This article is part three of the series, What is Carnality.
Part one, covered the root of carnality which is the flesh. Flesh is identified as the lower—base part of man that contains the sinful nature. It looked at Romans chapter 7, where Paul identified the problem of indwelling sin; that there is a problem between the law, sin, and the flesh. Also, that while the law identified sin, it was powerless because of his flesh. In verse 18 he Wrote, “for I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. So what he said is, while he had the will to do good, he couldn’t perform it because of his flesh. So part one concluded by acknowledging just how powerful the flesh really is. How the flesh makes wrong seem right, and right seem wrong. It also looked at the effects of being carnal—led by the flesh—how the flesh manifests itself according to Gal. 5:19-21, and it explored each individual manifestation and what it’s effects are.
In part two, we examined Romans chapter 8, where we looked at carnality in relation to the kingdom and the fact that, according to scripture, one who is carnal—led by their flesh, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Rom 8:6-8; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5] We also shed light on the fact that there is no such thing as a carnal Christian. We’re either Christian or carnal. Let’s take a fast look at Romans 8:6-8
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. The carnal mind hates God; the carnal mind cannot please God. Therefore, there are no carnal Christians, we can’t be Christians and have enmity against God.
Since we have defined carnality and made known its effects, this article begins by looking at overcoming carnality. In part two, we looked at Romans 8 regarding the flesh. In this article, part 3, we’re going to look at Romans 8 again, but this time regarding the Spirit. Let’s look at verse 1
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The scripture says that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Let’s look at the word condemnation. The root word is condemn. To condemn is to pass adverse judgment on: to declare to be guilty of wrong doing and inflict a penalty. So for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation. Let’s look at further confirmation based on what Jesus said, John 3:17-18
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
To not be in Christ is therefore condemnation. To be in Christ is no condemnation. But going back to Romans 8:1, Paul further clarifies what it means to be in Christ, he wrote, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. This spirit that Paul is referring to here is the Spirit of Christ—the Holy Spirit. [Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6; Phil 1:19; 1 Pet. 1:11] This is the spirit that we are to walk in. Looking at verse 4 which reads:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, … (Let’s pause here)
Now in part 1, we looked at scripture in chapter 7 where Paul declared the law Holy. Let’s look at chapter 7, verses 11 & 12:
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Now if you’ll remember the point here is that the law makes us aware of sin. This is its God given purpose which is good. The law points to life: the path to righteousness. But since sin reigns in our natures, the law means death and judgment. So basically what Paul is saying here is that: sin took advantage of the law and deceived him or fooled him; it took the good law and used it to make him guilty
of sin—death. But still in verse 12 he wrote, the law itself is holy and right and good.
So we can’t keep the law ourselves—in our flesh, which is why Paul wrote in verse 24:
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
In other words, Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?
Going back to chapter 8, the answer is the Spirit—the spirit of Christ.
Looking at verse 4 again: “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, and Paul clarifies this again by stating: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” We in our selves cannot fulfill the law—the righteousness of the law; we cannot live righteous lives—in the flesh, but only in the spirit. Let’s look at verse 6 again:
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Carnality leads to death. We looked at this in part one according to Gal. 5:21 which surmise that those who live carnal lives will not inherit the kingdom. But Paul also gives the opposite scenario, to be spiritually minded, or to be led by the Spirit is life and peace.
Now just as we focused heavily on the manifestations of the flesh in part one, we’re going to focus just as heavy on the manifestations of the spirit. So let’s turn now to Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This passage addresses the fruit of the spirit. Fruit means the result, the end product, outcome or effect, produced by the spirit in a Christian’s life. Now here Paul compiled a list of the manifestations of the spirit, just as he listed the manifestations of the flesh earlier in the chapter (vss. 19-21). But Notice that the word “fruit” is singular, not plural. Unlike the gifts of the Spirit where generally a Christian possesses one or a few, the Holy Spirit has only one fruit. Here it is broken down into a list of traits in order to help us understand His nature. But the Spirit has only one nature, one fruit–love.
Therefore, when He lives within a person all these traits are present. The genuine Christian believer does not experience and bear just some of them: but the Spirit of God produces them all in the life of the believer.
Now having said that, an important factor to realize is that just as it takes time for fruit to grow and mature on a tree, so it is with the Spirit in that, it does not cultivate these virtues in the believer’s life overnight. This is a growth process. This is why it is very important for a Christian believer to grow. A Christian that doesn’t grow becomes a victim of carnality which is a downward spiral. A future article will address Christian growth.
