In one flash of spiritual intelligence, God can make a man or women know, in the deepest meaning of the word, more that matters to his soul for eternity than can be learned in 10 years of hard study. A.W. Tozer.
Basically, we are not those who rely upon that understanding which comes from much reasoning and study however, our source of knowing things are from above, that is, born of the Spirit, spiritual knowledge and wisdom, i.e. spiritual intelligence. We seek those things Jesus spoke of, and makes available to us through the Spirit, and are given us for the sole and single purpose that we might enter His kingdom, via abiding in Him. Without that which is born of the Spirit, is born of the flesh. What is of the Spirit is life, what is of the flesh is death and we are those who seek and know eternal life, in Christ Jesus. If anything is of God the Holy Spirit, it will live; its chief characteristic will be life. We are those who seek life, and the reason for this is simple, because we are those who have known death, and now desire life in Christ, where our beginning in these things is what is given to us by the Spirit of life.
Albert Einstein once said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. Born of the Holy Spirit and sealed in Him, Christians who continue walking in the futility of their carnal minds, ignorant of their access to God given spiritual insight consequently are those who are seeking the means and methods to live and walk upright before their God other than what He has made provisions for in the Spirit, are as Einstein explained, attempting to solve problems within the same frame of reference that created them. In other words, having a mind set upon the things of the world, flesh, or self, and not set upon things above where Christ is seated. A mind set upon the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has as its resource things from above, i.e. a different frame of reference; all spiritual blessings, those things God has freely given to us in His Son, are made available to believers. Reliance solely upon one’s own human cognitive abilities and capabilities can be likened to a closed loop system, where any knowledge of God, obtained via human means and reasoning’s is only recycled, reoccurring, or reprocessed, yet has little to no impact upon the human condition or heart.
Who has shone in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of the glory and majesty of God [clearly revealed] in the face of Christ.
Once God breaks into this man centered repetitive, redundant, religious activities with divine inspiration and light can we truly possess the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ. There is a knowledge and understanding that the human condition can gleam from the light of day, however, as Christians we seek the light of heaven so that we might know and understand the things of heaven and the God that exists there, whose thoughts are higher than ours.
The entrance of the Holy Spirit of God into the human spirit initiates the new birth and becomes to us our means and method to know those things that are above each of us and are those things provided to us, in Christ, thus beginning the accumulation of God given activities in us, those things our renewed spirit can know, and are those things called out in scriptures, that is, insights, heavenly light, Spirit given understanding, knowledge and wisdom, illuminations, revelations, and quickening regarding the kingdom of God is the sum and total of those things I call “spiritual intelligence”. Not unlike the natural means to gain knowledge and understanding of those things in this world, i.e., by the light of this world, so it is with understanding of the kingdom of God, where understanding from above is given in the light of Gods kingdom, in Christ.
God’s revelation of Himself and His will cannot be sought out and understood by reason, intelligence nor great learning. Great men and great minds are neither the channels nor depositories of God’s revelation by virtue of their culture, braininess nor wisdom. E.M. Bounds
What is the most important thing in the life of a Christian? It is: “SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING.” I do not think that there is anything more important for us than spiritual understanding….Everything centers in and focuses upon this matter of SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING! The Lord Jesus is here speaking about the Kingdom of God. That is the great subject with which He was occupied. T. Austin-Sparks
We speak often how Jesus is our Lord, and many speak of their personal relationship with Him, yet, as a whole, many still remain ignorant of His given spiritual understanding which is suppository based in these so called relationship. Therefore, how can anyone reconcile the difference between given spiritual understanding by the Lord, and our absence of it. The text provides us knowledge and information however, the Lord gives us understanding from above. Much division in the Church is due to an absence of spiritual understanding.
The Word of God
Those that know their natural deadness under the power of sin and Satan are fully convinced that, if God leave them to their own hearts, they can do nothing but sin; and that they can do no good work, except it please God, of His great love and mercy, to work it in them. Walter Marshall.
God has spoken through Moses, the Prophets, and now speaks to us in His Son, and as stated in scripture, that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, whereas both these verses are meant to impart a level of wisdom and understanding to each believer as God sovereignty provides to us, in Christ, a spiritual intelligence. Not only does God, through His Spirit impart, but He also, and most importantly writes His words upon our hearts that we might most naturally reverence, worship, and obey Him,
Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.
