Lesson One – A Living Being

A Living Being


The aim of this lesson is to help us keep aware of what the Apostle Paul wanted each church member to be aware of about their “self.”  He wrote “so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”  I Cor. 1:10.  Evidently, he felt that a reminder of the four capacities of a living human being would get them on the right track.  This awareness could help them get in tune with the part of their soul life that is eternal and, at the same time, understand what is temporary (II Cor. 4:16-18; John 10:10, 11).  It will be vital for us to have this understanding of our own humanity in order to follow Paul’s “train of thought” in his letters.  The content in the Corinthian letters is understood in the context of the human mind, heart, conscience and body.  The chart in this lesson delineates these four capacities we each possess.   This is how God created all human beings.

This information will be useful for our study; however, just being reminded of how we are made in two distinct parts is worthy of our daily contemplation and meditation.  As our personal faith grows in the belief that our “self” will be removed from our physical body and transferred into our heavenly body; this will allay many fears about survival (II Cor. 5:1).   Our faith in the fact that it will be our same “self” in our heavenly body will surely cause us to give more importance to the condition of our inner-man.

Paul may have introduced these truths to stop the “boasting” about “what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.”  II Cor. 5:12.  Our minds and hearts “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.”  II Cor. 3:18.  Oh, how an understanding that mankind has been created in two distinct parts would change the world’s boasting about the human body.  This would remove so many inferiority complexes that stimulate unethical behavior.  Paul prayed it would have this same effect on the church members who were behaving like “mere men.” I Cor. 1:4-6; 3:1-4; 14:20.


Even though the information the Holy Spirit supplied to Paul about the four capacities of mankind is enough to fully enlighten us about how we were created, there is another factor mature people must recognize.  This is the “in Adam” and “in Christ” concept.  Paul had taught this doctrine to the church; however, he clarified it for them in detail in I Corinthians 15:12-57.  He did this in the context of the resurrection of the dead – which someone was denying.  We will take up this study in turn but we need to have the “in Adam/ in Christ” concept clearly in mind as we study these letters.  This is to say, this and other theologies such as the kingdom of God, how and why God created us and God’s new covenant must be understood as a background for all of our studies.

The spiritual fact is; “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  I Cor. 15:22.  In this context Paul is speaking of physical death; however, the same is true about our spirits.  He fully explained this in Romans 5:12-21.  See Lessons Two and Three in Part I of my book entitled, “Romans.”

The reason we need to understand what it means to be “in Adam” in the world and “in Adam in Christ” for this lesson is because we have the knowledge of good and evil.  This knowledge is stored in our memory bank and it serves the function of our conscience.  Our conscience is one of the four capacities all people possess (I Cor. 8:10; 10:25).  As we mature, we have the capacity to examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5).  God did not create Adam and Eve with the knowledge of good and evil.  Thus when mankind got it via our relationship with Adam, we also became like Deity in this respect – like “one of Us.”  Gen. 3:22.  Mature people have a conscience problem because we cannot do the good we want to do (Rom. 7:15).

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.  II Cor. 7:1

The Spirit ……..

knows about its components.    I Cor. 2:11


The Corinthians had been taught all these doctrines about the components of mankind by Paul in the beginning.  If we do not understand them we cannot understand how the scriptures apply to our “self.”  We cannot understand how our conscience functions.  Jesus died on the cross because the blood of bulls and goats could not fix our “in Adam” conscience problem (Heb. 9:14; 10:1-4).

Christians understand how our four capacities contribute to our total person, but we must also keep in mind we are still in Adam.  This is why Paul told the Corinthian church to “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”  I Cor. 5:5.   Christians have a sinful nature because we are still “in Adam” even though we have been born anew “in Christ.”  We must not make provisions for our sinful nature (Rom. 13:14; Jas. 1:13-15).

Paul knew the basic cause of the church’s division was an individual problem.  Their individual problem had its base in their inadequate conception of living on earth with an imperishable spirit in a perishable body.  Paul wrote long discourses on what life was like for him with this dual nature.  See I Cor. 4:8-13; I Cor. 9:19-27; II Cor. 4:7-18; 6:3-10; 11:23-29.  We could view these as Paul’s appeal for sympathy; however, obtaining the church’s sympathy would not solve their problem.  We, like they, need to understand our body is our temporary house.  It is our tool for this life (II Cor. 5:1-10; Rom. 6:13).  Our comfort from Christ overflows to other people by our suffering in our bodies as we serve them for God (II Cor. 1:3-11).  Paul said, “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman (or man) is concerned about the affairs of the world – how she can please her husband.”  I Cor. 7:34.  His concern was, if she or he got married they would not maintain the proper level of devotion to the Lord.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What did the Apostle Paul want the church to be aware of about how God created them?
  2. Why do we as students of the Corinthian letters need to have a clear understanding of our four capacities?
  3. List the four capacities of a human being.
  4. Of the four, which one requires an understanding of our being “in Adam?”
  5. What might Paul have hoped to achieve by including so much content about how God created us?
  6. In what way did the rest of mankind become like Deity when Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant for them?
  7. List each of our four capacities that will not basically change in nature when we die.
  8. Write a brief summary paragraph from the scriptures listed under the heading of “mind.”
  9. Why did Paul insert some information about God’s story of His relationship with Israel in his letter to the Corinthians?
  10. How does God’s new covenant relate to II Cor. 3:3?
  11. When does a person become keenly aware of the mature function of his or her conscience?
  12. What was Paul referring to when he spoke of “questions of conscience?”
  13. How does our conscience testify?
  14. How did Paul classify the arrangement of different parts in a human body?  How does dressing modestly relate to your answer?
  15. How does sexual passion become a factor in human life on earth?
  16. Why is it a waste of time to seek to glorify our bodies?  Why does the world place so much importance on the beauty of a woman’s body and the physical endowments of a sports star?
  17. Which of our four capacities specifically relate to cleansing with Jesus’ blood?
  18. In what light do Christians view our bodies?

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