1 Corinthians 2:12–14 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
The Lord’s commissioning and empowering of all followers of Jesus results in the sharing of gospel truth faithfully (Cf. Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). Those walking in joyful obedience of these instructions have the hope that one day they will hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” regardless of how many people respond. However, when faithful communicators start to focus on the rejection that frequently comes from unbelievers, discouragement typically results.
The Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:12, helps us to realize that an understanding of the gifts of gospel grace results from the life and presence of the Spirit of God. Such knowledge does not come to those who remain in the darkness that characterizes the spirit of the world. Worldly people don’t see themselves in a deficit position of need, so unmerited gospel favor makes no sense to them. From the perspective of unbelievers, if God exists, He will see all their desirable qualities and achievements, deeming them worthy of divine favor.
However, verse 13 teaches us that gospel truth will only come home to hearts made sensitive to their needs by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The hope behind gospel ministry is that life and light will come from the Holy Spirit, enabling people to be receptive.
Additionally, Verse 14 makes it clear that natural men and women have no spiritual understanding and can offer no credible evaluation of gospel truth. The problem is not with our persuasiveness. Those without the life and light of the Holy Spirit are incapable of grasping the spiritual reality of the gospel. Jesus makes this same point – “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:47) The Apostle Paul reinforces this understanding in Romans 8:7–8. “7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Spiritual insight demands spiritual life.
We can avoid discouragement by joyfully obeying the commission to share the gospel with as many people as possible, leaving the results with God. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) May God’s glory shine in the faithfulness He inspires, and in the fruitfulness He provides!