Three Spiritual States Of Man
2 “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 NKJV
When you read the chapter that precedes this one, you learn from Paul that Jesus wants us to understand the deep spiritual truths that are in Him. He wants us to know Him, to understand the Word and grow in our understanding of spiritual things, to understand what the natural mind alone can never comprehend or understand. For a believer in Jesus, we have His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, teaching us all truth and revealing all things to us. For in Jesus nothing is hidden from those who have accepted His sacrificial work on their behalf.
In the verses that conclude 1 Corinthians chapter two and then in the verses above, Paul reveals to us that there are three spiritual states of men. We tend to think that there is only the natural mind [the unregenerated man who cannot understand the things of the spirit realm] and the spiritual man who is connected to the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Those are two of the states of man but it is essential for us to realize that there is a third state of man as well. It is a state that we can fall into even as an individual who has been redeemed by the blood of the lamb.
Here then is a quick overview of the three states of man. First, there is the natural man, he has not accepted the sacrificial work of Jesus and is blind to spiritual truth and reality. In his blindness the things of God are foolishness. His blindness leads to his being deceived by the enemy and walking into all manner of bondage, failure, and destruction in his life. He cannot know the greater things of God, to his own downfall and destruction.
Next, there is the spiritual man. This is the person that has yielded their life to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They saw their sinfulness, realized their need for a Savior and they accepted the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross for their unmerited redemption through His love. At the moment of their acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice, they had the very Spirit of the Lord come to dwell within their spirit. It brought them from death to life as a new creation in Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit that is in them they are always connected to God’s presence and the spiritual realm. They have the Holy Spirit to teach them and reveal all spiritual truth, giving them the mind of Christ!
Finally, there is the carnal man. The carnal man has been saved and has the Holy Spirit within them but like the natural man chooses to think and dwell in the natural world, believing the evidence of this natural world as opposed to the unseen promises of Jesus in the spiritual realm. In this life, as a believer, it is easy to live in the world to fall into the state of carnal man. Divest yourself of the world and be with Him, as a spiritual man. Look to Him and believe the Word always.
J Todd Hostetler