I believe one of the most important commands in the word of God written for believers is found in II Peter 3:18: "But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." Some believers grow and mature and their lives show it and some do not. The book of I Corinthians is an example of a church that was filled with immature carnal Christians. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:1; "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ." Paul continues in the following verses explaining what he meant. He said, "I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" There are actually two ways here that we can discern the immaturity of a carnal Christian. First is the word itself. "Carnal" really means "fleshly" in the original language. Just simply living to please the flesh. Secondly Paul used the illustration of babies that were taking milk. A baby acting like a baby is a joy. An adult acting like a baby is a tragedy. As you go through the book of I Corinthians you find a number of other problems that Paul addresses that characterized that church. There was quarreling, sexual immorality, going to law against other believers, misuse of Christian liberty, idolatry, wrong use of spiritual gifts, wrong teaching concerning Christ's resurrection and disorder at the Lord's table.
I believe it was George Barna who first made the statement that today's Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep. That is sad and far from what God would desire of believers. God would have His people to be spiritually minded; to walk in the Spirit; to be led by the Spirit. Martin Luther said, "The Bible cannot be understood simply by study or talent; you must count only on the influence of the Holy Spirit." John Calvin wrote: "The testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason for...these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit." The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:7-8: "...the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." So the question is this: Are you a spiritual Christian who is saved and seeks to walk in the power and control and direction of the Holy Spirit or are you satisfied to walk in the flesh and carnality? Are you a person who lives a spirit-filled life enjoying spiritual blessings, singing spiritual songs, fighting spiritual enemies and living a life of rejoicing and praise or are you satisfied living as though there has been no change in your life when you say you trusted Christ? If you know Christ Jesus as Lord of your life there should be every evidence of a life that is not conformed to this world but has been transformed by the renewing of your mind instead of living in the lusts of the flesh. May God help each one to live and walk in the Spirit!
Max Day is Pastor Emeritus at Faith Baptist Church, Brainerd.