I Corinthians 2:14-3:4
WHO ARE YOU?
Intro: We are all the time trying to shove people into categories. Economically
people are classified as rich or poor. In the social realm we speak of people as
being cultured or uncultured. Academically we speak of the educated, the
intellectual and those who are illiterate. People are always trying to shoe you into
a box and classify you.
Even the Bible classifies people. Note 1 Cor. 10:32 - Everyone is either a
Jew, a Gentile or part of the church; 1 Cor. 1:18 - Everyone is either saved or
perishing. This passage also introduces to other categories into which every
person int his room can be classified. Here, Paul speaks of the Natural Man, the
Spiritual Man and the Carnal man. This passage breaks all of humanity down
according to their spiritual response to the things of God.
Now, every person in this church will fall into one of the categories I just
mentioned. That is, either you are a natural man, a spiritual man or a carnal man.
I think it is very important for you to find out for sure which one you are. So, as
the Lord gives liberty this evening, I want to look into this text and ask this simple
question: Who Are You? Let's examine these three categories of people and see
which group we fit into.
I. 2:14 MR. NATURAL
(Ill. The natural man is a person who lives naturally. He lives a "soulish" life,
that is, he lives his life in the old adamic nature. Simply put, the natural man
is a lost men! He may be a church member, he may be a good, moral
person, but he is lost. This passage shows us two truths about the natural
A. He Does Not Appreciate The Things Of God - The things of God are foolishness to the natural man. The word foolishness gives us the English
word "Moron." To the lost man, the things of God, and spiritual things are
moronic. He doesn't understand or appreciate any type of spiritual
expression. When he is exposed to the things of God, or to spiritual
expression, he becomes very uncomfortable and will usually respond in
one of three way. He will either drop out, move out or lash out.
B. He Does Not Apprehend The Things Of God - This literally means that
he is not equipped to receive the things of God. He is spiritually dead in
his sins, Eph. 2:1 and therefore he simply cannot grasp spiritually things.
A man who is physically dead cannot respond to physical stimulus. By the
same token, a person who is spiritually dead cannot respond to any
spiritual stimulus! (Ill. Man is a triune being - 1 Thes. 5:23. The natural
man is two parts alive, body and soul, but the primary part, the part of him
that can know and respond to God is dead! Ill. Gen. 2:17.) Could you be
a Natural Man this evening?
II. 2:15-16 MR. SPIRITUAL
(Ill. The spiritual man is one who live supernaturally. That is, he lives a
"spiritual" life. He lives his life not in the old dead nature, but he lives his life
in the power of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual man, and every saved person for
that matter, has two natures. The old fleshly adamic nature and a new
spiritual nature. The spiritual man is one who allows Christ to rule his life.
Jesus is not just present, He is preeminent. Jesus does not just reside in the
spiritual man's life, He presides over that life. These verses reveal certain
characteristics of the spiritual man's life.)
A. He Is Capable Of Discernment - The word "judgeth" means "to
examine, to discern." The spiritual man is alive in the Spirit, equipped by
the Spirit and is open to the truth of God. It is not foolishness to him, but
it is a fountain of life. It is like food to his hungry soul. He delights in the
things of God! (Note: This ability to receive and understand the deep
things of God does not depend upon I.Q. or upon academic ability. This
is accomplished through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the
yielded believer, John 16:13. There are simple country folks who know
more about God than some preachers with multiple doctorates.) The
spiritual man is drawn to the things of God and to the truth of God like a
moth is drawn to a flame.
B. He Is The Cause Of Amazement - The phrase, "yet he himself is
judged of not man", means that the lost and worldly folks around him
can't figure him out. He , and his life, are a mystery to the natural men
around him. He baffles and bothers the man of the world! He has peace,
joy and faith in the midst of trial. He has standards and convictions, yet he
just lives them out and isn't obnoxious and overbearing about them. The
spiritual man is a constant source of amazement to the natural man and
to the carnal man. Could you be a Spiritual Man tonight?
III. 3:1-4 MR. CARNAL
(Ill. The third category offered in this text is that of the carnal man. This kind
of person lives his life unnaturally. He lives a "sensual" life. Everything his
life is decided by how it affects him and how it makes him feel. He lives
according to his flesh.
The carnal man is a believer, Ill. 1 Cor. 1:7. The Corinthians were gifted
but carnal. He has two natures just like the spiritual man, but he is dominated
by the old nature. He quenches the influence of the Spirit of God in his life.
Often, the carnal believer cannot be discerned from the lost sinner! A good
example of this was a man my the name of Lot. If you had seen him in Genesis 13 and 19, you would have concluded that he was a lost man. But,
when you read 2 Pet. 2:7, you discover that he was a righteous, but carnal
man. This section of our text tells us all about the carnal man.) (Note:
Carnality in the life of God's children is the reason the church lacks power and
influence in the community!)
