Carnality: The Fact, The Danger, and The Cure
Prelude: (Thought as brought out by a testimonial reference to the hymn, “Whiter thanSnow.”)
References: Isaiah 1:28: “Come now, and let, us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Psalm 51:7: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
There is an experience white as snow, and there is an experience whiter than snow. First is the call to the sinner: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” second, is the prayer for heart purity, sanctification: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
You take the whitest snow and melt it, and permit it to stand, — permit the snow water to stand, and there will be a settling in the bottom. That is justification; that sediment is apt to be roiled up; you shake folks a little, jolt them a little, and the sediment rises up. When they are sanctified the sediment is all taken out, — “Whiter than snow.” I say Glory; what do you say?
Today.. I want you to see that the Bible speaks of something, and treats of something separate and apart from sin as an act: Romans 8:: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The carnal mind, — not an act, but a state; not a transgression, but a condition, This is often misquoted. Note: that he does not say: The carnal mind is at enmity against God,” as we hear it quoted so often, but: “The carnal mind is enmity against God;” it is everlastingly, diametrically, diabolically opposed to God.
That something termed the “carnal mind” did not originate with God; it is not in us by virtue of our creation, therefore is no essential part of our self-hood. Now some supposed that we were born and created with that, and that it was a part and parcel of us, and that therefore we could not get rid of it until we die; a material something in us that would cleave to us until death should release us, — almost essential to our being. I don’t believe it. God never created us with something in us opposed to Himself, If it did not have its origin with God, it must have emanated from the pit. That is the thought I want you to see; it is something that is an ally of Satan, that is in league with hell. I am not saying now what it is especially, but whatever it is, I want you to note next that “it is not subject to the law of God.” A thing that cannot be controlled by law is a very serious proposition. If it is not subject to the law then it is an outlaw, and it dominates and captivates the soul.
Now as to this first statement regarding the carnal mind I judge there is a general agreement; but multitudes take the position that the carnal mind was destroyed at the moment of regeneration and justification; I want to show you that that is not true. We will turn now to: I Cor. 1:4: “I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God that is given you by Jesus Christ.” I want you to notice that the Corinthians had grace; they had the grace of God given to them by Jesus Christ. Paul said: “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God that is given you by Jesus “Christ.”
We will now turn to the third chapter: I Cor, 3:1, 2, 3: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ, I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Note that they were brethren; they were in Christ, It is true that they were babes in Christ, but a babe in Christ is just as certainly in Christ as an adult in Christ is in Christ; they were in Christ. “I have fed you with milk” would indicate that they had spiritual life, and hence, could receive spiritual nourishment, spiritual food; and, as already stated, they had the grace of God. “But ye are yet carnal.” You see at once that the carnal mind was not removed at the time of their conversion; that the carnal mind co-exists with the new life in the regenerate; that a man may have the grace of God, may be in Christ, may receive spiritual nourishment, and be in the “brotherhood,” and yet be carnal, That is the clear teaching here, that the carnal mind was not destroyed at the time of their conversion.
Now I shall give you another reference, presenting the same truth in a different form, or rather, by the use of a different term: Gal. 5:17: “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.” Note the words, “the flesh.” Who has that experience, — the sinner? Is that the experience of the unregenerate? What say you? I answer no. How would you prove that it is not the experience of the unregenerate? Simply because the unregenerate has not the Spirit; the sinner has not the Spirit; this is the experience of a man who has the Spirit, and yet a nature, or a disposition that is contrary to that Spirit, and is in conflict with the Spirit; and note that it carries the same thought, that it captivates, it dominates in a measure, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Now the term flesh here means exactly the same thing as the “carnal mind.” The term flesh is used in more than one sense in the Bible, We are told that the word “Soma” in the Greek, which is translated flesh, means the physical; but the word “Sarx” in the Greek, which is translated flesh, signifies the sin principle, the carnal mind, and this latter is the word used here, That the flesh does not mean the “Physical” here may be seen by reading: Gal. 5:24: “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Crucifixion here surely does not mean crucify the physical. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” Here is the dual nature, and is the explanation of the conflict common to the regenerate.
