Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carnal Christian? (Part 2)

(From Pastor Mike Miller's website, http://www.straightpathsbiblechurch.com, June 19, 2005)

There are only two kinds of people in the world – lost and saved. There are not three types of people, as so many of our modern Bible teachers would have us believe. The common teaching is that there are lost people, saved people, and saved people who are carnal. They arrive at this brilliant conclusion by reading 1 Cor 3:1-4, out of context, and failing to compare it with the rest of the New Testament. You will search the words of Jesus in vain trying to find such a teaching. He NEVER said anything that would agree with the modern interpretation of those verses. You will also have to wrest certain other Scriptures in the New Testament to make them teach such a thing, and after you do that, your private interpretation will be in direct contradiction to the plain teaching of the rest of the New Testament, and in fact, the entire Bible.

The very idea of a “carnal” Christian is absurd and so obviously in opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible that it is truly amazing that anyone on earth would believe it. Of course, when you consider the depravity of man and the fact that he loves himself and his sin supremely, it is no wonder that the great majority of professing Christians find this doctrine of devils so appealing. It provides a way to be on your way to heaven and enjoy all the pleasures of sin at the same time. Hey, it’s the best of both worlds – they think!

Sadly, carnal people just don’t know God, so they are living in the deceit of their own heart. They not only will miss heaven, but they are also missing the joy of knowing God in this life. They have settled for dead religion when they could have had eternal, spiritual life. Because they are blinded by the god of this world, whom they serve, they are not even aware of the sorry state of their own soul. To top it off, some Bible school graduate tells them they are saved because of their profession of faith, and that they are just “carnal,” or “babes in Christ” and they will grow up some day – when “God deals with their heart” about these things. This relieves all pressure to forsake their “carnality” (sin) and effectively blocks the Holy Spirit from working on their hearts, which leaves them in a lost and hopeless state.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines carnal as:
1. Pertaining to flesh; fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual; as carnal pleasure.
2. Being in the natural state; unregenerate.
3. Pertaining to the ceremonial law; as carnal ordinances. Heb. 9:10.
4. Lecherous; lustful; libidinous; given to sensual indulgence.

Strong’s Concordance defines “carnal” as used in 1 Cor 3 this way:
From G4561; pertaining to flesh, that is, (by extension) bodily, temporal, or
(by implication) animal, unregenerate: — carnal, fleshly.

It is obvious that the word carnal describes someone who is not regenerated. It describes someone who is still under the control of fleshly desires as opposed to someone who is under the control of the Spirit of God. The carnal man and the spiritual man are contrary one to another, and a person cannot be both at the same time. You are either carnally minded or you are spiritually minded. Your life is either guided by your fleshly desires or it is guided by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says that you are abiding in death and the enemy of God if you are carnal-minded:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Rom. 8:6-7

Notice that the carnal man is not subject to the law of God, “neither indeed can be.” How can someone who knows anything about the Bible say a person like this is saved? The Bible is so clear on the fact that those who are saved keep his commandments:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 1 John 2:3
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:2-3
The Bible says you cannot please God if you are carnal.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom. 8:8
And the following verse makes it very clear that those who are saved are not carnal:
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. 8:9
And again, the Scriptures couldn’t be clearer about the fact that those who are truly saved are overcomers:
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5
That is obviously NOT a description of a carnal person.

These are just a few verses, but the Bible is full of this teaching from cover to cover! How amazing that people can teach such a thing as “carnal” Christianity! Instead of trusting and believing the Word of God they are looking at those who are sitting in the church pews and redefining salvation so that it works for these “carnal” people. Sometimes it is a loved one who is “carnal” and you just can’t bring yourself to accept the fact that they are LOST, so you accept this false teaching in your mind, but your heart doesn’t agree with it. How many times have I heard people tell about their loved one who isn’t living right and then say something like, “I guess they are saved, but I sure don’t understand how they can live that way.” The very idea of someone being saved and living in sin is a contradiction to our own conscience! If you have a loved one who is “carnal” but professes to be saved, you had better deal with them as though they are lost. That is their ONLY hope. If you even suggest to them that you think they might be saved, but just “carnal,” you will put a stumblingblock in front of them that they won’t likely be able to overcome. They will settle right down in their “carnality” and find themselves in hell one day. Do not have a part in the deception of their heart!

