Summary: Up to this point, Paul has been talking about two kinds of people in the world: those who are natural (unsaved) and those who are spiritual (saved). Now he says there are two kinds of saved people: those who are mature and those who are immature, which
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
What is carnality? According to the dictionary, it means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means “fleshly”). Sometimes it refers to the whole material part of man (1 Corinthians 15:39; Hebrews 5:7), and based on this meaning, carnal sometimes relates to material things like money (Romans 15:27) or to the opposite of our weapons of spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4). Based on this meaning of the word flesh, to be carnal means to be characterized by things that belong to the unsaved life (Ephesians 2:3). (So Great Salvation, Charles Ryrie, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 59-60).
Up to this point, Paul has been talking about two kinds of people in the world: those who are natural (unsaved) and those who are spiritual (saved). Now he says there are two kinds of saved people: those who are mature and those who are immature, which he calls carnal. The Corinthian Christians, who should be spiritual, were carnal and because of this, they were not able to understand the things of God. The fact that there were among them people who were filled with envying, strife and divisions was proof that they were carnal. Paul referred to them as "brethren" and babes in Christ (v.1). They were truly saved but still allowing the old nature to control them.
It is not difficult to determine a believer’s spiritual maturity, or immaturity, if you discover what kind of "diet" he enjoys. The "babe in Christ" lives on "Bible stories" and not Bible doctrines. If he is not hungry for the Word of God, he is either spiritually dead (not saved) or he is spiritually sick (carnal). In verses 5-9, the church is pictured as a field that ought to bear fruit. The task of the ministry is the sowing of the seed, the cultivating of the soil, the watering of the plants and the harvesting of the fruit. While men can be used to plant and cultivate things, only God can make things grow.
Carnal Christians are controlled by their own desires, while mature believers are in tune with God’s desires. The question for me to ask myself is, how much influence do my desires have on my life? I need to pray that Christ will give me a spiritual appetite for His Word.