Why would this be Gods intent in our lives, that is to know His ways, truth, and to fear Him it is because God knows what will truly bless us which can only be in and through His Son. Therefore, His ways and truth are on the way to truly know the Son. Desire of heart is at the seat of seeking His ways and truth, and God the Father works to this end in our life. Simply to say I want to know You is not enough, wanting to know the Lord has to be a way of life for each of us, because what is our bent is to go our own way.
One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.
If we are going to know God, as He has to reveal Himself, we must come to Him by faith through grace, and to truly know these two virtues, we need both wisdom and understanding, given by Gods Spirit, that we might come and walk with Him in terms of His most pronounced attribute, i.e. His holiness. How can we agree with God, and walk with Him, unless we are in pursuit of His means to righteousness and holiness of life? Many will attempt to explain to you how it is that you can know God, however, unless your path and way that you teach is not the path of righteousness you will never know Him, it is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.
If we are maturing in the faith we certainly at some point in our walk begin to recognize that Gods words are not as those communicated by man, that is from the natural human condition, or via much effort on our part, for our part is one of a contrite spirit and much humility which comes when one finally see any level of Gods greatness or excellency, in light of who we really are, that is, His fallen creation in dire need of His help,
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit…. the humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.
What is most unfortunate and disconcerting is for the average Christian in the 21st century these most important godly virtues are not maturing, yet arrogance and a self-centered approach to God is becoming the centerpiece of gospel.
Whether directly or indirectly spoken, Gods words bear the mark of His power, eternity, and kingdom and all the life and richness that exists there. When God said let there be light, there was light, and this same God has and does powerfully speak into man’s fallen condition by faith, through His Spirit, in Christ, resurrecting it from sin, death, and hell raising it up into the newness of life in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if God were to leave us alone to our own hearts, reasoning’s and abilities to know Him, we would remain in our fallen state, destined to live in a fallen sinful condition, separated from God and His life, continuing in our darkened understanding, and ignorant of the things of God. Consequently, we need for our God to speak into our all of our individual lives with His life giving and powerful words to the accumulation of Spirit given intelligence.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Apostle explains to us, from Hebrews, the nature and characteristics of these words, and their source, i.e. they are God given through His Spirit, whether in and through Moses, the Prophets, or in Christ, they were all given in and through Gods redemptive history to call men to Himself, or to call them back from their fallen state. We have this written word, both old and new, yet it can remain dormant and lifeless in us unless God sovereignty and powerfully speaks, that is, without Gods help and assistance our understanding remains dormant, inert, and darkened. One case in point had been Jesus visiting with Nicodemus, explaining to Him, that He must be born of the Spirit to see and enter the kingdom of God. We recognize that this same Jewish leader, who possesses an intelligence gleamed from the law of Moses, and its many services and practices yet Nicodemus remained spiritually blind and darkened in his understanding not only to what Jesus attempting to explain to Him but also blinded to who had been standing before Him. How possibly could this be? After all, Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, possessed a knowledge of God above and beyond what the typical Jew knew and practiced, and most likely possessed a knowledge of the law and its many services above what the typical Christian understands, from both the Old and New Testaments, yet could not understand what Jesus had explained to him regarding the new birth. Nicodemus said, How can these things be possible?” Jesus replied, “You are the [great and well-known] teacher of Israel, and yet you do not know nor understand these things [from Scripture]? His understanding of spiritual things were darkened in him. Jesus explained that is the Spiritual life and not the natural that is foundational.
The Holy Spirit only builds upon His own foundation, upon what He Himself puts down as a basis. And that is spiritual: that which is of the Spirit is spiritual. He only builds upon the spiritual basis in us. All our growth, therefore, is going to be along the line of spiritual understanding, spiritual knowledge, not the accumulation of a vast amount of truth, and religious, Christian information, but what the Spirit teaches us. T. Austin Sparks
When sharing with various Christians and listening as to what they understand, or do not understand, in many cases I simply have to conclude that because these persons cannot understand the most basic of spiritual things of the faith that they have not this new birth Jesus spoke of. Knowing the new birth from the Holy Spirit equips a believer with a knowledge of God and Christ that they had not previously possessed, that is, prior to their second birth. Those who have the second birth resonate with the fundamentals of the faith, and because they have received a quickening in their spirit, by the Spirit of God, light flows into their spirit and they begin to understand they are saved and see and have entered Gods kingdom. Though these God given things remain dim, however as one continues pressing the heavens they are given more understanding, i.e. this birthing experience does not conclude with our initial born again experience however must continue all through our spiritual lives if we are to make progress in our faith. God’s initial method in calling us back to Himself, through Christ, is to give us Spirit given understanding and wisdom.
