THE THREE TYPES OF MEN
If you have been following our posts in Faith Archives, you will notice that last week we presented the scriptural division of people into three ethnic groups. It will also fascinate you to note that the sacred scripture also divides men into three types. I presume you are curious to know the divisions. Let us explore it together. Paul the Apostle in several of his letters to the Church illustrates men in three classes, the Natural man, the Carnal man, and the Spiritual man (1Corinthians 2:14 – 3:1).
The natural man
The natural man also translated as the sensual man, the fleshy man, and the dead in sin man is a man who is alive exclusively in the physical. You would have noticed already that psychology perceives humans as three-part beings – the body, the senses (soul), and the spirit. I will reserve the extensive exposition of these parts for a future article, but for clarity of the subject, I will give a short explanation of ‘the spirit’. As the philosophical argument concerning the functioning of the spirit is endless, I will dwell on the biblical illustration, which is conclusive. Throughout the bible, the spirit (the heart, the inward man, the breath of life – Genesis 2:7) is portrayed as the real person who is living inside the “house of flesh” – the physical body. Some philosophers agree with the bible that the spirit is the controller of human actions; it is the seat of decision-making (Proverbs 4:23).
The bible uses “spiritual death” and “spiritual life” to describe the possible states of the human spirit. Spiritual death is the nature of Satan, whereas spiritual life is the nature of God. In spiritual death, the person is physically alive but separated from God, meaning he is living exclusively in the physical – the natural man. Because he is living exclusively in the physical, the body (flesh) becomes the controller of his actions (Romans 8:4), so that the person is incapable of self-restraint. This is a dilemma because the desires of the flesh are very mundane and deadly. Alcoholism, smoking, immorality, and strife are a few desires manifested by the flesh (see the full list in Galatians 1:19-20). The worst of all is that he carries inwardly the nature of Satan and walks accordingly (Ephesians 2: 2-4). A summary of striking issues about the natural man include:
- Satan dominates his spirit (1John 3:8).
- The flesh controls him (Romans 8:5).
- He fulfils the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3).
- He cannot please God (Romans 8:8).
- He naturally performs the bidding of Satan (John 8:44).
- The natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit (1Corinthians 2:14).
- The prince of the power of the air controls him.
- He is by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
- He has no self-restraint.
- His understanding is darkened (Ephesians 4:18)
The solution will be for him to receive Christ, by so doing he passes from “death” to “life” and receives the power to exhibit self-restraint and righteousness.
The carnal man
The carnal man is also called the ‘babe in Christ’, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” Although his spirit is alive by receiving Christ, he has not learned to allow the spirit to take control of his actions. Consequently, the flesh controls some of his actions, thereby exhibiting some qualities of the natural man, “for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” He is an underdeveloped believer who is still at the milk level of spiritual development. Because he is a spiritual babe, he is ignorant of the doctrine of righteousness (Hebrews 5:12-14). He has not yet fully yielded himself to the Spirit of God (Romans 6:13), hence his body drives him into actions peculiar to the natural man. Most of all, he has not learned to renew his mind with the word of God (Romans 12:2), hence he is not yet able to discern what is good, acceptable, and perfect. He is always in the position to learn again the first principles of Christianity (Hebrews 5:12). His problem is the lack of appropriate development.
The spiritual man
When the natural man receives Christ, his spirit passes from “spiritual death” to “spiritual life” (John 5:24) as the Holy Spirit imparts the nature of God into him (John 3:5). At this time, he is a spiritual babe but he desires the sincere milk of the word to grow thereby (1Peter 2:2). As he feeds daily on the sincere milk, he grows up into maturity. By the consistent practice of the word, his power of discernment is trained to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:14). He renews his mind continuously and hence can discern the acceptable and perfect actions in every situation (Romans 8:2). He is totally yielding to the Spirit so that his body becomes an instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:13). He has passed through the foundation of repentance from dead works and is now gone unto perfection (Hebrews 6:1). Paul calls him the spiritual man because he is free from the influence of the flesh and fleshy desires. He has escaped the corruption that comes through lust by reckoning and depending on the divine nature within him (2Peter 1:4, Romans 6:11). He has life and peace because he pays attention to the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:6).