"And we have received God's spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others...But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ."
As Christians, we don't operate on the world's terms. We don't operate by the world's standard of thinking, judging, or seeing. Those in the world are limited by what is plain and natural to them--what can be perceived concretely through the senses. But when someone receives the Spirit of Christ, they are transformed to think, see, and judge through the mind of Christ, beyond the concrete senses. As Christians, we perceive and understand the world through truths that are beyond our natural senses, which are only available through the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul teaches that having the mind of Christ should change our whole outlook on life. Things that once seemed stupid, ignorant, or impossible to us now seem valuable, important, and possible through Christ. This is because we now have access to "the deep secrets of God." By accepting Christ's sacrifice, our spirit shudders into life within us. Through communion with God's spirit, our own newly-alive spirit gains deep insight into God's intentions towards us, demonstrated through Christ. Accepting Christ's sacrifice brings our spirits to life--a part of us previously dead. Without the spirit we could not see beyond what was in front of us. .
All this means that our circumstances should look totally different now that we have a live spirit within us, and the Holy Spirit to counsel us. What once looked true in the natural is no longer true in the spiritual. It may seem in the natural--through our concrete senses-- like we won't have enough money to get by. But in the spirit we perceive an opportunity for God to show himself our great provider. In the natural we may see conflict with friends, family, or at our workplaces. But we perceive in the spirit that this everyday struggle is building and shaping our character to look more like Christ. In the natural we may see a small, seemingly unimportant, or meaningless task. But in the spirit we see an exciting opportunity to steward even the smallest assignment for the glory of God. In the natural we may see tragedy, frustration, or persecution. But in the spirit we see tests, opportunities to manifest the deep faith and love God has been developing within us.
I want to share two quick implications of this truth today.
1) We can practice living out of the spirit. This doesn't have to look super fancy, mystic, or spiritual. Living out of the spirit is not about praying a certain amount or way, being able to prophesy, or heal people. True spirit-living starts with a daily decision that today, we will operate through our spirits, NOT our souls (emotions) or flesh (physical needs and desires). Living out of the Spirit means that we choose to focus on God's work in and through our circumstances today. We resolve that we will not let our emotions, physical needs, desires, and lusts, or what other people think rule our lives today. That means we don't let those things determine how we live OR our attitude towards our lives. Instead, we let God and the things of God rule our lives. We ask Him to change the way we are seeing our days. We let the mind of Christ actively influence our thoughts, desires, and emotions. ("Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.")
2. We shouldn't be surprised or upset when people don't understand the way we live in this present world. Paul writes this truth: "But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means." When we are walking by the spirit, we are walking towards something other people simply can't see. If they haven't accepted Christ, they can't see your destination; they have a different destination, so they won't understand the path you're taking. It's like the parable of the man who sold everything because he had unearthed buried treasure--to those who couldn't perceive the value of the treasure, would his actions make sense? Of course not! To others, the way you live may seem stupid, foolish, ignorant, or futile.
My point is this: We have to let go of any anger, bitterness, or offense that we have because others, sometimes those close to us, judge our lives by the world's standards. Of course they do! You probably did too, before you became a Christian. God has put it on my heart that it is important we have grace and compassion for people who judge us by the world's standards. We can't be in bondage to what people think about us or our decisions. In the end, their judgment doesn't stand, so we shouldn't be upset, and we must forgive. In fact, as Christians, we have access to the true power and discernment to judge all things: "Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others."
We should not laud our "better way" over people, but in the same way, we should not take offense when people misunderstand, question, or slander us. Rather, we should focus on learning to live out of the spirit, which pleases God, and meanwhile, pray for those around us. After all, life in the spirit is a GIFT, a treasure given out of God's grace to man. We did nothing to deserve it.
I want to end with this passage from Matthew Henry's commentary, on 1 Corinthians 2:
"How different is the judgment of God from that of the world! He sees not as man sees. The wisdom he teaches if of a quite different kind from what passes under that notion in the world...It is the mystery which has been hid from ages and generations, though now made manifest to the saints...made mysterious to Jews, by being wrapped up in dark types and distant prophecies, but revealed and made known by God. See the privilege of those who enjoy the gospel revelation: to them types are unveiled, mysteries made plain, prophecies interpreted, and the secret counsels of God published and laid open. The wisdom of God in a mystery is now made manifest to the saints....
Observe, Jesus Christ is the lord of glory, a title much too great for any creature to bear: and the reason he was hated because he was not known...There are many things which people would not do if they knew the wisdom of God in the great work of redemption. They act as they do because they are blind. It is such wisdom as could not have been discovered without a revelation...Life and immortality are brought to life through the gospel."
In what part of your life do you need to decide to operate in the spirit today?