Now for a conclusive summary, there are some who feel as it has been expressed, that we shouldn’t spiritualize everything. But the fact of the matter is, without the spirit we are lost. This is the very reason why Christ sent us the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at what it says In Romans 15:13
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
As we believe by faith and begin to exercise faith—by living righteous
lives, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith and righteousness is the fertile ground that allows the spirit to abound in us. Now the key word here is obedience. Let’s look at John 14: in this chapter we have Jesus’ initial promise of the Holy Spirit. Verses 15-21:
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. If you love me, you will obey what I command
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Now again this is Christ’s promise of the Holy Spirit. But notice the order of this passage. He starts His promise by requesting what? Obedience!
He goes on to say: “(AND) I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” Let’s look at the last verse—verse 21: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: (you see love for Christ and obeying His commands are inseparable —we can’t do one without the other—we can’t say that we love Christ and disobey Him. 1st John 2:4 reads: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” back to our text in John) and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
The Holy Spirit is the very special manifestation of Christ within the Christian believer. But notice that this promised is bracketed by the first and last verses, based on obedience. God’s promise of the Holy Spirit is based on obedience to His commands—living righteous lives. This manifestation in a Christian’s life is paramount—for His survival as a child of God.
It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that God accomplishes his care for his people–giving us endurance, encouragement, unity, hope, joy, and peace. Hope comes as a by-product of the Holy Spirit’s work. It does not come from our own senses or experiences. This explains why immature Christians easily fall into temptation: they let their natural feelings make the decision, instead of being led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift—God’s tool—for overcoming carnality. Therefore, we must lean on the Holy Spirit. So the fact of the matter is we should spiritualize everything.
Now we all know right from wrong, but that’s only half the problem. The other half is doing right. The scripture instructs us to not just read the word, but “do what it says.” [James 1:22 NIV] and we can only do this with the help of the spirit.
Paul,—God’s greatest servant in the New Testament, by his own admission in the scriptures (that we saw in Rom 7) part one, knew what was right, but couldn’t perform it on his own. [Rom 7:18] But in our current text we see that it’s not so much of a problem if we would just walk in the spirit. He addressed this again in Gal 5:16 where he wrote: “this I say then, walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome carnality. Therefore, we must sift everything through the Holy Spirit. Every thing that we say and do should be done through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As 1 Cor 10:31 instructs us: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Now this is instruction from God, and it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to carry out this instruction.
The Holy Spirit will never guide us wrong. We are created with freewill so He can’t stop us from doing what we want to do, but He will always guide us and prompt us in the right direction—to make the right decision—to do the right thing and not the wrong. As Jesus said regarding the Holy Spirit: “…he shall teach you all things” [John 15:26]
The biggest problem is doubt and unbelief—even for us Christians. We make ourselves unhappy by believing the Devil’s lies; and we become negative because we have no peace, and no joy, and end up living in unbelief. Instead of living faith to faith as the scripture says, many of us are on a see-saw. We live a life of going from faith, to doubt, to disbelief. Then back to faith, only to later go back to doubt and unbelief. We tend to be a little capricious with our faith, and we end up being miserable roller-coaster Christians, allowing our faith to take swells and dips. Many of us are double minded in our faith. One day, we’re a child of God and a disciple of Christ, and the next day, we’re in the flesh, acting like the world. The scripture says, “from faith to faith.” Also, “that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” [Rom. 1:17; 15:13] But if we have doubt and unbelief, we will quench the Holy Ghost, and will not receive from God. Again to repeat what the bible tell us in Hebrews 11:6: “but without faith it is impossible to please Him.” If God is not pleased, we certainly cannot receive from Him.
Now we’ve look at this in scripture from the front side—faith and hope, let’s now look at it with scripture from the back side—with wavering faith—doubt. Let’s look at one last passage: James 1:
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
We simply can’t receive from God when we approach him with doubt and unbelief. Verse 8 goes on to say:
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Now remember what Elijah asked Israel in 1 Kings 18:21: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.
Listen, we Christians need to make up our minds that we will not live in a state of double mindedness. We will not live in disbelief and doubt; we will not walk in disobedience. God has a plan for each and every one of us, and we can’t let the Devil steal it away from us with his lies. We must rebuke him! The bible says that we are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. [2 Cor. 10:5] AMEN?
So in closing we must develop a good personal relationship with the Father.
Know that he loves us, that He is full of mercy, which He will help us—we must have in a word: faith. We must get to know Jesus; that He is our friend. After all, He died for us. We must get to know the Holy Spirit; that He is with us all the time to help us. So we must let Him—help us—overcome carnality.
Part four will continue with overcoming carnality with a focus on the sponsor of carnality. For part 4 click here
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