Summary: A sermon about the spiritual condition of those who attend church.

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"Three Men Who Went to Church"

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Paul spoke of three different men in his letter to the church at Corinth; the natural man, the carnal man and the spiritual man. The first is dead, the second is defiled and the third is discerning. The first has no capacity for understanding spiritual truth; the second has a propensity for misunderstanding spiritual truth and the third has both apprehension and application of spiritual truth.

I. THE NATURAL MAN -- He is dead

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Here Paul is describing the unregenerate man, that man that is apart from God, the Savior and the Holy Spirit. He says that this man's condition is:

a. His hard condition

He does not accept and outright rejects the truth of God.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

b. His helpless condition

Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

The unregenerate man does possess the capacity to understand spiritual truth.

c. His hopeless condition

Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.


When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Gaboury's neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. Gaboury's next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Gaboury's lawn. Later Dugan's son noticed Gaboury's pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water. What no one guessed was that while they'd been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago. The respectable, external appearance of Gaboury's house had hidden the reality of what was on the inside. Something similar can happen to people: We may appear outwardly proper while spiritually dead. All sorts of religious activity may be happening outside, while the real problem is missed: spiritual death on the inside.

SOURCE: Vialo Weis, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.) Contributed by Gerald Flurry

This does not mean that the sinner cannot be saved but it does mean that he must have the Holy Spirit to lead him to repentance and that he must be transformed by the power of God into a new creature.

II. THE CARNAL MAN -- He is defiled

What is carnality? According to the Greek dictionary, it means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means "fleshly"). What, then , is the flesh? 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). But the word flesh also has a metaphorical sense when it refers to our disposition to sin and to oppose or omit God in our lives. The flesh is characterized by works that include lusts and passions (Galatians 5:19-24; I John 2:16); it can enslave (Romans 7:25); and in it is nothing good (Romans 7:18). 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).

Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 59-60.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

a. Their appetites

1 Cor. 3:1-9 Paul opens up our chapter slamming the spiritual condition of many in this church. He tells them that they are not spiritually mature, but that they are acting like mere babies. He tells them he has to address them for what they are worldly, i.e. carnal -- fleshly or immature! Not godly, holy and Christ-like. They are called infants -- babies to be exact.

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