What were the manifestations of the carnal mind? “Envying, strife, and divisions.” — To show that the carnal mind and the flesh are identical, we will see now some of the manifestations that are attributed to the flesh: Gal. 5:19, 20, 21: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell” you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
You see that “strife,” “envyings,” and “seditions,” which occasion division — are present in connection with the use of the word flesh, as in the use of the word carnal mind. Now understand, this what you have just read describes the “old man” gone to seed; that is the tree in full bloom.
I don’t know that any one has all of these manifestations, and yet everyone has had some of these manifestations. While no one person has all, yet everyone has some of them.
And right here is another truth which I want you to get: You know there is a gradation of sin among men. Certain sins are called unnamable, while others would seem to be permissible, — excusable. Adultery, lasciviousness, fornication, uncleanness — these are unnamable; wrath, — that is anger, strife, envyings, — these are tolerated, excused, and regarded as permissible in a Christian. What I want you to see is that anger, and strife, and envy, and hatred, spring exactly from the same tap root, the same source, as does adultery, and murder, and drunkenness, and those grosser vices. That, when you get mad, and give way to envy, hatred, and strife, you have in you the same thing that makes the other man commit adultery, murder, and the like, That is a horrible picture, — not calculated to make you shout; but they come from the very same source.
Now add to this fact the other fact that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, that the flesh nature dominates and captivates us so that “ye cannot do what we would,” and you see something of the danger of carnality. So long as the flesh nature remains in the heart, there is no telling what you will do; under certain temptation, certain provocation, and environment you will do the very thing that you thought you never were capable of doing; you have done it over and over; doing the thing you were sorry for, that you were ashamed of, the thing you never meant to do; and, had someone told you just a short time before that you would do such a thing, you would have denied the possibility of it; but under certain temptations, in an unguarded moment, under certain conditions, this thing gained the ascendency in your life, and you did the thing you thought you never were capable of doing. That is the history of crime; there is not one of the criminals behind the bars today that ever supposed he would ever come to that; but this thing gained the ascendency.
Now, while that power is broken largely in the regenerate, it still imperils the soul. I appeal to your experience; since you have been converted this Thing has manifested itself, and has greatly imperiled your spiritual life: since you have been converted, you have frequently done the thing you did not mean to do, and left undone that which you meant to do. Why do you do it?
You say: “I just cannot help it; it made me so mad.” That is the way people talk. But what made you get so mad that you lost your self-control? If you lost your self-control, and the thing got away with you, you will have to repent and get back to God. But don’t you see how this imperils your soul? Does not the inspired writer say that it is contrary to the Spirit, — “Ye cannot do the things that ye would?” We are very quick and very emphatic in our denunciations of wrong in other people, but how do you know that, if you had been placed under the same conditions and same environments, and like temptations, you would not have done the very same thing? You would, if you had that same nature in you. Frederick W. Robertson, the great preacher of Brighton, England, said in a sermon: “Two sides of our mysterious two-fold being here: something in us near to hell, something strangely near to God: half diabolical, half divine, half demon, half God. In our best estate and in our purest moments, there is a something of the devil in us, which if it could be known, would make men shrink from us. The germs of the worst crimes are in us all.”
That is a fearful statement. I wish I could get you to see this truth, that “the carnal mind,” not being “subject to the law of God,” — “the flesh lusting against the spirit,”” so that you cannot do the things you would greatly imperils your spiritual life, And when you get mad, and when you permit envy, and hatred, and strife in your heart, that you simply testify that you have in your heart exactly the same root from which springs the other man’s adultery, and murder, and uncleanness, etc., — they come from the same root. When you get this view of the human heart you know what is in man. Men may put on airs; they may seem to be cultured, and refined, and intellectual, but I know just exactly how they will behave under certain provocation, for this thing is in every body by nature, and culture, and refinement, and affluence will not remove carnality; you cannot educate it out of folks; and folks may think they have self-control, but this thing gets away with them in spite of themselves, I have seen people who move in the most polite society, men and women who are high in rank in official positions, and stand high in the church and in the community, when carnality is in them they will give way to certain temptations, and give way to this thing in spite of themselves, I have no confidence in the flesh, and men don’t fool me; I know just exactly how they will do under certain provocations if they are not sanctified. It is there, and they may sort of try to regulate it and control it, — repress it, suppress it, compress it, and de-press it, but it is there; it is the devil’s gun powder, and he will get a match to it occasionally, and there is an explosion.
