Are You a Carnal Christian?

By   •   September 13, 2010

Does that describe you? If so, would you like to change?

There was a time, perhaps, when you were a spiritual Christian. You still had your first love; a fire burned in your heart for God. But something has happened along the way, something has disturbed your relationship with God, and you no longer know the joy, the peace and the thrill that you once knew.

You do not take time to read your Bible. Your prayer times are few. Your interest in spiritual things has waned, and yet there is a great hungering after God, an aching in your soul for the joy and victory that you have seen in the lives of others. You want that joy in your soul, that thrill in your heart. You want to know the power of prayer again.

The Bible teaches that you can have glorious, daily victory. Scripture says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Paul wrote in Romans 7:24-25, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And then he answered his own question, “I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).

In Romans 8:2 we read, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” And in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

From the divine viewpoint, defeated Christians are abnormal. They are paralyzed members of the Body of Christ. Backsliding and carnality are not only inexcusable, they are incompatible with the normal Christian experience. They produce a regime of contradiction. Since the living Christ dwells within every one of us who has accepted Him as Savior, there is never any reason for defeat. No enemy is too powerful for Christ! Every temptation may be resisted!

If you as a Christian are overcome by the enemy, the simple explanation is that Christ has been denied His rightful position of supremacy in your heart. The dethronement of Christ will always lead to failure in spiritual warfare. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who can give you a constant, daily, victorious life.

Know Your Three Enemies

However, the Bible teaches that every Christian has three enemies. The first enemy that we have to contend with is the world. Now “the world” means this present evil world, the great system of evil round about us. It is everything around us that has a tendency to lead us into sin. It may mean the evil people of the world, or it may mean the things of the world.

Certain elements of daily life are not sinful in themselves, but they can lead to sin if they are abused. Abuse literally means “extreme use,” and in many instances, overuse of lawful things becomes sin. Thinking about the necessities of life and taking care of one’s family is essential. But this can degenerate into anxiety, and then, as Christ reminded us, the cares of this life choke the spiritual seed in the heart (Mark 4:19). Making money is necessary for daily living. But money-making is apt to degenerate into money-loving, and then the deceitfulness of riches enters and spoils our spiritual life. The Bible admonishes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).

The second enemy of the Christian is the flesh. Paul said, “I know that in me [that is, in my flesh] nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18). The Bible teaches that the flesh is fallen human nature. It is the corrupt principle of sin, the carnal nature that natural men and women have inherited from their fallen parents. It is the birthplace of all those ugly sins that so easily mar the Christian’s joy and hinder his or her testimony. The sins of temper, irritability, moodiness, jealousy, pride, selfishness, an unforgiving spirit, anxiety and fretfulness, harshness, complaining, criticism, lust–all of these things characterize the flesh.

The third enemy of the Christian is the devil, referred to by Paul as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The Bible teaches that the devil is a real person. His objective is to defeat the will of God in the world, the church and the Christian. He is the unceasing enemy of the soul. He must be met and overcome. Thank God, through the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross, this mighty enemy has been fully and finally vanquished. One day the whole world will see the full consummation of Christ’s triumph. Meanwhile, Satan is busy in the world, sometimes appearing as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and other times as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

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These, then, are our three foes: the world, the flesh and the devil. The attitude of the Christian to all three of them is summed up in one word: renounce. There must be no bargaining, no compromise, no hesitation. Absolute renunciation is the only possible way for the Christian to have victory in life. If you are a Christian, there is no excuse for not having daily victory in your life by renouncing sin and, by faith, letting the Spirit of God have control of your life.

Condensed from the article “Victorious Christian Living” in the May 2007 issue of Decision Magazine.
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64 Comments

  1. Gabriel says:

    Thank you, this really helped me in my walk with God. I needed to hear that the flesh can be overcome.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for this enlightening article. It was exactly what I needed.

  3. Vida Vera Ametepe says:

    Thanks I was blessed

  4. Jody Blankenship says:

    Thank you for your willingness to serve God Dr. Graham. I accepted Christ as a young boy but lived a sinful, empty life through high school and college. I cry out daily because I know I have tainted my witness and waisted precious time to witness. Praise God for his grace and mercy!