c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Who Are the Spiritual Ones?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Who Are the Spiritual Ones?

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. –I Corinthians 3:1

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. –Galatians 6:1

These two verses provide a three-fold and extremely useful answer to the title question.

The first part of the answer can be expressed like this.  A spiritual person has a spiritual perspective, that is, knows the difference between carnal and spiritual, and dedicates himself to learning about and pursuing spirituality.

The second part is an extension of the first.  It is developmental.  If we were to divide the ages and stages of our life into distinct growth categories we’d come up with the same analogies used elsewhere, such as the love chapter of First Corinthians, chapter 13, which says children think like children and adults think like adults.  John speaks of it in three stages, children, youth, and adults (First John 2:12-14).  Hebrews 6:1 speaks of growing in our doctrinal understanding, elementary vs. mature.  The spiritual person, therefore has grown and developed over time, reaching maturity, characterized by fruitfulness.

The third part, more closely related to the second passage above, tells us that the spiritual ones have achieved enough moral purity to correct those caught in sin.

All the categories of thought here are related, though, because the New Testament, spiritual perspective is that the flesh is the seat and occasion of sin, and a constant struggle or cause of conflict.  Even the “spiritual ones” are cautioned against falling into the very sins they try to correct!  But he caution does not negate, dare I say it, the strong moral position from which one might correct another.

To reiterate how the categories of perspective and moral victory work together let us look at one more admonition of Scripture that might help us as we earnestly and diligently pursue spiritual formation, I Corinthians 14:20:

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

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