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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93 Comments

  1. Maryann says:

    Thank you

  2. Johnny (Moore) Hottinger says:

    There is positively no doubt that I have experienced rebirth in Christ Jesus and physically as well as spiritually felt the experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. My theological and scriptual knowledge is sound. I’m 52 yrs old. In the last few years I feel as if there is a disconnect between the Lord and myself. I believe, through my own fault, I am forsaken. I’m diagnosed with chronic PTS,severe anxiety, Severe depression and bipolar type 2. In and out of psychiatric hospitals and programs over the past 30 years. Currently In PHP/IOP. A Chaplain myself, I have found no Clergy of any Christian denomination to help me. The Holy Spirit intercede with groaning on my behalf. Can you possibly help me? Respectively yours, John

  3. Teye says:

    What a wonderful explanation on carnal christian. I was really moved and need more on the Three Enemies; world, flesh and the devil. You’re blessed!

  4. Neil Edwards says:

    I praise God for spiritual fathers like yourself,who are an ever present help in our spiritual journey.Thankyou

  5. Virginia says:

    Could you please send me information on being a carnal christian? I struggle in this area. Can a person lose their salvation by being a carnal christian if they don’t change?

    1. BGEA says:

      Virginia, we passed on your comment to our team so we can respond to you more fully.

  6. Maris efird says:

    I thought I was saved as a young child. Their have been spiritual highs but mostly lows. The Lord has used me to witness to many and I have even have seen some of those accept Him as their Saviour. Those were times of joy and excitement, allowing Him to use me. However, I am now 65 years old and those times have been a fraction of my Christian life. Most of my “Christian” life has been one of failure and a total lack of joy and fulfillment. Thus, I have gone through my Christian life with doubts of my salvation, not knowing if I was truly saved. This will not allow me any more words so I cannot finish my thoughts. Please pray for me and you need to allow for more words in this comment box.

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Maris,
      Thank you for reaching out. We have prayed for you and want to encourage you to visit https://peacewithgod.net/ where you can talk and pray online with a member of our team.

  7. Veronica says:

    I’ve fallen and lost my full faith in the process of walking with Jesus. Please pray for me, I want to do the will of God, not the world, the devil, or mine.

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Veronica,

      Praying for you to feel God’s love in full again.

  8. Risa Kolacke says:

    I feel I struggle with being a carnal Christian. Could you send me info and pray for me

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Risa,

      Yes, we will and just prayed for you. This article by Billy Graham is in-depth about being a carnal Christian:

      Thanks,
      – BGEA Staff

  9. eileen pownall says:

    I have grasped the knowledge that I was seeking. Well said & undiluted. Now I have learned more about the Christians’ enemy which are: the world, flesh & the devil. May God continue to increase your wisdom.