Carnal Christian, or not PDF Print E-mail

                        Carnal Christians

                                            Or Not?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I want to deal today with a term that’s much used in the church today. It’s used to the point that most Christians think that it’s a normal part of growth, expected and harmless. The term I’m referring to is, carnal Christian. It would seem that since Paul made reference to the Corinthian Christians being carnal, it would be ok, or an acceptable excuse for Christians to behave badly. We have taught too many young Christians that living worldly, and being carnal is ok. We make excuses for sin by calling it carnality. Worldliness,(carnal behavior) is not some harmless activity that we grow out of. Worldliness, carnality, is compromise. It’s an attitude of sinfulness. It says that I don’t really want to forsake the things of the world, I don’t want to repent. The justification seems to be that God will get rid of the bad stuff in our lives when He’s ready. We’re under construction they say, so don’t be judging. We’ve forgotten that repentance is a key part of our salvation. “Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That we have been called to walk a walk of holiness. 1 Peter1:15-16 “as he that has called you is holy, be ye holy in all manner of conduct. For it is written, be ye holy for I am holy.” 2Co 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

Now back to carnality. When Paul spoke to the Corinthian church, 1Corinthians 3:3 He admonished them for arguing, for strife and division. He was telling them that they were dealing straight from the flesh. They were being selfish and prideful. James 3:16 says, “for where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Gal 5:19-20 Talks about the works of the flesh, and strife is one of them. The word carnal means flesh.

Now, our key scripture is Romans 8:5-8 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death, to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For the carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” If the carnal mind leads to death, then how can we treat it so lightly. Those in the flesh cannot please God. Our carnal nature is our old sinful nature. Before we were saved we were totally carnal. We came to Christ realizing that we were sinners (carnal) in need of a savior. We repent of our sins (carnal behavior) and follow after Christ. In 1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. We don’t judge a baby for being a baby. But at the same time babies need correction. Every ones so quick to get defensive, to cry out, your judging. There’s a big difference between judging and discernment. You can discern error without judging.

The bottom line is, being carnal is a choice that you make. Carnal behavior leads you away from God. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Truth is truth. If truth is taught, then the Holy Spirit can do His job of convicting men of their sin. If your doing things that are not pleasing to God, then you need to repent. Drinking, going to parties, telling dirty jokes, lying, walking in Unforgiveness, having close relationships with people that are ungodly and that mock the things of God. These things are carnal behavior and offensive to God. I always try to remember 1 Cor 3:16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. He sees and hears everything, even your evil thoughts. Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed until the day of redemption.

1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidences toward God. How could a person, living carnal, worldly, half in, half out have any assurance of Their salvation? How could they pray with any confidence, knowing that they’re not right with God. A Brother told me recently while talking on this subject that there’s a lot of different levels of Christianity. Which would be to conclude that younger Christians might do things that a more mature Christian wouldn’t. Which is totally right. As we mature the Holy Spirit does His job, which is to reveal the hidden parts of the heart, to shine light on the darkness that the young sinner might repent. John 16:7-8 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {reprove: or, convince} Our job isn’t to point a condemning finger, or to force our standards on a younger Christian. But the truth is still the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. That the man of God might be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Jesus says in John 14:6 you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

The bottom line is that carnality, compromise, worldliness leads to death. How much is too much. Now that is a subject that leads to much debate. Because every Christian you talk too will justify their own position. A worldly, carnal Christian, so under the influence of the flesh, will justify every action, and accuse you of judging. Only the Holy Spirit can speak into a heart like that. Paul says 1Co 6:12 ¶ All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Gal 6:7-8 be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reapeth. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

