We are about to begin a new Bible study on the topic of The Carnal Christian. Last week, we finished a study called The Christianity Test, where we examined the differences between a Genuine Christian and a Counterfeit Christian. It can be difficult to discern the differences between a Counterfeit Christian and a Carnal Christian, so leave this job to the Holy Spirit. However, we are told in God’s word to be fruit inspectors.
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” Matthew 7:19-20 (NKJV).
If you suspect that you or a loved one is either a Counterfeit Christian or a Carnal Christian, then you should pray that the Lord will show you how to confront this person. We are commanded to confront them, so don’t shy away from the task.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” James 5:19-20 (NKJV). Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians.
Please read 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:17.
Paul wrote this letter to the church of Corinth, which was a church full of divisions and strife. He refers to 3 different types of people in this passage. In 1 Cor. 2:14, he mentions the natural man. According to Jude 1:18-19, the natural man does not have the Spirit and is therefore unsaved.
An unsaved person cannot understand spiritual things, because the Holy Spirit has to enlighten his understanding. I have heard ministers say that the four Gospels were written for the lost and the rest of the Bible was written for the saved. A lost person will not understand the Bible when he reads it, unless the Holy Spirit is convicting His heart of sin. We tell the lost about sin and Jesus, because they will not understand anything else until they are saved.
1 Corinthians 3:1
In the first verse of chapter 3, Paul mentions spiritual people and carnal. Some people debate that a believer can be carnal, because the carnal believers are sinful and walking in the flesh. Paul gives us clues in verse one, so we can know for sure whether a believer can be carnal or not. He says that these Carnal Christians are “babes in Christ”. This should settle all arguments. A believer can either walk in the Spirit or in the flesh (carnal), however, he/she will have some understanding of spiritual things. A Natural Person will not have understanding of spiritual things.
Paul says that he had to feed the Carnal Christians milk, because they could not receive solid food. What does this mean? There were certain teachings that these Christians could handle and certain ones they could not handle.
In our study The Christianity Test, we learned in 1 John 2:12 that these believers were called little children. They understood that their sins are forgiven, but have not moved on to maturity. There are several topics, which I have taught through the years, which are not easily accepted by Carnal Christians. One such topic is the study of the end times. I know some believers, who cannot talk about this topic because of fear. I used to be this way as a young adult. If someone mentioned the tribulation or the rapture, I would almost tremble from fear. I couldn’t read a book about the tribulation or the book of Revelation. When I learned how to live the Spirit-filled life, I was immediately able to do an in-depth study on this topic.
How does a Carnal Christian act?
In 1 Corinthians 3:3, Paul tells us that they are envious, full of strife and divisions. These Christians are behaving like mere men. These believers act as if they are followers of men, rather than followers of Christ.
Some of these believers said that they followed Paul, while others said they followed Apollos. This happens so often in our churches today, because we get so caught up in celebrity teachers. Not that there is anything wrong with these teachers, but people follow the teacher rather than Christ. I can hear them now, “I like Beth Moore” or “I like Kay Arthur”. Perhaps you like John MacArthur or James MacDonald. There is nothing wrong with these people, but if you find yourself talking more about the teacher than Jesus Christ, then perhaps you are carnal like the church of Corinth.
Warning from Paul
In verses 10-15, Paul warns us about our works. Even though Christians will escape the Great White Throne judgment, we still will have to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) where we will be tested for our works.Those whose works were built with gold, silver and precious stones will receive a reward. On the other hand, if your works were built on wood, hay or straw, your works will burn up and you will have nothing to show the Lord. You will have your salvation, but nothing else.
We will study this topic more in the next few weeks. I hope you will join me next Wednesday for Word Study Wednesday.