[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].
The unquickened word has no ingress into our most inner parts. The word on the page can only be read, interpreted, and memorized using human abilities via the light of day, however the word written needs a Spirit quickening for it to become living and powerful to enter into our hearts.
Truth unquicken by God’s Spirit deadens as much as, or more than, error. It may be the truth without admixture; but without the Spirit its shade and touch are deadly, its truth error, and its light darkness. E.M. Bounds
In reading or meditating upon Gods word we do so only in the condition of heart and mind of a child who is coming to His dad asking for assistance to understand what he is reading or thinking upon. The words that our heart begins to understand are what the Father has breathed upon, that is, in opening the eyes of our understanding.
And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people)…
We are daily dependent upon a heavenly Father in making progress and apart from His help we are left to our own devices in any attempt to know Him. It is only God who can reveal Himself to us and He does so by His written and spoken words through His Spirit in both the act of enlightening and granting to us these spiritual blessings. However, we receive these only in terms that God is engaged in our lives where He is working upon a hardened heart to desire after Him. Therefore, in our desiring after Him He begins to give to us the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ and where we previously had not understood we now begin to understand; understand at a level we had not previous known. This is the process of becoming sons who are spiritually intelligent.
Full Assurance of Understanding
And we [have seen and] know [by personal experience] that the Son of God has [actually] come [to this world], and has given us understanding and insight so that we may [progressively and personally] know Him who is true
What had been or is Gods intent in giving us spiritual intelligence, it is that we might know His Son and His life, that is, know Him, …growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him, …that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (both imputed and imparted righteousness)… thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers]…and as the Apostle John states…He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. If these things are to be true in our lives, not in word only but in deed and work we need to possess the help of heaven unto having spiritual intelligence.
When Jesus walked on this earth the crowds encircled Him with much excitement, gaze, wonder, inquisitive, and curious, as they watched those things that the Father had been doing through Him. In like manner the contemporary Church circles around any demonstration of the Holy Spirit; where many will travel thousands of miles to watch and experience what the Holy Spirit is doing and manifesting at the assembling of believers. However, I suggest these demonstrations are but temporary and meant for the edification of the Church but are not necessarily Gods highest. In other words, after all the excitement has died down, and the crowds have gone home, Jesus took His disciples to Himself to teach and instruct them regarding His kingdom and its righteousness. Any true spiritual intelligence comes via Jesus instructions through His Spirit. We cannot live on the demonstrations of the Spirit, but we must daily learn to depend upon Him in all instructions in righteousness, that we might live by and according to these instructions which ultimately lead to life. We need to seek God for those things He has hidden and provided in His Son.
…And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life…
The real miracles of God were intended to be internal, His work in us, after the resurrection, where many would know, by the Holy Spirit working and instructing them in the ways of wisdom and understanding in Christ. The intelligence we seek is not mental, but spiritual in nature, i.e. those things pertaining to the hidden treasures in Christ.
[For my hope is] that their hearts (Christians) may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the mystery of God, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God.
It is Gods purpose and will to provide His children with knowledge into what He has accomplished, is, and will accomplish in His Son…Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. It is not Gods will that we remain ignorant, however, it is His intention that we are spiritual intelligent in all those things according to His will. The Father, the Son and the Spirit do not conclude with knowledge, but they continue to work for their purposes, i.e. that is that the Church might be ultimately be knit together in Gods love and that they might be a holy people who walk upright. In addition, it is Gods purpose that His children are so instructed that they are spiritually intelligent so that they might not be deceived by every wind of doctrine that blows through their assemblies, nor fall into error regarding the intent of the gospel message, that is, they become wise to what is error in the message so that they do not stumble nor follow after charlatans.
