In my previous two posts on this subject, we addressed that the mind of Christ is accessible but not automatic and then looked at how we access Jesus’ mind via the Spirit, though not in detail. He we get further into the details.
Years ago, there was a movie with the title Lost in Translation. While I never saw the movie, the title captures what sometimes happens with scripture. In the process of translation, we sometimes lose important and practical information. The passage below is an example. We can gain what was lost by looking closely at the meaning of the words natural and spiritual in verses 14 and 15.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 (NKJV)
The word translated as spiritual in verse 15 is the adjective form of spirit. The word translated as natural is the adjective form of soul, Thus, it would be better rendered as soulish so that we can see the contrast between soulish and spiritual that is actually what Paul is highlighting. (As an aside, I first came across this idea in Watchman Nee’s most significant work, The Spiritual Man about 35 years ago.) Many assume that ‘natural’ means unregenerate but that doesn’t fit the context. Let’s look at verses 14-15 again plugging in both adjective forms.
14 But the soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
Paul’s contrast between soulish and spiritual is not on whether or not we are born again. It is on what we are drawing from or living from. The soulish person may be unregenerate or they may not be paying attention to the Spirit and so be soulish when they should be spiritual. After all, that is the focus of Paul’s rebuke in in the next chapter. He rebukes the Corinthian believers for not being spiritual and is shocked that they are acting like ‘mere men’ (verses 1 and 3).
To be spiritual is to look to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s point from chapter 2 verse 9 on into chapter 3 is that we don’t receive the things of the Spirit through our natural/soulish reasoning. He says that the Lord wants to speak to us but also says that the only one who knows the things of God is the Spirit because He searches the depths (2:10) and He reveals things to us, which must be discerned by comparing spiritual things with spiritual things rather than soulish things.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
What we see in 1 Corinthians as a whole is people who were focused on who they followed (name dropping – Paul, Apollos, Peter), people who were misusing spiritual gifts out of ambition and a desire for recognition rather than love, and people creating division around communion, the very antithesis of the unity the act proclaims. Paul’s point is that if they were actually spiritual rather than soulish their behaviour would be much different, it would look a lot more like 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter).
We are called to be led by the Spirit and discern His voice. This is generally an inner prompting regarding our thoughts and actions. I am confident we have all had them. The caution to say or not say something the inner cautions regarding our thinking. I can remember decades ago I was walking up the parkade steps to my office. I was frustrated with the behaviour of one of the staff and not having the best thoughts about them. I don’t remember the situation or what I was thinking. I do remember I stumbled on the stairs and internally I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “That kind of thinking will make you stumble.” I also remember being tempted to do something once and clearly hearing Galatians 5:8, “This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.”
Many times, I have had inner promptings regarding a call to say or do something. Recently a friend had asked me to pray about something. A couple of days later I had an inner leading to pray for him. As I began praying, I had an image of him being encrusted with a thin translucent substance that hindered his movements. I then saw it being shattered and him moving more freely. He responded by sending me a picture of a large electrical panel he was working on, the brand was ‘Freer.’ Confirmations of having His mind are not always that quick or clear. We can however know whether or not we have His mind.
To know if we are receiving from and being led by the Spirit, we only need to look at whether we are acting in love toward our fellow believers and those around us. After all the message of 1 Corinthians is the message of Galatians. Being led by the Spirt produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. If we are living this way, no matter our gifts or lack thereof, we have the mind of Christ!