The Natural and the Spiritual


Natural men have always demanded signs to believe. If you spend any time in debate with the self-professed atheists of our day they’re often quick to demand proof or “evidence” for God. By denying the evidence of creation as from God Himself they are left, by their own sinful suppressions (Romans 1:18) groping for other evidences in the natural world in which they operate. Is this demand of the naturalist today influenced by the scientific age in which we live? Yes, I believe it is, however, men have always demanded proofs to their natural minds of spiritual things. Today it simply takes a different form. It is one usually marked by numerous years of natural education and less than a month or so of any semblance of sound Biblical instruction. The difficulty is that while natural evidences such as creation itself, the conscience, Scripture’s mind-boggling prophetic witness, the oughtness of ethics and all other such axiomatics should be leveled against their demands, these are things normally entirely lost on the carnal mind. Therefore they’re left only with spiritual evidences- something wholly beyond the grasp of natural men. Therein lays the tension for the spiritual man. To the spiritual man the evidences of God abound. It is the invisible, to the mature, that becomes more visible over time (2 Corinthians 4:18). The Christian must remember that spiritual truths are only possible if God grants them to men. We cannot “teach” them in. 1 Corinthians 2:13 says, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” This is for the spiritual man only. The mind of the natural man is like a computer that simply lacks the operating system or necessary drivers to in any way savingly interact with the software of the gospel. It has an operating system, but by nature it cannot process the data.

     Though signs never make men believe, God has given them many throughout history. Signs never convert! Jesus said to the people in His own day, “…An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” Matthew 12:39-40. He is referencing His own physical Resurrection soon to follow. This was naturally accessible evidence, yet the truth of it remains available only to the born again.

     There are only two types of men on earth. Those dead to sin and those dead in sin. Scripture divides mankind only into the natural and the spiritual. There are children of darkness, or children of light. Children of God or children of Satan. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “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.” The natural man (atheist or non-Christian) cannot know spiritual things. They cannot. They must first be born again to do so. This does not excuse them from sin, but they are free in regard to righteousness, Romans 6:20. God expects nothing from them but sin. So what do we do as spiritual men witnessing in a natural world?

      We preach the gospel! The gospel is what awakens the dead, spiritually unresponsive man to life. It is through the implantation of the truth of the cross that the Holy Spirit raises men to life. We should preach as if to do this each time we witness. Confront, rebuke, debate, but do so not as ends in themselves, but as means to the gospel. The gospel is not limited to the natural ability of man. God doesn’t require fleshly accommodation from the mind or the will of man to save. The God of the gospel opens the grave. He sets men free. It is through preaching. So preach well.

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