A. The Maturity Of The Carnal Believer - Paul says that the carnal man is
a baby. He has started out the right way; he has been born again, but he
has progressed no farther. (Ill. Babies are cute and precious, but they are
designed to grow up and become adults. The same is true in the spiritual
realm.) It is fitting and normal to start out as a baby, but is tragic to remain
one! The carnal believer suffers from "arrested development". They
haven't grown as they should. By the way, how long you have been saved
has nothing to do with your level of maturity. I have seen believers who
have been saved a short time who have grown substantially in the Lord.
By the same token I have seen others who have been saved for lengthy
periods of time, yet who have not gotten out of the nursery spiritually.
They are still crying, griping, whining and calling attention to themselves.
The tragedy of this is that God did not save us to stay babies. He saved
us to grow into the image of Jesus, Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:13.)
B. The Menu Of The Carnal Believer - The carnal believer is still on milk
spiritually. Milk is fine for babies, 2 Pet. 2:2, but as we mature, we are
supposed to move beyond the milk of the Word into the meatier places of
the Word, Heb. 5:12-14. Here is the very reason some people are not
growing in the Lord. They do not want to go any deeper in the things of
the Lord than they already are! You try to lead them deeper in the book
and they get spiritual indigestion. They do not want to go. They want to
come to church, put their mind in neutral and never have to think! In other
words, as long as you stay simple and feed the "gospel lite" they are
happy. You know, tell a few stories. Tell about the time you visited so and
so and what happened in this place or the other. Talk about your life, talk
about the Lord, talk about the church, but keep it lite! But, when you begin
to preach the deeper truths of the Word that call for commitment and a
change of life, they get and upset stomach and they will spit up all over
you! Friend, you will never get out of the nursery until you begin to dig
your spiritual teeth into the deeper truths of the Word of God.
C. The Marks Of The Carnal Believer - There are three tale-tell
characteristics of the carnal believer. If these are evident in your life, then you
are carnal and need to change. You are a baby spiritually and need to grow
1. Selfishness - Babies are by nature selfish creatures. They care about
no one but themselves. They don't care how tired mom and dad are!
They don't care about anything else in the world but themselves! As
long as they are the center of attention and their needs are being met
they are fine. But, when something is wrong in their world, they cry,
whine and complain until someone does it their way. The same is true
in the life of the carnal believer. The focus is always on themselves.
It doesn't matter what's best for the church, all that matters is how it
affects them personally. And, when a carnal believer is unhappy
everyone knows it! How? They act like a big baby, calling attention to
2. Strife - Babies want their way and they are prepared to fight for it! They
don't care to take by force what they think is theirs. You get a couple
of babies together and there will be strife, discord and dissension.
Friend, you mark it down, anytime there is trouble in the church, you
have a baby on your hands! Someone didn't get their way and they
want everyone to know it. Someone got their little feelings hurt and
they want someone to pay for it. I don't care where they are found in
the church, you can count on spiritual babies to be at the center of
With a baby believer, it's always about them. They are always
complaining about someone else or something. They are always
tattling. They are always pointing their pudgy little fingers at everyone
else. They never can see that it might just be them! They might be
the problem. They might be easily offended. They might be the ones
in the wrong.
If you find that you are always offended at someone for what they
have said or done; if you think you are always getting the short end of
the stick; if you always think you are right and everyone else is wrong,
mark it down, you are a baby and you need to grow up. I just want to
remind any babies that are listening tonight, if you come to me to tattle
on someone else, either you will give me names, dates and specifics
which I will take to the person alone with your name, or I won't listen
to your whining, complaining and gossiping!
3. Splits - Another trait of the carnal believer is that he brings division
everywhere he goes. The carnal believer always carries a divisive
spirit within him. He is easily offended and always responds by being
offensive. As a result, the carnal believer kills everything he touches, Rom. 8:6. A carnal believer will kill a Sunday School class, a
committee, a choir, a testimony service, etc. Everything the flesh
Conc: Who are you this evening? Are you saved, or are you still a natural man?
Are you spiritual? If you said "Yes" then you probably aren't! Are you carnal?
We all are from time to time, Ill. Paul - Rom. 7:14. If you can see within your
present condition the fact that you are lost, a natural man, please come to Jesus
and be saved! If you can see that you are carnal, that you act more like a baby
most of the time and you act like Jesus, then please come and deal with the
problem. Let God begin to mature you tonight. Who are you? (Ill. Man who lives
at the foot of the mountain& never saw the view from the top. What are missing
by not climbing higher?)