Live and Walk in the Spirit
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
I would suggest that many in the Church cannot differentiate between body, soul and spirit, however, those who can, and know, the Holy Spirit who dwells in them, still remain ignorant of His activities, specifically in their spirit, who is seeking to give them understanding and wisdom regarding what has been hidden in Christ. A.W. Tozer,
From man’s standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. At the far-in hidden center of man’s being is a bush fitted to be the dwelling place of the Triune God. There God planned to rest and glow with moral and spiritual fire. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribably wonderful privilege and must now dwell there alone. For so intimately private is the place that no creature can intrude; no one can enter but Christ; and He will enter only by the invitation of faith…
Many Christians will reason, to their own hurt, they do not need to acknowledge or cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit in them, nor seek to walk after Him, because they are not a pastor, evangelist, or teacher. However, those speculating that a walk in the Spirit is not for a lay person need to understand that our only resource for things given by God, unto walking daily in a manner that pleases Him, that is a holy manner is only through the Holy Spirit. Our subsequent ignorance of His Spiritual activities in us, would explain the feebleness of our faith, sin, and disobedience that exists in the Church today. If the Spirit is our God given source of those things God has put in Christ, then how is it conceivable to live according to Christ’s words, or Gods Will, by any other means or measures other than the Spirit? The consequences of the spiritual vacuum in the Church is evident, that is to the discerning, just look around you, see what is here already and will be coming. Spiritual ignorance is on the rise, exponentially so, and the consequence is catastrophic for the church’s success in this world and life. True spirituality is not the norm in most assemblies in America where many do not understand what it means to be consider as a spiritual person. T. Austin-Sparks gives us a definition,
…spirituality just means government by the Holy Spirit; but a government by the Holy Spirit in such a way as to make us one with the Holy Spirit in all His standards, in all His ways of looking at things, deciding about things, so that, being one with Him, we are not at all influenced or affected by natural judgments, natural standards, natural considerations, but ours are all the Holy Spirit’s judgments and values and ways of viewing things.
If we are attempting to live by other means, other than the Spirit, isn’t this simply pretense, religious, and self-righteous, for we are trying to live as a Christian by self-efforts, separate from the Holy Spirits help and assistance? In addition, without attention given to the Spirit, we have no witness of the Father, and the Son, in us; “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” Unfortunately, without this Spirit given internal witness some will abandon their personal faith; thus coming short of any experience or witness given by the Spirit, where these vanquished souls will presuppose that the Christian God must not exist, because he was not, and is not, a reality in their own personal life. Yet, maybe Gods love once manifested now remains distant, however His love is in Christ and is waiting to be rediscovered by every seeking faithful soul. Consequently, we need to know and understand the significance and importance the position the Holy Spirit holds in our life, whether you are a minister or you work a nine to five job, if you are going to know and experience the realities of our God and His life; possessing knowledge of the Son and His heavenly riches, you are and we are all, in earnest want of the daily voice and activities of the Holy Spirit, in us, for God given wisdom and understanding of His things in Christ. Therefore all of us and the Church have to be reminded…Do you not know that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
The Wisdom in the World
The more abilities the mind is furnished with, the more it closes with the curse, and strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. John Owen.
