These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything even the depths of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 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. (I Corinthians 2:10-14)
We must never underestimate the importance of God’s Spirit in our lives. He is the Agent who applies the finished work of Christ to our lives. It is the Spirit who effectually calls us and regenerates us. The Spirit is fully involved in all our salvation.
In the text today, Paul speaks of the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. The truths of God are revealed to us through the Spirit. As this passage tells us, the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit because he cannot accept them until God opens his eyes to them. In fact, the things of the Spirit are foolish to him. He cannot understand; He does not accept them. It is for this reason that we must not expect a person who has not been awakened to spiritual life to understand the things of the Spirit.
When we are given new life from the Spirit (i.e. regeneration, being born again), we are no longer to receive the spirit of the world; we should not; we must not. However, we have to be realistic and watchful. We are in the world, under the influences of the world, subject to the desires of the world, and are still prone to love the world.
Part of spiritual illumination is being discerning about the spirit of the world. In fact, John gives us a stern warning:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh, and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not form the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)
Paul made it perfectly clear that we did not receive the spirit of the world. What is he telling us here? Precisely the things that John warns us about — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions. The world attempts to seduce us and to draw us into its spirit.
The desires of the flesh can all too easily overcome us — lust, selfishness, and all the things that Paul lists in Galatians 5.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
After making these statements, Paul gives examples of the work of the flesh which he says are very evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissections, divisions, envy, drunkenness, anger, and things like these. Do these things sound familiar? Daily we are confronted with them. They draw us in, influence us, and yes, seduce us. These are the very things Paul tells us we have not received.
And what about the desires of the eyes? These desires make us covet things. These things then become idols. We begin to love them more than we love Christ. They are powerful. We look too often at them with too much desire.
Then comes the pride of possessions. How we overvalue these things — things we like, things we love, things we adore. These loves capture us. We overly protect them, overly admire them. We are proud of them. They become our prized possessions, the objects of our affections.
But we do not receive the things of the world. They are temporal; they will fade; and, yes, they will be destroyed one day.
We have received the Spirit who is from God. He is our most treasured gift. It is the Spirit who enables us to understand the things freely given us by God. Jesus made this promise to His disciples:
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority; but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:12,13)
It is noteworthy to ask why Jesus said that He had many things to say to His disciples, but that they could not bear to understand them. The answer is obvious. The Spirit had not come to dwell in them yet. They were incapable of understanding anymore than they had received up to this point.
But when the Spirit of truth came in all His fullness at Pentecost, He began to guide them into all truth. Notice the word “all”. It was when the Spirit of truth came that they finally understood the implications of the gospel and the application of it to their lives.
I began by saying that we must never underestimate the importance of the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit spoke authoritative truth to the apostles. This is what we call “inspiration.” We no longer have this authoritative revelation. We do not need it. The Scriptures give us all we need.
While we don’t have inspiration from the Spirit in the technical sense, we do have His illumination. The Holy Spirit teaches us, guides us into all truth, gives us the ability to understand the Word of God and its application to our lives.
My calling in life from God is to do precisely this — to impart God’s truth not in words taught by human wisdom, but rather taught by the Spirit. I am to preach boldly, clearly, accurately the Word of God as the Spirit opens my eyes and heart to understand it. This is the highest of callings. The message is a message of life and death, of heaven and hell.
May these words of Paul be true of my life until He takes me home:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (II Timothy 4:1-2)
May God give me a powerful work of the Spirit of God to understand and to preach the great truths of God!
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