1 Corinthians 2:15-16
But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.…
I. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things."
1. It is not said that he judges all men, or any man; he has his opinion as to their views; but in regard to their persons, "to their own Master they stand or fall." "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Spiritual judgment, then, has to do not with persons, but with things. Still, does it absolutely judge all things? It is clear that it will not make a man acquainted with the truths of science, or the facts of history, or the details of business. Many a great statesman has had very little spiritual judgment. It will not make a man a skilful Biblical critic, nor a profound theologian.
2. Paul speaks of those things which come within the sphere of the spiritual nature. The Spirit of God reveals to the soul a world which lies both within the present and outside it. It is in a hidden chamber whose existence we dimly felt, but which God's Spirit makes known to us; and this chamber has in it a window which looks out on a new and infinite universe. We do not know ourselves, our fall and possible rise, our sin and salvation, until we are taken in there. This world may seem to those who have not been in it a narrow and poor and almost non-existent thing. But to those who have lived in it, it grows in certainty as its life grows, and it deepens and expands and rises, until it penetrates and comprehends the natural world on every side.
II. ITS INDEPENDENCE — "he himself is judged of no one."
1. This does not mean that the spiritual man is beyond the judgment of others when he has contravened human law. Nor is he exempt from judgment in his spiritual life. He can never be freed from the judgment of God, and his fellow-Christians may have it in their power to instruct and correct his judgment. And then, again, any man of the world can judge a Christian man's conduct, so far as it comes before the outward eye; he can approve it or he can condemn it, and he has a right to do so.
2. What, then, is meant by "he is judged of no man"?
(1) The apostle is speaking of an inward, spiritual region into which the Christian man has been introduced by God's Spirit, and of the judgments which natural men, who have no experience of it, may form of it, and of him as he lives in it.
(2) Perhaps the best way of illustrating this is to take Paul himself, and see how he had a whole world within him removed from the judgment of natural men around. Take(a) the great truth of salvation by grace without the works of the law. It was looked on by many then and since as an immoral doctrine. But they could not understand that in receiving this free grace there is a new nature received, the motions of which are always saying, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"(b) Neither could he be judged as to the way his new life was supported. Men saw the persecutions, &c., to which he was exposed. The world could not understand how the spirit in him was sustained, and rose up in fresh flames of consuming zeal.
(c) The mere natural man could not understand the happiness of his life. Let us only think of this chain which begins with hope and ends with it, like two golden nails fixed to the gate of heaven, while the links hang down into all the trials of life, which are touched and turned to gold by their Divine fastenings (Romans 5:2-5). Now this was not peculiar to the apostle. The experience of most Christian men will fall very far short of that of the apostle, but it is the same in kind; and they have a right to set this inner world, in which their spirit is living and moving, against all the arguments which the outer can advance.
III. ITS GUIDANCE AND TESTS.
1. It must never separate itself from its source — God's Spirit acting through God's Word. The spiritual judgment, if it is to be sound, can never be cut off from this fountainhead. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple," &c. But in order to this there are two things to be observed.
(1) We must not form our judgment on single texts, but on the breadth of Scripture — the letter may kill, the spirit gives life; and I know no better way of reaching the breadth of Scripture than by carrying it up in its final issue to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many things that are doubtful become simple when we ask, What would the example and spirit of Christ lead us in this case to say and do?
(2) We must ask the guidance of the Spirit which gave the Word, and which kindled any light in us that we may possess. To ask the Author of the book to explain it is the true way of being guided aright (Psalm 25:6).
2. After this guidance from the Source, there is that which we may receive from the new nature formed within, and from the growth of it in obedience to God's will.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.