I Corinthians 3:1-3 “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? “
The first step in our spiritual journey is locating exactly where we are. Last week we talked about the 1rst of the 3 phases of true spirituality. The 1rst was the Natural man (someone who doesn’t believe), The next phase (which we will talk about today) is the Carnal man (a baby in Christ, not necessarily a new believer). Sadly, most Christians never leave the carnal man phase. The best phase is the Spiritual man. A believer who has an intimate relationship with God is the spiritual man, my ultimate goal on this earth.
The carnal man is a believer, on his way to heaven. Acts 16:31“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved”. The only way you can believe on the Lord (count on Him) is by the Holy Spirit guiding you. Paul wrote to these carnal people in Corinthians that although they were saved, and babies in Christ, that they were not newly born again people. He said that they should have been way beyond where they were in their spiritual development. Paul had already said that they had the Holy Spirit, they had everything. 1 Corinthians 1:7 ..’ye come behind in no gift.’ They had the faith, the grace of salvation, and all spiritual gifts that any spiritually mature Christian has. The carnal man just doesn’t have the power (authority) to really tap into those things. Most Christians today fall into this category. Carnal Christians usually are just like anyone else, sometimes worse. But I believe they are saved because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Their lives are just powerless until they fully surrender and trust the goodness of God.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:
There are 2 types of Carnal Christians. Those who think they’ve arrived and are content where they are, (I feel sorry for them). Then there are those who have been kicked in the teeth and made painfully aware of their depravity and how short they fall in the will of God. They yearn for the full power of God in their lives (which is an integral part of becoming the spiritual man). That’s a good place to be.
Just having Faith, Grace and Spiritual gifts doesn’t make you a full grown (spiritual man) Christian. Spirituality comes only from exercising faith in Jesus. These Corinthians were carnal babies. They were probably proud of the little spiritual things they did. Do you know that Jesus never took credit for His miracles or His teachings? He gave all the glory to God. Faith in God is the end result, and is the mark of a completely spiritual Christian. Being sure and certain about God means you have faith in Him. As your faith grows, your power and authority grows. You are in more control of yourself, and you are more confident in what you say and in your prayers.
Faith is a muscle, you have to exercise it to make it grow. You have to step out in faith, and your spiritual gifts will have more power (authority) as you grow in faith. You can fake spiritual gifts, and many people do, up until this very day. You can’t fake true faith, because you are the only one who sees it, or not. Faith is internal.. God’s power lies dormant in a carnal Christian until true faith is exercised. Only you can do that.
Carnal, worldy Christians have the Holy Spirit. They have access to the power (authority) of the Spirit, but they have to tap into it with faith. If they don’t have faith, their ability to use their spiritual gifts are limited. We know that they still had the Holy Spirit and AVAILABLE power that comes with it, because they believed.
Paul started in his letter to the church of Corinthians by saying they were heaven bound. Paul was a good pastor, as many pastors that I know are. They are kind and gentle. He didn’t beat them up. He fed them with milk, knowing that they couldn’t deal with the real meat of the Gospel. He babied them. He loved them. He gave them grace, so they could build up their faith. He didn’t take anything from this struggling church. He built them up, although they were acting as ‘mere'(natural) men. There was basically no difference between them and the rest of the fallen world (by physical observation). Unfortunately, much like the church today. Paul saw them the way God saw them, as the finished work in the resurrected state. Paul placed the finished work in the hands of God because he had faith in God, not in his own pastoral abilities. People that have faith in God are the definition of the spiritual man. Unlike the carnal man, the spiritual man doesn’t get flustered. He is stable. He doesn’t offend, nor get offended. Through faith, Paul he saw end results in the future. He talked to the carnal as the believers they were already, so they would grow spiritually.
I remember when I bought the land and built the WEGO orphanage down here. We had a banana plantation on the property, as a form of sustainability. The problem was that the bananas kept on being stolen at night. I spoke to the banana thief daily, talking to him and his family as if they were already saved. I suspect they were already believers, the carnal man type. Most Nicaraguans are. Nicaragua is completely evangelized, but most are not spiritually mature, same problem as in america. I called him brother, and never roughed him up about stealing from me. I knew that he and his family were really suffering with hunger and poverty. So I made the banana thief my first trusted security guard at the orphanage. He guarded the bananas. I paid him a wage (per government regs) AND gave him a bunch a bananas every week. I never lost one more banana due to theft again. He’s still serving the Lord to the this day.
Don’t beat anyone over the head. Feed them. Love them. Speak life into them. Find somewhere you can connect to them. Don’t fight other denominations, works, churches and other believers. Don’t take anything away from anybody, give to them instead. Put something into them. Imitate Jesus’ love for you to others, and your faith will grow. I work with people that I led to the Lord 20 years ago and they are still making the same old mistakes. The plan for God in MY LIFE is to continue to love them as Christ loves me.
This isn’t meant to discourage. I want to encourage you, as we encourage the kids we work with (young and old). You don’t grow up over night, physically nor spiritually. If you have accepted JesusChrist in your life as your Saviour, God is NOT done with you. None of us have arrived. Imitate Jesus’ love to others until you meet Him face to face. Don’t quit.
Let’s look at what Paul said in his letter in Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Like me and every other christian, we all need to have more faith in God, and grow in Him.
Pure Heart Children’s Fund, a non-profit organization serving at-risk children