For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:3 KJV)
What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “carnal Christian”? Many will think of a sinful Christian, especially the sin of sexual immorality. A familiar passage that will come to mind is the awful list of the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5. Yes, sin is the leading manifestation of the carnality in our lives. However, carnality is much more than sinfulness.
Paul gives us a vivid definition of carnality in 1 Cor. 3:3 above as he describes the Corinthians as carnal, meaning they “walk as men”. This is crucial to comprehend fully. Carnality is mere human nature and its manifestations without the influence of the Holy Spirit. There is a way normal human beings think, feel, act or speak, whether sinful or not. That “normal” human life captured by Paul as “walk as men” is what carnality means. As a Christian, the Spirit has become one with your spirit so divinity is in your spirit. God’s design is for you to walk by the Spirit, meaning, to be led by the Spirit and to act, speak, think, and feel as the Spirit leads. That is what a spiritual Christian is. On the contrary, the carnal Christian is the one who lives a normal human life.
Carnality is an expression of humanity without God. That is why sin is appealing to the carnal christian. The problem with the Corinthian Church was not just sexual immorality but division. They had factions, almost like our denominational- or ministry-mindset today: some said they are followers of Paul while others boasted they are followers of Peter or Apollos. This sort of thinking is an excellent example of carnality. That should give you an idea of how carnal we(the Church today) are. Remember, the Corinthians were thriving in spiritual gifts, including tongues and prophecies but were amongst the most carnal Christians Paul addressed in his letters.
I will not be able to fully describe to you all the subtle manifestations of the flesh or carnality in our lives which go unnoticed because for many of us, carnality equals sin. You will be amazed how much of what is going on today in the Church is nothing other than human efforts rather than the Spirit. It might appear profoundly spiritual, but the Spirit has nothing to do with it. I have taught on this before and called it “fleshly Christianity”. I struggle with it and always pray for the Spirit to make me more sensitive to Him so that I do not live and run the ministry by my own fleshly ways, assuming it is God whereas He has nothing to do with it. The only way to escape carnality is to walk by the Spirit. The Lord help you, too, in this life-long training we are engaged in to walk by the Spirit and not the flesh.
Did you capture the broad meaning of the carnality above?
APPLY THE WORD
Are you a carnal Christian? No need to tell anyone else. Please ask the Holy Spirit this question and be ready for the surprises. He is loving and willing to help us always.
Ask the Spirit to help you escape the flesh as you yield and surrender to Him daily.