But I, brothers, could not address you as a spiritual πνευματικός people, but as people of the flesh (carnal) σαρκικός, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human (fleshly, carnal)? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ESV
Last week I began discussing what I have deemed to be the overarching problem with the Church, i.e., “carnality”. Now, let me give some clarity regarding what and who I am referring to when I say, “the Church” and, explain further regarding the term “carnal” or “carnality” as it pertains to the former.
First, I only have experience with the Church as it pertains to the Western Church, specifically, the American Church, so, when I say that the Church is carnal, I am applying that phrase to what I am familiar with, again, the American Church.
The Nicene Creed describes the Church as being One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. In our era and culture however, there are many expressions of the Church, which is divided by doctrinal idiosyncrasies into a myriad of denominations.
The Apostle Paul here of course is referring to the Corinthian Church, but again, I reference the American Church. In the Church I have observed that there are two types of Christians, both carnal and spiritual.
Whether Spiritual or carnal, the terms themselves represent the nature (character and personality) of the individual Christian. The nature of the Spiritual Christian is that of transformation of the soul which is governed by practicing biblical principles which brings one closer to God and is concerned with the mission of God.
The carnal Christian is the one who looks to God to improve his/her natural existence in the earth, i.e., financial position, material gains and public persona. When I speak of carnality of speak of the unconverted soul. The unconverted man is governed by his own lusts and public opinion.
In the Church today there are many who are unconverted both in the pew and the pulpit. The unconverted are represented in Scripture as having a “carnal mind, which accordingly is enmity, ἔχθρα (hostility or opposition) against God” (Romans 8:6). Enmity because their “mind is governed by the flesh…does not submit to God’s law, nor can…do so.” (Romans 8:7) ESV.
So, again, when I’m asked about the state of the Church today, I can’t help but to reference her carnality!
++Troy A. Alexander