Regrettably, many an un-informed unbeliever accuses Christians of ignorance because we believe in a literal bible. A popular TV personality arrogantly asserts, “Christians and others who are religious suffer from a neurological disorder that stops people from thinking.” Also, regarding our belief in a six-day creation, one scientist states that “Fundamentalist Christians choose ignorance over knowledge.” What the TV personality, or many self-important scientists fell to understand, nor could they, is the knowledge that we seek and possess, regarding our God, His Son, and the kingdom, comes from another source, one that the world does not have access to, nor do they see; the Spirit of truth God has given to those who believe, “… the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you…”
…there is a source and kind of knowledge, by which we can be got through, which all the princes of this world’s knowledge do not possess. It is a kind of knowledge. I want you to understand that unless we have, we have this kind of knowledge, this spiritual understanding, this spiritual intelligence, this intelligence which is different, which is other, this mind which is the mind of Christ – we are not going to negotiate these critical corners in Christian life, and experience, and in the work of God. T. Austin Sparks
Christians do not repudiate all of this world’s knowledge, or its sciences, however when the scientist, philosopher, historian, or even the theologians theories or presuppositions are counter to scriptures, we chose to believe the bible and our God; we know our God therefore He is trustworthy. What the unbeliever’s cannot know is Christians are neither dependent upon, nor reliant in this world’s systems, sciences, educational institutions in knowing our God and His ways. Yes there is much ignorance amongst Christians however such miss information does not come from God but comes from naive carnal Christians and those steeped in false teachings. God desires that His people be informed yet not by this worlds means to information but by His Spirit. Knowledge of Gods things, given to those who believe, are deeper than human reason, intellect, soul, or feeling; things wrought in our spirit; spiritual things are taught and revealed by the Holy Spirit, in us, things given freely by the grace of God to the faithful. In other words, it is through Gods Spirit we can know Him, His Son, and His kingdom realities,
…what we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
Knowing this, that neither the secular scientist, nor the theologian can irrefutably prove or disprove the existence of God, or biblical events based upon physical, theoretical, nor empirical evidence, however we believe Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, explaining to the Corinthian Church regarding the world, its knowledge, and that through its wisdom cannot know God, and His message of salvation,
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
The bible is a spiritual book, if one picks it up and wants to understand its pages unto knowing God, the prerequisite is that one has to possess the same Spirit who is its author and who is jealous over its interpretation,
… that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit…
The secrets and mysteries of scripture are reserved for those who have, and know, the Holy Spirit; biblical mysteries for the most part are shrouded and remain enigmatic to the unregenerate and carnally minded. A.W. Tozer provides us with some insight regarding our approach to reading the bible,
The saving power of the Word is reserved for those for whom it is intended. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. The impenitent heart will find the Bible but a skeleton of facts without flesh or life or breathe. Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures.
In vain do we try to convince unregenerate unbelievers, those not unlike the TV host, and many arrogant and self-possessed scientists, those without the Spirit regarding a virgin birth, six-day creation, or Jesus miracles. The unbelievers deem us as foolish and ignorant people because we believe things difficult to understand and prove; neither can they disprove. However, we believe in those things difficult because we believe in the God, who said they are true, i.e., our evidence is based upon our personal relationship with our heavenly Father whom we unreservedly trust. We believe that God did create this earth in six days and rested on the seventh; though God has not personally explained the details of how He created the heavens and the earth, as if we had the capacity to understand how the supreme intellect created the earth and heavens, yet we believe, because we believe in Him and in His word. Our belief in our God is not based in some kind of mindless blind faith however we have a witness in us, where His eternal life in Christ is arising in us.
Personally I believe God could have created the earth and heavens in two days except He took His time, explaining after He finished, “… that it was very good” not just good but very good. If He had taken two days, we might not have all He gave us in His creation, He might have left something out, but we are assured that we have His best, because as I said, after He looked at His creation, after He had finished it, God said, it was very good. We believe scripture, all of its events and history, because the Spirit in us communicates to us Gods character, His trustworthiness, and His faithfulness, consequently having a personal relationship with Him we don’t need to know everything and be able to explain it to the unbeliever, except to tell them they need to be born of His Spirit because they will never be argued and reasoned into the faith that we have, only born into it, as we had. If there are contradictions in scripture, that many in this world are happy to point out, we don’t have to reconcile every biblical event, history, or the miraculous with contemporary science, knowing one day science will catch up with Gods words, because our faith does not rest upon these thing but our God in Christ.
The Carnal Mind
We have said that one of the gravest spiritual perils today is a life without spiritual intelligence. T. Austin-Sparks
The second birth is not a guarantee that Christians are making any real progress in a spiritual walk, nor does it mean that they possess what I previously called spiritual intelligence. After the Holy Spirit descended from heaven at the direction of the Father, believers would have access to God, through His Spirit, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father…”, having access to His invisible Kingdom, “…made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”, and the mysteries of Christ, “…praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” things difficult to understand; difficult to understand apart from the Holy Spirit input, however, concerning the hidden things given to us we have this promise from Jesus, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known”
One can possess the new birth, have knowledge that the Holy Spirit is in them, however one can go the rest of their life resisting, or grieving the Spirit, even hardening their heart against His voice, therefore understanding only the fundamentals of their Christian faith, basic fundamentals which they believe, however, they remain saved but distant from a kingdom life, or one’s inheritance. For those who remain ignorant of the Spirits activities in them, exists many hazards, vulnerability’s, risks and challenges to their faith. Remaining carnally minded and unaware of the Spirits realities and direction you are subject to those many wolves that wait for you.
