In the last post, I wrote about the failures of the Early Church and the danger of blindly following them and their teaching. Since then, the Lord showed me the bottom line of everything I wrote there:
The Early Church, by the time of Constantine, was carnal.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
(1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
A carnal person follows men instead of Jesus. If we identify ourselves with a denomination, Jesus says we are carnal. But we don’t even have to outright identify with a denomination. If we seek to be led by man instead of the Spirit of God, it indicates that we are carnal. A spiritual person is led by the Spirit of God.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
As we examine 1 Corinthians 3 a little closer, we can see that following a denomination is actually a symptom of carnality, not a cause. Carnality results in division, envying and strife, which lead to the 33,830 denominations somebody counted over ten years ago. No, make that 41,000 denominations by now. But carnality has many, many other effects. God reveals His secrets to us by His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10), “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) How in the world can we be united in serving the Lord when we live in carnality?
Dear brother or sister, let me tell you right now that if you are carnal and follow man instead of God, you are not going to understand the things I have written on this blog, because it consists of things revealed to me by the Spirit of God. Please, examine your heart before the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you areas where you follow man instead of God. You probably think you are following God in those areas. We can even bring out our prooftexts to prove our stance is “Biblical”—even if it really isn’t
And therein is the tricky part about carnality: we don’t recognize it easily. It is so easy to get swept up in carnality. Things like:
- Focusing on the things of the world.
- Using the world’s methods instead of asking God to teach us His methods.
- Believing that if you make a lot of money, God is blessing you, but if you are poor, God is cursing you.
- Seeking others’ advice about how to apply Christ’s commands instead of asking God how He would have you obey Him.
- Believing that your pastor (or maybe your father) is the ultimate access point to God and discerning His will, and the absolute guide for faith and practice.
- Relying on manmade methods to reduce sin, such as “hands-off” courtship to reduce fornication, modesty rules to reduce lust and immorality, etc.
- Seeking to obey the Law instead of Jesus’ commands.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection” (Heb. 6:1). Jesus wants us to be mature, spiritual believers. He deeply desires to get beyond the “milk” stage with us and be able to feed us meat. If we remain carnal, however, He says He cannot give us meat (See 1 Cor. 3:1-4 at the beginning).
Can you see Jesus observing the Sunday School classes each Sunday, seeing the members wrangle over “What I think this passage means”, and yearning to speak to them with His truth? If there is only one Jesus, He is the only Truth. Therefore, we do not get “truth” by compromise, agreeing to disagree, debating and strife. If we seek Jesus—the Author of the Scriptures—He can show us His meaning in each verse of Scripture. If we each see the truth, we can then be united in the Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, let us step forward and quit being carnal. Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us. Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so we can know what is the good, acceptable, perfect will of God. I beg of you—lay aside your carnality and go on to maturity!
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