THE CARNAL BELIEVER
Date: October 13
Category: Godly Character
1 Corinthians 3:1
"However, Brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]"
Apostle Paul established this church in Corinth. While Paul was in Corinth, many people came to know Christ. So Paul began to teach them about God so that they would grow spiritually. But after Paul left, things began to change within the church. Different teachers came in and taught them things that weren't right. People began to argue about doctrine and some even got involved with immoral things. For example, there was a temple in Corinth where many women offered themselves up sexually as part of a religious ritual. Yet Christians were going up to that temple and participating in those sinful acts as well.
Also, at the time, taking the Lord's Supper meant everyone was to bring his or her own supper and eat it in the church. The rich people would bring big meals, but the poor people weren't able to bring anything at all, and the people didn't want to help each other. Also, some of them began questioning whether or not the resurrection of Jesus really happened. People began to believe all kinds things that were contrary to the truth. There was a lot of foolishness that came into the church of Corinth after Paul left. So when Paul found out, he wrote them a letter correcting them.
So here in this verse, Paul says, "Brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men]." The German translation, Hoffnung fuer Alle, (which means, ‘hope for all') says in this verse, "Brethren, I could not talk to you as to those who are led by the Holy Spirit." In other words, Paul couldn't communicate with them like spiritual believers. The way they were acting did not resemble how the Holy Spirit would lead. Then Paul says, "but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates]." So Paul says that these people were acting like the people of the world, not like true Christians.
Then Paul says, "as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]" In the German translation, it says that they were "like those who have not grown in the faith." So even though they accepted Christ, they didn't grow spiritually. Instead, they were just walking in the flesh. They were behaving like little children towards one another. They were arguing, engaging in sinful practices, and following after their own lustful desires.
The church in Corinth is a very good example of a carnal church. Even though they called themselves "Christians" and went to church regularly, they did not act like true believers. They walked after the flesh and not after the spirit. That's why Paul says that he cannot address them as spiritual men, but as non-spiritual men and mere infants. They were carnally minded and not faith minded. Rather than doing things that were pleasing to God, they just focussed on pleasing themselves.
This shows me that since it was possible for the early Christians to be carnally minded, then it's very possible for Christians today to be carnally minded as well. You and I could be regular churchgoers and participate in all the church routines, but still be displeasing to God if we are still walking in the flesh. A person could be a pastor, leader, teacher, deacon, or a choir member within the church, yet he could still be living in sin. Just because a person goes to church, it doesn't mean that he is walking in the spirit. It's possible for people to be in the church but behave like little children, fighting with one another, being jealous, making accusations, criticizing others, committing adultery and fornication, or engaging in some other sin.
In Titus 2:14 we read, "Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own, people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filed with] beneficial deeds." In other words, a true Christian believer should be doing things that are beneficial for others and themselves. If you read Titus 3:14 it says, "And let our own [people really] learn to apply themselves to good deeds (to honest labour and honourable employment), so that they may be able to meet necessary demands whenever the occasion may require and not be living idle and uncultivated and unfruitful lives." So as believers, we should be living lives that are fruitful – lives that will bless our families, other people, the kingdom of God, and ourselves.
In order to do that, we have to walk in the spirit, meaning we have to allow the Holy Spirit to live through us. That means reading the Word of God and meditating upon His truth daily. If we call ourselves true believers, then we need to act like true believers. When we accept Christ into our lives, there should be a radical change. We cannot live the way we used to live. What was acceptable to us before we became Christians becomes no longer acceptable. We have to live a life that is holy before God, and be in unity with one another, and we do that by walking in the spirit. So, let us not be like the carnally minded believers, but let us be people who are set apart and walking according to the Holy Spirit.