I’d like, in closing, to share a dream that the Lord gave me back in 1989 when I first got saved. As the dream started, I was holding in my left hand a Gila monster, and in my right hand a ferret. The Gila monster is a poisonous lizard and brought fear to my heart. Immediately I threw the lizard away from me, and brought the ferret close to my chest. I’ve always had a fondness for ferrets because they’re so cute and playful. As I cuddled the ferret I heard a hiss. As I looked down the ferret turned its head and tried to bite me. It opened it’s mouth and I saw long fangs like a snake would have. Again I felt this horrible fear and I cried out to God, Lord, deliver me. Immediately, the fear departed and I was pulled away from the scene like a camera shot fading into the distance. As I awoke, the Lord gave me the interpretation.  The Gila monster was sin. 10 commandment thou shall not kind of sin. The ferret was the more subtle sin, it was compromise. The little sins, the half truths we some times speak. The checker gives you too much change and you put it in your pocket. The gossip you listen too and by your silence seem to be in agreement with. The R rated movies that glorify sin that we pollute our temples with. The Lord told me that those compromises are just as deadly as the other sin Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.

The next time you hear the term carnal Christian, give it some thought. Because it’s almost a total contradiction. The carnal nature is the old nature, but ye are born again, a new creature in Christ, you have over come him, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.1john 3:1-3 1 ¶ Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. I’ll end this by leaving you with some definitions of the word carnal that I found.                     The Adam Clark Commentary Romans 8:

Verse 6.   For to be carnally minded is death]  To live under the influence of the carnal mind is to live in the state of condemnation, and consequently liable to death eternal: whereas, on the contrary, he who is spiritually minded has the life and peace of God in his soul, and is in full prospect of life eternal..

Barns commentary Verse  6.  For to be carnally minded. Margin, "The minding of the flesh." The sense is, that to follow the inclinations of the flesh. or the corrupt propensities of our nature, leads to condemnation and death. The expression is one of great energy, and shows that it not only leads to death, or leads to misery, but that it is death itself; there is woe and condemnation in the very act and purpose of being supremely devoted to the corrupt passions. Its only tendency is condemnation and despair.

JFB commentary     6. For--a mere particle of transition here [THOLUCK], like "but" or "now."


    to be carnally minded--literally, "the mind" or "minding of the flesh" (Margin); that is, the pursuit of fleshly ends.


    is death--not only "ends in" [ALFORD, &c.], but even now "is"; carrying death into its bosom, so that such are "dead while they live" (1Ti 5:6; Eph 2:1,5) [PHILIPPI].


    but to be spiritually minded--"the mind" or "minding of the spirit"; that is, the pursuit of spiritual objects.


    is life and peace--not "life" only, in contrast with the "death" that is in the other pursuit, but "peace"; it is the very element of the soul's deepest repose and true bliss.

William Burks commentary  Romans 8:6 Ro 8:6

In the former verse we had a description of those that are carnal, and them that are spiritual.  In this verse we have the end of the one, and the issue of the other; the end of the one is death, the issue of the other is spiritual life, joy and peace.


Observe, 1. The end and condition of all carnally-minded persons, so remaining and still continuing, it is death; always demeritoriously, that which deserves death; and sometimes actually, it procures and hastens the sinner's death; but especially it exposeth to an endless and eternal death.


Observe, 2. The sweet fruit and joyful issue of spiritual-mindedness, it is  life and peace.


1. It is life, it is eternal life initially, and it leads to eternal life ultimately. Grace is the first degree of glory, and the glory but the highest degree of grace.


2. It is peace; to be spiritually minded, lays the foundation of peace with God, with conscience, with the world; the fruit of righteousness is peace, quietness, and assurance forever.

Eastons bible dictionary Carnal

Unconverted men are so called (1 Cor. 3:3). They are represented as of a "carnal mind, which is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:6, 7). Enjoyments that minister to the wants and desires of man's animal nature are so called (Rom. 15:27; 1 Cor. 9:11). The ceremonial of the Mosaic law is spoken of as "carnal," because it related to things outward, the bodies of men and of animals, and the purification of the flesh (Heb. 7:16; 9:10). The weapons of Christian warfare are "not carnal", that is, they are not of man's device, nor are wielded by human power (2 Cor. 10:4).

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