A man came to the altar once under the bondage of sin, and I talked to him. He looked up to me in a moment and said: “You don’t know me.”
“Why certainly I do.”
He seemed amazed, and said: “You never met me before, and I don’t know you, — how do you know me
“I have your picture.”
“Have my picture!”
“Yes, I have read about you.”
“Read about me! I’d like to know where you read about me.”
“In a book.”
“In a book! I would like to know what book you read about me.”
I simply got down my Bible and told him: in this old Book, the Word of God. And I had his picture, and knew about him, — praise God. No amount of whitewash will change the fact. “We have the picture of carnality, and know how it works; and everybody has “the works” in “him. I would repeat what I have said: everyone not sanctified has some of these manifestations; — everybody does not have them all, but everybody has some of them; and when you follow the thing up and sift it out, the root of the matter is carnality in the heart.
I confess I am afraid of carnality, because it is too big for me to manage; I cannot manage it, — I have tried it; and you cannot manage it either, — you have tried it, and it has fooled you many a time; it has humiliated you, and gotten the best of you. One fearful thing about carnality is that it makes you say the most unkind thing, the most cutting thing, to the ones you love best. I have known people to say: “One thing about our family spats is that they don’t last long.” Sometimes a cyclone does not last long, but it does the damage just the same. That thing gets the best of you and, you use the cutting word, then you kiss and make up, but it leaves its scars. You go off and cry about it and say: “I know I am the worst man, the meanest disposition; I did not mean to do that.” Exactly so; it gets the “best of a fellow; it is a terrible thing; and the thing that distressed me about this was that this thing would show itself sometimes right in company, when there were folks around, and I wanted to impress them that I was religious; and just when I ought to have been patient and gentle. It took me just about one year to learn that the “old man” was an outlaw. I used to think that he might be controlled by law, and put him under bonds to hold the peace. Many a man has gone to meeting, and prayed and cried about this thing, and thought he had the victory, and overslept the next morning, He had to be down town at seven o’clock. He tried to build the fire, but the wind was in the wrong direction, and the fire wouldn’t burn. The stove was inclined to smoke. Breakfast wasn’t ready; the children were not up and dressed. He had to be down town at seven o’clock. The stove is inclined to smoke; breakfast is not ready; have to be down town at seven o’clock, and went to pieces by saying, “You are always late. Why can’t you have breakfast on time?”
You put him on his good behavior last night, and had him promise that he would be good, and he said he would never disturb the peace again, and he broke loose the next morning before breakfast, and kicked up a row and disturbed the peace.
It would be amusing if it were not so serious. Some of you smile; I wonder if you are not smiling at your own picture; you seem to recognize it. How true that is, — how true that is! I used to put him under bonds to hold the peace, and he would make solemn promises, and then break loose and disturb the peace before breakfast. He is an outlaw, and you cannot control him by law.
Now the divine method for carnality, — note that 24th verse again: Gal. 5:24: “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” I want you to note the word crucified; I want to emphasize it, underscore it, It is not pardon. The divine method is crucify; it is a definite process.
We will turn to another scripture; the same truth in another term: Romans 6:6: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Note, the “old man” is not pardoned, nor regulated by law. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified.” Crucified does not mean pardoned. The sins we have committed are pardoned, but there is something in us that has got to die. Crucify means death.
Our old man; what does that mean? Some people think it means the devil. Well I might wish that he were crucified, but he is not, he is still running loose, for I have met him. Some people think that the old man means our sins, They are not crucified. Don’t you see there is a different method, — a different experience, a different treatment, for “Our old man.”
Now to show you that the “old man,” and “the flesh,” and “the carnal mind” are identical, I want to show that the same manifestations are attributed to the “old man.” Perhaps you don’t know the old man. You ought to know him; everybody has him, — if not the old man, the old woman, — the same principle, sure as you live! Turn to: Col. 3:8, 9: “But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Put off all these. Anger is the first named. Does that mean, don’t get quite so fiery mad? Or, does it mean, don’t get mad quite so often. “Put off anger, wrath.”
