Agonizomai: 1Cor 3:1-4 - Part 1 - Carnal Christians?

Friday, March 21, 2008

1Cor 3:1-4 - Part 1 - Carnal Christians?

1-4 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human?

Before starting in earnest here, it seems prudent to point out that this passage is not endorsing the heretical view that there is such a category as the "carnal Christian." There is not, and the Bible nowhere teaches that there is. There are Christians who sometimes behave in carnal ways, as is evident from the whole theme of Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthians in this epistle, but that is a far, far cry from Paul teaching that Christians can be spiritually "dormant" (read "dead). In fact, quite the opposite is true. Paul is reproving them for their behaviour precisely because it is not how Christians are supposed to act. The reproof will find an ear in the children of God, but it will ultimately prove and root out those who are not truly His, wherever it is steadfastly ignored.

It’s a perfect example of why all Christians always need to be constantly hearing the gospel preached. It’s why they need to be corrected and reproved from the word of God. The preaching and the teaching are God’s means of bringing His sheep home. The sheep hear His voice because they are His, and they heed Him. Refusing to heed is, in the long run, evidence that a person has no ears to hear, and does not belong in the fold. They need to be evangelized, not pastored. They need to be shown their need of Christ, and not be lulled into a false sense of their salvation.

So - no carnal Christians - just Christians who sometimes fall into carnal behaviours, and unregenerate professors who have no actual love of the truth - and the Word of God to pierce and divide and separate the one from the other.

As one would expect, though, new Christians are blessed with a great deal of ignorance of spiritual things. They need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. So new Christians will obviously be found with carnal behaviours much more than those who are more mature in the faith. And this is where Paul is coming from here in Chapter 3. He is preferring to give them the benefit of the doubt, as all Christians should with their brothers and sisters. He is hoping and thinking good things - that they are simply immature, rather than utterly reprobate. But he does not let this hope get in the way of his admonition.

All Christians are born again of the Spirit of God. They are called and commanded to walk in the Spirit and no longer to walk in the flesh. What does this mean? It means that we now obey God by listening to His Spirit and we no longer obey the lusts of our old carnal nature. God now governs our lives and we are no longer behaving like highly intelligent animals, responding to stimuli in order to please our selves and to gratify our desires.

As I said, all true Christians have the Spirit. He is the One Who makes the difference between the saved and the unsaved walk. He is the One Who is in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. The world does not have Him and it therefore cannot understand the things of God, Who is a spirit. But because God, Who is a spirit, became a man - then He can sympathize with our infirmities. Not condone our sins, but sympathize with our weaknesses. And He can be at work in all of His reborn children for good, bringing them into the joy that was Christ’s - which is to know the One True God, and to be found doing His will. This takes obedience - which is something that God will not do for us, but will work through us to accomplish by training us up in the way we should go. The work of the True Master will inevitably bear fruit. He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. {AV Isa 53:10-11}


Post a Comment

<< Home