The true Christian believer is an enigma to fellow human beings. No less human, the believer in Jesus Christ possesses an added dimension to his person, his perception and his experience (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The differentiating quality is not any superior human faculty in the believer themselves, or anything personally meritorious. What is distinctive about the Christian, of strong or weak faith, is union with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, and the understanding to some degree of spiritual truths not available to “natural man”.
The believer, through divine revelation and instruction has access to the thoughts of God communicated through Holy Scripture - thoughts the unbeliever cannot access in their essential salvific and sanctifying meaning. The unbeliever can recognize and recite bare facts of the faith, but they are incapable of entering into them in any experiential sense with personal comprehension and feeling. The truths of the gospel do not possess them and they do not hold those truths in sincerity and with reverence before God. Unbelievers may be able to lecture theologically and even from the Bible in certain contexts on matters of grammar and history. They may possess noteworthy eloquence and speculative powers, but their souls are not spiritually “alive!”. Formal orthodoxy may be relatively common, but there is no personal grasp of Jesus Christ, the sum and substance of Holy Scripture. They do not “close’ with him.
Whether good-naturedly or maliciously, the people of this world view believers as a source of puzzlement, for they have no link to the world to come. There is a vision of reality granted by God that is beyond that which is observable and assessable visually. St Augustine calls it the “eye of the soul”, sometimes “the eye of the heart”.
Christian outlook and conduct are different, and in many ways an offense to the worldling. Our common humanity truly exists but birth from above (regeneration) transcends the limitations and tendencies of our sinful humanity; not necessarily in our natural capacities and faculties, although these are in process of purification and direction, but the lives of believers are oriented to God in Christ, the manifestation of the Lord and the model of authentic humanity.
The new ingredients within renewed mankind (true believers) are supernaturally imparted knowledge of God, and divinely produced holiness in resemblance of God - a compatibility and communion with him that in its essence, not in the behavior it engenders, is undetectable to human discovery. It arises from the factual but mystical union of faith - an attachment to and connection with God the majestic Three-in-One. The Father loves us as his chosen, the Son redeems us as his people, and the Spirit enlivens us, raising us from spiritual death.
The reality of Christian believing is summed up by the phrase, “The life of God in the soul of man” (Henry Scougal). The deep-down location of all who trust in and obey the Lord is a place of intimate and ultimate secrecy and safety for as long as they live in this unbelieving and rebellious world until their full identity is disclosed at the judgment: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things,” exhorts the apostle Paul, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3). Those alien to God cannot fathom believers. Many will hate us and some will hurt us. Quintessentially, the world is at enmity with God through its desires and designs. The Christian is an uncomfortable rebuke to rebel hearts, for we are among the troops of the One who has come to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).