Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ
Human Life on Three Planes
The Bible is a mirror in which man may see himself just as he is. Any person who wishes a true picture of himself will find it there. The Bible is God's studio in which will be found the picture of each of His created beings. Your photograph is there. It has been taken by the Divine Photographer, therefore it is flawlessly accurate. Do you wish to see your photograph?
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul has divided the human race into three clearly distinguished groups and every member of the human family, irrespective of racial or natural inheritance, belongs to one of these groups. God's description of each is so accurate and so true that every person may know with certitude in which class he is.
This classification presents a study of human life on three planes, the lowest, the highest, and a middle plane: or the natural man, the spiritual man, and the carnal man. We will start with the study of life on the lowest plane, that of
THE NATURAL MAN
1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
1 Corinthians 12:3 R.V., "No man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit."
John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Is the natural man a Christian? No one can be called a Christian who is not rightly related to God. Is the natural man then rightly related to God? To get our answer let us begin with John 14:6 and work backward to 1 Corinthians 2:4.
Jesus says that no one can get into right relationship with God the Father except through Himself. The Bible shows us with unmistakable clearness that this necessitates receiving Jesus Christ into the life as Saviour and as Lord. Paul tells us that no one can truly call Jesus Lord, except " in the Holy Spirit," and that if the Holy Spirit does not dwell in one he cannot belong to God as one of His own. It is the Holy Spirit alone who knows the things of God which He desires to give us freely in Christ. But 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us that the natural man refuses to receive the things of the Spirit, they appear mere foolishness unto him. More than that, he cannot know them because it takes a spiritual mind to discern spiritual truth and he is without the Holy Spirit. So it is very clear that the natural man is not in the right relationship to God. Consequently from God's viewpoint, no matter how exemplary a life he may live on the plane of the natural, he is not a Christian.
The Attitude of the Natural Man to God
Let us study what Scripture says of the attitude of the natural man to God:
1 John 4:10
2 Timothy 3:8
1 Corinthians 2:14
2 Thessalonians 2:12
2 Thessalonians 1:8
He does not know God.
He has no gratitude to God.
He has no desire for God.
He has no love for God.
He has no faith in God.
He has no fear of God.
He does not worship God.
He resists the truth.
He receives not the things of God.
He rejects God's truth.
He disobeys God's Gospel.
He is an enemy of God.
The Relationship of the Natural Man to God
The attitude of the natural man to God determines his relationship to God. Romans 5:10 and Colossians 1:21 make it quite clear that the natural man is an open and avowed enemy of God. This attitude on his part determines what God's relationship to him must be.
2 Thessalonians 1:9
He is far from God.
He is guilty before God.
He is condemned by God.
He is under God's wrath.
He is alienated from the life of God.
He is without God in this life.
He is without God in the life to come.
The Condition of the Natural Man
The natural man is without the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour, therefore he lives wholly and only unto himself. "The old man" is the centre of his life and has undivided control over his whole being. Self dominates his thoughts, affections, speech, will and actions. His nature is sinful, therefore his conduct is sinful.
The natural man is dead to God but alive to sin, self and Satan. He is under the dominion of "the prince of the power of the air," and is the bondservant of sin. He is a lost man, helpless and hopeless. The tragic part of it is that "the god of this age" has so blinded his mind that he does not comprehend the seriousness of his condition and consequently he has no power within himself to know God, to love God, to receive God, nor even to seek God. Surely this brief sketch of the natural man reveals life lived on the lowest plane. Let us next study life on the highest plane, that of
THE SPIRITUAL MAN
1 Corinthians 12:15, "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."
Galatians. 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
The spiritual man is the exact antithesis of the natural man.
The Relationship of the Spiritual Man to God
The spiritual man is rightly related to God through faith in Jesus Christ. This relationship has been brought about by the Holy Spirit who has convicted him of the sin of unbelief in God's way of salvation and of the necessity of a righteousness not his own, if he would ever have fellowship with a holy, righteous God. He has revealed Jesus Christ to him as a Saviour from sin and as the Saviour he needs. The Holy Spirit has so wrought upon the mind, heart and will of the natural man that he has been convinced of the truth of the Gospel, convicted of the sin of his own heart, and has been led to put his faith in the Crucified One as his Saviour, and so has been "born of the Spirit" into the Kingdom of God.
