Christians commonly categorize the human race into two groups – saved and unsaved. The saved are those that have accepted Jesus into their heart and have been spiritually born into God’s kingdom. The unsaved is everyone else. This two-fold category is correct to a certain extent. However, a more accurate categorization would be three-fold – Natural, Spiritual and Carnal.
The Natural Man
The natural man is the unsaved man and has experienced natural birth only. This man needs spiritual birth. The natural man is blind to the spiritual world and has no appreciation for spiritual things or God’s kingdom. The Christian life is an enigma to the natural man. He operates in the realm of only the physical world and is bound to the material world. He is sensual and, by not having God’s spirit in him, he lives by the senses – what he can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. The natural man is controlled by the world, the self, and the Prince of the Power of the Air, also known as the devil or Satan. The natural man by default is a son of disobedience. He is identifiable by his sinful nature – love of self, love of money, love of power, love of things. We are all born into the natural world and therefore born into sin and a sinful nature. Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is in all of us and wants to control all of us. We inherited it from Adam and Eve in the garden after the fall. The natural man is a self-centered man. Sin is selfish, and sin is in our original nature.
The Spiritual Man
The spiritual man is the saved man and walks in the spiritual world. The spiritual man lives by the spirit has received the spirit of God and is born into God’s kingdom. The spiritual man is born again, in other words, he is born twice – naturally and spiritually. He is a new creation and becomes part of a new humanity, a humanity that belongs to and is in a relationshipwith God. He is a child of God. God, the Holy Spirit, indwells the spiritual man. Self or the natural world do not dominate him. Both sin and Satan has lost his power to control the spiritual man. The marks of a spiritual man are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. He has spiritual maturity and enjoys God, God’s people, and God’s word. He feeds himself the word of God. His life is progressing in love and in becoming like Jesus. He is governed by the inner life – the Holy Spirit. A spiritual Christian is a crucified Christian. Self and all of its sinful, fleshly, evil desires are on the cross. The self is dead and is no longer in control.
The Carnal Man
The carnal man is also a saved man but does not live or walk in the spiritual realm. He is either unaware of the spiritual world, has not learned how to walk in the spiritual world, or has left the spiritual world to walk in the physical world. Carnal man has God’s spirit indwelling him, but the spirit of God is not in control. Human weakness rules the carnal man. The human weakness (flesh/self) in him is stronger than the spiritual nature because he has not grown spiritually. Although he is a Christian, he has not learned or has chosen not to learn how to live in the spirit. The world controls the carnal Christian because of his spiritual weakness. Carnal man does what comes unnaturally. He is a defeated Christian. He cannot walk spiritually or war spiritually. The carnal man is fleshly and sinful, dominated by the desires of the soul and the body. He is spiritually immature, needs someone to teach him simple Biblical truths, and has not learned how to grow spiritually. Carnality is a problem in the Christian life and can be dangerous for the Christian. Jealousy, envy, strife, divisions, and immoral living are the identifiable marks of carnality. Apathy, spiritual complacency, and conceitedness are indicators that a spiritual man is treading into carnality. A carnal man acts like the world but is saved. He is a walking contradiction, a hypocrite.