I recently was within earshot of a conversation where the subject was referred to as a “carnal Christian”. I would imagine that all of us have heard that expression before. So I pose a question to you: Is there such a thing as a carnal Christian? In fact, the phrase appears to be an oxymoron. Can a person who considers himself a Christian remain carnal? In reference to Ephesians 2:8-10, the scripture would suggest that the answer is no. First, this scripture tells us that salvation is a gift given to us by the grace of God. There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it. Trying to earn it by doing “works” is totally unscriptural. The way we receive this gift of salvation is through faith, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (and in His death and resurrection). It was an amazing exchange – our sins for His righteousness! The scriptures goes on to say that the result of this amazing exchange is a changed life. Our salvation should be evidence by good works and obedience to God’s Word. In other words, good works is a result of salvation, not the cause of it. So if we say we are saved but continue to live carnally (contrary to God’s Word), was there ever a genuine belief (in Christ)? Romans 8:5-8 tells us that carnally minded people are in opposition (enmity) to God and cannot please Him. Now we all sin, meaning we all slip and fall occasionally in our walk with the Lord. And for that we have repentance, having sincere regret or remorse for what we’ve done. And upon confession of our sins to God, we can have confidence that we have His forgiveness. But to live our life according to the desires of our flesh and ignoring God’s Word is being carnally minded which leads to death. So, back to my original question – Is there such a thing as a carnal Christian? Or, can a person live carnally and be a Christian? Scripture would suggest you are either a Christian……..or you’re not.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) – 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Romans 8:5-8 (NKJV) – 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 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, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
1 John 1:7-9 (NKJV)
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.