The Perfect Man a Spiritual Man.
'Howbeit we speak wisdom among the perfect.'— 1 Cor. ii. 6.
'And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. For whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not yet carnal ?'—1 Con. iii. 1, 3.
AMONG the Corinthians there were mighty and abundant operations of the Holy Spirit. Paul could say to them (i. 5),'In everything ye were enriched in Christ, so that ye come behind in no gift.' And yet in the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit there was much that was wanting. He had to say, 'There are contentions among you; I bescecli you that there be no divisions among you, but that ye may be perfected together in the same mind.' The spirit of humility, and gentleness, and unity was wanting; without these they could not be perfected, either individually or as a body. They needed the injunction, 'Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.'
The Corinthians were as yet carnal; the gifts of the Spirit were among them in power; but His grace, renewing, sweetening, sanctifying every temper into the likeness of Jesus, in this they were lacking much. The wisdom Paul preached was a heavenly, spiritual wisdom; 'God's wisdom in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom,' which needed a spiritual, heavenly mind to apprehend it. 'We speak wisdom among the perfect;' he could not speak to them 'as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.' Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned; the wisdom among the perfect could only be received by those who were not carnal, but spiritual. The perfect of whom Paul speaks are the spiritual.
And who are the spiritual? Those in whom not only the gifts, but the graces of the Spirit have obtained supremacy and are made manifest. God's love is His perfection (Matt. v. 40-46); Christ's humility is His perfection. The self-sacrificing love of Christ, His humility, and meekness, and gentleness, manifested in daily life, are the most perfect fruit of the Spirit, the true proof that a man is spiritual. A man may have great zeal in God's service, he maybe used to influence many for good, and yet, when weighed in the balance of love, be found sadly wanting. In the heat of controversy, or imder unjust criticism, haste of temper, slowness to forgive and forget, quick words and sharp judgments, often reveal an easily wounded sensitiveness, which proves how little the Spirit of Christ has full possession or real mastery. The spiritual man is the man who is clothed with the spirit of the suffering, crucified Jesus.
And it is only the spiritual man who can understand 'the wisdom among the perfect,' 'even the mystery which now hath been manifested to the holy ones, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you.' A Christian teacher may be a man of wonderful sagacity and insight, may have the power of opening the truth, of mightily stimulating and helping others, and may yet have so much of the carnal that 'the deeper mystery of Christ in us remains hidden. It is only as we yield ourselves wholly to the power of God's Holy Spirit, as the question of being made free from all that is carnal, of attaining the utmost possible likeness to Jesus in His humiliation, of being filled with the Spirit, rules heart and life, that the Christian, be he scholar or teacher, can fully enter into the wisdom among the perfect.
To know the mind of God we must have the mind of Christ. And the mind of Christ is this, that He emptied and humbled Himself, and became obedient to death. This His humility was His capacity, His fitness for rising to the throne of God. This mind must be in us if the hidden wisdom of God is to be revealed to us in its power. It is this is the mark of the spiritual, the perfect man.
May God increase the number of the perfect. And to that end the number of those who know to speak wisdom among the perfect, even God's wisdom in a mystery. As the distinction between the carnal and the spiritual, the babes and the perfect, comes to recognition in the Church, the connection between a spiritual life and spiritual insight will become clearer, and the call to perfection will gain new force and meaning. And it will once again be counted just cause of reproof and of shame not to be among the perfect.