top of page

Spiritual or Carnal?

I pray that our heart's desire is to be more pleasing to the Lord and that we listen to His corrections and instructions. When we do not like the instructions that we hear, the foolishness of our nature is the cause of that dislike.

When we hear things that would correct the wrong in our lives and rebellion rises up within us, we need to crucify our rebellious spirits. May the Lord help us to desire to be spiritual men.

I am concerned about allowing carnality to become normal. I am concerned about the promotion of carnality on social media.

"I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

"For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; and ye are not carnal?"— I Cor. 3:1-4.

Each of us who has received Jesus Christ as his Saviour was saved as a sinner. Sometimes we misunderstand what salvation is. The Bible says "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

Sometimes folks think that salvation is necessary for a good man who has gone bad, because salvation makes him good again. That is not what salvation is. We are not sinners because we sinned. We sin because we are sinners.

Sin is our nature, Salvation has made us acceptable in the sight of God and we are children of God. We are saved by the grace of God. However, we are sinners saved by grace.

Paul did not say he used to be chief of sinners. He said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (I Tim 1:15).

Isaiah did not say that he used to be undone. He said, "I am undone" (Isa. 6:5).

Peter did not say that he used to be a sinful man. He said "I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8).

You and I need to recognize that we have no merit in the sight of God outside of His Son. When we understand that, then we can praise Him for who He is and what He has done in our lives rather than having pride in who or what we might be.

I am glad that I am saved, but I am not saved because of who I am or because of the works I have done. I am saved by grace. God gave me something that I did not deserve. He gave me His mercy. That means that He did not give me what I did deserve. He took my place. He was my Substitute on the cross of Calvary.

Maybe you wanted to take a day off work and you asked someone to take your shift, or maybe you took someone else's shift while he was off work. What Jesus did for me was to take my shift, but He gave me the pay!

He went to the cross of Calvary to pay for my sin. He paid the price, but He gave me the benefit. I am not saved because of what I am or who I am. I am saved because of His grace and mercy. I am a child of the King.

There are three places where you may possibly be right now.

1. You have never been born again. You have never received the gift of eternal life because you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. You are lost and undone and on your way to the Devil's Hell.

2. You are saved, but you are still carnal. There are saved people, but not all of them are spiritual people. Instead, some are carnal. God desires for you to become a spiritual man. He does not want us to remain carnal-minded Christians.

3. You are saved and you are spiritual. The Holy Spirit moves within us when we become children of God by His righteousness and our faith in Jesus' blood. He doesn't move within us because He is homeless and has no place to live. He moves in so He can do a work in our lives.

Not only does He save us and seal us and secure us; but He also works to sanctify us, meaning we are set apart from the world and apart from ourselves in order that we may be more like Him.

In I Corinthians 3:16, a question is asked of some carnal Christians. "Know ye not that we are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" In other words, "You are the house in which God dwells; and when you got saved, the Holy Spirit moved inside you."

The Holy Spirit moved inside us for a purpose and that is to do a work in our lives in order to make us more like Christ. We now have the Spirit available to help us become spiritual Christians. We do not become spiritual automatically when we get saved. However, the Holy Spirit moves inside of us and gives us the power to become spiritual Christians.

We ought to have the desire to be spiritual. We have to understand that we must yield to the Holy Spirit in order to become spiritual. We have to understand that the Bible teaches that in order to become spiritual we must be obedient.

A spiritual Christian does at least two things. First, he is led by the Spirit of God. I am not talking about anything spooky, for the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. When we are led by the Spirit of God, whatever the Bible says is what we want to do. Then we are spiritual people. Whatever the Bible says I should not do, that is what I do not want to do. The way the Bible tells me to live is how I want to live.

A spiritual person is also one who desires to have the mind of Christ. That means to think like Him. It means to approach life and every decision thinking with the mind of Christ.

In my decisions in marriage, my leadership in marriage, the rearing of my children, my responsibilities at church, my responsibilities at work, I am to be thinking as Christ and being led by the Spirit of God.

God not only wants me to move from lost to saved, but He also wants me to go from saved-carnal to saved-spiritual. Here are six important things concerning a spiritual man.

1. We become children of Christ by faith in Him and in His blood. When that happens, the Holy Spirit moves in.

2. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to become spiritual Christians.