It is a very sad tragedy what happens to the sinner who is never delivered from his sin and is convinced by other so-called Christians that he is OK and on his way to heaven. But consider what a tragedy it is for the church and the kingdom of God that such a teaching has gained such a foothold. Holiness is the very thing that marks God’s people and distinguishes them from the world. When the church gives this up we have given up everything. We have exchanged our “glory for that which doth not profit.” (Jer. 2:11)
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matt. 5:13

The obvious difference between God’s people and the world is what makes our preaching and our testimony effective. That difference is HOLINESS. Without new life, a new walk, a new creature, the world has no reason to think that we have anything worth seeking after. Unless they see a supernatural change in us they will not believe the gospel. The gospel is NOT just the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the death, burial, and resurrection shown forth in our own life when we are born again. We “take up our cross and follow him.” The old man is dead, he is buried, and we are risen anew to walk with Christ. When people see the gospel in reality in our life they cannot ignore it. To invent a “carnal” Christian, who doesn’t keep God’s commandments, continues to live in fleshly sins and lusts, and is not subject to God in his life, is to nullify all that gives power to our message. The Holy Ghost will simply not agree with that kind of teaching and He will not work with us in our endeavors to promote such false teaching. THAT leaves us powerless, because Jesus said that without Him, we could do NOTHING.
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Jer. 23:14

God always condemns anything that “strengthens the hand of evildoers.” Any teaching that makes it easier for people to sin, or to explain their sin, or to excuse their sin, is a false teaching and God doesn’t agree with it. Certainly, the teaching of “carnal” Christianity strengthens the hands of evildoers. Notice the part of the verse above that says, “…that none doth return from his wickedness.” The result of the teachings of those apostate prophets was that people didn’t get delivered from their sin – they just kept on living in it. Doesn’t that sound familiar when you look at the state of Christianity in our day? Isn’t that the greatest difference between the Christianity of today and that of our forefathers? EVERYBODY is saved in our day. I have had people tell me they were saved while they were holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I have had people take God’s name in vain a dozen times while talking with them, and then tell me they are saved and an active member of some church. We are living in a day when porn queens, movie stars, rock musicians, and sports heroes who take drugs and live lower than barnyard animals, all say they are saved and on their way to heaven. The really, really sad part is that most professing Christians of today think I am out of line for “judging” people like that. In their mind, these people “might” be saved and I have no right to judge them. Jesus said, “as it was in the days of Sodom, so shall it also be…” The sodomites used the same complaint against Lot after he had asked them not to do so “wickedly.” They accused him of judging them and said he had no right to do that.
And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. Gen. 19:9

Therefore, believing such doctrines as “carnal” Christianity has brought the church so low that many, if not most, of those who claim to be Christians, have the same way of thinking as the men of Sodom! They can’t “judge” people because you can’t tell “what is in their hearts.” I believe that is a bunch of hogwash! I think that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” I believe that what you see on the outside is a very good indicator of what is on the inside. Carnal people are lost, unregenerate, and in need of a good dose of old-fashioned salvation! If what they have is not enough to deliver them from their carnality now it is certainly not enough to deliver them from hell and get them to heaven!

I also believe there is much hypocrisy on the part of those who teach this false doctrine of “carnal” Christianity. Many of them do not live their own lives after the flesh, but they teach others that it is possible to do so. What they won’t allow for themselves they do allow for others. What they know in their heart God would not allow them to do they encourage others to do. They also scold anyone who would criticize these “carnal” Christians for living the way they do, or for questioning their “salvation.”

Most of the time I hear two contradicting versions of what they believe. If you talk about the fact that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” they will agree wholeheartedly with you. If you talk about how that God delivers sinners and saves them from their sin, they will agree with that. If you talk about how it just can’t be possible for a person to get truly born again and continue in a habitual, continual lifestyle of sin, they will agree with that, too. But then say you don’t believe there is such a thing as a “carnal” Christian, and immediately you find yourself at odds with them. They think there MUST be a place for such a creature, because the church is full of them, and they CAN’T ALL be lost, so they defend them with all their strength! Hypocrisy! Confusion! Contradiction! Are they in for a surprise when judgment time comes!

You cannot be consistent and in agreement with the Bible if you insist that there are people who are truly born again, but live their lives in continual, habitual sin. You cannot believe the Bible and also believe that there are people who are saved, but who are not subject to God, his Son, or his law. That idea is totally contrary to everything the Bible teaches about sin, forgiveness, redemption, and salvation. Saved people are led by the Spirit of God – not their carnal lusts. They live a life of holiness – not a life of carnality! Your conscience tells you that is right! The Word of God tells you that is right! And the Spirit of God tells you that is right! You may reject all their counsel, but you will believe it is right when we stand in judgment before God, because He will stay true to his Word on this matter. “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

Preacher, tell people the truth! Carnal people are LOST! Don’t say to them “peace, peace” when there is no peace! Cry aloud! Spare not! Show the people their sins! God says that is their only hope, so don’t be a party to their damnation! Don’t water it down in order to gain their favor now, because you will stand in judgment one day for every word you say! People have deceitful hearts and are seeking a way to hold onto the world with one hand and Jesus with the other. Don’t make it any easier for them to be deceived! Make the way of the Lord straight!

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