Paul admonishes the first century Corinthian Church regarding their neglect and lack of any true spiritual progress in their life, i.e., they were not able to receive, from Paul, his spiritual teaching because they were not “spiritual people”; though in terms of the external activities of the Spirit the Corinthians were well versed. However, the context of Paul’s message implies that being a “spiritual people” had little to do with gifts, but had to do with possessing a level of maturity, unto personal righteousness and fruitfulness. Paul called them carnal, because of their divisions and issues with one another. Paul explaining to the Corinthian Christians, explaining that the evidence of their spiritual immaturity, is their carnal mind and its product,
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 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; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollo’s,” are you not carnal?
In other words, Paul explains that the primary evidence of spiritual immaturity is envy, strife, and divisions, works of the flesh and self; where the evidence of works counter to those of flesh is those of the Spirit, e.g. the fruit of love for one another. John in his first letter explained that if you hate your brother the love of God is not in you, and wasn’t the division, and issues they had with one another, a result of personal pride and resulting hatred, e.g. in the book of proverbs, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins”.
The intentions of things given, revealed from above, were meant to mature the Church and not divide it; for there is unity in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not teach division, but maintains unity and sheds the love of God upon our hearts which covers a multitude of sin. However, a level of carnality exists through each century and especially in the last several, seeing all the divisiveness that doctrinal pride and hatred caused.
The Corinthians knew and experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their assemblies; however, they had not moved on from an external manifestation of the Spirit unto the recognition of the Holy Spirits activities in them; revealing, instructing, and strengthening the Church as the administrator of the things of God including His Agape “…because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” The love of God is the sustaining constituent unifying the Church, and remains the goal and intent of the Holy Spirits leading and direction for us all, unto righteousness and unity.
Let me stop here for a moment, and take a stab at prophesying that the next move of God will be upon the remnant from the previous movements, where this movement’s emphasis is upon the internal things of the Holy Spirit, working in us, calling together a “spiritual” people, unto unity, those who know the Agape of God. However, those who persist in looking only to the external things of the Spirit, missing the new direction of the Spirit, will be led astray, captivated, and mesmerized by all those unscrupulous personalities who lay claim to have experienced extraordinary events in these “last days”, and in their preaching these supernatural events, and experiences, lead many astray and away from holiness, godliness and righteous. If the Church is going to move into a place of true maturity, worship, and service to God it is only going to do so based upon the Spirits direction and teaching, in us, unto knowing the Agape of God. The Holy Spirit leads, teaches, reveals, and directs us into knowing an abiding relationship that Jesus knew and had with His Father, and now the Spirit is calling us into corporately.
Paul explained in I Corinthians that all the externals of the Spirit will pass away one day, but what will remain are faith, hope and love, and the greatest is love (Agape of God in us). The further the Church distances itself from the internal activities of the Holy Spirit it will fall prey to the world’s pressures, and fall into more error, and every kind of weird thing claiming it’s of the Spirit, however Gods love in us does not act unbecomingly.
Rather than maturing spiritually, exercising, by use, spiritual senses, i.e., to discern between what is good (of the Spirit) or what is evil (in error, out of order, not of the Spirit) the Corinthian remained dull in their senses.
…But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
For most Christians an inward life is too subjective and considered mystical. I can understand the concern most have, those who question what spirit is, because there is a lot of questionable behavior understood to be spiritual, and is both weird and overtly animated. We are spiritual beings, and it is in our spirit that God reveals Himself, as Jesus explains the dynamics of His, and the Fathers relationship,
… Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
One’s ability to learn something new is a product of reason and memory, however, what is learned ebbs over time, but it is the Holy Spirit who daily brings Jesus living words to us, words our faith is nourished by and is maintained through, living words, that we might abide in them, daily, which is the present voice of the Lord in us.
We cannot know the reality of our God apart from a spiritual life, therefore, as mentioned, we need to develop senses characteristics of our spiritual nature; capabilities that enable us to hear, see, and receive, as Paul explains,
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have received the Spirit who is from God.
