Sunday, August 26, 2012

Carnality and the Christian

Most independent, fundamental Baptists equate carnality with worldly activities such as dancing, attending movies, listening to CCM, rock, or country music, or any of a host of other activities deemed as carnal. There is a tendency to judge a person's Christianity by their involvement in church, their appearance, or the activities in which they do or do not participate.

Obviously, a church must establish guidelines for staff or for those who participate in any type of leadership role.  If a person cannot bring himself to follow the guidelines and rebels against them, that will be a problem. A church that is growing and thriving will welcome everyone who enters its doors, but just like many business establishments, a line must be drawn SOMEWHERE. Recently my husband and I were at a Wendy's restaurant when a girl entered wearing her bathing suit. The cashier asked the girl to leave and put some clothing on before she came back. Even the world has standards for being appropriate.  The Bible has many general guidelines for how we should live and how we should present ourselves. It can become very easy to focus on what we see, and we can often find ourselves determining a person's Christianity by their outward appearance and works because we cannot see, as God does, what is going on inside a person.

In the Book of Hebrews, Paul wrote directly to those who had been saved long enough and those who were involved in the church enough to be considered as leadership.

Hebrews 5:12  "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first oracles of God:  and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

These folks had lost sight of the basics, even though they were already doing "leaderly" type things. The people whom Paul was addressing must have held to the guidelines of the church and they must have been quite involved in the church or Paul would not have spoken of them as being considered for the respected position of teacher.  He told them that although they OUGHT to be teachers, they needed to be taught AGAIN what being a Christian is really all about.

The mature Christians Paul was writing to had become carnal. Carnal is defined as:  Pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly. Yes, carnality can be identified by one's activities or appearance, but carnality begins in the heart. I Corinthians 3:3 says, "For ye are yet carnal:  for whereas there is among you  ENVYING, and STRIFE, and DIVISIONS, are ye not carnal, and walk as man?"  Paul was pointing out that attitudes were causing severe problems in the house of God! These attitudes were carnal! Yes, immodesty is carnal. Watching nudity in movies is carnal. Drinking alcohol is carnal. Fornication and adultery are carnal.  But so is envy, strife, and attitudes that cause division in the church.

Paul admonishes the teachers-to-be to go back to the basics. What are the basics of Christianity?

Mathew 22:36-40  "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ON THESE TWO HANG ALL THE LAW AND PROPHETS."

 The basics of Christianity are:


If we really would love God with all our hearts and if we would love people as much as we love ourselves (which is a whole bunch!), we wouldn't have attitude problems with other people. Remember, Jesus loved us so much, that He died for us! If we prevent carnality from taking root inside us, the outward parts will take care of themselves.

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