3. God desires us to become spiritual men.

4. The first step in becoming a spiritual man is understanding the truth: I was a sinner, I will be a sinner, but I am saved by the grace of God. I have been in church all of my life, but He is still working on me. He will continue to work on me until I awake in His likeness.

5. It is not an easy task to become a spiritual man. In fact, it is a constant struggle. Here is where I want you really to think with me. Maybe you have said, “Sometimes I feel like just giving up. I am in a constant battle all the time trying to do right and to be spiritual.”

That is exactly what Paul faced in his life. He talked about evil being present with him when he did good. He said many times that he intended to do right but he failed.

"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me."

"But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."—Rom. 7:21,23.

Many folks are like Peter in that they intend to serve God. They are willing to die for Christ next month; however, they will not pray to Him for one hour today. We intend to serve God, but too often we satisfy our members with our minds.

You are not the only one who struggles. Anybody intending to become more like Christ is in a struggle. We all are in a struggle because we are still in this old, sinful flesh which we have to crucify. The psalmist said, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (17:15).

Here is what some folks are saying today: “I am tired of trying to be somebody I am not, so I’m just going to be myself.”

That is like saying, “I am tired of driving fifty-five miles an hour on this four-lane road, so I’m just going to drive ninety miles an hour.” Well, you might do just that, at least until you get caught.

Some ladies are saying, “Well, I wore dresses and followed these standards, but that is really not me.” You are telling the truth when you say that is not you. Being you is to satisfy yourself. However, you are now a child of God. We crucified that flesh.

Paul said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Rom. 7:15).

Several years ago I was doing a radio interview about homosexuality in the military. The woman interviewer asked, “How do you deal with those who say they are born that way?”

I said, “How do we deal with someone who says he is born with a temper and with anger? What if he said he wanted to slap the fire out of somebody because that somebody got in his way and then that is just what he did? It is foolish to say they were born that way.”

It is just as foolish for a Christian to say, “Well, I am tired of being a hypocrite, so I am just going to live like the old man!” The Bible says to be carnally minded is death.

It is a struggle to be a spiritual man. When does this struggle end? They call it a funeral. At that time, Christians will awake in His likeness.

Many folks have left fundamental churches and gone to these Walmart churches, these 7-11 churches, because they don’t put pressure on anyone about anything. Carnal, though saved, is the best standing some of them might have. Many of them are just lost performers.

I’m telling you that I have talked to many who play an instrument in the bars on Saturday night and then play in the churches with the same instrument on Sunday morning because they are good musicians.

It is a struggle to be a spiritual man! You say, “I tried that and I failed.” So did Paul. Try again. I don’t want to hear, “I’m tired of being a hypocrite. That’s not who I really am.” We don’t want to know who you really are. We don’t want to see who you really are.

Character is what I have when I’m not doing what I feel like doing. Character is what I have when I’m doing what is right to do. Integrity is what I have when I’m doing what is right to do whether the entire world is watching or whether nobody is watching. I do right because it is right to do.

6. I encourage you and challenge you to be a spiritual man. That means that I want you to think as Christ wants you to think. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

What does it mean to be a spiritual man? He is one that does what God tells him to do whether or not he feels like doing it or wants to do it. He just does the will of God. Sometimes I feel like it and sometimes I don’t feel like it.

Being spiritual is not doing what I feel like doing every day. Being spiritual is just doing what God says for me to do. Paul said being spiritual is “your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

I was on my way to the Devil’s Hell to spend my eternity in the fires of Hell, but God gave His Son to die on the cross to pay for my sin. Now I am a child of the King and my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I am now a joint-heir with the Lord Jesus Christ and I have a mansion in Heaven. “Whatever You want me to do, Lord, that is what I want to do!”

The spiritual man recognizes what God has done for him and continues to do for him every day. The spiritual man desires to please Him.

A carnal man is sorry for what he did. A spiritual man recognizes and is sorry for what he is. Paul said, “O wretched man that I am!” (7:24).

A carnal man hurts for what he has done wrong. A spiritual man hurts for the persons against whom he has done wrong. He doesn’t say, “Father, I messed up and got with the wrong crowd and I should not have been with them.” The spiritual man says, “It was my fault.”

A carnal man wants to feel like he has been made good again. A spiritual man knows that he is a sinner and he wants to become more like Christ.

A carnal man wants restoration to the place he once held in the eyes of men. A spiritual man desires to be right in the eyes of God.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

"And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"—Ps. 139:23,24.

