1 Cor 2:14 is one of the several places where the NT teaches that we must put aside the “psychical” (= "natural") mind and live by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 15:44-46, Gal 5:17, Jude 19, John 6:63, 1 Peter 3:18). In short, the Holy Spirit is the only way we can know God, 1 Cor 2:10, 11, 14, John 16:13.
That is, the purpose of conversions is to create in the sinner, the means to understand and accept spiritual truths and realities which are completely beyond the reach of the natural person. Barnes says this:
But the natural man - ψυχικὸς, δὲ ἄνθρωπος psuchikos de
anthrōpos. The word "natural" here stands opposed evidently to
"spiritual." It denotes those who are governed and influenced by the
natural instincts; the animal passions and desires, in opposition to
those who are influenced by the Spirit of God. It refers to
unregenerate people; but it has also not merely the idea of their
being unregenerate, but that of their being influenced by the animal
passions or desires.
What Paul in the surrounding verses states can be neatly summarized as: "spiritual things are spiritually discerned". He expands on this point in the previous verses:
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely
given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by
human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths
to those who are spiritual.
More specifically, the "things of the Spirit" as listed in the appendix below, include:
- the gifts of the Spirit
- the fruit of the Spirit
- the knowledge of Jesus as revealed by Jesus
- the knowledge of Spiritual things as revealed in the Bible.
APPENDIX - The Spiritual Things of the Holy Spirit
Jesus bequeathed the Gift of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22, Acts 1:8, 2:1-4) to His church to impart a number of "spiritual things":
- To witness about Jesus (Acts 1:8) and so fulfil the Gospel Commission (Matt 28:19, 20) to win souls the Kingdom of God. More specifically, this was to be accomplished by the functions listed below.
- To build up the church with spiritual (supernatural) gifts and abilities, 1 Cor 12:7, 14:12, and to influence/teach others John 7:37-39. See Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:8-10, 28-30, Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10, 11, 1 Tim 4:14, Ex 35:30-33, etc.
- To produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22 & 23, see especially v24-26) and so to sanctify (make distinct) the church members.
- The above changed life is to be a distinguishing sign or seal of God’s ownership of our lives and a guarantee of better things to come (Eph 1:13, 4:30). See Seal of God.
- To provide specific guidance for the church (John 16:7-12, 14:17, 15:26 – see also Ecclesiology, namely
- Convict of sin
- Instruct in Righteous (= right doing)
- Convict of judgement to come
- To strengthen the members in their daily walk to live the Christian ideals, Eph 3:16, 17, Heb 2:4, and maintain unity in the Christian community (Eph 4:3-6). The Christian must be born of the Spirit (John 3:5) by receiving the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38) and walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:25, John 6:63, Phil 3:3, John 4:24). In fact, the whole life of Christian is to put aside the “psychical” mind and live by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 15:44-46, Gal 5:17, Jude 19, John 6:63, 1 Peter 3:18). In short, the Holy Spirit is the only way we can know God, 1 Cor 2:10, 11, 14, John 16:13.
- To teach the church more of the character and work of Jesus and thus, imitate Jesus, John 7:38, 39, 15:26, 16:12-15, Rom 8:4, 11, Eph 3:17, 18, 4:3-6, 1 Thess 1:6, 4:8, 1 Cor 2:14.
- The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write Scripture, and also explains Biblical spiritual truths to us. John 14:16, 17, 15:26, 1 Cor 2:6-16, Eph 1:17-19, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:15, 16, 1 Thess 1:5, Heb 9:8, 1 Peter 1:12, Ps 119:18.
- To intercede with God (Rom 8:26, 27) and thus, act as an advocate and helper (John 14:16, 26, 15;26, 16:7). [Note: in this respect, the Holy Spirit acts like Jesus (John 14:6) as an intercessor, Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, and Advocate, 1 John 2:1.]