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. cheryl says:

    Amen! Pray for the world! And thank jesus, daily and keep in his word.

  2. To_Melvis (UK) says:

    You say “drop me a line” – but what is your e-mail address?

  3. Andy says:

    Thank you very much for writing and posting this great article. Your words have pointed out my blind spot. I now have so much that I must let go before I can ever have a 2nd chance to be touched by the Holy Spirit again. I know that God has a great purpose for me, and that He is waiting for me to come seeking His face, again. God bless you.

  4. Adriano says:

    Thanks be to God who gave me victory!Nothing is too powerful to overcome the power of the Holly Spirit in our livers. All of pastor Graham said came about in my lif. I was being overcome by my sins and I knew that some thing was very wrong with me, I knew that I was sinking in the sea of flesh and everything that I was doing against it was just: “Forgive me again for sinnning Lord”. The biblie teaches that if we confess our sin Jesus is faithfull to forgive us, but we have to realize that the act of not being free from sin slaves us. I was tired of being under the scouges of sin, I came to my senses that God was not controlling my life absolutely. Then I said once for all: “God forgive me, take control of every part of my life” and my life has been transformed.Adriano Brazil

  5. Brenda Rae says:

    This article must have been written specifically for me. They say God had mysterious ways of reaching us, and in many ways I believe he was trying to reach me when you provided this article. I struggle in my walk, and my main hindrance is that I “allow” the evils of this world to stifle me, to discourage me, and to stifle me, both in my personal and spiritual life. You were correct in saying that the “world” is indeed the Christian's enemy and at times it can be frightening as we are being persecuted more and more each day. But, never should we allow the evils of this world hinder us in our earthly lives and never should we allow it to put into question our spirituality. I definitely want to overcome my habit of allowing the evils of this world to affect me and I will continue to build myself up in prayer. I also ask that you all pray for me. I love God without a shadow of a doubt and I owe everything to Him. Even during the dark days when I thought all hope was lost He never left me, and I know He loves me-so it is time I stop denying myself this love that He is so wanting to extend to me. Thank you Billy, and Franklin I do not know what this world would do without the both of you-you are without a doubt the best “friends” and messengers as Christian could ever ask for.

  6. MELVIS (UK) says:

    After reading this and then looking at the comments, it seems that there are a lot of Broken and Hurt Christians around, which is real sad. But, life can be really tough at times, and sometimes we feel alone and depressed and the ways of the world can creep up on you and grab you with both hands. We know as Christians we should have Joy in our hearts – but we also know that sometimes that isn't the case.I wish that there was a place that we could all attend where we could all give each other encouragement and spiritual support – anyone who feels that way, then drop me a line, as I also need a lot of Guidence in my walk with Christ Let's Have Faith and beat that Devil. God Loves Us, we should love him in return.

  7. Chad says:

    Here's a point to ponder …as Christians we know Christ is returning to this earth some day live your life as Christ is going to return today .what would you like to be doing,seeing,playing, reading,Thinking, will he be pleased with you…. Well done Good and Faithful servant..Matthew 25:21. Amen

  8. Peggy says:

    Thank you Rev. Graham for your sermon. I accepted Jesus over 40 years ago while watching you on TV for the first time. I have always wanted the opportunity to say Thank You!. So, I hope you are reading this. Sadly, today I fit your description to a T. Yes, I grieve too, struggling with myself to feel that inner peace and joy that I had as a new christian. It's not easy. I feel like a hypocrite, inwardly wanting Christ in my life so much, and outwardly rarely displaying what a christian should be.The biggest fear in my life is not dying but going to hell. Their have been many times in my life that I wanted death, but the fear of going to hell has always stopped me. Perhaps it was Jesus reminding me of my choices and not my fear, I am not sure. I don't understand myself and why I can't be a real christian. I have never wanted all the fancy things in life, just the necessities. I don't even own a DVD, and still have an old TV and an old car. I am content with these things, never wanting to live an extravagant life, just a simple one. I try to help others when and if they should need it, but pretty much stay to myself.All in all, I know that you are not active anymore, but I hope you can squeeze my name in when you pray for this crazy world that we live in.God Bless You for all that you do for the millions that need your spiritual guidance.

  9. John-errol says:

    Thank you Reverend Graham, My Grandmom and Dad loved to watch youir Crusades. I did and do like the reruns. You have affected my life in Christ Jesus. And I agree with you on this being a country boy: I also feel closest to God when taking a walk, and praying/talking to Him. I minister at a Christ Based Recovery Center, “WINGS-OF-LIFE” in Mobile, Alabama. The most misarable of those who come to us are the Born-Again Christians like myself who, went back into the world and continued to sin. I see the joy in the newly Born-Agains and it keeps a flame aliight in me from years ago when I received Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior, August 15, 1976! God Bless You Brother Billy, and you also Brother Franklin.

  10. Angie says:

    Thank you for this article. I have grieved the Holy Spirit and I have lost all my joy and peace. I rededicate my life to Jesus. 9-19.