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 Cor. 2:14
Since his fall in Adam, man in his natural state is incapable of anything spiritual. That is the gist of the preceding verse. This flies in the face of much that our contemporary secular culture believes. At virtually every turn, one hears someone rambling about being “spiritual” without ever defining what that term is supposed to mean.
We should not be surprised, though that secular culture holds to beliefs at odds with Scripture. We should expect it. But the statement of 1 Corinthians 2:14 also flies in the face of much that passes for Evangelicalism as well.
From every Arminian pulpit in the world, the exact opposite of this verse is preached, week after week. It is repeatedly asserted that carnal men (men who are DEAD is sin, who have not the Spirit – Eph 2:1; Jude 19) can do the spiritual act of believing savingly on Christ if they want to. Charles Finney, the poster-boy for much contemporary evangelism used to unashamedly proclaim, “The only reason you are not a Christian is because you do not want to be one.” Damnable heresy by any other name is still damnable heresy.
The testimony of the true Church has always been in accord with the teaching of the Apostle. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp’s fellow disciple of the Apostle John procalaimed: “They who are carnal cannot do spiritual things. Unbelief (is incapable of) the deeds of faith.” 1 Those in the state of unbelief cannot repent and believe unless it be granted from above because faith and repentance are spiritual acts. Those who are in the flesh cannot perform spiritual acts.
(1)To the Ephesians VIII