Making Judgments in this World: The Spiritual Man

Wisdom's Friend

Making Judgments In This World: The Spiritual Man

“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:15-16 NIV).

This really is a most remarkable statement from Scripture. For it says that a certain type of human being is capable of making true and accurate judgments about everything in existence, “all things”. All things in existence? There is no greater scope than that. This sum total of all that exists we call reality.

Human beings are notorious for being fallible and gullible and self-serving, rather than looking at reality with an unbiased eye. So how can it be said that such weak and limited creatures could do such a profound and noble task? Is not God alone the only one capable of such a thing? He is. But notice that this passage goes on to explain how it is possible for frail human beings to do this as well. The human being who can rightly undertake this otherwise divine task is the one who has the mind of Christ, who is God in human flesh. Such a person has received in Christ, the divine wisdom that God alone possesses. For Christ is the one in whom Scripture says “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3 NIV).

Such wisdom and knowledge was displayed by Jesus during his stay here on earth in human flesh. He knew, for instance, human nature, what was in a person (Jn. 2:25). He also understood the nature of the divine, being himself the Son of God:

“I know where I came from and where I am going” (Jn. 8:14 NIV).

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him. . . .” (Jn. 18:4 NIV).

And not only did Jesus know this about himself, so too did the others who knew him well, his disciples. They could see that he had this knowledge.

“We can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God” (Jn. 16:30 NIV).

This recognition by men of the spiritual man, in whom is the Spirit of God, is a powerful witness of God to this world. This same recognition that the disciples saw in Jesus was also in evidence in another man of God long before, Daniel, as he served the king then in power. This king sought out Daniel for a different kind of power than that which he wielded as king. He came to Daniel and said to him:

“I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you” (Dan. 4:9 NIV).

Later, another king recognized this same divine wisdom in Daniel:

“I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom” (Dan. 5:14 NIV).

“For none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you” (Dan. 4:18 NIV).

These are frank admissions from men of this world whose religion involves magicians and astrologers who have a false judgment of reality. They are confessions that neither human reasoning nor occult religion can fathom the depths of God and reality, but that it is a characteristic of a certain type of human being that he knows reality, what it is really like. He knows the fundamental truths about how things really are. Such a man is called a “spiritual man” here in this passage from Corinthians. He is called a spiritual man because such knowledge does not come from studying the universe with human intellect but from receiving that knowledge into his spirit as a gift from above.

These are thus these two types of men and types of knowledge and wisdom: that which is from the earth and the men of the earth, and that which is from heaven above the earth and the God who dwells there, who is Spirit (Jn. 4:24) and is truth (1 Jn. 3:14).

The wisdom and knowledge gained by those who ardently study nature with the natural mind of man often boast of what they have learned and take great pride in their knowledge. But it is a faulty knowledge that cannot rightly judge reality, that is, the way things really are, the truth. Those who make such judgments based on solely human endeavor are warned in Scripture:

“Do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. . . . But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity” (Jas. 3:14-15, Jas. 3:17 NIV).

This is the wisdom of the spiritual man, the one in whom is the Spirit of God, given by God to those who have united themselves by faith in Jesus Christ to that Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). This is the Spirit of truth of whom Jesus said, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (Jn. 14:17 NIV).

Because God sends this Spirit of truth to man only through his Son, Jesus Christ, those who do not accept Jesus will never be able to have this Spirit of truth that reveals to them the true nature of reality and God. And the unbelieving world does not accept Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:9-11), therefore it cannot know the truth about reality and thus cannot make accurate and true judgments about it. The unbelieving world is the unspiritual man, and only the spiritual man can make judgments about all things.

Nevertheless, this fact, that only the spiritual man can make judgments about all things, does not stop the man of this world from pretending to do this very thing. Only he does not know that he is only pretending to make such judgment; he thinks his own thoughts on reality are just as valid, nay, even more true to reality than those of God himself. Such is the conceit of proud man (see Conceit: Sign of the End Times ).

This is idolatry, holding oneself in higher regard than the Maker of that self and all things, that is, reality. This arrogant mindset is nothing new in man, however; it has plagued the human race from the beginning, with the fall into sin. A striking example of this false claim by some people, even religious people, to be a spiritual man, able to discern what is true and false about reality, is found in the Old Testament times in what is called Korah’s rebellion (Numbers, chapter 16).

During the wilderness journey of the Israelites before entering the promised land, a certain man named Korah rebelled against God’s chosen leader, Moses, and incited many others to join him (Nbr. 16:3). Moses’ response was to fall facedown in humility before God, an indication that he did not elevate himself above others but that God himself had given him his position of leadership. In response to the rebels’ false charge that Moses was a proud spiritual man (Numbers 16:3), Moses replied, “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him (Numbers 16:5 NIV) . . . the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy” (Numbers 16:7 NIV).

In replying in this way, by trusting God to vindicate him rather than defending himself before the crowd, Moses showed a deep understanding not only of God but his ways (Ps. 103:7). He had the understanding of the spiritual man. Far from being the proud man he was accused of being by the rebels, God says that Moses was the most humble man on the earth (Numbers 12:3).

