“ARE YOU NOT CARNAL . . . ?”
Paul used the word carnal. We don’t see or hear this word used today. Some modern translations say “worldly,” one “babes,” another “fleshly.” Paul said:
Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:3, NKJV
Envy, strife, and divisiveness hinder learning and appreciation of others. The apostle Paul calls them “mere men,” rather than “spiritual men.”
During a recent series of evangelistic meetings, a man with a beautiful singing voice invited Christ to take control of his life. He began attending a church. They soon discovered his fine voice and called on him to sing for some of the church services. Ironically, I had a counselee with a good voice who attended the same church. He was doing the male solo work until this new believer with the better voice came along. They shared vocal responsibilities. My counselee discovered envy and strife in his heart; he could not enjoy the beauty of this new convert’s voice. He deeply resented the music director’s decision to use the new singer. Several people who knew the situation sided with the music director. There was carnality—envy, strife, and division in my counselee’s heart. There was no point in talking about spiritual life with him. He needed to be reminded of the most basic principles of the Christian life. This talented, successful man needed to be approached as if he were a child who knew nothing about the Lord.
As Paul put it:
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it . . .
1 Corinthians 3:2, NKJV
Once Jesus told His disciples:
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
John 16:12, KJV
Isaiah said to his people:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
Isaiah 28:9-10, KJV
As children often do, my counselee struggled for a while; he wanted his singing position back. There were some tantrums, some weeping, some pouting. Finally, there was some repenting or changing of his mind. Today, he is being blessed by the fine singing voice of his vocal partner. Besides, he is chewing on some solid food.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25, NKJV
In order to develop spiritually, we must recognize any carnality or childish, sinful behavior that continues into adult life. Once the condition is discovered, only God can cure the situation. He alone can clean our hearts from envy, strife, divisions, pouting, temper tantrums, and deceptive manipulation of others. Then we can move on to the meat of the Christian life.
As Paul said,
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 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 3:1-3, NKJV