Intro. Last week we talked about the natural man, and the spiritual man. The natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man understands the things of the Spirit, but is not understood by the natural man.
I. PAUL NOW INTRODUCES ANOTHER CATEGORY, THE CARNAL MAN.
A. Just what is the carnal Christian?
1. Some have questioned whether there is such a state.
a. They believe the term is an oxymoron.
b. They say if you are carnal, you cannot be a true Christian.
c. If you are a Christian you cannot be carnal.
2. Note however, that Paul calls them, "Babes in Christ."
a. That they are in Christ would classify them as a Christian.
b. That they are still babies after several years is a tragedy.
3. There is a natural time to be a baby. When a person is first born again, they are a babe in Christ, and that is a very beautiful thing. Nothing is more beautiful than a helpless little baby.
a. I have always been crazy about babies.
b. I could hardly wait to have my own children.
c. The excitment of seeing their first smile.
d. Of hearing their first word.
e. I was determined that the first word of my children would be da da.
f. I can still remember where I was standing when my first daughter said da da. The picture is as clear as crystal in my mind. She was in her crib, and I was going into the closet it was on a Sunday about 6:12 in the evening.
g. I turned around and eagerly said, "What? say it again." It was like a beautiful symphony. I rushed over to her crib and hugged her.
h. She was just a few months old, and that was one of the most thrilling moments in my life.
i. She is now a beautiful lady in her forties. If she were still in a crib and the limit of her communication was no more developed than da da. The words now would bring pain and sorrow.
4. Unfortunately there are some Christians who have been in church for forty years or more and they have not progressed beyond the state of spiritual infancy.
a. They are bottle christians, still in diapers.
b. Paul complained that he fed them with milk for they were not able to take meat, and they were still unable to digest meat.
c. The writer to the Hebrews said,
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
d. So many Christians are in a state of arrested spiritual development.
e. The problem is that there are so many of them they are not even a novelty.
5. A carnal Christian is one who has received Jesus as their Savior, but have not denied themselves to take up the cross to follow Him.
a. The flesh still rules. They still have their little temper tantrums.
b. You might say that Jesus is the Savior, but not the Lord of their lives.
c. Are they then Christians? I do not know, that is a judgment call that only God is qualified to make.
d. I personally would not want to chance it.
II. THE MARKS OF A CARNAL CHRISTIAN?
A. Envying and strife.
1. In the study in James on Thursday night we called these the evil siamese twins, for they are always coupled together in the New Testament.
2. Strife is the fruit of envy.
3. If you are envious, you will soon be engaged in strife.
4. This is a mark of carnality, it is a part of the flesh life.
5. Have you noticed that there are some people that nothing ever seems to please them, they always are striving over some issue that is bothering them.
B. They are divisive. They seek to divide the body of Christ.
1. They always are trying to form a clique and to enlist others to their position. There is an outfit called C.U.R.E. who are a very divisive group. They always want to argue, and if you do not agree with their persuasion on reformed theology, they are almost ready to exclude you from the kingdom of God.
2. Always engaging in factious arguments, is a sure sign of carnality.
C. They have a strong party spirit.
1. One was saying, "I am of Paul" another, "I am of Apollos" Paul asked, "Is this not a sign of carnality?"
2. I do not see much difference between that and saying, I am of Calvin or I am of Arminias, or I am a Baptist, or Methodist, or Catholic, or Presbyterian.
3. I have observed that the more spiritual a person becomes the less denominational they are.
III. WHAT IS THE CURE FOR CARNAL CHRISTIANITY?
A. Walk in love.
1. I think that this is the cure for about anything.
2. If you walk in love, you will not be engaged in envy and strife.
3. If you walk in love, you will not be bringing division in the body of Christ.
a. You say, "But they offended me."
b. "They didn't speak to me."
c. Can't you see that it is your great concern for yourself the me, the I, this is what carnality is all about. It is centered in you.
4. In Ephesians 4
Paul spoke of forbearing with one another in love, as you endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
B. Get into the word of God. Better yet, get the Word of God in you.
1. Paul spoke of the Lord placing pastor teachers in the church for the maturing of the saints for the work of the ministry. Till we all come to the unity of the faith, unto full maturity. That we are no more like babies who are carried about by every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of man who lie in wait to deceive. Speak the truth in love and grow up in Him.
2. Peter wrote, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby."
3. True spiritual growth can only come by feeding on the Word of God.
a. There are those who are always chasing about seeking some exotic spiritual experience. You do not grow by experience.
b. These people remain in an arrested spiritual state of infancy. After years, they are still babes in Christ.
c. They run around seeking spiritual entertainment, the latest fad, seeing people slain in the spirit; laughing uncontrollably; being pinned to the floor.
d. They do not endure sound doctrine, but have itching ears. Their flesh must be entertained.
e. There are entire ministries that are designed to attract these people. Their ministries are gaudy shows.
C. How would you rate your spiritual status?
1. Further on in this letter Paul will challenge them to examine themselves, for he said that if we will judge ourselves we would not be judged by God.
2. Do you see yourself growing into spiritual maturity, or are you still at about the same level when you first came to the knowledge of Christ?
3. Do you still get offended, and feel that you must send your nasty little notes to express your displeasure over things that did not please you? Be careful about always giving out pieces of your mind, you may end up with nothing left.
4. What does the command "Walk in love" mean to you?