Study Notes for I Corinthians 2:10b-16 (click here for Study Sheet)
In this passage Paul is trying to make it clear that the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God, shares God's mysteries with believers. He makes his point by comparing the Spirit of God to the spirit of man. No one, he says, no matter how well he or she knows you, can ever know exactly what you're thinking. Only your own spirit knows that.
Similarly, no one knows what God is thinking except the Spirit of God. And that Spirit knows everything, even the "deep things of God." (verse 10)
The miracle is that now that we are Christ followers, we no longer have the "spirit of the world"; we have the "Spirit who is from God". The Holy Spirit makes us understand "what God has freely given us."
God has freely given us salvation. He has made it possible to bring our dead, sinful souls to life. He has provided a way to disarm sin; he's provided a way in which he can once again live intimately with and in his people. He has freely given his Son to be sin for us, to be our sacrifice and our Savior.
None of these gifts makes sense to people before they experience Jesus. Before the Holy Spirit makes our souls come alive, God's plan to save us seems illogical and pointless.
Some Christians and non-Christians say, "It doesn't make sense that God would make us imperfect just so we would beg him to fix us and make us good. It's ridiculous to think that God would send his Son to die just to be a hero and solve the problem he created in the first place."
In fact, many people say, God is a God of love. He can forgive sin just because he is loving. To insist that the Son of God had to die for sin is to perpetuate a belief in divine child abuse. It doesn't make sense to trust a God like that.
Paul is very clear; when we receive the Spirit from God, God's gifts to us make sense. When our souls are alive in Christ and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we understand God's gift of salvation.
Paul is not suggesting that we know why God designed the plan as he did, nor is he suggesting that we understand how it works. What he is saying, though, is that when we become one with Jesus, we finally understand that God did not play a cosmic game with us. He did not create us flawed so we would beg him for mercy; rather, he created us perfect and unified with him. Adam and Eve's refusal to act in faith separated their souls from God, and the rift was permanent. It was bigger than just between each of them and the Father. Their sin tainted all of creation as we know it. Their legacy to us was spiritual death.
After Jesus became sin for us and died the death of sin, the Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of everyone who believes in Jesus. As Christ-followers our spirits are restored to life, and we can experience the personal intimacy which Adam and Eve enjoyed with God. When we become one with Jesus, the Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirits that God loves us and deliberately planned a way to settle the problem of sin. Further, the Holy Spirit helps us to see that we are not the center of reality. God is the center of reality. Without the Holy Spirit, human suffering and death seem to implicate Christianity as a religion justifying abuse and honoring a capricious God. After all, how can a God of love allow innocent men, women, and children to suffer and die?
The Spirit, however, makes it clear that God's love and sovereign plan are bigger than we can see. Everything that happens is ultimately about God, not about humans. If God is not the center of reality, then human suffering is an unanswerable enigma.
If God is the center of reality, we see human suffering as a part of a much bigger picture. We see accidents, sickness, and evil as happening within God's sovereignty.
The Holy Spirit, who knows the thoughts of God, gives us insight to see that God is in a different dimension from us. He is not bound by space-time. All of the past, present, and future are equally accessible to him.
The Holy Spirit does not make us fatalists. Rather, the Holy Spirit connects our souls to eternity, and we begin to understand that God is just, merciful, and true. Humanity's experiences will ultimately be about honoring God, about proclaiming his sovereignty and love.
Our job is not, as many of us have heard, to "vindicate God" before the watching universe. God needs no vindication before his creatures. Satan has tried to make us believe that he is equal with Jesus except for the fact that only Jesus can create. But this perception is a lie. Satan is created, just as is the rest of the universe, and he as well as the rest of creation knows that Jesus is God. He is the source of light and life, and He is love. There is no one before whom we can vindicate God. We are limited by space-time, by sin, by inheritance. Nothing we do can proclaim God's justice.
As Christ-followers filled with the Holy Spirit, our job is to proclaim life and freedom. We are commissioned literally to take Christ's love, sacrifice, and forgiveness into our death-doomed home on Earth and light the darkness with praise to God. We are to proclaim hope. We are to love. We are to speak the Word and bring the miracle of wholeness to humanity.
A New Race
As Christ-followers filled with the Holy Spirit we are a new race. Natural humanity has dead souls. Natural humanity has no direct connection to God. The Holy Spirit woos people, urging them to respond to their longings for life, but unless they respond, they are dead.
When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we become literally a new creation. We have souls that are alive, connected by the Holy Spirit to eternity. God's church is a new race; it is his people on earth. The church bears the literal presence of God to the world. We are the redeemed.
Spiritual discernment is a gift of the Spirit. It is literally the presence of God in us teaching us, helping us to learn and know and understand-at a level much deeper than the intellect-what Truth is. Spiritual truth makes no sense when we try to explain it as a rational concept. Spiritual truth is eternal. It makes no sense in a heart which still bears a dead, time-bound soul. Only when our spirits are connected to eternity by accepting Jesus and receiving his Spirit can eternal concepts begin to make sense.
There is a paradox: we discern spiritual truth in our spirits-that non-physical part of us which science cannot prove. But after we discern the truth, it illumines our intellects, and the truth becomes integrated into our spirits and our minds. Spiritual truth, in fact, begins to make our concrete understandings of physics, biology, and anthropology expand. We begin to be comfortable with the presence of mystery-the unexplainable things we observe or experience. We begin to know that behind everything, from astrophysics to a domestic crisis, there is the reality of truth and love that determines and gives meaning to creation. Over and under and behind everything-there is God.
The Mind of Christ
It's almost too much to think of-the Holy Spirit in us lets us know God's thoughts. Certainly we don't know all His thoughts, but we know His thoughts as he reveals them and as they apply to our lives. Because our spirits are connected to the Spirit, we can discern between good and evil. We can make judgments about the spiritual value or condition of situations and groups in which we find ourselves. And because we are filled with God's Spirit, people who are not born again cannot make valid judgments about us because they do not have the ability to discern the thoughts and values of God.
"But we have the mind of Christ," Paul says boldly.
With the Holy Spirit we are born into a new race-we are Christ-followers; we are the church. We literally carry the presence of God into the world. We are targets of scorn, anger, ridicule, and patronization.
But because our souls are alive in Christ, because we are connected to eternity by the Holy Spirit, we know that we are never alone. Love always holds us and makes itself known through us. We understand God's gifts, and we think God's thoughts.
We bear his image to the world.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.