Let me put off this coat now. I am trying to put off my coat; I am putting off my coat; that means to hold it down, does it not, — sit on it? “No.” That is what most people think, — hold it down. Most people today are going on the repression theory; you must repress it, or depress it, or compress it, or oppress it, — somehow press it, I would use the language” of Dr. Carradine. You had better “express it” by the Second Adams Express Company, — express it clear out of the country; amen! Put off don’t mean that you hold it down, or keep it down.
Put off what? “Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”
Put off the old man with his deeds. I read this to show that anger, wrath, and malice, are all deeds of the “old man.” And the same things are attributed to the flesh, and the carnal mind, — these are all manifestations of the same thing: “Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy,” — they all emanate from the same source.
Col. 3:10: “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” That the old man is to be put off, — that is the thought. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified,” — not pardoned, nor depressed, — not controlled, but crucified, — put off.
I wish I could say that so it would stay said; that we are not preaching repression, — we are preaching that this thing is to be eliminated, eradicated, extirpated, expurgated — tell me something else — it is not to be elongated. Turn back to: Romans 6:6: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” I want you to look at that term, “the body of sin,” what is meant by that? A great many people think it has reference to the physical, and people talk about this “sinful body.” Do you know that is not scriptural. There is a corruptible body; there is such a thing as “the body of sin;” the body of sin surely does not have reference to the physical; we are not supposed to commit suicide in older to get rid of sin. The body of sin is to be destroyed. Right there this death-bed theory of sanctification has its origin; men have supposed that sin was in matter, and that this being a sinful body, of course we cannot get rid of the body until we die; so we must wait for death to come to our relief.
Christ had a body just like unto ours. There is no sin in the body. Now I need to prove that, perhaps; take as a reference: I Thes. 5:23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved” blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Spirit and soul and body.” How could the body be preserved blameless if it is full of sin? But take another reference:I Cor. 6: 18: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body.” A man may sin against his own body, but “every sin that a man doeth is without the body.”
I Cor, 6:19: “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is 14 you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” What is the temple of the Holy Ghost? The body; the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. With that thought in view turn to: I Cor. 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” “Ye are the temple of God.” What did you say was the temple? The body. “And the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.”
I Cor. 3:17: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Exactly. The temple of God is holy. “What is the temple? The body, And it is holy. Brother, if I strike you, is the sin in my hand? Certainly not. Sin is not in matter.
I met with a Calvinistc clergyman, — I will not say of what denomination, and he took the position that sin was in the body, and that we could not be freed from” sin until we died. Prior to his having entered the ministry he had been a physician, and I remembered that. After we had discussed the matter somewhat, and he insisting that sin was in the body, I told him: see here, you have been a physician. “Yes sir.” You had a diploma. “Yes sir,” Then you have been through the dissecting room, and have dissected the human body, and should be thoroughly familiar with the human anatomy. “Yes, 1 have been through the dissecting room and understand the human anatomy quite well.” Then I wish to ask a favor of you, and, if you will grant it, I will give you a job. I want you to locate sin; you say it is in the body, — locate it; is it in the bone, in the sinew, in the skin? Well, I knew myself that it was more than skin-deep. We went along on that line, and then I said: “Now, if you will locate sin for me in the body, I am going to have a surgical operation performed, and I will give you the job. I would get rid of it if it required a surgical operation. Of course he could not locate it.
Brother, that is nonsense. When it speaks about the “body of sin,” I want you to see that it is exactly the same thing as is the old man, the carnal mind, and the flesh, and the method, — the divine method is crucifixion and destruction, and the body of sin is to be destroyed. In the light of such scripture I don’t understand how a man can preach repression as the highest standard of experience.
What is the object, then, of this crucifixion, and destruction? I would underscore it four times: “That henceforth ye should not serve sin,” that ye might cease from sin. What is the inference? So long as the old man, that flesh nature, that carnal mind, that body of sin is within, there is great danger of lapsing into sin.
Roman 6:19: “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh; for, as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants of righteousness unto holiness.” “Iniquity unto iniquity.” Exactly. The members of the body become servants of this dominating principle, and, when carnality dominated in your life, your members were the servants of inbred sin; you yielded your members as servants to this iniquity unto iniquity to the committing of sin, but now to this principle of righteousness you yield unto holiness, — thank God!
