“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
I Corinthians 3:3
The word carnal is used eleven times in the New Testament. Seven of those occasions were directed to the Corinthian church. To say that the church at Corinth was a carnal church would certainly be an accurate assessment. The word carnal means “pertaining to the flesh or fleshly.” Being carnal is the opposite of being spiritual. Paul said that he could not speak to them as spiritual people, but as carnal, like “babes in Christ” (3:1). Because the Corinthians were carnal, they were not able to digest spiritual meat. Their spiritual diet was restricted to milk.
Our text gives us some common evidences of being carnal. Characteristics such as “envying, and strife, and divisions” are manifestations of being carnal. The final words of our Scripture tell us that these carnal Corinthians walked “as men.” Their conduct was like that of natural men. They did not walk as spiritual men, but as the rest of mankind. These were serious words to the members of the Corinthian church. Any sincere Christian should be ashamed to be called carnal. They describe a lifestyle that is far from what God desires for His children. He did not redeem us that we might live according to the ways of the world. God did not save us that we remain fleshly and unspiritual.
Church members are to love one another and serve one another. Instead, these members were jealous and divisive. The Corinthian church had its share of spiritual problems. What about many churches of our generation? Could they not also be considered carnal? As a matter of fact, the behavior of the Corinthians would probably be considered normal in most modern congregations. Believers could commonly be described as being more carnal than spiritual. Churches are often filled with members who are jealous, critical, selfish, and worldly. The message of the Word of God would aptly apply today, “ye are yet carnal.”
We should not be satisfied living in a worldly or natural way. Our lives should be drastically different from that of the unsaved. We ought to develop appetites for the things of God, rather than the things of the flesh and the world. What is needed in our increasingly compromising society is a generation of Christians who are truly spiritual, rather than carnal.