The Spiritual (Regenerated) Man

“…having been born again,

not of corruptible seed but incorruptible,

through the word of God

which lives and abides forever”

I Peter 1:23 NKJV

In the previous post we looked at who the “natural man” is according to God’s Word. There is another category of person who the Bible says is regenerated,  or born again. The Gospel of John Chapter three is one of the clearest explanations in the Bible of what the new birth is. Here is an interesting dialogue between Jesus and a learned Pharisee named Nicodemus who wanted to know more about Jesus’ teaching:

Jesus answered and said to [Nicodemus], “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”


Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”


Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  


“Nicodemus answered and said unto him, ‘How can these things be?’”


“Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?’” John 3:3-10 NKJV

Jesus expressed amazement that a learned Pharisee and teacher of the Scripture like Nicodemus did not understand the new birth. One of several Old Testament passages he would know:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Spiritual regeneration is the marked difference between the spiritual man and the natural man. The change in the natural person is an inner, spiritual transformation that can only be done by the Spirit of God. God changes the sinner’s natural, spiritually dead heart (a “heart of stone”) of the first birth into an new, spiritually alive heart (a “heart of flesh”) of the second birth.

People say, “You have to have faith!” without saying what it is we’re supposed to have faith in. The content of faith is critical. Faith is belief or trust in something or someone. The dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus continues with this explanation by the Apostle John about salvation by faith:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

Eternal life is the result of the new birth to those who, by faith, are, “…born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).


The Natural Man

“But the natural man

receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:

for they are foolishness unto him:

neither can he know them,

because they are spiritually discerned.”

1 Corinthians 2:14

“Paul uses the word natural to refer to someone still in his original (sinful) state. The Greek word psuchikos (“natural”) can be defined as “animal,” as opposed to “spiritual.” Natural men are those who are occupied with the things of this material world to the exclusion of the things of God. They are led by instinct rather than by the Spirit of God. They intuitively choose sin over righteousness. They are the people Jesus refers to in Matthew 6:32 who only seek after the things of this world.

“The supernatural work of God is to change the natural man into a spiritual one. When a person trusts Christ, God exchanges what is natural (received from Adam) for what is spiritual (received from Christ). ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive’ (1 Corinthians 15:22). The Christian life is, therefore, a supernatural one.” *


God’s categorical estimation of all mankind

in every time, place, civilization

“…every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5b).

“There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7: 20).

“We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6).


“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

“…dead in trespasses and sins … and were by nature the children of wrath even as others” (Ephesians 2:1,3).

“…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12b).

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3,4).

“It was this divine estimate of humanity, described by the words ‘lost,’ ‘perish,’ ‘condemned,’ ‘under the wrath of God‘, ‘blind,’ in the powers of darkness, ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ which brought the Savior from heaven to earth. It was this dark picture that impelled Him to give His life a ransom for many. His saving work was a practical accomplishment. It has provided every needed cure that could be demanded by the infinite purity and holiness of God.” **

The natural man is a person (man, woman, or child) who does not know God in a personal way even though they may be religious and know a lot about God. They have congenital spiritual blindness that prevents them from ‘seeing’ the God of the Bible. Even the suggestion that there is such a thing as spiritual life is dismissed as foolishness. They see only the physical, material world around them and are convinced that there is nothing else. That is why Jesus said: Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7).



** Salvation, by Lewis Sperry Chafer


Three Groups of Humanity *

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:25

“There is an obvious difference in the character and quality of the daily life of Christians. This difference is acknowledged in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, by the Spirit, has divided the whole human family into three groups:

  • The natural man who is unregenerate, or unchanged spiritually;

  • The carnal man who is a ‘babe in Christ’ and walks ‘as a man’;

  • The spiritual man

“These groups are classified by the Apostle according to their ability to understand and receive a certain body of Truth, which is of things revealed unto us by the [Holy] Spirit. Men are vitally different one from the other as regards the fact of the new birth and the life of power and blessing; but their classification is made evident by their attitude toward things revealed.

“Men are classified according to their ability to receivethe deep things of God’ (I Corinthians 2:10). Into these ‘deep things of God’ no unaided man can go. An unaided man may enter freely into the things of his fellow man because of ‘the spirit of man which is in him.’

