Why is it that one person can see spiritual truths and understand them to be true, and another person finds it difficult to believe that there is such a thing as a spiritual walk with God? Paul Suggests an answer in I Corinthians 2:14 – “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
A man who is not willing to accept spiritual truths will not believe the message that comes from God’s Holy Spirit. He won’t understand it because he rejects the existence of spiritual truths. They are foolishness to him. Spiritual vision is needed to be able to see Spiritual things. Some can’t perceive of there being any spiritual realities and “walking in the spirit” is nonsense to them. Thus they are, altogether, “natural” or “carnal.”
It’s unfortunate that The Living Bible has rendered the text of I Corinthians 2:14 – “But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us, they sound foolish to him, because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in.”
This is a perversion of the text and not a translation. It is a paraphrase written by man, suggesting that the Holy Spirit has to come in and make one a Christian before he can even read and understand how to become a Christian. The logic goes: “If the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate directly on your heart, you can read the Bible until you’re blue in the face, and it still won’t make sense to you.” However, the Bible affirms that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and not by waiting on the Holy Spirit to come in and take over.
This unfortunately leads the unbeliever to scoff at Christianity as a self-serving religion that claims to be true merely because we say it is true and that only the ones God speaks to miraculously can understand what they read. It’s like we’re saying to the world, “Well you just wouldn’t understand. We have special insight.” It also makes God totally responsible for whether a person is a believer or unbeliever, and thus one could blame God for not “opening their eyes.”
Indeed, they could understand, if they were willing to allow themselves to fairly consider the evidences, and allow themselves to see with spiritual eyes and not merely carnal. Spiritual Vision comes from seeing enough evidences around us to convince us that there are unseen realities, that there has to be a Creator. God didn’t leave man with an excuse for disbelieving, nor does He expect us to act on purely “blind” faith (see Romans 1: 20; Psalms 19:1).
Jesus taught in Matthew 13:10-16 that there were people who simply could not accept the teachings because they refused to see, hear, understand and be healed. He pronounced a blessing (verse 16) on the eyes of the disciples “for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” This willingness to see and hear opens our minds up to God and His wonderful Word, words of Salvation and hope!!
Faith still comes by “hearing” the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489.