John William Fletcher, Christ Manifested, a seventeen-century author, and contemporary of John Wesley wrote,
Though we have, in common with beasts, bodily organs of sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, adapted to outward objects; though we enjoy, in common with devils, the faculty of reasoning upon natural truths, and mathematical propositions, yet we do not understand supernatural and divine things. Notwithstanding all our speculations about them, we can neither see nor taste them truly, unless we are risen with Christ and taught of God. We may, indeed, speak and write about them, as the blind may speak of colours, and the deaf dispute of sounds, but it is all guesswork, hearsay, and mere conjecture. The things of the Spirit of God can be discovered only by spiritual internal senses, which are, with regard to the spiritual world, what our external senses are with regard to the material world. They are the only means by which a fellowship between Christ and our souls can be opened and maintained. The exercise of these senses is peculiar to those who are born of God. They belong to what the apostles call the new man, the inward man, the new creature, the hidden man of the heart. In believers, this hidden man is awakened and raised from the dead, by the power of Christ’s resurrection.
One observation and sign of immaturity in the Church, in my opinion, is how many judge and measure success in their churches according to external things. If one sees large audiences, charismatic personalities, large buildings, even the manifestation of many spiritual gifts at their meetings, in their opinion, is evidence of spiritual maturity and growth. A.W. Tozer explains the primary importance of the activities of the Holy Spirit,
Paul in First Corinthians teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit performs in the seeking heart an act of self-disclosure. The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man.
It is the Holy Spirits intent to get us all on the same page, His page, i.e., “…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” If you ask 100 Christians what the Holy Spirit is saying you will get 100 different answers, however, there should be one answer and one way, and that is His way, and His way in instructing all of us, on a daily basis, regarding what Jesus taught unto how we are to walk before our God in service to Him.
God does not leave the Church alone to sift through all the winds of doctrine and theological mayhem that waft its way through our assemblies, God has a predetermined provision, and is personally involved in our learning, to establish us in Christ; as Isaiah prophesied,
…And they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
In addition, Moses instructs the Jews before they entered the promise land.
To you it was shown, that you might realize and have personal knowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.
Many intelligent people have spent their whole life studying and reading the bible, however, these efforts spent are in vain if one does not learn first from their heavenly Father; knowledge about God is of little value in knowing Him. Many scriptures committed to memory, or preached in man’s wisdom are soon forgotten, especially as we get older. However, that which God speaks, and illuminates, through the Holy Spirit impressing upon our spirit His living words, is eternal, and not forgotten. If our faith has to rests upon our daily ability to recall scriptures, verse-by-verse, this is but shifting sands under our feet.
Unfortunately, spiritual things are often miss-understood and rarely spoken of from the pulpits in American Churches; consequently the voice of God is either growing dim or absent altogether resulting in powerless preaching, a weak faith, miss interpretation of scriptures which ultimately leads to a subversion of the gospel message, leading to error.
Therefore, due to the dismissal of the Holy Spirit in us, the Church is full of carnal Christians, those who consistently miss interpret and miss understand the gospel, consequently, the Church begins to drift off into various kinds of errors, where the gospel message is compromised and takes on a form that was not intended by the first century authors. When error becomes excessive, God has to send His messengers to restore the words purity, purpose, and intentions.
True restoration of the gospel message begins with an authority given to Gods approved ministers. As the Church continues off its scriptural path, the Lord sends messengers into His Church, men trusted with His authority, an authority to bring the gospel back in line with what had been initially revealed to the first century Apostles. Paul, trusted with this authority provides some insight into His dealing with error in the Corinthian Church.
…but I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Had Paul been addressing, as some might want us to believe, the external world, or unseen demons and devils that work in it? No, Paul was addressing error that false Apostles and brothers were introducing into the Corinthian congregation. The strongholds were arguments, reasoning’s, and every high thing that attempts to subvert the knowledge of God, His will in Christ, and plan of redemption given to Paul and other true Apostles. Therefore, if there is going to be any restoration it has to begin in the Church in pulling down all the foolish, or demonic, watered down teaching, preaching, or prophecies that inundate the Church through the ages.
We do not need more programs, more education, or charismatic cheerleaders or flamboyant preachers, what we need is God given men who can be trusted with Gods authority, as Paul had, in the pulling down of every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We need the power of God, not some who would imitate it, but those who have it. Power and authority in pulling down every stronghold (People, or groups holding to a controversial viewpoints contrary to the gospel, as revealed to Paul) and the casting down of arguments (imaginations, theories, presuppositions) to subjugate all reasoning’s (in the Church) to the obedience of Christ.
