A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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Tag Archives: sanctification

You May Be A Carnal Christian If You Believe In…

It is said that many regularly occupy church pews, fill church rolls, and are intellectually acquainted with the facts of the gospel but never strike one blow for Christ. They seem to be at peace with his enemies. They have no quarrel with sin and, apart from a few sentimental expressions about Christ, there is no biblical evidence that they have experienced anything of the power of the gospel in their lives. Superficially called by the oxymoron ‘carnal christians’ but why are they called so when the bible never uses such a term?  To believe in carnal christianity (sic) you have to force your self to  make 9 serious errors in doctrine:

1. The misuse of I Corinthians 3

This ‘carnal Christian’ doctrine depends upon a wrong interpretation and application of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, ‘And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ… are ye not carnal?’ To understand the true meaning of these words it should be remembered that 1 Corinthians is not primarily a doctrinal epistle…

In endeavoring to understand how Paul thinks of those he addresses in 1 Corinthians 3 we must bear in mind the designation he gives to them in chapter 1. He says they are ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’, they are recipients of ‘the grace of God’, enriched by Christ ‘in all utterance, and in all knowledge’ (1:2-5). They are rebuked in chapter 3, not for failing to attain to privileges which some Christians attain to, but for acting, despite their privileges, like babes and like the unregenerate in one area of their lives.

This is very different from saying that the Apostle here recognizes the existence of a distinct group of Christians who can be called ‘carnal’.

The spiritual may be but babes in grace and babes in knowledge. Their faith may be weak. Their love may be in its early bud, their spiritual senses may be but little exercised, their faults may be many; but if ‘the root of the matter’ is in them and if they have passed from death unto life — passed out of the region of nature into that which is beyond nature — Paul puts them in another class. They are all spiritual men although in some aspects of their behavior they may temporarily fail to appear as such.

Certainly these Christians at Corinth were imperfectly sanctified, as indeed are all Christians to a greater or lesser degree. But Paul is not saying that they were characterized by carnality in every area of their lives… Read More!

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