The Ugly, The Carnal Man 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
The Carnal Christian
Paul uses two words translated carnal to describe the two types of Christians in these verses.
The first word in verse 1 is Sarkinos which means made of flesh or from the flesh.
When Paul first came to Corinth, the people were carnal, and weak because they are newborn. They are of the flesh because they haven’t yet matured beyond a physical understanding of their life and how to live it.
They were babes in Christ, being fed with milk, the basic teachings and truths of Christian doctrine. Babes in Christ are still immature, selfish, and ignorant because they have not be trained in the deeper, stronger things of Christ. They are young in the faith and they have not yet grown in a relationship with Jesus.
Sarkikos, is the second word used in vss 2 and 3 and has a slightly different meaning, instead of being of the flesh, it means dominated by the flesh.
The church had moved not from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity, but from immature weakness to immature willfulness. They were still as immature, selfish and ignorant as the babe in Christ, but it was because they were unwilling to grow and mature spiritual, are unwilling to hear and bear spiritual things. Their initial weakness had become negligent unwillingness, an unwillingness to grow to be able to accept the meat of the word rather than the milk.
The outcome of this willful carnality is seen in verse 3. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
The carnality of the church had brought about division, open sin, broken fellowship, and broken hearts. They may have been saved but they were acting like they were lost and just like the lost, their selfishness, greed and personal agendas had come close to destroying one of the Lord’s churches. And there is nothing uglier, in all of Christianity than one of the Lord’s churches acting like they are no different than a bunch of lost people.
Quote: The world conforms, the flesh deforms, but the Spirit transforms. – Larry Jones
The Third Spiritual State: Carnal Yet Christian
Paul’s challenge to the church at Corinth is also a challenge to our church at Athens. We must know what spiritual state I am in as an individual and as a church body. If we are saved then we should be growing, maturing as children of God. We should be acting and thinking as those who listen to God word and then follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in all we do.
I can be saved but still live like this world, the reality is that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit indwells us, but because of our willfulness, our sin, our pride, the Holy Spirit does not control us.
We began with the milk of God Word , the beginning, basic truths of God. We accepted salvation, repentance, baptism and church membership. But now the carnal Christian refuses to take the meat of God’s Word, the deeper, harder but vital truths.
The carnal Christian loves to hear about salvation and forgiveness but doesn’t want to hear about sending missionaries or forgiving those who have hurt them. Carnal Christians love to hear everything in black and white, wrong and right but they don’t want to deal with bearing the weakness of fellow church members when it comes to areas of conviction. They love listening to all of God’s blessing for themselves but refuse to be a channel of God’s blessing to others.
Carnality in my life or in my church always results in the same thing Paul pointed to in vs. 3, envy, strife, and divisions.
In the letter to the Galatians he said it this way, Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Get past your own experience of Salvation, don’t be an ugly Christian. Choose to be a beautiful maturing child of God each and everyday.
Quote: Salvation is the most important thing in the world, until you are saved and then it’s the least important thing. - Raleigh Campbell
Paul gives the cures for carnality in the rest of the chapter 2 Corinthians 3:5-9, 19-23
In vss 5-9 he tells them to realize that we are called by God to unity. 1 Corinthians 3:9 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.
Avoid pride and the world’s view of wisdom 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Then he tells them to focus not on great men but upon their Great God and Savior. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 1 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
The ultimate fix for the problem of the ugly Christian is the beauty of Christian love. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13. There must be a dedication to the love that Jesus had for us, the love we should have for each other and the love we should even have for the lost of this world.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NKJV 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
Walk in the Spirit, walk in the love of Christ! Be the Spiritual Person that Jesus Christ gave his life on Calvary to redeem and save. Many Christians spend their entire post salvation lives in this ugly condition and the church pays a terrible price especially when there is a crisis, a need or a opportunity. Ugly Christians, carnal immature Christians don’t do well in situations where they need to depend on a close, deep relationship with their Savior because they never matured beyond their own salvation.