Three Levels of Life: 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3
“14) But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15) But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2) I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3) for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3
This subject is going to be a bit difficult to understand, but it is the backdrop for much of the New Testament. Because we were created with a body, soul and spirit, we can approach life from three different levels. Paul talked about them in the above context.
We can be governed by the flesh, the soul or the spirit. They represent three very different ways of approaching life. Paul also talked about them in Romans 6-8, Galatians 5 and Ephesians 2.
The natural man or non-Christan can only be governed by the first two levels. They can be very carnal and fleshly or very intellectual and rational. Such is the difference between flesh and soul.
Often they overlap. Paul described this state in Ephesians 2:1-3. This is “normality” for most people. It makes up their view of reality, their world view and becomes the basis of personal ethics and morality. But the spirit is dead at this level because of sin. The deep things of God and of the Holy Spirit are foolishness to them. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18)
These people live on the level of their emotions. Naturalism, secular philosophy, humanism and psychology are self evident to them. They embrace worldly values and standards. Morality is driven by fleshly passions and desires. (See Ephesians 4:17-19)
When a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit comes into the human spirit and imparts Zoe life. This opens the potential for walking in the Spirit and living on the higher level of the spirit. But, it is not automatic. Many who believe in Jesus still live and function on the level of the human flesh or soul. They can be trapped in sinful bondage or be governed by their human intellect.
They become their own worse enemy to stepping into Zoe life. They often reject the supernatural, question whether or not God still does miracles and use human reason to analyze the Bible.
They can have detailed theology, use Christian jargon and execute amazing programs to serve God, but they lack spiritual life. I Corinthians 2:4-13 is a total mystery to them. They hold 1 Corinthians 12-14 at arms length and explain away the signs and wonders in the book of Acts.
What is the problem? Simply stated, they do not understand Zoe life. They have not crucified the flesh so as to walk in the Spirit. Many of them have great self discipline, but no joy in the Spirit. To use an earlier analogy, they have left Egypt but have not entered the promised land of the Spirit. They are wandering in a religious wilderness.
I know, because I was stuck there for years myself. I was born-again but inhibited when it came to the Holy Spirit. My evangelical Bible College background poured cold water on the fire and power of the Holy Spirit. They loved the Father and Jesus, but the Holy Spirit was relegated to the sidelines.
Furthermore, many of my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends were struggling with the same carnal sins and bondage as evangelicals and they were often biblically shallow. Let’s be honest, some big leaders from the Charismatic camp crashed and burned over the past 40 years. That seemed to discredit the whole “Spirit Filled” movement.
I credit two things for moving me into understanding and embracing of Zoe Life. First, I devoted 98% of my attention to studying the Bible and silenced the conflicting noise coming Christian leaders and books. I focused on biblical truth and filtered out much of the theological bias and dogma from the broad spectrum of Christian literature and speakers. I invited the Holy Spirit to be my teacher.
Second, I’ve traveled the world and ministered widely within the body of Christ. I’ve discovered that the godly, mature, victories, virtuous and fruitful saints all share some things in common. They all have a deep and intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ, have worn out Bibles, welcomed the full ministry of the Holy Spirit, live holy lives, believe in the power of God for today, enjoy prolonged intimacy with God in prayer and worship, and live on the level of Zoe life. They radiate the presence of God.
They have crucified the flesh and entered into the Promised Land of walking in the Spirit. They have claimed their inheritance “In Christ” and are tapping into every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (See Ephesians 1:3) They are following Jesus with a sincere faith, a clear conscience and single focus. None of them embrace the morals, values, pleasures or entertainment of the world. They are living on a different level.
Freedom Quest Two is going to point you toward Zoe Life. You will read, hear and see things in your Bible you have never noticed previously. The voice and promptings of the Holy Spirit will become clearer to you. The truth of Gods Word will begin to renew your mind. Some of your religious dogmas will be exposed and challenged. You will learn how to discover and discern the ways of God.
Some new concepts will challenge and stretch you. Take time to study and pray them through. Some concepts may sound old and basic, but there is a reason for including them. Welcome to the Journey.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global