THE SPIRITUAL MAN
P. Samuel Manoharam
There is a difference between the natural man and the spiritual man.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14,15 we read that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God and he is not able to understand them, as they are spiritually discerned; but the spiritual man discerns all things.
The spirit has to do with man’s spiritual nature. God created man in His own image, meaning that God endowed man with divine faculty whereby he, unlike animals, can commune with God. Proverbs 20:27 describes the spirit of man as the Lord’s lamp, through which divine light and understanding is imparted to man. Job 32:8 says, “There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.”
When God breathed into the first man’s nostrils the breath of life, man became a living soul (Gen.2:7). Soul represents the ‘inner man’ and expresses the characteristics of his personality. The soul is the seat of man’s emotions and thoughts. Man’s likes and dislikes, desires, feelings, impressions and affinities are related to his soul.
The body is the outward, physical structure which holds man’s soul and spirit. It serves as the vehicle to carry out the orders or commands of man’s soul and spirit. When the (un-regenerated) soul is in control, man fulfils his physical needs to satisfy his natural impulses, even to the extent of debasing it to the level of an animal. When God’s Spirit enters man’s heart, the spirit of man which was dead in sin becomes alive and the body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, to be a holy vessel and instrument of righteousness to serve and glorify God (Rom.6:1-19;1Cor.6:13-17).
The Natural Man
The Greek word that refers to the natural man is psyche, which means soul. It deals with man’s emotions, thoughts and actions. The natural man is a social, moral and cultural being and his actions and conduct are dictated by his soul. He is governed by his feelings, thoughts and impressions. Although he has religious inclinations, he is self-centred and self-willed.
Therefore, the natural man should not be confused with the spiritual man. Natural man has only religious experiences. Being religious and being spiritual are two different things. In the natural man, the soul dominates his actions; he cannot be receptive to the realities of the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit). Being born with the sin nature, he is spiritually dead until he allows God to ‘quicken’ his spirit by receiving Christ as His personal Saviour from sin.
Unfortunately, this is the condition of most ‘Christians’ today for whom Christianity is just another religion. The emphasis is on the edifices, membership, preacher’s eloquence, Scripture reading, prayer meetings, social activities and music to entertain and satisfy the soul. A majority of churchgoers are not spiritual (not born of the Spirit) but soulish (religious), and are dominated by a desire for material gains and social status.
The Spiritual Man
A truly spiritual man is indwelt and controlled by God’s Spirit. His soul does not influence or dominate him. The spiritual man is receptive to the light the Holy Spirit imparts. He is always open to correction and discipline. He does not compare himself with others. He orders his life according to the will of God. He is not obstinate or rebellious. His spirit is penitent and contrite. He seeks God’s forgiveness for every fault he commits.
The spiritual person is always loving, considerate and compassionate toward others. He is not deceived by outward appearances and persuasive arguments. He recognises the hidden motives of people. He knows that the needs of the soul can never be met through human efforts and religious means. He believes that only the Holy Spirit can meet and fulfil the longings of the soul when he lives a life of total surrender to Christ.
To experience inner harmony, man’s soul and spirit must fulfil their distinctive roles ordained by God. For the spiritual man, what is visible (natural) is transitory. Only when God’s Spirit is in control of man’s spirit, can he exclaim with joy, “My soul praises the Lord (not myself) and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psa.42:1,2).
We can know Christ personally only through the light imparted by the Holy Spirit, and our relationship with Him will grow as we get to know Him better. We will no longer see the natural things through our eyes. We will no longer be attracted to worldly things and desires.
The visible (natural) must give way to the invisible (spiritual) if we are to grow into the stature of Christ. Someone has said, “The visible can be compared to a mirror, whose purpose is to reflect whatever image may be projected upon it. But more important than the reflected image is the real object itself. The invisible is the reality of what is reflected on the visible mirror.” (Read 1Cor.13:11,12).
The apostle Paul says, “We are not to stop at that which is seen but to go on to the unseen: for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2Cor.4:18).
For one who has been translated from the visible to the invisible – from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light – the realities of the realm of the light are incomparable with the realities of the natural realm.
A life lived by the Spirit is the highest level of Christianity, whereas a life without the indwelling Holy Spirit is soulish, one that is centred on the self.
Sadhu Sundar Singh said, “We are born in the natural world. But we should learn to live in the supernatural world of God. The only hope for this world is true spirituality in our way of life.”
“Woe to those who call evil good” (Isa.5:20).