Today, the Church is anemic and worldly due to a spiritual vacuum that exists in it and is solely in need of wisdom and understanding that is God given. In this spiritual vacuum all types of carnality and worldliness has come in to replace the Holy Spirit, or to imitate the Spirit.
Reading through the letters to each Church there is a common theme and that is to bring order; first to the individual and second to the Church. Order is only understood if all are walking and led by the Holy Spirit, possessing the same mind, what mind, the mind of Christ, the head of the Church. If all are going to walk in accordance with Gods will, all need understanding unto fullness of wisdom that unity might be maintained. If the Church is to come into order it is in need of the knowledge of the Son (redemptive as well as resurrected), and Gods purpose and intention in Him. For everyone has different levels of understanding and that is ok, however we all are in need of the knowledge of the Son in this manner, as Paul explains in Ephesians, that this dynamic might be working in all of us and that is, “…that Christ might dwell in our hearts by faith that we might know the breath, height and depth of His love. If the Church is in possession of the Agape of God, found in Christ, this love not only covers a multitude of sins, sins we see in each other, and carnality that causes disunity, however the Agape of God is what occupies His kingdom, and when this same love becomes the common thread that is woven in our Churches, the world will take notice, God will be glorified, for His kingdom is upon the earth.
Given spiritual intelligence is a consequence of the activities of the Holy Spirit in us unto the realization and accomplishment of the will of God; where Gods will addresses all those activities in man that are in opposition to His kingdom and the King of that kingdom. The Holy Spirit administers the things He receives from the Father, impressing upon our spirit that we may possess insight into both the good (what is of the Lord) and bad (us and our sin) in us that are counter to God’s will or in accordance with it, as revealed in Jesus teachings.
We begin to receive from above when the inner condition of our heart is enlarged to receive, longs for God, and hungers after Him in true humility; as opposed to one that is grasping for Gods will from the impurity of his own heart. George MacDonald, Hope of the Gospel, explains,
For the highest creation of God in man is his will, and until the highest in man meets the highest in God, their true relation is not yet a spiritual fact.
True restoration begins as the Church begins to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is in them working in accordance with God’s revealed will.
A.W Tozer, Born after Midnight, explains the necessity and importance of the Holy Spirit,
There is no witness, no immediacy of knowledge, no encounter with God, and no awareness of inner change.
The significance of the administration of the Holy Spirit is that He works in us on a daily basis, not just on Sunday, tirelessly, to accomplish the Fathers desire. Know this, when your personal Preachers and Pastors finish preaching, they go home, however, it is the Holy Spirit, in you, who continues working faithfully until you die: teaching, and instructing, appending what the Preacher or Pastor taught. When you set your bible aside, after a daily reading session, the Spirit continues to go out with you, through your day, instructing, convicting, encouraging you to walk worthy and bringing to bear the light of heaven upon our inward parts that the eyes of our heart might be enlightened. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us Gods will (purposes, plans and intentions) in Christ, that we might be filled with the wisdom from above consequently knowing how to walk in a manner that pleases the Lord. The Holy Spirit does the work, that we might be those who are spiritually intelligent, possessing understanding that God would give us that we would see clearly a path before us; where that path stepping stones are Jesus teachings. Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ,
How often have you longed for wisdom and spiritual understanding that you might know God better, who to know is life eternal! Abide in Jesus: your life in Him will lead you to that fellowship with God in which the only true knowledge of God is to be had. His love, His power, His infinite glory will, as you abide in Jesus, be so revealed as it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive. You may not be able to grasp it with the understanding or to express it in words; but the knowledge which is deeper than thoughts or words will be given–the knowing of God which comes of being known of Him. We preach Christ crucified unto them which are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
and finally, T. Austin-Sparks explains the need today for spiritual intelligence,
…the need of the Lord’s people today is an enlarged capacity for knowing Him and the power of His resurrection experimentally, and living it; to have intelligence in the realm of life. Oh, there is a lot bound up with that simple statement. Intelligence in the realm of life. We have said that one of the gravest spiritual perils today is a life without spiritual intelligence.