Romans 6:22 “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” “Free from sin. Hallelujah! “But now,” not when you die, but now free from sin, fruit unto holiness, and everlasting life. Have I made that clear? There is something called the carnal mind, — not an act but a principle, a condition, a state.
The manifestation of carnality is envy, and strife, and division. That carnal mind still remains in the regenerate, and “it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It is an outlaw, The term flesh is used as a synonym, referring to this identical thing as there are the same manifestations. We learn here that that principle does co-exist with the new life, the man who has the Spirit. The divine method is not pardon, but crucifixion.
Now we might multiply these references; there are other terms which mean exactly the same thing: “The body of this death: ” “The law of sin in my members;” “Sin that dwelleth in me;” “The sin that doth so easily beset us.” These are identical, referring to the same thing, perhaps different phases of it, but all dealing with this same inward principle.
The trouble is that we are dealing with sin in the outer life too much, without getting to the cause of it. John said: “The axe is laid to the root of the tree,” and there is no use of climbing up into the tree and chopping off a few limbs, and allow the tree to remain there. Chop out the root; get rid of the cause. Pray in the language of Charles Wesley, “Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega he, End of faith as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty.” ”
Not pardon, not regulation, not repression, but crucifixion, eradication, destruction. Bless God! A great many people think this carnality is something very innocent, and insignificant, and almost necessary to our being; why of course, a little besetting sin is allowable; when you are reproved you say: “O, that is my besetting sin!” as though that were permissible, as though you had the right to have a few of those.
But God says, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Says one, If I could just keep down my temper; if I can just keep down this fear, these doubts, this unbelief. But what is the cause of your anger, your unbelief? what is the root of the matter? The source of the difficulty is carnality. Now turn to: Psalm 51:5: “Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Exactly. We learn here that this thing is inherent, innate, inborn. It is what theologians call original sin, depravity, the Adamic nature. It is not an act or the result of any volition on my part, and therefore it cannot be forgiven, In the very nature of the case I cannot be forgiven for something which I have not done. It was born in me. “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” That is how you came by it. You see it in the babe three months old; that baby is not three months old until it will stiffen its little back and squall, and make its papa join the “Nights of Labor,” and its mamma too, for that matter, and undertake to rule the house, and mighty near do it, too. Now keep sweet, sister, we don’t mean your baby. We all know that your baby is a perfect little angel; we are just talking about your neighbor’s children, and everybody knows that they are the worst in town.
Why can we not educate a child, restrain it, and bring it up so that it will never commit a sin? Why, is it easier to do wrong than it is to do right? Some men say we are born pure. I have met a few who say that babies are pure. Babies are innocent, but they are not pure. If you grant that a babe was born pure you destroy the atonement for the child; if the babe was born pure, then it needs no atonement; if it dies in infancy and innocency, it goes to heaven without the cleansing blood; it does not need it; it was born pure, as you say. But no babe was ever born pure; it comes into this world with the Adamic taint; it has that sinward tendency. Wells what about it; if a babe dies in its infancy, it has the unconditional benefit of the atonement. To keep the babe out of heaven for something it did not do and knows nothing about would be unjust; to admit the babe into heaven with that thing in it would be to admit of sin into heaven. You see where we are, when in this world the babe has that carnal nature, and in the next world there is no carnal nature; so the babe simply has the unconditional benefit of the atonement at the moment of its death; not that death does the work; death has no saving power. The little spirit passes under the blood of Jesus, and it wings its flight through the gates of pearl into the city of God; and when it gets there it sings the very same song you and I sing: “Washed in the blood of the Lamb.” It was cleansed from the root of all sin, though it obtained it at the moment of its death unconditionally.
You say, if the babe can get in that way, why cannot we? Light is the measure of our accountability, and God says: “Walk in the light.” Where is that in the Bible which you have just said? I don’t know? Well why not? Because the Lord did not want you to act the “baby; He wants you to walk in the light and get the cleansing; thank God!
O, there is deliverance! Sin has never gone so deep but that the blood of Jesus Christ can go deeper. “Where sin abounded, grace did” much more abound.”