Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 24, 2007

Your Portrait in Scripture, 1 Corinthians 2:14- 3:7

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 You would probably be surprised if you opened your Bible and there on the pages of scripture was an eight by ten picture of your own face looking back at you. But you will see your portrait in scripture. The Bible talks about three different portraits and every one of us fits in to one of these three portraits.

Do you remember a television show called To Tell the Truth? There would be three guests on the show. It would feature someone like a lighthouse operator. One of the guests would really be a lighthouse operator and the other two would be imposters just pretending they were lighthouse operators. People would question all three. What happened when a ship came near the rocks and was going to crash? What did you do?

The real lighthouse operator would give the right answer, but the two imposters would just make up something. Then at the end it was time for the real light house operator to stand up. They would all three shift back and forth and finally one would stand.

Now I want you to look at each of these three portraits as a contestant. Then ask if the real portrait of yourself in scripture will stand up. In other words when we look at the three kinds of portraits that Paul paints in these scriptures I want you to identify yourself.

The Natural Man
In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul speaks of the first portrait. This one is called the natural man. Now when you think of natural man you may be like me and think back to an old commercial when Euell Gibbons the outdoorsman and proponent of natural diets used to talk about all the things you could eat from nature, like a pine cone or whatever.

The Bible is not referring to someone who walks around in the wilderness, but as it is stated in the NIV, the man without the Spirit. In other words he is the one who is not a Christian. They live their life on this earth, but they have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ. They have never had an experience where they found the light of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul had an experience like this on the Damascus Road.

Let’s see this portrait. If you see the natural man, how do you recognize him? He may be the kind of person that stays out late at night getting drunk. Then you could look at that person and identify him as the natural man. A natural man could be someone who has had many hard breaks in life and he is homeless with no place to go. That may be the natural man.

At the same time the natural man may be found in places we do not expect to find him. He may have a cloak of decency. He may have a very prominent place in the business community. The natural man, as we use this term generically, could be a housewife that loves and cares for her children. The natural man could be one who works in a factory and sends his children to Sunday school.

The natural man is the one without the Spirit of God. He or she could look a number of ways. As we look around we can see hundreds and thousands of the natural man. These are people who have never put their trust in Jesus Christ.

God looks at this person as spiritually dead. There is no spiritual life at all because he does not know Jesus Christ. He lacks that new birth in Christ. The Bible says this natural man, “he does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.” He does not understand spiritually appraised things. That does not mean he is unfamiliar with the Bible. He may be able to quote verses. He does not understand spiritual things, but that is different than having knowledge about religious things.

The natural man cannot understand spiritual things. He may however be very intelligent. He may have advanced degrees from prestigious institutions. He just cannot understand spiritual things as the man who knows Jesus and is made alive in the Spirit. The natural man does not understand faith in God. These are the things that are spiritually appraised.

I met an example of the natural man. He was my tour guide in Israel. There is was a Baptist Pastor there who really knew his Bible. The guide and the pastor got in an argument about the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. They went toe to toe in a debate about the Bible passage. This guide knew the New Testament inside and out, but he did not know the Lord Jesus Christ.

This guide knew so much Bible knowledge, but he could not accept that Jesus was the awaited messiah. He could not accept that Jesus who was crucified was God’s Son. He could not accept that Jesus was fully God and fully man. These things are spiritually appraised. This man had the academic knowledge but the true heart knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ, he could not understand because he was a natural man.

A natural man can be very religious. A natural man can even be regularly attending church. The natural man is lacking a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

When you get an inoculation you get a little of the disease injected into your system to build up an immunity. In a live inoculation you get a little bit of that disease you are trying to protect yourself from. It is that way for some religious people. They get just enough of the spiritual to inoculate them from putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

The natural man may do abundant good works. They may be leading the field in many worthy causes, feeding the hungry, community service, but without faith in Jesus Christ they are still the natural man. It’s not a matter of what they do, but it’s a matter of new life in Christ.

The first portrait is the natural man. Are you the natural man? Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ?

The Spiritual Man.
We find another portrait in Scripture. This is in I Corinthians 2:15. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.

After one man put his faith in Christ he was asked how it was going in his Christian life. His answer was that it was terrible. So he asked, why is it terrible? He said it is like a team of horses are trying to pull me to do the worldly things that are evil, on the other side it is like a team of horses are trying to pull me toward the will of God. I am caught in the middle in a tug of war between the two. So he was asked which team of horses wins? He said the team that wins is the team I tell gitty-up!

The spiritual man has put his faith in Christ, but that does not mean he will not have struggles. To live the victorious Christian life it becomes a day by day, moment by moment surrender to God. Otherwise the world the flesh and the devil will overtake the believer in Christ. But the spiritual man is living he abundant and fruitful Christian life.

