How can we encourage our friends who are living as carnal Christians?
Carnal Christians can be encouraged to change and begin growing in their Christian walk. Consider emphasizing the following concepts:
Discipleship: Some new Christians continue to live in the flesh unless they are encouraged and discipled. It is important that Christians are taught how to practice spiritual disciplines—Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers (to name a few). Christians are expected to grow and mature. The work of the Holy Spirit within them and the love, encouragement, and testimony of other believers is very important for all Christians, but especially the new Believer. Hebrews 3:12-14 specifically speaks to this, telling Christians to encourage one another to love and good deeds:
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
Prayer: Spend time praying for your friends who are living as carnal Christians. God tells us we can ask Him how to pray for them. Prayer can include areas of their lives where they may not be aware of the need for special prayer. Let God lead you as you undertake this type of prayer and remember to let God help remove “log in your eye” first (Luke 6:42). Then you will have a testimony to share. If your friend is in agreement, pray with them. It is good for friends to pray together.
Show mercy: Show your friends, who may be walking carnally, the same kind of mercy God has shown to you. Jude 22-23 says, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
Study God’s Word: One way for friends to enjoy one another is to spend time reading and studying God’s Word together. Discussions should be open, non-threatening, and in an environment where everyone feels safe. The Bible is solid food for the spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:14) and we are to use instructions from God’s Holy Word to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).
Fellowship: Encourage your carnal Christian friends to fellowship with people who believe that the Word of God—the Bible—is true. It is important that fellowship is with people who have a relationship with Jesus and are growing in their Christian life. Jesus came to set us free from all that holds us captive (Isaiah 61:1) and we can see that lived out in fellowship with other believers.
Share Scripture: The Bible contains some specific Scriptures for sharing with friends who are continuing to live as carnal Christians. Scriptures that give instruction for Christians to live as children of light and grow spiritually include, Ephesians 1:4-5, 4:17-32, Romans 6:5-14, 12:2, Philippians 2:12-13, Colossians 3:9-10, James 5:16, Psalm 51:17.
Studying the Bible together can help Christians grow closer to God and therefore closer in relationships with others. This is a good way to help friends who are still walking in the carnal ways. Four areas of our lives that often cause the Christian to stumble and hang on to their fleshly ways are:
Bitter roots that defile you (Hebrews 12:15). Bitter roots are formed from past judgments and a carnal reaction to circumstances and environment.
God’s provision for us to mature as Christians, not be carnal Christians
Forgiveness and unforgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-35, Mark 11:25-26, John 20:22-23, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, and 1 Peter 3:1-10).
A slumbering spirit. Our spirits need to be awakened, nurtured, and fed just as our bodies do or we will not be healthy spiritually (Romans 13:11-14, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).
Not honoring the father and mother (Proverbs 20:20, 30:11-12, Deuteronomy 5:16).
The Bible is a love story—the relationship of God and Man. It is a story of God’s work throughout biblical history to help His children find their way home. The Bible is given to us by a loving Father for our edification and instruction (Ephesians 2, Hebrews 4:12). The washing of God’s Word brings about a renewed mind so that we do not have to be conformed to this world but transformed (1 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Galatians 2:20-21), prepared to receive the fullness of the gospel of Christ. God has a plan and has made a way so that we can be prepared to serve the kingdom of God here on earth and prepared for the call to our heavenly home.
Jesus paid the price for our real and complete freedom when He took the cup of our sin at Gethsemane. He willingly suffered, bled, and died on the cross at Calvary and rose victorious over death. His work on the cross (Philippians 2:12) brings us into alignment with God’s standard for justice and righteousness by His grace and mercy on the cross. Jesus’ work on the cross set us free from the darkness within (the inner man).
It is our responsibility to examine and prepare ourselves (2 Corinthians 13) in order to live in the full blessings of spiritual health.
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