1 Corinthians 2:11-12
For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man…
I. THE DOCTRINE contained in the words, "freely given to us," and "we have received." Whatsoever we have is of God's free gift; and as in the department of nature it is the Lord that giveth life, and all things, so in the department of grace it is the Lord that blesseth us with every spiritual blessing.
1. Let us observe the simple word "given," a word so simple that one would think it impossible to be mistaken.
(1) Let it stand by the side of the word "offer." For there are some that say God merely offers grace and salvation in the gospel. But God says that He gives grace and salvation. The offer only comes half way, and there stops, but the gift comes home. So it is in the things of God. When God intends grace for any poor soul, He does not stop half way and wait for our closing with His offer, but He comes home to our very soul, and makes a sure lodgment of the blessing.
(2) Further, if to give means to offer, it certainly means much more than to sell; for there be some who tell us that God gives upon conditions, or, in other words, sells grace; into which error they have been drawn by their inability to perceive that the "ifs" of the New Testament are not conditional, but evidential. I know of no other condition on which sinners are saved but the death of the Son of God.
2. Lest we should make a mistake concerning the matter or manner of God's giving, He hath added another word here to clear it up; we read of the things "freely" given to us of God. We know the miserly disposition of some men, who in order to preserve a decent appearance in the world lay out some of their money in charity, yet have so niggardly a way of doing it, and such an ungracious manner in bestowing it, that an honest man would rather go without than accept anything at their hands. Now, God would have us know that He is not one of these niggardly people, and therefore tells us that what He gives, He also freely gives. But in order to constitute it a free gift two things are necessary; it must be done without compulsion, and without condition; either of these destroy the freeness here spoken of.
3. Again, let us remark how God's free giving is further illustrated by another word which stands contrasted with it in the sentence: "We have received." Now this expression takes away all idea of any merit, power, or wisdom in the favoured objects of God's bounty, as completely as does the former; and when both are viewed together, they give a twofold testimony to the truth of the grace of God.
II. THE THINGS THEMSELVES WHICH ARE FREELY GIVEN TO US OF GOD. What is there which God hath not given us? for the apostle in the next chapter tells the believers in Jesus, "All things are yours," &c. But sweet as this description is, what would all this be, what would heaven be to him that loves God in His beloved Son, if the object of that love formed no part of the heavenly enjoyment? Therefore also God hath abundantly revealed it to us, that of these "all things" we speak of, He hath given Himself both as the cause and the substance; so that we may know that as all blessings come from God, so all blessedness is centred in God. Now to show this from Scripture that God gives Himself to us, we may observe that single sentence more than ten times repeated in the Bible, "I will be their God!" There is a twofold meaning in these words. First, I will give Myself over to them in covenant characters. All this is expressed in those words of Hosea (chap. Hosea 2:19, 20). Having thus made Himself over to us, He becomes bound to us to deal with us in lovingkindness and tender mercies. But there is another meaning of it which comes nearer to the point. God gives us Himself most truly when He gives us His Christ, for He is over all God blessed for ever, Amen. God in Christ, and Christ in God, shall be the Sun of heaven; a Sun that shall no more go down. If God thus makes over Himself for our eternal consolation and blessedness, how can we doubt whether or no He hath also given all things together with Him. Having given the greater, how could He withhold the less? (Romans 8:39). So, then, we need argue that matter no further; but of the "all things" here spoken of I would merely select one as being most important to be known, which is our complete justification, called by the apostle the gift of righteousness (Hebrews 9:26). Now a word or two more shall be added to show that we are really righteous before God by the presence of righteousness. And, first, it will appear from many parts of Scripture, that where there is an absence of sin, there is and must be the presence of righteousness; in short, that one cannot be without the other. This is shown plainly by Daniel 9:24, where he enumerates the blessings to be brought upon the Church by the advent of Messiah, at the expiration of the seventy weeks; for He was not only to "finish transgression," and make "an end of sin," but to bring in "everlasting righteousness." Here both the one and The other are attributed to the same event; and therefore he that believeth in that Messiah hath not only his sins put off, but an everlasting righteousness put on. Again, David saith (Psalm 32:1). But what is the Holy Ghost's comment on those words by the pen of Paul? David, says he, "describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works(Romans 4:6): so, then, what can be clearer than this, that where sin is not imputed righteousness is imputed, and this makes the believer doubly blessed. Again, this truth may be made to appear yet more clearly by comparison. There are some things in nature so completely contrary that the one cannot exist where the other is, and the absence of the one plainly indicates the presence of the other. The absence of sickness is health; the absence of darkness is light; the absence of filth is cleanliness. So in like manner the absence of sin is righteousness. Now observe how it is, that of sick, filthy, and dark sinners, we become healthy, and clean, and saints of light.
1. "By His stripes we are healed(Isaiah 53:5). Here is our sickness gone, and health established.
2. "The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin(1 John 1:7). Here is filthiness abolished, and cleanliness in its place.
3. "Ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord(Ephesians 5:8). Here "the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth."
III. "WE KNOW THE THINGS THAT ARE FREELY GIVEN TO US OF GOD," AND THAT, NOT BY THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, BUT BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Could we tell the world no more than what we have already considered we should have told them great things; for the love of the Father, and the Son, eternal and unfathomable, are therein revealed; but we have some of the Spirit's: love yet to declare, who giveth us the most comfortable knowledge of these things. We grant, indeed, that with our bodily eyes we have never seen Christ Jesus the Lord; but the Lord giveth to His children an eye even to see clearly things in themselves invisible. But if it be asked, How do we arrive at this most excellent and comfortable knowledge? The words of the text plainly answers, "We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." By the spirit of the world is here peculiarly meant worldly wisdom, which in the preceding chapter he has shown to be utterly unprofitable in order to teach us the deep things of God. But that which maketh us wise unto salvation, and teacheth us that we are sinners saved by Christ's blood, is the wisdom which cometh from above, the gift of the Spirit of God. No man is possessed of this heavenly wisdom except he be a heavenly man, that is, except he be born from above.
(H. B. Bulteel, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.