<<of the flesh, worldly>>
This refers to our sinful nature – that unredeemed part of our ‘inner man’ with whom the new nature of Christ must battle daily (Rom 7:7-25; Gal 5:16-18).
To be carnal is to obey the base instincts or desires of the body, rather than the higher stimulant of the spirit. It is the (ungodly) body and soul overriding the spirit’s (godly or spiritual) directions. It is being more concerned with the temporal present, rather than the lasting eternal world. Our eyes need to be open to the futility of catering to the demands of the flesh (body) which should be in submission to our minds and wills which in turn should receive their ‘orders’ from the Bible and Holy Spirit. To be a carnal or nominal Christian is to be lukewarm and ineffective for God; wanting the benefits of God’s Kingdom and the pleasures of sin too. It has been termed having ‘a foot in both camps’ – God’s and Satan’s – but not enjoying either. The works of such a person are described as wood, hay, stubble – flammable things of insignificant worth and not possessing lasting qualities when compared to what they could be if they were fully devoted to Christ (1 Cor 3:10-15). It is not producing fruit because of a lack of commitment, devotion and not understanding the terms of discipleship (Mt 16:24). Being carnal is doing things that cater to our wants and convenience, whereas true service to God is on His terms not ours.
Many people consider they are heaven bound, having made ‘a decision’ at some stage, yet as there has been no genuine repentance with a change of heart they have been lulled into a deceptive false sense of eternal security and in fact are headed to hell. They continue to live indifferent to the teachings of Christ who made this very sobering statement, “Not everyone who says unto me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father” (Mt 7:21-23).
True disciples or Christians are those who are bearing fruit – the observable change resulting from the life of Christ within. Although there are varying degrees of productivity, fruit is still fruit (Mt 13:23). A profession of faith without some evidence is dead and useless (Jas 2:17). Living a Godly life is not a substitution for, but a validation of faith in Christ.
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God – Romans 8:8
Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11). “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires…or think how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Rom 6:12, 13:14). “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:16,24). The carnal flesh is to be put to death and not used as an excuse to experience more of the grace of God (Rom 6:1). This is not a literal death, but a crucifying of the passions of the flesh and every pursuit that would keep us from a burning devotion to Jesus. We are instructed to put off the old life and put on the new, for the works of the flesh are sinful and those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9,10). “It is saying ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (Tit 2:12; 1 Pet 2:11). By nature, we are biased towards sin – living in rebellion to a holy God.
What we feed into our mind determines the outflow (Mt 12:35). Thus, we should constantly monitor the company we mix with and the media input.
In the last days many will have a lukewarm love for God which is repulsive to Him (Mt 24:12; Rev 3:15,16). As the seriousness of eternity is of such major consequence, we should do our utmost to ensure we don’t just scrape into heaven, rather doing all we can to make our calling and election certain. We do this by being in vital connection to Christ, outworked in righteous God-honouring and obedient lifestyles (Lk 13:24; Jn 15:4ff, Eph 4:25-34; 1 Thes 4:7; Heb 12:14; 2 Pet 1:10, 3:14).
See also: cause and effect, cheap gospel, Christian, disciple/discipleship, flesh, put off/put on, self-examination, worldliness.