The Spiritual Man -- By: Stanley D. Toussaint

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 125:498 (Apr 1968)
Article: The Spiritual Man
Author: Stanley D. Toussaint

The Spiritual Man

Stanley D. Toussaint

[Stanley D. Toussaint, Assistant Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

What is the spiritual life? This basic and fundamental question is not a simple one to answer. All too often well meaning teachers, preachers, and writers have erred in one of two directions. Either they have been guilty of oversimplification or they have presented a doctrine which is hardly more than mystical obscurantism. On one side the impression is sometimes given that spirituality is simply a matter of conforming one’s life to a few elemental rules. If a certain prescribed pattern is followed, a believer in Christ automatically becomes spiritual. The spiritual life then comes into danger of becoming a matter of mechanics without heart. At the other extreme there are those who portray the spiritual life as some mystical obscurity that defies either attainment or satisfaction. It is proffered as though it were some mysterious secret open to only a fortunate few.

The Bible rather presents the spiritual life as something profound, yet practical, that will work in the life of a business man, housewife, farmer, laborer, or executive. It is meant for every Christian, no matter what his station in life may be.

What then is the spiritual life? To answer this question properly it is necessary to examine the New Testament viewpoint of the spiritual man. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 to 3:4 Paul refers to four types of people—the natural man, the spiritual man, the infant Christian, and the carnal Christian. A brief study of this passage will lead to a better comprehension of the spiritual man and consequently will help to formulate a definition of the spiritual life.

The natural man: In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul writes: “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.” The first question that needs to be answered is, Who is the natural man? By this term Paul is referring to an unregenerate soul, a man who needs Christ as his Savior. Two related passages, Romans 8:9 and Jude 19, confirm this conclusion. Romans 8:9 asserts: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” This verse teaches the fact of the universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit; every Christian is indwelled by th...

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