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Tag Archives: carnal believers

Don’t Return to Slavery

As we continue to follow Paul’s practical teaching through 1 Corinthians, he’s been talking about carnal Christians.  These are believers who love the Lord but are ruled by their feelings rather than the Word of God.  They’re saved people who act like the world.

In my last post, we saw that these carnal believers have no kingdom inheritance.  They’re missing out on many of the blessings that are ours in Christ.

As a matter of fact, there may have been some self-righteous Christians who got offended by my last post.  They would disagree with me when I say that carnal believers are saved.  My understanding of the grace of God will not allow me to so easily destine these people to hell.

I know that it’s very easy for worldly Christians to use the grace of God like a doormat.  They live like the world and “wipe their feet off” every so often to ease their conscience.  But the Bible does teach that this is a possible response to God’s grace.

However, living this way gets very little of the kingdom blessings.  There will also be no eternal rewards waiting for them.

Paul records their mindsets as we continue in his letter.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

They say that they’re free to do whatever they want.  That much is true.  But as Paul comments on it, he makes it clear that certain behaviors come with a price.  This worldly lifestyle will bring no kingdom benefits.  And it will also come to the point where these sins are controlling you.

In telling His disciples about the last days, Jesus warned them of falling into this trap.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.  They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties.  We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to live with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We’re warned to throw off the things that hinder.  Probably the worst is dissipation.  We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days.  Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment.  All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life.  They’re good things.

Yes, they’re all permissible things, but they can become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers.  Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

If left unchecked, the church can become a prisoner to our permissible things.  If we find ourselves in this condition, then we need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to break free from a worldly lifestyle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2019

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Keeping Your Distance

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5, is dealing with the matter of how carnal Christians are to be treated.  In many cases, we find ourselves off the track of God’s will in our generation.  There are times we either totally ignore sin in the church, or we kick people out of our fellowship.

As we’ve seen through these last few posts, Paul was not endorsing either of these options.  Instead, he tells mature believers to take authority over the situation in the spirit.

Now Paul shows us the way a carnal believer should be treated on a personal level.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man do not even eat.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Once someone has been identified as a carnal believer who has no desire for repentance, the work of restoration begins.  There must be intercession in the spirit for this person.  But that alone is not enough.

It’s the love shown to them that will draw them closer to God.  That’s why an understanding of this passage is so vital to church leadership.

The word, associate, in the passage literally means an intimate friendship.  It speaks of a mixing together of two lives.  It’s not referring to a casual acquaintance.

Paul is not telling us to cut all ties with this person.  Instead, we’re to love them back to the cross.  We can treat them in a friendly way without being best friends with them.  The goal is for them to desire a closer walk with God without their lifestyle or attitudes rubbing off on us.

The subject of eating together also needs to be addressed.  In our fast-paced society, meeting someone to discuss business over lunch has no intimate associations at all.  When Paul wrote this, eating together was a long process that usually meant a close, intimate friendship.

The key is that we’re not to develop an intimate friendship with carnal believers.  This goes right along with what Christ taught concerning those in unrepentant sin.  Look at what Christ says to do after repeatedly trying to restore this person.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:17

I’ve seen people who use this verse to kick members out of their church.  Let’s understand what Jesus is saying here.

I think that I can sum it up in two simple questions.  How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?  Did He shun and exclude them or did He spend time with them in order to bring restoration?  I think the answers are obvious.

The Pharisees judged people for their sins and had them expelled from the synagogue.  Jesus loved people and spent time with them to bring them nearer to God.  Would you rather your life imitate Christ or a Pharisee?

It’s time that the church started to deal with sin in a scriptural, Christ-like way.  Our goal should be healing and restoration for the body of Christ.

Question: How have you seen scriptural restoration exemplified?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Fellowship, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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