After we surrender our life to Jesus Christ there will be a tendency to re-take control of your life. So to remain victorious we are constantly re-submitting our lives to Christ. I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf. Galatians 2:20 So here is the Apostle Paul who daily crucify his selfish will. He knows that if he does not he will be given over to the flesh and no longer as the spiritual man.

The spiritual man lives as the Psalmist who says, Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. Psalm 139:23 The spiritual man is living like we read in Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the way of the spiritual Christian. He never rejects the truth. He listens to the Holy Spirit and is wise to accept a rebuke. There is still an old nature. It is a daily moment by moment walk with God. In Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. That command is in the continuous ongoing action. It is like saying go on continually being filled with the Holy Spirit.

It means every day, every moment we find ourselves re-taking control of our spiritual lives we must again surrender to Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, control us that we would live as the spiritual man.

You know that D. L. Moody had such an impact on America, the United Kingdom and his ministry changed the lives of many people. He had an experience after talking with evangelist Henry Garland. Garland told Moody that the world has yet to see a man who is fully and absolutely surrendered to Jesus Christ. Moody went home and all he could think about was that statement the world has yet to see a man who is fully and absolutely surrendered to Jesus Christ. He came back to Garland in a few days and said by the Holy Spirit who is in me I will be that man. He surrendered his life completely to Christ and he was used mightily by God.

What about Charles Spurgeon the prince of preachers? It was said it was not Spurgeon doing the work, but work of God that was in him. You see we do not become spiritual Christians by the work of our flesh. It is because we are surrendered and allow Christ to work through us. God wants to use ordinary people. That is the exciting part of the Christian life. He is not looking for people who have it all together and can accomplish things in the flesh. He wants to use ordinary people who are surrendered to him.

The great English Baptist preacher F. B Myer was getting ready to preach Keswick convention. He knew there was an area of his life that he had not turned over to the Lord. He knew he should completely surrender to the Lord. He said his life became flooded with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Things were never the same at the Keswick convention.

The Carnal Man
It would be nice if all Christians could identify with the spiritual man. In chapter 3:1-3 Paul said, 1 And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it; nor are you able even now. For you are yet carnal. For in that there is among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to men?

There is another kind of Christian. They are no longer living surrendered to God. Have you noticed what it is like when you get around someone who has just become a Christian? There is an excitement. But there is a tendency to drift from Christ. We are prone to backslide when all of a sudden you could not tell the difference between them and someone who never accepted Christ.

That is what Paul is dealing with in the Corinthians. People who have drifted so far from God they are living like people who have never trusted Jesus Christ. When our walk with the Lord has become dull or routine this is a signal we need to re-surrender our lives to God. Our lives should make a difference. If they do not we should evaluate our lives and make a course correction. It’s only when we can say the longer I serve Him the sweeter he grows are we walking right with the Lord.

If we are serving God out of obligation then we are not growing in our Christian faith. This experience identifies your portrait as the carnal Christian. The carnal Christian is trapped in the net of frustration. They have tasted what is like to be walking with the Lord as a spiritual Christian and they have lost that closeness. The carnal man is frustrated and miserable easily agitated living just like the natural man who does not know Christ. A carnal Christian cannot be satisfied with their spiritual experience.

The carnal Christian may be regular in church. They may hold an important leadership position but they have grown cold toward the Lord. Their spiritual walk is routine. This is our major challenge today. So many people have grown clod in their faith in Jesus Christ. We must be fully surrendered. Jesus said I came that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly John 10:10. The surrendered life in Jesus is full and meaningful.

The carnal Christian will be in the center of strife and conflict. They are involved in faction. In Corinth they followed Paul or Apollos. Some even said they followed Christ. Is it any wonder that some reject the gospel when all they are exposed to is a carnal Christian? They do not want Christ and part of the problem is because of the hypocrites in the church. They have been exposed to the carnal Christian.

The carnal Christian does more harm than good. People look at our lives and when we are carnal Christians we bring dishonor to Jesus. Works of the flesh are jealousy and discord dissention, envy. They were babies in Christ. They were not growing in Christ. What a tragedy if a baby never grew and stayed a baby for its whole life. Many Christians identify themselves as carnal. That is a very common portrait Christians identify themselves as. When we are carnal we are missing the power of God

Which is your portrait in Scripture? In the To Tell the Truth style, which one will stand up?

Is it the natural man who has never trusted Jesus Christ?

Is it the spiritual and you have a dynamic walk with the Lord? Is it the carnal man?

Is it the carnal?

Commit your heart to Jesus Christ.

Having assurance of Salvation in Jesus Christ 

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