Carnal Christian – What does Scripture teach?
The word “Christian” is used in many different contexts today. However, very few people understand what a “Carnal Christian” is all about. If we search, we will not find the phrase “Carnal Christian” in the Bible but the Scripture does teach about being carnally minded and living out of our old sin nature or what we inherited as part of humanity.
The biblical word translated “carnal” is also translated “flesh” and it denotes mere human nature or the earthly nature of mankind apart from divine influence, and therefore it is prone to sin and opposed to God. A Carnal Christian is a believer in Christ who is more influenced by their human or earthly nature rather than the nature of God.
Scripture teaches that we have our treasure in an earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7). An earthen vessel is made from dirt and Genesis 2:7 says that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. We could then say we have what is ours as believers in Christ in a body of flesh or dirt. We are also told that when we come to Christ we are a “new creation” (1 Corinthians 5:17). However, the new creation has to do with our spiritual life and is not a transformation of our old flesh or our carnal body. The issue then is what controls our treasure. Are we as Carnal Christians controlled by our carnal or fleshly sin nature or do we surrender to the new creation, which is empowered by the Spirit of God?
Carnal Christian – How is it defined?
The Apostle Paul speaks about Carnal Christians in Romans 8:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. The characteristics spoken of in these passages are that the carnal or fleshly mind, which is human viewpoint, is enmity against God or is anti-God. It cannot please God, is unable to digest solid spiritual food, and is filled with strife, envy, and division. These are very unhealthy spiritual traits and the reality is that all believers are carnally minded at one time or another. It is a matter of growing up and becoming mature. That is a process that continues on a daily basis as we acknowledge our need of grace and submit to the process. We fully surrender to the LORD as He works through every situation in our live to conform us to His image.
So then, we know that a Carnal Christian is one who is characterized by inner mental attitudes that are not in agreement with God’s viewpoint and from our inner mental attitudes come our actions. We could then say that a Carnal Christian is one who does not focus upon God’s Word, does not see the necessity of obeying Go,d and does not experience the abundant peace and joy that is the believers if they submit to the power of the Spirit in their lives rather than being led by their old carnal nature (Galatians 5:16).
A Carnal Christian is often very frustrated because the Spirit of God is faithful to us and convicts and convinces us that when we are operating out of our carnal flesh, we are not fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Our purpose as children of God is to bring glory to Him in all our choices and actions and so since we are not fulfilling our true spiritual purpose, we suffer self-inflicted misery.
Carnal Christian – What is the remedy?
How can you be transformed from being a Carnal Christian to being a Spirit-led Christian? We find an answer in Romans 12:1-2 where we read that you can choose to submit your flesh or carnality as a living sacrifice or what that is set apart unto God and not be conformed or molded by the pressure of the world and the flesh. You can be transformed, which is a continual process, through allowing the Word of God to renew your mind so that we may prove or authenticate, to put to the test, what is the good and acceptable or fully agreeable and complete will of God.
It is God’s will then for a Carnal Christian to mature and grow strong in their faith and walk of obedience. The ongoing process that takes a believer in Christ from a Carnal Christian or what Hebrews calls a “babe in Christ” to one who is engaged in maturing as a child of God is the choice to take in the solid food of the Word, which equips us as Christians to be able to discern or reason what is good and what is evil and what is good and what is better (Hebrews 5:13-14).