Summary: Within the camp of those who are saved, there are two groups, and that is carnal and spiritual. All saved people have the Holy Spirit as permanent resident in their lives, but not nearly all have understood and/or obeyed the biblical instructions of how
There are really just two kinds of people in the world, from the largest spiritual perspective, and that is saved and lost. All of humanity can be divided into one of those two camps. Those who are saved have come to God through faith in Christ, and those who are lost have not. Volumes and volumes can be, and have been, written to give explanation to that truth, but in its lowest common denominator, that’s it.
Within the camp of those who are saved, there are also two groups, and that is carnal and spiritual. All saved people have the Holy Spirit as permanent resident in their lives, but not nearly all have understood and/or obeyed the biblical instructions of how to move from carnal to spiritual.
Christians can be carnal
In verse 1, the people receiving this letter are addressed as, “brethren.” The Apostle Paul, the man whom God used to write this letter, uses the word “brethren” over 100 times in the New Testament letters, but not one time does he call unsaved people “brethren.” The closest he comes to doing so is in Romans 9:3, but there he qualifies it by saying, “according to the flesh.” Back in 1Corinthians 1:2. We see that this letter is addressed to “the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints...” In verses one and three, Paul calls the Corinthian Christians, “carnal,” so, a firm biblical case can be proven that Christians can be carnal.
Why is that we are seeing immorality, and all manner of ethical misbehavior as common within the membership of the church, as we see on the outside? Why is that more than 80% of the churches in America are not growing? Why is it that more than 95% of the Christians in America have never one time attempted to win another person to faith in Christ? Why is that churches in America have far more trouble from within, than from without? There can only be two answers: Unsaved church members and carnal Christians.
To be carnal means to think and act on a fleshly level, rather than a spiritual level. People who think and act on a fleshly level, think and act according to their natural senses. They walk by sight not by faith, they decide according their feelings, not the word of God.
Now, I understand that 2 Corinthians says that those in Christ are new creatures, but that has been misinterpreted and mistaught to mean that being saved means, “presto-chango,” now it’s all instantaneously fixed. Mankind is a tricotomous being, that is made up of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. At salvation, the new birth, the Holy Spirit comes in and saves the soul, the real inner person, for eternity and brings to life the spirit in such a way that we are able to communicate with God. In reality, God must quicken, or bring to life the spirit, before we can even turn to Him, because according to Ephesians 2:1, until that happened, we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” That’s why the Bible commands us in Philippians 2:12 to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, then verse 13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.”
With all that said, we can conclude that many Christians are carnal, because they have not gotten into the word of God and made it the rule of their life, by faith. They have not been transformed by the renewing of their minds, as Christians are commanded to do in Romans 12:2. Therefore, they are ruled, not by the Spirit of God and the word of God, but by their feelings.
Carnal Christians are baby Christians
At the end of verse 1, these Corinthian Christians are called, “babes in Christ,” or as we might say, “spiritual babies.” At the point of salvation, a Christian is supposed to be a baby Christian, and that’s a wonderful thing. God give us more baby Christians, in that sense! But, just like a physical baby, when the spiritual baby doesn’t grow, it becomes a real problem.
I have decided that the reason God made babies so sweet is because they are so much trouble. Babies cry when they don’t immediately get what they want, they are always making a stinking mess that somebody else has to clean up, and they have to be constantly overseen to keep them from self-destructing. One of my children, who is now a spiritual-minded adult man, used to hold his breath until he passed out, because he wasn’t getting what he wanted when he wanted it. He graduated from that to hitting his head into the floor, until knots would come up on his head, because he wasn’t getting what he wanted when he wanted it. Thankfully, he soon saw that the floor was harder than his head, though we were beginning to wonder!