Summary: I believe there are 2 major problems in the local church: lost church members, and carnal Christians; this sermon discusses the latter.
By: Pastor J. B. Hall
Introduction: I believe there are 2 major problems in the local church: lost church members, and carnal Christians. Today I’d like to discuss the latter. The title of the message is Carnal Christian.
If we’re going to discuss the carnal Christian, we need to get a definition for the word carnal:
Carnal – def. 1. Pertaining to flesh; fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual; as carnal pleasure. 2. Being in the natural state; unregenerate.
So, a carnal Christian is one who is truly saved but who has not grown spiritually; who is still in the stage of infancy; one who is still living like a lost person.
This poses a real problem because the church is a spiritual body, and is designed to operate on a spiritual plane. The carnal Christian though, operates in the flesh which is opposed to the spiritual law of God. Romans 8:7 & 8 say, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The carnal Christian then, much like the lost person, serves to oppose the work of God in a church. He has his own agenda and is completely insensitive and unresponsive to the spiritual work God is trying to accomplish in His church.
God is interested in the eternal souls of lost people, and is working to help them come to a saving faith in Jesus. He is also concerned about the spiritual health and welfare of those who are saved, and is actively working in their lives and in the church to help them mature properly.
The carnal Christian though, pursues an agenda of majoring on the minors and ignoring the weightier matters that are of a spiritual nature. He is consumed with trivial things to the complete disregard of the spiritual needs of those around him.
In Verse 3 Paul gives us 3 identifying marks of a carnal Christian, envying, strife, and divisions.
A. Def, 1. Feeling uneasiness at the superior condition and happiness of another. 2. EN’VYING, n. Mortification [depression, vexation] experienced at the supposed prosperity and happiness of another. 3. Ill will at others, on account of some supposed superiority.
B. Instead of focusing on his own life, and keeping himself in a right, vibrant, relationship with the Lord, he is virtually always concerned with, watching, critiquing, and criticizing those around him.
C. It seems that whoever he is focused on can do no right.
D. If this person is not doing what he thinks he ought to be doing, he criticizes him for his inaction.
E. If the person he is focusing on is actively involved, he criticizes him for wanting all the attention, or for wanting to run everything.
F. If the person of his focus is doing something he wants him to do, he is not doing it the way he should be.
G. In other words, whether he is focusing on an individual or other people in general, it doesn’t matter what they do, something will always be wrong with it.
H. Somehow, the carnal Christian always feels he is being shortchanged; he is always being upstaged; someone who ‘certainly doesn’t deserve it’ is always being seen or treated as superior to him.
I. If someone else is enjoying his Christian life, the carnal Christian will be looking for an objectionable source of his joy; unwilling to accept that he is in right relationship with the Lord and his joy is a result of that.
J. The carnal Christian is always envious, always frustrated, always irritated at other people; unwilling to accept that the source of his frustration lies within himself.
K. Envying is a clear marker that reveals the true fleshly, worldly nature of the carnal Christian.
A. Def. 1. Exertion or contention for superiority; 2. Contention in anger or enmity; contest; struggle for victory; quarrel or war.
B. Strife differs from envying in that envying involves feelings, which can be expressed; but strife is active contention, struggle, and conflict; as the carnal Christian takes action to move himself into a position of superiority, or control.
C. The carnal Christian must be in charge; he must be in control regardless of whether or not the area he is seeking to control is his area of expertise, or his area of responsibility, or not.
D. He is critical and in opposition to almost everything anyone else initiates.
E. Political maneuvering is his game; control is his goal; and he will pursue this control regardless of the spiritual damage he does to others around him or to the spiritual damage he does to the church.
F. His concern is not the spiritual welfare of others, but the superiority of his own position.