In the NT, “carnal” means “fleshly”. The primary meaning of “fleshly” is not bad, sinful or evil, but simply “natural” : what fallen man does or thinks naturally or normally. Of course, this leads to sin, for man is a sinner by nature, so his natural tendencies, thoughts and leadings always gravitate toward sin.

Paul criticized some, saying, you are acting like “mere men” (1 Cor. 3:3). This implies that “only human” is not good enough for God. Doing what comes naturally is not good enough. Thinking and acting like normal people do does not cut it with God.

Now, if Paul said that many Christians then were carnal (1 Cor. 3) how much more so today?

On what basis were the Corinthians carnal or natural? They used worldly, natural wisdom. They began to “denominate” : create factions. Strife. Ambition. Carnal, says Paul. That’s what mere men, who don’t know God, do. God expects better from you. We are not called to a natural life, but to a supernatural life, not called to mere human love, but divine love. There has to be this supernatural element to everything for a Christian, otherwise they are merely natural or carnal, and this leads nowhere good.

The Holy Spirit is supernatural. He is not natural. He is God. He created nature, therefore He is supernatural. But we come across whole churches where nearly everything is on the natural level. People living merely by their own resources, by their own so-limited intellectual understanding. No revelation. No prophesying. No heavenly vision of Jesus. No life.

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