MITRA: The unveiling of the carnal
In 1 Corinthians, we have a solemn unveiling of the carnal, the deadliest foe of the spiritual.
Apostle Paul, in the opening verses, asks the question: Has God two standards by which He tests His children?
Has He a carnal standard for carnal Christians and a spiritual standard for spiritual Christians?
What do we mean by the carnal?
Simply speaking, it’s the worldly, as divorced from the spiritual. Satan and the world assail God’s people from the outside, but the carnal is the traitor within.
God has only one standard for us all.
Paul opens his letter to Corinthians with God’s purpose concerning Christian believers in 1 Cor. 1:9, with regards to their calling in partnership with Christ.
Paul unveils the carnal in three spheres: The intellectual, in ethics and in religion.
As to the intellectual, Paul was not opposed to intellectual life and activities. He recognized the Corinthians were a singularly gifted people and their gift sprang from the grace of God.
The moment we recognize natural gifts as an expression of the grace of God, two things follow: We do not undervalue the gifts in others and are not likely to misuse them.
We are inclined to attach fictitious values to natural gifts. We speak and think of them as if they were the be-all and end-all of fitness for God’s work.
Our very ideals are more intellectual than spiritual.
There is another form of carnality in the intellectual sphere: The refusal to believe what reason cannot demonstrate (1 Cor. 15).
We cannot surrender the foundation and keep a building. This is what is being done in many directions today — the thoughtlessness with which Christian teachers fling their doubts.
How often we hear: When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” or “The end justifies the means.”
We can hear the hiss of the serpent through these axioms.
They are born of the carnal and ought never be heard on Christian lips.
Another feature of the carnal is its susceptibility to evil environment.
The carnal is always the easy prey to the latest error or to the most popular sin.
Place a carnal Christian where spiritual influences surround him and where all is in his favour and he stays a decent member of the church roll.
But, let him go to lands where there is no Christian influence and he quickly succumbs.
As to the sphere of religion, Paul brings it out in chapters one and three and indirectly in chapter 14 – the spirit of partisanship.
In some cases it was racial, in others social, doctrinal and ecclesiastical.
In several cases, it centred on a form of man-worship.
There was party prejudice, party feelings, shibboleths, accompanied by bitterness, strife and weakness.
There will always be differences in schools of thinking, angles of vision and the type of leaders needed in our churches.
But, the carnal overlooks that all Christian workers are mutually dependent as one member of the body is upon another.
All of them as a whole are dependent upon God.
All find their unity in God alone.
What about the presence of this spirit of partisanship among us today?
Do we judge our brother by a badge?
If we do, we are carnal.
It may be a racial, social, or a denominational badge but, it is carnal — and we are carnal if we wear it.
God is shifting His base of missionary operations once more these days from the carnal West to the spiritually despised East.
Wherever we meet the carnal and under whatever disguise we meet it, it is the deadly foe of the spiritual in our soul.
Let’s not trifle with it, give it quarter, not tolerate it, and not yield ourselves to it.
KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and include a headshot of the author, along with a short bio on the writer. Submissions can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.