1 Corinthians 2:11-12 (ESV)

"11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 
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."

This passage holds an important principle that we would do well to adhere to – exercise compassion in our judgments.

In the last month, through my pastoral interactions with the people of God in our church, God again revealed to me that our human comprehension of spiritual matters is very limited. Also, our knowledge of the inner spirit of other people is severely nuanced by our own fallenness. That, I believe, is the idea behind Paul’s question in vs.11: “who knows a person’s thoughts…?”   

Without help, man knows very little of himself, still less of his fellow-man, and least of all, about God. This should teach us at least three things:

Exercise modesty in our judgment.
Generous dose of humility in our inquiries.
Confidence in the Word of God, for the Spirit knows all things. 

Remember the apostolic warning in Romans 2:1 -  “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

What lies in man’s heart is not always knowable to others. It is this inner world that the Apostle Paul is thinking of here. Here’s the test: just think how many thoughts pass through your minds of which your nearest and dearest can never know.

The ignorance of the inner life of those around us should teach us to be charitable in our judgments and opinions of those around us. There is no way for us to penetrate the soul of our fellow-sinners, and know for certain what is passing there. So, beware of the fact that your judgments and opinions have a very high probability of being grossly incorrect or unjust. 

First Corinthians 2:12 teaches that when we receive the “Spirit who is from God”, we might understand the things given to us by God.

How is this possible? 
Only the Spirit of God has perfect knowledge and only He knows what is in the spirit of man. Hence, the things of God can only be known by him who has the Spirit.

How is this obtained?
We receive the Spirit by new birth – a gracious gift – that should be used to “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).

Pastor Robert Chew