The spiritual man has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, filling him, leading him, teaching him, empowering him. Through the new birth God's own life, eternal and uncreated, has been imparted to him and now Jesus Christ is his very life.
The spiritual man has a threefold relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ which is manifested in his character, in his conversation, and in his conduct.
The spiritual man has accepted Christ as his Saviour.
The spiritual man has yielded to Christ as his Lord.
The spiritual man has appropriated Christ as his Life.
Jesus Christ and he are one as the vine and the branch are one. Christ is the supreme need of his life and has the supreme place in his affections. Christ is all and in all to him.
The Condition of the Spiritual Man
The spiritual man having taken the crucified, risen, glorified Christ as Saviour, Lord and Life, lives his life wholly unto God. The Lord Jesus is the centre of his life and has undivided control over his whole being.
Jesus Christ dominates his thoughts, affections, speech, will and actions. He has become a partaker of the nature of God so that there are two natures in the spiritual man but the divine nature is sovereign.
The spiritual man is habitually alive to God and dead to sin and self. He is a bondservant to God and gladly, joyously, acknowledges and submits to the sovereign Lordship of Jesus.
Jesus Christ is intensely real and precious to the spiritual man, and he considers, loves, serves, adores and worships Him. This condition is not due to anything in himself but is true because of his yielding himself unreservedly to the influence and operation of the Holy Spirit, through whom he has been enabled to seek, to receive, to love and to know Christ Jesus as his Saviour and through whom he is filled with His life. Surely this brief sketch of the spiritual man reveals life lived on the highest plane. Let us lastly study life on the middle plane, that of
THE CARNAL MAN
Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
The carnal man is an hyphenated man, belonging to two spheres.
The Relationship of the Carnal Man to God
The carnal man is a Christian because he has obtained sonship through faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Therefore he is rightly related to God. But he has entered into neither the possessions nor the privileges of a son and his practices are not those becoming his position in the family of God.
The carnal man has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him but He is constantly being grieved and quenched so that He has restricted power in and dominion over the life.
The carnal man has been renewed through the new birth but he is still a "babe in Christ." He sits at the table of the Lord to partake of His bounties but he has no appetite nor capacity for "strong meat." He subsists on "milk." He is not a full grown man. He actually has been united to the Lord Jesus but he is an "adulterer" loving the world and caring far more for its people and pleasures than for Jesus Christ (James 4:4).
The carnal man has accepted Christ as his Saviour but he has little or no apprehension of a life of complete surrender to, and of full appropriation of, Jesus Christ as his Lord and his Life. He feels a need of Christ and desires some relationship with Him but he is not satisfied in Him. Christ has a place in his heart but not the place of supremacy and preeminence.
The Condition of the Carnal Man
The carnal man lives his life partly unto God and partly unto himself.
The Lord Jesus is really at the centre of his life but "the old man" is usually on the throne. There is a divided control over his life. Sometimes Christ dominates his thoughts, affections, speech, will and action but more often they are under the dominion of self. Two natures are side by side in the carnal man, the divine and the fleshly, and he is under the sway of each in turn according as he yields to one or to the other. He is alive to God spasmodically but he is equally alive to sin, self and Satan. He attempts to live in two spheres, the heavenly and the earthly and he fails in both.
The carnal man is in a miserable condition and his life is always one of defeat and discouragement, often one of despair. This condition is due to ignorance of the deep things of God, unwillingness to yield himself unreservedly to the Lord Jesus Christ, and unbelief in appropriating Christ with all His graces and gifts. Surely this brief sketch of the carnal man reveals life lived on a middle plane. (See Diagram 1.)
We have looked into God's mirror. Have you seen yourself? We have been in God's studio. Have you seen your photograph? We have seen human life on three planes. On which plane are you living?