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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  1. Dee says:

    I know I am a little bit, but don't understand. I try to live right, I don't have anything, nor do my kids. We don't waste, what I earn goes right back to support the household. But No matter how much or little prayer, or reading the bible…It seems God is not there. I have recently had the power shut off, I am struggling to keep internet, phone, and power all ON. I work from home, because I don't have a car, and I don't speak Spanish. I go without, I can't get to church, when I do find a church I like, the pastor treats me horribly. I just don't know what to say. I live in the world. I don't hunger nor am I greedy. I just want to have daily things taken care of. I can't. I try…I can't. I read your article, but I wonder…where is God, or the Spirit, when we are having all we need to survive turned off? Or when my daughter has a diabetic episode and has to run to ER? And I can't get home, or get there? No car. I try to “Let go and Let God, by prayer, etc. I just don't understand. With all these things, I have trouble with Faith.

  2. Ray says:

    It disappoints me no end when people like “Christian” can be so negative to one who has led untold millions to Christ. The one who should be ashamed is YOU, “Christian” – first remove the plank from your own eye – then seek in earnest forgiveness from the one who still loves you – notwithstanding.

  3. Joy Lucht says:

    God is using you in an amazing way in lives. We are so blessed to have had your input over the years. My greatest blessing was working at a crusade in KC and being able to pray with people who received Christ and see them grow as a result of the Crusade. God bless you and we will continue to pray for you.

  4. britton says:

    All of this describes me, thank you for posting this today, please pray with me, and for me to give everything back to God and stop trying to control it on my own -amen

  5. MJ says:

    Do we sin when we see our brother filled with selfishness, hatred towards us and naturally we hate his actions? Talking or ignoring him doesn't change the situation and his coldness. Praying silently for him but looking at his rudeness most of the time gives a heart break too or a headache.

  6. Barbara says:

    I'm a mess. I am all those things. I want desperately to change , to be changed by the power of God.

  7. Jon says:

    Patricia, If he has any fault, you did let him affect your spiritual life. And that's not his fault. As Joshua says, be brave and be strong, you're a christian and you “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth you”. Pray for him. Hold him, fight for him. And do all that for yourself too. Stand up for your relationship.

  8. Larry says:

    Joan, I believe you have righteous despondency. Often we Christians have this battle going on inside and we can feel defeated when we can't stop sinful thoughts and such from coming into our minds. You'll never be perfect in this life time but as Dr. Graham said…none of us have to give into these sins. Know that sin lives in you and always will in this life, but also remember that Christ lives in you too….”set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.”

  9. Joyce says:

    Thank you, oh yes very true actually let God give us the strength to overcome all of them. Billy Graham let nothing hinder the plans and the purpose God has for you, you are a blessing to many.

  10. Kanawha1Kanobi says:

    In the Book of Isaiah, God asks the question, “Is there anything too hard for me?” And, the simple answer is, no. Therefore it would seem logical to say then that when one becomes a Christian by accepting Christ and being forgiven, the one who fails, if there is a failure, will always be the human. I picture new born Christians, perhaps incorrectly, as new born children; some will grow and mature faster than others. There are many factors, I believe, that influence that rate of growth. But, for those of us who appear to be maturing slowly, or growing slowly, does that mean we aren't “as much” Christian as those that mature more quickly? I worry about that: my failures, my setbacks, while others just seem to be cruising along with no problems or failures. All I know to do when I fall or fail, is to ask God to forgive me and then I get back up and trudge on down the road. Psalm 51 and 1 John 1:9 have become mainstays for me.