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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 1998

The Carnal Christian Misnomer

    Distorted understandings of Romans 6-7 and I Corinthians 1-3 are fertile breeding grounds for popular antinomianism--the Christian living a "carnal" experience of pity-patty rebelliousness and self will, without clear-cut victory over the life of sin.

The Bible does not justify a "carnal" experience of Christianity, friends, nor do carnal Christians  need to "get entirely sanctified" to cure their problem of carnality; they need, rather, to get biblically saved, for the Bible standard of holiness is the same for every Christian, whatever stage in the process of God's wonderful grace he/she is presently experiencing.

    The impossibility of being a carnal Christian is clearly taught in Romans 8:7-8. Listen carefully to the logic of these verses: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

    Here is Paul's argument: (1) all true Christians have the Holy Spirit; and, (2) those having the Holy Spirit are not in the flesh, or carnal mind.

    Friends, the carnal mind is NOT the same as inbred sin! The first characterizes the unregenerate; the second is a disorganized, defiling and destabilizing remains that stays in the believer until purged by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.

    In the saved experience the power of sin is broken, and the principle of obedience is implanted in the heart--surely such is not the heady, full-strength "carnal mind" encounter described in Romans 8:7-8!

    To many have tried to preach holiness from the Scofield Reference Bible and taught "the carnal Christian"--an antinomian construction that allows for a double standard in the Christian life. God has no double standard that permits of willful sin. All Christians are called to live a radiant, victorious, holy life. Genuine repentance will cure many a so-called "struggle with carnality." Total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is no option for the believer, it is the essence of his Christian faith--without it there is no scriptural first work of grace.

The essence of the carnal mind, furthermore, is stated in Romans 8:7-8 to be that of enmity, meaning animosity, or hateful rebellion against the law of God. Nothing is said about the carnal mind  being a subjective reflexive emotional state here. The carnal mind is, rather,  evidenced more objectively in one's having a problem with God and his laws. Thus, it more deeply manifests itself in belief systems that are at variance with, and a substitute for, divine revelation.

    The preference for false religion, friends, is just as much, or more, a manifestation  of carnality, than is some  variant "feeling" of a passing subjective emotional state. Too many of we modern holiness preachers have tried to "preach against carnality" by condemning reflexive states of feeling, while we ourselves have been clinging to the false ideological system of dispensational premillennialism that runs counter to the revealed salvation history plan of God. When any one dares to intrude upon THAT false belief system, moreover, then we notice how quickly the "old man" deep in the heart of such lopsided preachers begins to get stirred.

The authentic holiness preacher preaches often, strong, and hard against carnality, biblically defined. At the heart of his message is the truth about the whole revelation of God that touches definitely and fully upon the eschatological (last things) issue. Falsehood here means untruth everywhere else, for at the eschaton  God intends to fully vindicate His ways to man (Acts 17:31).

    It is the truth that sanctifies us wholly. The carnal mind hates and opposes the truth. No one in that condition of carnality, of animosity toward the truth can rightfully be called a Christian.

Cults of false doctrine everywhere today, as always, oppose the truth.  How can anyone truly  "die out" to carnality, then, in these days of unfettered religious pluralism?

Desire truth; seek truth. God's Word is truth. Sanctification comes--the death of the old man of the carnal nature happens--through "thy truth" (John 17:17).

Carnality is not wholly subjective, as many think, friends, neither is the work of entire sanctification wholly subjective, either.  It comes, rather, through a form of doctrine received (Romans 6:17-17), a word taken heed to (Psalm 119:9); a God of truth "obeyed" (Acts 5:32).

When the "truth line" is broken--and the false teachings of dispensational premillennialism (as only one example of a cult of false doctrine) does dissolve the truth line--everything else falls apart. It is impossible to be delivered from the carnal mind under those circumstances. Why? because although the emotional reflexive states may indeed be placid, the old man has his way in striking back at the Almighty in the article of our clinging to false doctrines that displace His truth. The old man is very happy with our commitment to those comfortable substitutes for divine truth that he hates so much. And he will be content with us in these cults of false doctrine until someone begins to "rock the boat," as it were, upon our false belief system. Then you will hear from the old man downstairs, loud and clear.

The carnal mind is enmity. Never forget it. And you cannot love and hate at the same time. That is why "perfect love" is the "perfect cure" for the old man carnality.  The Methodist hymn writer once pinned it this way: "Love only can the strength of sin subdue, come Oh my Savior, cast out sin, and make my heart anew"!

How does this happen?  It happen when, again as the hymn writer so ably pinned it: "Thy truth I now no more blaspheme, they truth I lovingly receive."

There are no "carnal" Christians friends, there are only those who are walking toward, or away from, the God of truth. Those who are walking away form the God of truth are the unevangelized, the backsliders, and the apostates. Those who are walking toward the God of truth are the awakened, the convicted, the repentant, and the Christians, though they may not all, as yet, be entirely sanctified.

All who keep on walking in the light may face the glorious prospects, in a moment of time, in this present  life, of being  "filled with all the fullness of God."    

Desire; truth. These are the keys. The carnal mind has no use for either one. He is perfectly content for you to go through life comfortably believing some false doctrine. Feelings and emotions he can handle. Ideology, Christian ideology, he is afraid of. Why? Because it exposes him. Preach subjectively only on the feelings and reflexive emotional states, friends, and the old carnal nature will evade detection and death every time.  Preach objectively the truth of divine revelation, however, and he is soon brought, trembling and convulsing,  before the execution bar.

Let the old man die! Let the old carnal nature be put to death!

 Preach the objective truth, brother, preach the objective truth about the revelation of God, and soon he will.

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