Can a genuine Christian be carnal? To answer this question, we must first define the term “carnal”. This is a translation of the Greek term sarkikos, which literally means “fleshy” and is used to describe Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. In this passage, the Apostle Paul addresses his readers as “brethren,” a term he uses almost exclusively for other Christians, before going on to describe them as “carnal.” We can therefore conclude that a Christian can be carnal.

The Bible says very clearly that no one is without sin (1 John 1:8). Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. It is crucial to understand that while a Christian may be carnal for a time, a genuine Christian cannot remain so all his life. Some people have distorted this notion of a “carnal Christian” by claiming that it is possible to put one’s faith in Christ and then continue to live the rest of one’s life in a completely carnal manner, without ever manifesting the fruits of the new birth nor his identity as a new creature (2 Corinthians 5.17).

This idea is totally unbiblical. James 2 makes it very clear that genuine faith will always produce good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says that if we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, our life will be the fruit of works. Can a Christian, in a moment of weakness and/or rebellion, appear carnal? Yes. Can a true Christian remain carnal? No. Because the assurance of salvation is an indisputable biblical truth, a carnal Christian is still saved. Salvation cannot be lost, for it is a gift from God, which He will not take away (see John 10:28, Romans 8:37-39, 1 John 5:13).

Even in 1 Corinthians 3:15, the carnal Christian is assured of his salvation: “If his work burns, he will lose his reward; he himself will be saved, but as through fire. » The real question is not whether a person who calls himself a Christian but lives carnally can lose his salvation, but whether he is actually saved (1 John 2:19). Christians whose behavior becomes carnal can expect God to punish them out of love (Hebrews 12:5-11), so that they will be restored to intimacy with Him and can once again obey Him. God saves us in the desire to make us more and more conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2), more and more spiritual and less and less carnal. This process is called sanctification. Until we are finally freed from our sinful nature, we will experience excesses of the flesh; but, for a true believer in Christ, this will be the exception and not the rule. In other words, here is what Paul explains in this chapter:

I. blames the Corinthians for their carnality and divisions, verses 1-4.

II. He explains to them how what was wrong among them could be put right, remembering: 1. That their ministers were nothing more than ministers, verse 5. 2. That they were unanimous and took up the same design, verse 6-10. 3. Which they built on one and the same foundation, ver 11-15.

III. He exhorts them to give honor to their body, keeping it pure (v. 16, 17), as well as to humility and self-confidence, v. 18-21.
IV. And prevents them from boasting particularly of the ministers, because of the equal interest which they had for all, circa 22 until the end.

The reprobate spirit of celebration.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual things, but as carnal things, even as children in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with meat; because until now you did not have the means, and you cannot do it now. For you are still carnal; for if there be among you envy, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For if one says: I am of Paul; and another, I am from Apollos; are you not carnal?

I. Paul blames the Corinthians for their weakness and incompetence. Those who are sanctified are only partly sanctified: there is still room for growth and increase both in grace and knowledge, 2 Peter 3 18. Those who, by divine grace, are renewed to spiritual life may yet be defective in many areas. The apostle told them that he could not speak to them as to spiritual men, but as to carnal men, as to babes in Christ, v. 1.

They were so far from forming their maxims and measures on the basis of divine revelation and from entering into the spirit of the Gospel, it was only too evident that they were under the command of carnal affections and corrupted. They were still just babies in Christ. They had received some of the first principles of Christianity, but had not attained maturity of understanding, or of faith and holiness; and yet it is clear from several passages of this epistle that the Corinthians were very proud of their wisdom and knowledge.

Note that it is all too common for people of very moderate knowledge and understanding to have great vanity.

The apostle attributes their weak mastery of the knowledge of Christianity as a reason why he had no longer communicated to them the deep things of it. They could not endure such food, they needed to be fed with milk and not meat, v. 2. Note that it is the duty of a faithful minister of Christ to consult the abilities of his hearers and to teach them as much as they can bear. And yet it is natural for babies to grow into men; and babes in Christ should strive to grow in stature and become men in Christ.

Their progress in knowledge is expected to be proportionate to their means and opportunities, and to the time they have spent in professing their religion, that they may endure discourses on the mysteries of our religion and don’t always rely on simple things. It was a reproach to the Corinthians that they had sat so long under the ministry of Paul and had made no progress in Christian knowledge. Note that Christians are entirely guilty if they do not strive to grow in grace and knowledge.

II. He reproaches them for their carnality and mentions as proof their quarrels and discords concerning their ministers:

For you are still carnal; For if there be among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal and walk like men? They had mutual emulations, quarrels and factions among themselves, because of their ministers, while one of them said: I am of Paul; and another, I am from Apollos,

These were proofs that they were carnal, that their carnal interests and affections dominated them too much. Note that arguments and quarrels over religion are sad evidence of remaining carnality. True religion makes men peaceful and non-conflicting. Factious spirits act according to human principles, not according to the principles of true religion; they are guided by their own pride and passions, and not by the rules of Christianity: Do you not walk as men?

Note that it is deplorable that many of those who should walk as Christians, that is to say above the common man, actually walk like men, live and act too much like other men. Galatians 3 The apostle in this chapter,

I. Reprimands the Galatians for their folly in allowing themselves to be distanced from the faith of the Gospel, and strives, from several considerations, to give them the meaning.

II. He proves the doctrine from which he had reproached them for deviating, that of justification by faith without the works of the law,

  1. From the example of Abraham’s justification.
  2. The nature and content of the law.
  3. From the express testimony of the Old Testament; And,
  4. Of the stability of God’s covenant with Abraham.

Lest anyone say, “What good is the law?” he answers: (1.) It was added because of transgressions. (2.) It was given to convince the world of the necessity of a Savior. (3.) He was designed as a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ. And then he concludes the chapter by making us aware of the privilege of Christians under the evangelical State.

This text is an extract from the book “The Enemies of Man” written by Jérémie TCHINDEBE.

We invite you to read the following article “The Enemies of Man: SATAN AND HIS DEMONS“.

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