What constitutes a “spiritual” person in the perspective of the New Testament?
3a. A spiritual person has the Spirit of God in him. The spiritual person means sanctified and gracious. This does not mean perfectionism, but it does mean the spiritual person is in a notable process of sanctification and grace. Christians are called “spiritual,” because they are born of the Spirit and because of the indwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of God in them, writes Edwards. The spiritual mind means to be graciously minded, Rom. 8:6. Because believers are spiritual God communicates Himself to the saints by His Spirit to their spirit. The affections of the Saints are acted upon, by influences that are spiritual and divine. According to the N.T. the spiritual person has the spirit of truth (John 14:17)
What are the differences between a “spiritual” person and a “natural” person?
3b. The natural man is different than the spiritual man because the natural man was born of the flesh and is therefore born of corruption with a corrupt nature. The natural man cannot understand spiritual things, to him they are utter foolishness. Regarding the Spirit’s affects on the natural man, Edward writes; “The Spirit of God, in all his operations upon the minds of natural men, only moves, impresses, assists, improves, or some way acts upon natural principles; but gives no new spiritual principle.” This reveals that if a natural man has a vision or a revelation of sorts there is nothing supernatural, spiritual or divine in it. The natural man can and does have many of the same gracious affections as the spiritual man in the sense that a love for God for the spiritual man is similar to the natural man’s love for his friend etc.
What are the implications of Edwards’ discussion in these pages for the designation of some Christians as “carnal Christians”?
3c. The “carnal Christian” is a bit of an oxymoron because Edwards quotes Rom. 8:6, “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Edwards connects carnal with unsanctified or rather the unspiritual man. The spiritual man has the special, gracious, and saving influences of the Spirit in his life where the natural, carnal man does not. Natural man will experience the influences of the Spirit but not in relation to the gifts, qualities, or affections that characterize the spiritual man.