It isn’t easy to live a spiritual life in this carnal world. But that’s exactly what Christians are to do. Most of us know what’s right in God’s eyes, but we make poor choices. Well, we’re in good company:
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not: but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:14-15)
That’s Paul’s way of saying that he didn’t want to sin but he did. We’re so used to sin that it seems normal.
For that reason many of us fail to be horrified by the evil which happens all around us. Even worse, we participate in sin because everybody else does. Have you heard the story of the frog in hot water?
It’s said that if you take a frog and throw that poor creature into boiling water he will hop out as fast as he can. If you take that same frog and put him in a nice, comfortable pot of cool water he’ll sit there as happy as can be. Then if you start turning up the heat the frog isn’t bothered.
As the temperature slowly rises, the frog won’t notice how bad things are getting and will sit right there and boil to death. Is that true? I’ve never actually tried it so I don’t really know, but it’s certainly a good example of what’s happening today. The ugliness of sin is heating up, and we’re so used to it that we just sit there unaware of how bad things are getting.
Sin matters to God. It separates us from Him. It mattered so much that He chose to enter His creation and die on the cross in order to provide the only way for our salvation. That should let us know how much God loves us. After we accept Christ’s sacrifice for salvation we should turn away from carnal living.
Christians are called to be separate from the world. We have to live here until we’re called Home, but we aren’t to be a part of the sin around us. Is that possible? It is, but we have to make a choice: Live for Christ or live for the world. Take a moment here and reflect upon your life. Is there anything, anything at all, that is opposed to the example Jesus gave us? Are you quick to get angry?
Anger is a carnal way of acting:
“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” ( Ecclesiastes 7:9)
We often see news articles about the results of anger when a person is out of control with wrath and harms other people. Anger is something Christians need to control.
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
It isn’t easy to break a bad habit, and anger is a bad habit. Don’t give Satan a chance to cause you to sin.
Anger is just one problem that can cause a Christian to act like the world. What about stealing? Most of us have never robbed a bank or assaulted someone in a dark alley, but we can steal from our employer by not giving our all on the job.
Do you chat by the water cooler when you should be working at your desk? Do you make personal phone calls on company time and on the company phone? Do you misrepresent your income in order to qualify for government aid? There are lots of ways to steal.
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28)
A Christian should have a generous, giving spirit. As you work and earn wages, what do you do with the extra money you have left after paying your bills. Do you soup up your car? Buy the latest violent video game? Party with friends? There are many ways to spend money that’s carnal rather than honoring God.
What if you took that extra money and gave to a homeless shelter or to a ministry that blesses you? You could even use the money to help a neighbor who’s in need. The carnal world we live in dictates a “Me me me” way of living, but a Christ-centered life is one that gives rather than takes.
Do you gossip? That’s your flesh getting in the way of treating others the way you would like to be treated.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
It’s easy to see flaws in other people and then degrade them to our friends. It would be better to compliment what’s right rather than gossip about what’s wrong. The other person is a human being with feelings. Do you want people to gossip about you? It hurts and isn’t what God wants. What about your choice of words?
Carnal and vulgar words shouldn’t come from the mouth of a Christian. God’s name is to be used for praise, not for cursing. How many times do you tell a dirty joke? These things are carnal, not spiritual. Would you use those words in front of Jesus or tell him the jokes you find funny? He hears you.
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)
Jesus said that so we need to pay attention. The carnal people in this world have no concept of what is and isn’t vulgar, and Christians should never use a worldly person as an example. Look to Christ’s example in order to live to please Him.
The carnal attitude of Christians isn’t new to our time in history, but that doesn’t make it right. The rules God has given us are to keep us safe. Sin is hurtful to ourselves, to others, and causes disease. God loves us and will protect us but we need to stay within His rules. Lust of the flesh is from Satan and when we follow the carnal ways of the flesh we invite trouble into our life.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (James 1:13-14)
We live in a fallen world and there are many temptations, but we don’t have to act upon those temptations. When we wander from the straight and narrow path that God has paved for us, that’s when Satan will encourage our lust. Satan can make sin look like fun, but he hides the consequence. When a Christian compromises a little in living a spirit filled life it becomes easier to take the next step down the carnal path that leads to destruction.
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
Like the frog in the water we can become so numb to sin that we bring on our own destruction. When we choose to participate in sin rather than following God we forfeit joy and we bring punishment upon ourselves.
Think of the alcoholic who gets cirrhoses of the liver which causes much pain. Eventually it takes his life. Oh, this person may have professed to be a Christian, and if he had truly accepted Christ his salvation is secure, but carnal living takes away his good witness for Christ and only causes misery.
When alcoholism takes its toll on him he may blame God. Was it God who forced him into alcoholism? No, he chose to live a carnal life and his own choices caused his troubles. The same is true of any sin you participate in, such as drug use or sexual sin.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
If you choose to live a carnal life you choose to live in misery. When we accept Christ for salvation then our citizenship is already in Heaven. We should no longer succumb to the carnal pull of this world.
How do we live a spiritual life in a carnal world? We make a choice. The influence of the god of this world is strong but we don’t have to follow his lies. First of all, realize that the battle is a spiritual one. Fight with spiritual weapons, such as prayer and Scripture. Through prayer we talk directly with God. When we are weak, He will be our strength. When we fail, He will forgive us. As a Christian you can go directly to God in prayer and ask Him for help and forgiveness.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Study God’s Word and write it on your heart. That way when carnal lust threatens to cause you to sin, you will have Scripture ready to fight off the lust. God doesn’t want you to fail and every word of Scripture is for our benefit. Study the life of Christ and use Him as the example to follow.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
It’s hard to see God when we live our life according to the flesh. How we view life will determine how we behave. If we draw near to God and live a spiritually set apart life we will see God. We will see Him in our daily life and our interactions with others.
Choosing a carnal life that opposes God will only lead to bitterness and unhappiness. You may pretend you’re happy and put on a bright smiling face for the world to see, but it’s a false front. When you live a spiritual life that’s pleasing to God, you don’t have to pretend to be happy.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
True joy comes from a life that honors God. Brothers and sisters, instead of watching sin-filled television and movies or listening to music designed to encourage carnal lust, think on the things of God.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to live a spiritual life in a carnal world when you fill your heart and mind with the things of God.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed).