SETTING THE STAGE...
Carnality. Even the word sounds like a disease. Actually it describes a condition. A spiritual condition that is typical of those new to the world of Christianity and who as a result do not possess the higher wisdom of the more advanced. Unfortunately, things are much the same as they were in the day of the Apostle Paul. Ignorance of God’s Word is the norm among Christians, for few followers are devoted to personal bible study. Our lives reflect it. Our witness to the lost is hindered. We have become members of the apostate church and are so ignorant, - we don’t even know it!
Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians…
1st Corinthians 3: 1 – 4 (KJV)
1) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
It’s impossible to teach deep spiritual truths to people who do not have the spiritual “fortitude” to digest it. That’s the condition of most Christians today. They can probably quote John 3:16, but ask them to explain the biblical basis for why they believe this or that and they’re suddenly out of their comfort zone.
Another sign of a carnal believer is their conversation. I know people who have been Christians for decades that rarely, - if ever, mention anything of a Christian nature in conversation. On the other hand, you can’t help but hear the tale-tale signs that you’re in the presence of on-fire, children of God who read their bibles daily. Their conversation is “peppered” with the seasoning of the Spirit of God. Their views are God’s views when it comes to the issues of the day. Their conversation often turns spiritual when talking to fellow Christians, and when they aren’t, they frequently drop “clues” indicating the direction of their internal moral compass even when they’re not aware it.
Carnal minded Christians are devoid of the benefits spiritual knowledge brings. They worry as much, sometimes even more than unbelievers do. The abiding peace that Christ promised is missing from their lives. In their ignorance, they continually displease God by their lack of faith because their minds are focused on earthly (decaying and dying) concerns.
Romans 8: 5 – 8 (KJV)
5) 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.
6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Galatians 6: 7 – 8 (KJV)
7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap.
8) 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.
Let’s return to Romans 8:5: “…they mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the Spirit.” Tie that verse in with Galatians 6:8: “…but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” If our minds stay on spiritual things, God promises we will reap “life everlasting.” That sounds like the sublime experiences of those that have found “good pasture.”
David was “a man after God’s own heart.” And though he missed the mark on many occasions due to his choices (haven’t we all), he definitely had tranquil times when his mind was on spiritual things. Let’s look at one example…
Psalm 23 (KJV)
1) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters.
3) He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anoinest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Those are not the experiences of a carnal Christian. Psalm 37:37 says: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” Returning to Romans 8:6: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
If your spirit man is hungry, - FEED him! Feed him the Word of God and reap the blessings and benefits Christ provides at His table. Are you anemic? Begin taking a daily ration of “spiritual vitamins.” Daily doses of God’s Word puts the power of God’s Word inside you. That’s where He does His work.
Carnality creeps into our lives when we neglect the Word of God. Uncommitted Christians often care more about the opinions of others than they do of what God thinks about them. And He always ties it back to His Word. Let’s take a look…
John 5: 39 – 47 (KJV)
39) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41) I receive not honour from men.
42) But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43) I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44) How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45) Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me.
47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
What an indictment! Notice that Jesus is implying that our understanding is based upon our knowledge of His written Word. Even then, prior to the New Testament, it was the case. He told the Jews that if they truly believed the words Moses had written, then they would believe Him. Think about it, all satan has to do to trip us up is get us so busy with the daily details of this temporary life that we neglect God’s Word and we fall into our natural, carnal state. That’s where we live today. That’s why our churches are so confused. That’s why our leaders are so shallow, that we hear of one scandal after another. Some of the most disgusting sex sins we hear of today are committed by men that are supposed to be pastors! And of course, - the media is all over it.
We turn on Christian television, hoping to hear something that edifies, and all we hear in what I call “Prosperity Heresy.” The message is that “God wants you to be rich!” Preachers have learned the formula for building “Mega-Churches” and they’re cranking the handle of the “money machine” for all they’re worth! Let’s see what Peter said about the times in which we find ourselves…
2nd Peter 2: 1 – 3 (KJV)
1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3) And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
And John was told by Jesus…
Revelation 3: 14 – 19 (KJV)
14) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold not hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18) I consoul thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.
19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
There we have it. We know what carnality is, what causes it, and what to do about it when we find we’re guilty of it. God tells us in one place that judgment begins at the house of God, so let’s take personal inventory and if we find ourselves lacking take appropriate action. I cannot say it better than Jesus did…
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”