Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Is Carnality?

What does it mean to be carnal or worldly? Could it be that it does not always look the way we normally think? It is common to think of it in terms of indulgences: sex, drugs, alcohol, things of that nature. These would certainly fall into that category, but is that what carnality and worldliness must be? One of the things Scripture associates with carnality and worldliness is strife and division (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; James 3:13-18; Galatians 5:20). But this kind of carnality can not only co-exist, but even be fueled by a kind of faux spirituality. The idea being that if I (along with whoever I associate with) can convince myself I am more spiritual then you, I can justify my dividing into my own faction over some minor issue. And by doing so, I may prove myself more carnal then those I am dividing from. In fact, I may be embracing meaningless rules rather than real spirituality (Colossians 2:20-23; Matthew 15:1-20; Romans 14:4-10).   

I find it interesting that the people Jesus most strongly rebuked were not the derelicts of society (Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10; John 4:7-26), but He rebuked the self-righteous people who thought themselves better than others (Matthew 23:1-13; 6:1-18; Luke 18:9-14). This is important to remember: true Biblical righteousness requires more than mere respectability. It also requires us to put aside trust in our own wisdom and to trust in God (1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:1-3; Proverbs 3:5,6). And it requires us to put other people and their concerns before our own (Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 12:3-16; Matthew 7:12). This results in our making every effort to live in peace with each other (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Ephesians 4:1-3). But we can try to convince ourselves that we or our group are more spiritual than all others. But this attitude, far from showing the deep spirituality of the possessor, is not a sign of spirituality but of carnality. And by focusing on indulgence as a characteristic of carnality we can ignore its more subtle aspects. We can think that as long as we avoid the blatant forms of carnality, we are all right, while indulging in strife and division. And we can do this while trying to convince ourselves that we are being spiritual. We can claim to be exalting God when in fact we are building up our own egos. But if we remember we are sinners saved by the grace of God, it puts these things in perspective (Romans 5:6-8; Colossians 2:13,14; Ephesians 2:8,9). We will be less willing to divide over minor things, when we realize the major thing was taken care of for us by God.

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