September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 2:13–16 (NIV)
Where does the wisdom of God, which one theologian calls a sacred secret and Paul calls a mystery which is hidden, come from? How can we find it, speak it, embrace it, or live it?
Today’s passage emphatically tells us it comes from the Holy Spirit! The wisdom of God, the mystery and truth of the gospel and Christian living are REVEALED only to the believer who has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We’re told “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” This means we can’t simply arrive at the truth of the gospel and the Christian life on our own. It comes by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, who gives us . . . get this . . . the mind of Christ! How awesome is that? And because we have the mind of Christ, we’re able to discern truth, right, and spiritual from falsehood, wrong, and worldly. We’re able to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh, to live like Jesus, know His voice, and be conformed to His image.
Now, some may read this and say, “Well then, I don’t have to evangelize, pray for people, or share verses with them. All I need to do is live my own Christian life because nothing I say or do makes a difference since it’s only by the Spirit.” Friend, if that’s you, reconsider as you look at the examples of the apostles. They understood it’s only by the work and revelation of the Spirit that a person can perceive and receive the truth of the gospel, but they also understood that God has ordained to use us as vessels through which the Holy Spirit works to share the mystery of the gospel. It’s His will for His people to be the megaphone through which He shares the message. And by using us, the Spirit moves and works in the hearts of the hearers to birth faith and draw them to salvation in Jesus.
On the flipside, the understanding that people who don’t have the Spirit can’t perceive the things of God and can only see it as foolishness because “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV) MUST lead us to compassion and even greater zeal for living “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 NIV). Knowing this should ignite in us a passionate desire to be the most effective witnesses we can be to be used by the Spirit to lead people to repentance. Seriously, friends, what an honor and a privilege it is to be the tools God uses to make “His light shine” in the hearts of those who are far from Him in order “to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).
Pause: How should believers approach Christian living and witness in light of knowing that it’s only by the Spirit a person can perceive and receive the truth of the gospel?
Practice: Pray today about the people around you and ask the Spirit to put opportunities in your path to witness to them and be used by Him to draw them to Jesus.
Pray: Father, give me a heart of compassion and zeal for those who do not yet know Jesus and cannot perceive the glory of the gospel. Use me to share the hope and light of the gospel with them, that the Spirit may move in their hearts and call them to repentance and salvation. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.