The Bible Speaks
“…are you not carnal (fleshly), and are you not walking like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:3b
A friend and I were discussing the evidences of the Christian life and he said it seemed to him almost impossible for someone to become a Christian and not be a totally different person, or at least, to be changing into one. I agreed. To become a Christian means that the Lord of the universe comes to live in your life. To think that you would not be a changed person as a result is preposterous; yet, many live out their new life in Christ much like the old life without Him. The Apostle Paul explains how this happens in the opening verses of the third chapter of 1 Corinthians.
A Christian is not spiritual simply because the Holy Spirit dwells in him. He is spiritual when the Holy Spirit, who dwells in him, has control of him. Many believers choose to take back control of their lives and walk, as this verse mentions, like mere men. In other words, they act like a person who does not have Christ in him. The Bible calls such a person a “carnal” man or a fleshly man. The person without Christ is a “natural” man, but the person who has Christ yet lives as if he didn’t is a “carnal” man. I wish carnal believers were the exception, but the harsh reality is that they are the norm.
A carnal man is also called by Paul a “babe in Christ.” That is, he hasn’t grown up much in his faith. He is still immature and self centered, like an infant would be. Babies usually are willing to learn their lessons and grow up, but Christians are often resistant to growth. Pastors and Sunday School teachers teach the Word, yet many still don’t grow up in Christ. It is no fault of the teachers, but of the person who has chosen to resist the work of the Spirit in his life. Carnality is a choice; a choice to turn away from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. It’s a choice to remain the way you are; comfortable in your carnality. When you resist the Spirit and give in to your flesh, you simply cannot grow up to maturity in the Christian life. You may be hearing sound Bible teaching, but it falls on deaf ears and a hard heart. The things of God are understood only by spiritual men; men who hear God’s word and respond to it with repentance and obedience. Such men grow up in the Lord and are therefore able to receive “solid food” that the apostle speaks of in verse 2 of this passage.
The Bible speaks of the stunted growth of those who are carnal and not spiritual. Where are you, dear one? Are you a spiritual believer? Can you see character changes that have taken place since you believed? Are you different from what you were? More like Christ? If not, the problem is not your preacher or church program; the problem is your heart. Let the Lord melt it and open up your soul to the work of the Spirit of God. Confess your sin and seek to grow in Christ. Be spiritual and walk like a new man.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor of Turner’s Chapel.