What Being Carnal Means

by Greg Laurie on Jan 15, 2020
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
—Romans 8:6

When you come to Christ, there’s an initial surprise. There are a lot of things you didn’t know. You realize you’re not supposed to do certain things anymore, while you’re supposed do other things instead.

It’s an entirely new way of thinking and living. Everything changes.

You also discover that you’re in a battle, because the Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battleground. Conversion makes your heart a battlefield.

But then there are those who have known the Lord for a while and have stayed the same way. The Bible describes this kind of Christian as carnal. The term originates from the Greek word sarkikos, which means “fleshly.”

To be carnal is to live in a state of arrested spiritual development. The apostle Paul used this word when he wrote to the believers in Corinth, saying, “For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3 NKJV).

The good news is that we don’t have to be carnal if we don’t want to. If this is a description of you, if you feel a little like a spiritual baby and realize that you should know more and be doing more, you don’t have to stay that way.

Every believer will have moments of carnality. Even Paul described this kind of spiritual struggle in his life: “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. . . . Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:21, 24–25 NLT).

We’ll have moments of compromise, no doubt. But we don’t want to be carnal Christians.

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