Understand Your Worlds
Understanding this life requires being ever mindful that, as a Christian, you are at the same time living in two different worlds. On the one hand, there’s the natural world which you can see, feel, taste, smell and hear. On the other, there’s the spiritual world which our natural senses can’t discern.
Looking at these two worlds we ought to notice right away that the natural world is made up of material, and as such is what we’re referring to when we say, “a naturalistic, materialistic world.” Note at this moment what your senses are sensing. You will notice all of the sensory inputs into an infinitely complex machine which is your body. With this body you experience the beauty of things like blue skies, birds, dogs and sunsets. You can also experience unpleasant things like pain, sadness, fear and anger. If this material world is all that there is, then these experiences would be nothing more than your “machine” processing data by way of chemical reactions and electrical impulses in your brain. But don’t ever buy into the notion that you are merely a machine. You are much, much more!
The spiritual world that exists around us is wholly unlike the natural one. Not being material it’s not experienced with our senses, rather it’s discerned spiritually. The Bible has much to say about this spiritual world, and indeed, without accepting that the spiritual world exists, the Bible will never make much sense to you.
Of course, it’s obvious that some, perhaps even many, reject the suggestion that this spiritual world exists. The Bible refers to such a man as the “natural man.” God, speaking through Paul, says in 1 Cor 2:14 that:
…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 idea that there are two worlds is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testaments, but we see it in the New Testament especially. Nicodemus encountered this idea when Jesus told him that he must be born again. Nicodemus was incredulous. He asked Jesus how anyone could possibly re-enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time. (John 3) On another occasion Jesus told a group of people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. This understandably caused many to abandon him because they didn’t discern that He was speaking about a spiritual reality rather than a material one. (John 6) The Bible also contrasts these two worlds in Romans 8 when we are told that there are those who are “according to the flesh” and those who are “according to the spirit.” And following closely behind this principle the passage continues with: “. . . and the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God for it does not subject itself to the will of God for it cannot do so.”
In Ephesians 2, Paul points out that before the Spirit of Christ enters a person that person follows the “prince of the power of the air,” and that this same spirit is at work in this world and also in what he calls the “sons of disobedience.” As those who are in Christ, we watch this prince at work with dismay and sometimes even with fear when we see evil thoughts, evil laws, and evil deeds from natural men who have set themselves against God’s lordship in their lives. Jesus knew these things would happen and that we would experience fear when we saw them. That’s why he commanded us many times to not fear such things when we see them but instead to fear God, which the Proverbs tell us is the beginning of understanding.
I pray that you would walk and think in the spirit and that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.