While spiritual truths are foolishness to the natural man, the Holy Spirit reveals wisdom and gives understanding to the believer.
In the first chapter, the Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the Christian’s CALLING out of sin and to new life through faith in Christ. In the second chapter, the theme has opened up more and been an exploration of the fullness of the Christian MESSAGE – that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We’ve seen Paul explain that his approach with the Corinthians was to “know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified”, simply preaching the truth as he had opportunity. This approach stood in stark contrast to the standard fare of Greek philosophy and debate, and earned Paul no small amount of criticism.
However, as we saw last week, Paul’s focus was not so much on WORLDLY wisdom, but on the SPIRITUAL WISDOM inherent in the message of the GOSPEL. Paul was faithful to engage in his part of God’s redemptive plan, and by God’s grace, people had come to faith and a church was planted.
Now, as he’s writing, he’s doing so to clarify the essentials of the faith before moving on to a letter of correction and sharpening, due to sin issues that have cropped up in the church.
We’ll begin by reading our passage for this morning, and then work through it piece by piece. We left off in verse 9 last week, so let’s start there again this week. Speaking of SPIRITUAL WISDOM, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 2:9-16 (ESV) - 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Salvation is a gift of God. And God, himself, is a Trinitarian God, existing as One God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Last week, we looked at how God the Father foreordained before the foundations of the world to redeem His people to Himself. He chose to do this through an ever increasing series of Covenants with mankind, beginning in the Garden with Adam, growing with Abraham, Israel and eventually the world through the sacrificial work of God the Son, Jesus Christ.
However, the Holy Spirit is also intimately involved in this redemptive work. This morning, I’d like to highlight a couple ways in which the Spirit gives light and understanding, as we walk in Christ.
The first aspect of the Spirit’s ministry that we’ll look at this morning comes from verses 9-11:
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 (ESV) - 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Verse 9 tells us that God has wonderful things prepared for those who love Him: Salvation from wrath. Forgiveness of Sin. Growth in Holiness. Provision for need. Personal relationship and growing intimacy with God. Spiritual Gifts used for the growth of His church. Stewardship of life. Being on mission for Christ... And so much more!
And these blessings in Christ are truths ILLUMINATED – clearly shown -- through the ministry of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit reveals wisdom.
He helps followers of Christ to see life and reality clearly. To discern the meaning of spiritual things.
The Holy Spirit helps us access the depths of God’s truth and wisdom. In fact, growing in the deep things of God is one part of the great things God has prepared for those who love him!
Verse 10 says “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”
Now, saying that the Holy Spirit “searches” everything doesn’t mean that the Spirit isn’t already aware of all things; he’s not “looking” for something he doesn’t know. After all, He’s God. He’s everywhere at once – omnipresent – and knows all things – omniscient.
Think of it – somewhat – like Google. Thankfully, that search engine isn’t omniscient! It doesn’t know everything about humanity! But it knows an awful lot... from where most websites are, and what’s on them (even in the depths where many don’t look), to where people live and how to get to their homes, to how to speak other languages, and more. All of that information is categorized and ready to be accessed... And once you type in a word or phrase, it brings into focus, or illuminates, the information you’re looking for.
Paul’s saying for the believer, the Spirit is able to bring into focus the truth about spiritual topics, even the deep things of God, in a way that someone without His aid would not have access to. And unlike Google, his “search results” are perfect, because he is perfect.
Now, that said... We’re not done yet. Having access to the truth is important, but there’s still something else we need.
The second aspect of the Spirit’s ministry that we’ll look at this morning comes from verses 12-13:
1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (ESV) - 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Paul is a follower of Christ. He’s an Apostle, an early church leader and church planter, writing to a congregation of other Christians in the city of Corinth. When he says “Now WE...., the WE might understand...”, that collective we refer to followers of Christ. Believers.
And what he’s pointed out here is important. He’s drawn a contrast between two spirits: the spirit of the world, and the Holy Spirit of God. He makes it clear that those Believers who are in Christ have been separated from the spirit of the world, and from all of it’s so called “wisdom” that seeks to inflate egos and blind the minds of men.
Instead, Paul says, we have received the Spirit who is from God.
The Holy Spirit gives understanding.
Apart from Christ, we’re a “natural man”. We don’t understand the things of God. We can’t. Spiritual things simply don’t make sense because the unsaved person doesn’t have the ability to discern them.
However, when we come to saving faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Holy Spirit indwells us. He regenerates our heart, which was previously dead in trespasses and sin, and he moves in to take up residence within us. Our body becomes His temple, holy and set apart for His work.
Instead of being separated from God by sin, we now have God living within us, guiding and directing us! What an amazing blessing!
As we learned in chapter 1, every follower of Christ has a CALLING. A calling out of darkness and sin, and to a life of worship and mission. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling is essential for that life. He accomplishes a number of things on our behalf:
And, building on that, as we see in these verses, he works on our behalf to give us UNDERSTANDING, teaching us by his Spirit.
The truth of God is found in the Word of God, the scriptures. And the Holy Spirit has indwelled the believer and desires to give us understanding as we seek to read and apply God’s Word to our lives.
See, it’s one thing to have all kinds of knowledge at our fingertips. It’s another thing to understand it. To be able to use it and live it out. And that’s the Spirit’s purpose here. He desires to see us grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. To see the depths of God manifested in our lives in tangible ways.
That we would THINK, LOVE, and DO that which Christ has called us to.
Unfortunately, in our post-modern, consumer-driven culture, there tends to be an anti-intellectual wind in the American Evangelical church. Many folks have bought into the idea that either they don’t have the ability to understand the text of scripture, the depths of God’s grace, and the great doctrines of the faith... or that they don’t have a need to understand it.
Yet, that’s clearly not what Paul, and the Holy Spirit tell us here! For the follower of Christ, these things are at our fingertips. They are part of the great things God has prepared for us before the ages began! To ignore them is to ignore a blessing from God!
The Spirit works to give understanding of these things to those who seek it. So let me encourage you: You don’t need to be afraid of the Bible – it’s God’s personal revelation of himself and his redemptive work; a gracious gift for mankind.
You don’t need to be afraid of Theology – it’s simply a word that means “The study of the nature of God”; in other words, learning that which is true based on scripture.
You don’t need to be afraid of Practical Application – it’s simply living your life in light of those truths you’ve discovered.
These things are an essential part of our calling in Christ to apply the message of Christ to our lives and the world around us!
This morning, as we’ve looked at 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, we’ve seen how:
Again, it’s not just information that the Spirit provides us, but the ability to do something with it. He empowers us to live a life of godliness, built on the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we’re told in Romans 8:11:
Romans 8:11 (ESV) - 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
May we embrace the Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
And may we embrace the power of the Holy Spirit in giving us life, wisdom, and understanding.