Summary: The Church of The Nazarene is a denomination which believes that a person can live a holy life through the indwelling, transformational power of the Holy Spirit. Is that true or must we live in slavery to sin until we cross into glory?
Holiness - and The carnal Christian
Please stand with me as we go over our current memory Scripture:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
And our memory Scripture “refresher” verse is:
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot disown Himself.”
Today we will be reading from various Scriptures.
The first one we will be looking at is 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Before we get started into this we need to define what is meant by the word "sin". Sin is disobedience of the known will of God by a morally responsible person
James 4:17 ESV says, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
Conversely, if anyone knows what is wrong and does it anyway, for him it is sin!
Also, mistakes are NOT sin, they are mistakes. In this case a mistake would be something that would be considered a sin but done in ignorance or without intending to do so.
"Yes, it is true that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) but falling short of the glory of God is not the sin itself, it is the result of the sin.
Now that we have defined what sin is we can take a look at whether it should be a part of a Christian’s life or not.
In the Church of The Nazarene we have sixteen articles of faith. Article 10 is entitled “Christian Holiness and Entire Sanctification”.
The first part of the Article reads this way, “We believe that sanctification is the work of God which transforms believers into the likeness of Christ. It is wrought by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit …”
On the other hand there are those who believe that a person can be saved by faith without any change in their behavior whatsoever.
This is called being a Carnal Christian.
They do NOT believe that such a thing is desired but that it IS possible.
The once well-known preacher R. B. Thieme frames the argument this way:
“The behavior pattern of a carnal Christian cannot be distinguished from that of an unbeliever (1 Cor. 3:3). As far as God’s Word is concerned you may act like an unbeliever; but if you have believed in Christ, you are still a believer - a believer in the status quo carnality - out of fellowship. A believer out of fellowship acts like an unbeliever. In fact he is sometime worse.”
So, is the truly born again Christian supposed to be transformed into the image of Christ who never sinned or is it allowable for a truly born again Christian to keep on sinning and acting completely like the world with at total disregard for Christ?
Let’s see what the Word of God has to say …
(Prayer for help)
What does it say in … 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Corinthians 3:1-3a NKJV
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.”
In most of the reading I did on this subject the writers found that this doctrine of a “carnal Christian” was proposed and reinforced in the notes found in the Scofield Reference Bible which uses the KJV.
In the KJV it uses the word “carnal” where the NIV uses “worldly”.
“Carnal” is a reference to the flesh or the body which is controlled by worldly, sinful desires.
So, in the KJV or NKJV in verse 1 when it refers to “brethren” it is saying that Paul is speaking to believers and then in the beginning of verse 3 where it says, “you are still carnal” Paul is saying that it is possible for believers to be under the control of the sinful desires in the same way that unbelievers are under the control of sinful desires.
Now, Schofield did not believe that being a “carnal Christian” was to be desired but that it was possible.
Many have used Romans 7:14-21 to reinforce this idea.
Here they believe that Paul is talking about his own spiritual life as he wrote the letter to the Romans.
Is he? As we read this, look for the person in the struggle to see how many times he asks the Lord to help him in his struggle.