“There are three types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can’t.”
Paul is about to unveil three types of people regarding Biblical truth, but to start with, he shows the two polar opposites—the natural man and the spiritual man. It is interesting the way he proves those without the Spirit of God truly do not understand the ways of God. Verse eight is key regarding this truth. If the rulers, the demonic forces in power, knew the wisdom of God then they would not have crucified the Lord. It is very likely that Satan and his minions celebrated following the crucifixion of Christ. They had destroyed the Prince of Peace, but to their dismay, He arose! This was their undoing. The natural man cannot possible comprehend the scope of God’s redemption plan. So, how is it possible to even begin to understand God’s work?
Great things are accomplished through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Man’s reason, strength and nobility cannot powerfully influence the souls of men. It must come through the greatness of God’s wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Are you sure, Paul? Paul reminds them of their first impression of him when he came to town. Frazzled and frustrated, it sounds like Paul came to minister in Corinth a different man. He was roughed up in Philippi and emotionally spent preaching in Athens. There was resistance in Corinth as well. It took a direct vision from God to reassure Paul that his ministry would be successful. Paul is telling the people: The great work you witnessed in Corinth was not accomplished by my whit, wisdom or winsomeness. The great work was accomplished in spite of my weakness and weariness.
Scripture is full of times where the people of God thought the work of God was impossible, but God did the work in such a way that man could never claim the glory. Whether it was Gideon’s 300, Esther’s intercession on the behalf of her people or even Zerubbabel’s building project, God came through. It was to Zerubbabel that the Lord said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, Saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
Man’s eye has not beheld; man’s ear has not overheard; and not even the seed of God’s plan could be traced to man. It was revealed by the Spirit. It was communicated or inspired by the Spirit. It is only understood by the Spirit. Vance Havner is quoted as saying: “The wise Christians wastes no time trying to explain God’s program to unregenerate men…He might as well try to discuss nuclear physics with a monument in the city park. The natural man cannot receive such things. One might as well try to catch sunbeams with a fishhook as to lay hold of God’s revelation unassisted by the Holy Spirit.”
So the spiritual man is equipped by the Holy Spirit to obey God’s direction and will see God’s work accomplished through him. Paul will talk about the third type of person in the next chapter, but between these two in 1 Corinthians 2, which would you rather be? The natural or spiritual person?