1 Corinthians 15:46
However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The words show —
I. THAT MAN HAS SET BEFORE HIM TWO MORAL IMAGES OR TYPES OF CHARACTER. The "earthy" and the "heavenly." These two are essentially distinct.
1. The one is sensuous, the other spiritual.
(1) The earthy man is material, partially developed —
(a) In his views of happiness. All his pleasures are of a sensuous order.
(b) In his views of wealth, viz:, worldly property.
(c) In his views of dignity, viz., the highest worldly position.
(2) the spiritual man lives behind the visible phenomena, realises the eternal. To him the invisible is the only reality; moral excellence, the only wealth and dignity. Though in the world, he is not of the world. He has citizenship in heaven.
2. The one is practically selfish, the other is benevolent.
(1) The earthy man is controlled by a regard to his own pleasures and aggrandisements. All outside of himself he values only so far as it serves him.
(2) The heavenly man is benevolent. His personal feelings are submerged in the ever-rising seas of sympathy with humanity and God. Like Christ, he pleases not himself.
3. The one is practically atheistic, the other is godly.
(1) The earthy man sees nothing but natural law, order, etc. "God is not in all his thoughts." The universe to him is only either an eternal or a self-produced and self-regulating machine, a house that either has never had a builder, or whose builder has deserted it.
(2) The heavenly man sees God in all, like David, and, like Enoch, walks ever with Him.
II. THAT MAN DOES BEAR THE ONE; HE SHOULD BEAR THE OTHER. Every man, in the first stages of his life, bears the image of the "earthy." This fact is at once the crime and the calamity of the race. But whilst we do bear the one image at first, we should strive to bear the other because —
1. It is right. This heavenly image realises the soul's highest ideal of excellence. It is that for which we unconsciously hunger, and for which we shall hunger for ever unless we get it.
2. It is practicable.
(1) We have the model in its more imitable form in Christ. He was pre-eminently spiritual, benevolent, godly; and never was there a character more imitable than Christ's — the most admirable, transparent, unchangeable.
(2) We have the means in the most effective forms. The gospel reveals the model, supplies the motives, and pledges the spiritual influences of heaven.
3. It is urgent. To do this is the grand mission of life. Unless the work is fulfilled our existence becomes a failure and a curse. To pass from the "earthy" to the "heavenly" is to pass from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from Satan to God.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.