Sunday, March 22, 2009

Question: What is a carnal Christian?

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Answer: Can a true Christian be carnal? In answering this question, let’s first define the term carnal. The word carnal is translated from the Greek word sarkikos, which literally means "fleshly." This descriptive word is seen in the context of Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. In this passage the Apostle Paul is addressing the readers as "brethren," a term Paul uses almost exclusively to refer to other Christians, and then goes on to describe them as "carnal."

Therefore, we can conclude that Christians can be carnal. The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless (1 John 1:8). Every time we sin, we are acting carnally.The key thing to understand is that while a Christian can be, for a time, carnal, a true Christian will not remain carnal for a lifetime.

Some have abused the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner, with no evidence of being “born again” or a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Such a concept is completely unbiblical. James 2 makes it abundantly clear that genuine faith will always result in works. Ephesians 2:8-10 declares that, while we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, salvation will result in works.

Can a Christian, in a time of failure and/or rebellion, appear to be carnal? Yes. Will a true Christian remain carnal? No.Since eternal security is a fact of Scripture, even the carnal Christian is still saved. Salvation cannot be lost, because salvation is a gift of God that He won't take away (see John 10:28; Romans 8:37-39; 1 John 5:13). Even in 1 Corinthians 3:15, the carnal Christian is assured of salvation: "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."

The question often is not whether a person has lost his salvation, but whether a person was truly saved in the first place (1 John 2:19).For Christians who become carnal in their behavior, God lovingly disciplines them (Hebrews 12:5-11), so they can be restored to close fellowship with Him and be trained to obey Him.

God’s desire in saving us is that we would progressively grow closer to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2), becoming increasingly spiritual and decreasingly carnal, a process known as sanctification. Until we are delivered from our sinful flesh, there will be outbreaks of carnality. For a genuine believer in Christ, though, these outbreaks of carnality will be the exception, not the rule.Recommended Resource: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.

Slight changes: Strictly speaking, Christ is our salvation, not faith.

The slight changes in the following include the fact that Christ alone saved us---not faith alone. The faith is simply the wonderful sign he gives us to tell us we have been saved. Faith is not our salvation, Christ is. But faith is the gift he gives us to know that we have been given the gift of salvation--the assurance that we will be with him forever someday. The Gospel is indeed the comfort of true Christians. "He who believes in me has everlasting life." (John 6:47) "He who hears my word and believes in He who sent me has eternal life and shall not be condemned. He has passed from live to death. (John 5:23)

Affirmations of Belief

The gospel is God's promise to save His people based on the substitutionary death and imputed righteousness of his sinless only Son, Jesus. Jesus tells us we can know we are those who have been chosen to live forever with him if we believe (have faith) that he alone has won everlasting life (salvation) for us. These gifts of faith and salvation are given totally apart from the sinner’s works and efforts.

He who believes in me has everlasting life. John 6:47

The sinner’s sure sign that he or she has receiving everlasting li fe is the faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross and rose bodily from the dead. (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14 ; 5:24 ; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).

No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or20considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).