So these two faced each other in the camp in the wilderness, the humble man Moses and the proud rebels who accused him of the very thing which described them, for what they were really seeking was to obtain more leadership power for themselves (Numbers 16:8-10). They were following the original sin of Lucifer, who had wanted the same for himself in heaven (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28). For this sin, Lucifer was judged and thrown out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-10).

But who will judge between these two groups in the desert who both claimed to be the spiritual man of God? Moses declares who will be the judge between them:

“He said to Korah and all his followers: ‘In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy'” (Numbers 16:5 NIV).

In the morning. . . . When the morning did come, God made the distinction between the true and the false spiritual man, and he did so in a terrifying way: The ground split apart and swallowed alive those of Korah’s household. And fire destroyed those who aligned themselves with him (Numbers 16:3-5).

What is pertinent for us and important to realize is that God will once more make a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous (Mal. 3:18), between the spiritual man and the unspiritual man, between those with the Spirit of God within them and those without that Spirit within them. For it is the presence of the Holy Spirit within a human being that clearly marks that one as belonging to God, a spiritual man.

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13 NIV).

It is by the presence of this seal that the spiritual man is recognized by God in his day of judgment. “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his'” (1 Tim. 2:19 NIV). He knows them by the presence of his Holy Spirit in them; he is the seal of ownership by God, just as the blood upon the doorposts signified God’s people in the exodus. That blood was the seal that saved the people from the destroying angel (Ex. 12:23).

This is the way it will be in the Last Day, when once more, God’s judgment will make itself known upon this earth. Then it will be like the day of Korah’s rebellion, when the earth opened up and swallowed the rebels, while fire destroyed others who joined in that rebellion (Numbers 16:35, 2 Pt. 3:7).

But before that final day arrives, we must all live our lives daily judging many things. We must ask ourselves always, “For whom shall I live, God or self? What is the truth about reality, this life I live–and God?” Our answers to these and many other questions of daily judgment are seen in how we go about living our daily lives. All human beings must make these decisions, these judgments about how to live. But only the spiritual man makes these judgments accurately, in line with the truth of God, because only he has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) that is able to make such judgments. The unspiritual man of this world is unable to do this, for he does not have the Spirit of God within him (Jude 1:19).

Not only that, but the unspiritual man judges the spiritual man unjustly as well, such as when governments of this world pass laws that prohibit the spiritual man from living out his life in accord with the true judgments of reality based upon the Word of God. Such worldly judgments are at odds with and in defiance of God’s own judgments of the spiritual man. For the Corinthian passage says clearly and firmly that the spiritual man is not subject to the judgment of any man, for that spiritual man has already been judged and vindicated by God in Christ, and is therefore not subject to man’s judgment. Man is not to judge either God or the one God has approved.

“It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me?” (Is. 50:9 NIV).

Perhaps a concrete example will help illustrate this. Consider, for example, the opposite stances taken by many societies and governments in this world, as opposed to the followers of Jesus Christ, over abortion. Many cultures and governments have legalized abortion, saying that that which is within the womb is nothing more than body tissue, not a living human being, and can therefore be removed just as other tissue can be removed from the body. This is the judgment of the world on this issue. But that judgment is based on the faulty reasoning of man and the selfish desires of the heart, rather than upon the wisdom that comes down from above.

Simple questions and facts help reveal this faulty reasoning. For, as can easily be pointed out, if this is only tissue of the mother’s body, then it will remain only tissue in her body if nothing is done. But, in fact, that “tissue” does not remain within the mother’s body when nature is left to take its course; rather, that “tissue” is expelled from her body and is, in fact, another body, not hers. It is another human being–a fact which the spiritual man, (or woman; as can be seen, the New Testament language is constantly used throughout this piece) could see all along.

Part of the problem is that those who advocate abortion either fail to see the bigger scope of things or else deliberately do not want to see that larger picture. All they see is the tiny spec in the womb at the present, not what it will become in time, unless prevented from doing so. Thus time becomes a manipulative aspect of reality that is used to argue the case for abortion–just as it is for espousing evolution. But the spiritual man understands both time and eternity, as well as what it means to be human, and lives his life accordingly.

This is just one example of many that could be given. For every area of life there is a judgment to be made. But only the spiritual man, who has the Spirit of God in him, through Christ, judges accurately and truly, and is also, in Christ, not subject to the judgments of men. This will be shown to be true in the last and final great judgment of all mankind.

“‘They will be mine,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not'” (Mal. 3:17-18 NIV).

Therefore, knowing this, let those who have humbly submitted themselves to the great Judge of all mankind, through union into Jesus Christ, continue to make true judgments about all things, sometimes speaking out against the false judgments of the unspiritual man and world in which they live, and sometimes remaining quiet but still witnessing to the falsehood of those unspiritual judgments by their silence, good deeds, and good judgment.

“Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil” (Amos 5:13 NIV).

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Pt. 2:15 NIV).

May our prayer to God be that of the psalmist: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands” (Ps. 119:66 NIV).

Yes, Lord, may I be one of those whom you note in your scroll of remembrance (Mal. 3:16-18) as being a spiritual man or woman, one of your children in whom is the Spirit of the holy God.

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