The carnal man does what comes unnaturally. The carnal man is sort of a spiritual monstrosity, neither fish nor fowl. He's been saved, yet he’s a very strange person. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual. I have fed you with milk and not with meat, for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (I Cor. 3:1-2). They were in the church, but they were carnal—“babes in Christ.”
Three marks of the carnal:
They have no victory, no ability to do what a mature person ought. They cannot walk spiritually, war spiritually, or work spiritually. They are marked by inability. Spiritual babies. They’re in every church. Some have been babies for forty years.
The average Christian today is carnal. If you’ve become a spiritual Christian, don’t think you've done something wonderful. Every Christian ought to be a spiritual Christian. It’s the carnal Christian who’s unnatural.
They’re dependent on spoon-fed sermons, on some teacher/pastor to teach them. The writer of Hebrews (in 5:11-12) says of these folks, “If I gave you a steak, you couldn't chew it. You're a little baby. So today I'm going to give you soft oatmeal, strained beets and formula. Some of you ought to be teachers, but you need somebody to teach you again the first principles!”
Some of you have been members of a church and never taught anybody anything. You just say, “feed me.” They want to come to church on Sunday, let the pastor give them a Bible verse, then burp them on the way out.
“For ye are yet carnal, for whereas there is among you envying and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as [any other]men…?” 1 Corinthians 3:3-6
This church was dividing over trifles, like little children get upset over trifles. Babies—children—immature—these are the divisive. They have their favorite preachers, their favorite teachers. They will split a church over the difference between tweedle-dee-dee and tweedle-dee-dum. I've had far more difficulty in churches with carnal people than I have with alcoholics.
Which category do you find yourself in today? Here at the beginning of 2018 is the time to take stock.
May those who are still the “natural” man or woman, still not having been regenerated by the Spirit of God, call upon the Lord Jesus to save them and give them new life…and He will turn on the lamp within.
May those who are spiritual continue to grow more faithful, more like the Savior.
And I pray today that those who are babies, who have passed the legitimate time for childhood, would grow up and take their place of service, becoming what they could be and ought to be for Jesus.
Commit daily to serious study of the Word and a focused prayer life—the Bible gives us the road map to maturity.
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