A carnal man seeks to be good. A spiritual man seeks to understand and he will always feel he is less than he should be, but he keeps pressing on the upward way.

I’m pressing on the upward way; New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground. —Johnson Oatman, Jr.

When a fellow wants to be a professional golfer, he wants to be like the best golfer. When a man wants to be a professional basketball player, he wants to be like the best basketball player. When a man wants to be a millionaire, he reads after wealthy men.

Why is it, then, that when a man becomes a Christian, he just wants to be a little better than the man down the street?

When I was going into college, Michael Jordan was the best basketball player. I actually bought a pair of shoes like the ones he wore because I wondered if the shoes made him so great. In my dreams I could see myself being a great basketball player, but those shoes did not help me one bit! It makes better sense that as a Christian, I want to be like Christ.

A carnal man sees the sin. A spiritual man sees the source of sin.

A carnal man wants to succeed and arrive at his goals. A spiritual man is still pressing toward the mark. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

A carnal man compares himself to others and works to be better than another. A spiritual man compares himself to Christ and hungers to be more like Him.

A carnal man criticizes the behavior of others. A spiritual man recognizes and appreciates the spiritual growth of others.

A carnal man is goal-oriented in self-help. A spiritual man is God-oriented in spiritual help. He goes to church and says, “Preacher, give us all you’ve got. Let us have it.”

A carnal man is motivated by his needs and the needs of those he loves. A spiritual man is motivated by the love of Christ for the needs of others that he does not know.

A carnal man can be stirred to want to see his family saved. He can want his parents and his children and his friends to be born again. A spiritual man gets a burden for everyone to be born again in every city and in every state and in every nation and even people he does not know.

A carnal man demands what he deserves when he does well and he wants his reward. A spiritual man recognizes that God has already given him more than he deserves.

A carnal-minded man is concerned about whom he follows. A spiritual man is concerned about becoming like Christ; therefore, he will follow only those men who are Christlike.

A carnal man looks to see who is behind him. A spiritual man looks to see who is ahead of him from whom he can learn more.

A carnal man sees only the man that makes him angry or frustrated. A spiritual man sees the Devil behind the scenes and recognizes that the man who has wronged him is not his enemy. A spiritual man understands that this is spiritual warfare and that the Devil is causing any behavior that is un-Christlike.

A carnal man is concerned about getting forgiveness for his sins. A spiritual man works to see what caused his sin so he can stay away from that which caused his failure.

A spiritual man does not think he is spiritual; he just hungers to be more like Christ. He seeks repentance of his sins and he begins every day asking God to cleanse him and to make him clean. Here are four simple things that should help.

1. We must walk with God. We must read His Word every day in order to have the mind of Christ. We cannot have the mind of Christ any other way than to read what He has said. Prayer is not just talking to God; it is coming into the presence of God and asking Him to show us what we need and for Him to speak to our hearts.

2. We must serve God. We need to serve Him in a place of service to others.

3. Don’t let the carnal-minded man be your example. It is not a funny thing to walk as close to the edge as we can. It is not a neat thing or a thing to laugh at when the hair is on the borderline or the skirt is on the borderline or the behavior is on the borderline or the vocabulary is on the borderline.

That is not neat. That is not cool. That is nothing more than rebellious behavior. You wouldn’t drive with somebody who would drive on the center line. Don’t let the carnal-minded man control you or influence you. The spiritual-minded man wants to be in the will of God.

Here’s what some folks do. Just to show others that someone is not going to tell them what to do and that they make their own decisions, they will make a wrong decision just to prove to someone that they can make their own decisions.

Do you know how dumb that is? Do you know how stupid it is to say, “Ain’t nobody going to tell me what to do. Ain’t no preacher going to tell me what to do. I am going to be my own man”? There are about a million men in that same line.

I see that long line of folks trying to get into a concert. Nobody is going to tell them what to do because they are their own men. Every one of them is copying a behavior that he has seen.

4. Stay in the struggle. Let’s stay in the fight and never be satisfied until we awaken with His likeness. Let’s keep pressing on. Let’s keep working. There will be times when we do not achieve as much as we want to achieve and there will be times when we fall. When that happens, remember Proverbs 24:16: “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.”

Maybe you haven’t bought into the idea of being carnally minded; but you say, “I’m just tired of trying to be somebody I’m not.” I say to you to keep trying to be somebody you are not. Keep trying to be more like Christ.


Recent Posts
Older Posts
bottom of page