1 Corinthians 3:1-4 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? (4) For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
The title in which I have chosen for this devotional is a relatively new phrase to me. I have known of the context, (what the topic is,) just had never heard the phrase. Many of you will liken this to the term “backslidden.” However, they could be synonymous, but in the context of these verses, they are not.
The actual definition from The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is: “1. Pertaining to flesh; fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual; as carnal pleasure. 2. Being in the natural state; unregenerate. 3. Lecherous; lustful; libidinous; given to sensual indulgence.”
We as Christians generally define carnal as The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. However, most Christians divide sin into many categories: (It is just a white lie, a little lie.) Yet, it is still a lie. Carnality, in our minds, is as divided as our judicial system’s range of murders. (Murder unintentional or intentional is still murder. This is NOT a treatise against self-defense, or against the police officer, or soldier.) God has never allowed varying degrees of punishment. We are the ones who want “Kings” to preside instead of God.
Carnality is ANYTHING that you put between yourself and God with no intention of changing (repentance, unregenerate.) Whatever is keeping you away from God isn’t necessarily sin. For example, boating, fishing, or any other activity (in itself is not necessarily sinful) that keeps you from worshipping God, (but knowing what it is doing without any intention of changing,) is the problem. (It is the location, which is the problem.) Again, it is anything that you allow to get between you and God. Consequently, you are a Carnal Christian.
In pondering these things, it came to my mind that ALL Christians are Carnal. There has been only One non-Carnal Christian on earth and that was Jesus The Christ.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(These verses tell us the truth.) All Churches are carnal as all members within are “The Church,” and every member is carnal, some more, some less.
In the Parable of The Sower, Jesus defines the make-up of our average Church. As a soul-winning Christian, (vv 3, 14) (“sower”) we present God’s Word:
Mark 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
As we preach, knock on doors, and hand out tracts, we will reach these four groups. The majority we meet are possibly those described below in (vv 4, 15.) They are “by the way side” and are, (for the most part,) courteous, respectful, not saved nor concerned, a carnal worldly person, but not a Christian.
Mark 4:4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
Mark 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
The “stony ground” group (vv 5-6, 16-17) are those who gladly receive God’s Word. They believe for a while, but later realizing the cost: of their tithe, their time, and teaching/learning, they become offended and leave.
Mark 4:5-6 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: (6) But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mark 4:16-17 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; (17) And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
The third group are those (vv 7-8, 18-19) who “fell among thorns,” hear God’s Word, but too much is going on in their lives to concern themselves with eternity.
Mark 4:7-8 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mark 4:18-19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, (19) And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
The last group (vv 8, 20) that “fell on good ground” is the core of our Churches. They are the tithers, soul-winners, musicians, and/or workers who keep the Church working under Pastoral leadership.
Mark 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
Mark 4:20) And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
The first three groups described may be a part of our congregation, and for a period of time a member of our Church, but they are not necessarily Christians. They may have professed, (as I did when I was nineteen,) but never had a personal relationship with Christ, just the head knowledge.
We must keep in mind as Christians: we are all carnal to some degree, some more than others. This knowledge must not be used as an excuse to walk in our iniquities.
Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
My attempt in this brief dissertation is to get every Christian to look at his individual walk, and determine what he has placed between him and God.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
We must strive to remove the roadblocks so we can receive God’s blessings and answers to our prayers. We might even find fewer trials in our lives. Jesus tells us:
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
“We as Christians have The Commandments of Christ Jesus within His Word, The King James Bible. We claim Jesus as our Saviour, as our King. So, what keeps us out of Church, out of reading our King James Bible, from tithing, helping, soul winning?”
I know the answer Christian, just as Paul knew, and as you know. It is sin. It is whatever you consider more important than God.
Paul teaches in our verses (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) that we must continue to grow. We grow from babes to children, and then to adults in The Lord Jesus.
“Where are you? Do you still require the milk and Pablum™ (H. J. Heinz Company), or can you grow with the meat of God’s Word?”
Bro John R. E Chastain, Evangelist