“…divine revelation is transmitted to us in words which the Holy Spirit teaches, as the Apostle goes on to state: ‘Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual’ (I Corinthians 2:13). God’s Book is a Book of words and the very words which convey ‘man’s wisdom’ are used to convey things which ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man’ (I Corinthians 2:9).

“Nevertheless, unaided man cannot understand these ‘deep things of God,’ though couched in words most familiar to man, except as they are revealed by the Spirit. Just so, in coming to know these revealed things, progress is made only as one spiritual thing is compared with another spiritual thing. Spiritual things must be communicated by spiritual means. Apart from the Spirit there can be no spiritual understanding.”


* He That is Spiritual, Chapter 1, by Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1918


Genuine and Balanced Spirituality*


“By the word genuine I mean biblical, for only in the Bible do we have truth that is indisputably reliable. For this reason, the Bible must be the guide and test for all or our experiences to the spiritual life, for biblical spirituality is the only genuine spirituality. The practical importance of this is simply that all experiences of the spiritual life must be tested by biblical truth, and if any experience, no matter how real it may have been, fails to pass that test, it must be discarded. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but it is the only road to genuine or biblical spirituality.

“A second key word is the word…balanced. There is nothing more devastating to the practice of spiritual living than an imbalance. One of my former teachers repeatedly reminded us that an imbalance in theology was the same as doctrinal insanity. The same applies to the realm of Christian living. Too much emphasis on the mystical may obscure the practicality of spiritual living…

In Ryrie’s introduction to the subject of spirituality, he comments on the word spiritual in the New Testament. “…(the word) has a rather wide range of uses, all of which are consistent with the basic idea pertaining to spirit.

  • Demonic hosts are called spirit beings as distinct from human beings (Ephesians 6:12);

  • The Mosaic Law is called spiritual (Romans 7:14);

  • The future resurrected body of the believer is termed a spiritual body in contrast to the natural, mortal body which he has until death (I Corinthians 15:44);

  • A rather large range of activities and relationships of the believer are called spiritual:

    1. The exercise of spiritual gifts bestowed on the believer by the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:11; I Corinthians 12:1; 14:1);

    2. The unity of all Christians likened to stones of a building called a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5);

    3. The Israelites’ manna in the desert is called spiritual food and Christ is called a spiritual “Rock” in the desert (I Corinthians 10:3-4);

    4. The Christian’s vocal praise to God is called songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16);

    5. The believer’s mind is to be filled with spiritual wisdom (Colossians 1:9);

    6. The believer’s position in the heavenlies is blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3);

  • The most distinctive use of the word spiritual in the New Testament is regarding the believer’s spiritual growth and maturing in his Christian life. To be truly spiritual, a person must experience the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit by giving him new life in Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul contrasts the spiritual man with the natural man (I Corinthians 2:14-15), who, having not the Holy Spirit, is an unregenerated individual (cf. Jude 19) lacking life—spiritual life.

The spiritual man and the natural man are worth explaining in subsequent posts.


* Balancing the Christian Life, Chapter 1, by Charles Ryrie


Biblical Spirituality in 2022

This post begins a new study of Biblical Spirituality. Please check here from time to time for short installments on what the Bible says about being “spiritual” and how to live a spiritual life—the kind of life that God wants every Christian to live.

Living a God-honoring spiritual life is not easy. I heard the story of a boy who saved up to buy very expensive ice hockey skates—the kind worn by the pros. He learned that those expensive skates didn’t make him a better skater than he’d been with his old skates. The lesson is that you can have the best skates in the world, but if you reject instruction, regular training, and practice, you’ll be a mediocre hockey player.

God has given every believer the equipment we need to live godly spiritual life. (According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: II Peter 1:3.)  Like the kid who bought expensive skates, we also need to avail ourselves of instruction, training, and practice with the spiritual tools God gave us:

  • The indwelling Holy Spirit as our guide—if we will listen to Him.
  • Jesus Christ is with us every step of the way—we need to stay close to Him.
  • The Bible has timeless, practical instruction for daily living—if we read it and obey it.

So what is needed for us to use that treasure chest of equipment that God has given us?

Answers to that and other important questions are ahead in 2022!


Recommended references:

He that is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer

Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie

The New Nature by Renald Showers