Good morning my friends.
Have you noticed that we seem to be producing a great number of carnal Christians. Many of my younger readers are turning to Dictionary.com right now to see what carnal means. Allow me to save you the trouble. Carnal: not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.(www.dictionary.com) Many Christians are caught up in the affairs of this world, holding to many of its values of physical rewards. I am not really sure it is their fault because I think the Church is failing to teach one very basic foundational truth: we died.
This truth is a fairly simple one to understand especially when we use marriage as an example as Paul does in a couple of places in scripture. We know marriage is for life. Regardless of our attitude toward it in this present age, when a man and woman are united the two become one and cannot be separated except by death. It is a physical, mental, and emotional joining that happens with sexual intercourse and cannot be undone by a piece of paper. The only thing that can end this union is death. This is how Paul explains our relationship with sin, that we are united to it as a man is united to a woman. The only thing that can break this union is death but then if we die all other possibilities die because sin has remained with us until death. So we needed some way to die and stay alive. This was the purpose of Jesus' death. When we accept Jesus there is a transformation; we submit our will to God, we die, and then he raises us to life in Jesus. We are a new creation, changed from what we were before. In this way our union with sin is broken because we died and God brought us back but our life can only exist in Jesus. Outside of him there is only death.
Paul wrote to the Colossians:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (2:1-4)
This seems to be a hard thing for people to grasp; in accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour we have given up what were were, we have been born for a second time, as a new creation so that we have been raised with Jesus. This means nothing can remain the same as our motivation is changed by our new perspective. We are no longer caught up in the physical rewards of this world because our hearts must now be on things above. Paul tells us that it is not only our heart but our minds that must be focused on Kingdom things instead of the things of this earth. Why? Because we died and we are now alive in Jesus.
Unfortunately many new members of the church are just that, members of the church. Their mentality is conformity instead of transformation. They treat it like a club with membership and weekly dues. Nothing much changes about their lives because no one teaches them what it means to accept Jesus as Saviour. They take on the name Jesus, the get dressed up on Sundays, they dutifully attend church, they pay some money, they may volunteer in one of the church programs and they feel good and secure. All their goals, desires, and attractions remain the same. They see nothing wrong in chasing down the physical rewards of this world. They are carnal Christians because they fail to understand the spiritual significance of their union with Jesus.
Over the next few days we are going to examine the difference that our transformation in Jesus has caused in us. Like many people have said recently, we allow things to change in us because we want to change not because we have to change. It is like a young man in love, he wants to be the best version of himself because he loves that young lady. Because we love Jesus we want to be the best version of our self. We do not desire change in ourselves out of obedience to a law or commandment, but out of love. Jesus even said, "If you love me you will do what I have commanded". So in preparation for the next few days I would like us to take a personal inventory of your attitude and priorities. Where is your heart and mind focused, on the things of earth or on spiritual matters, Kingdom stuff? I pray the Spirit will use our time in this topic to strengthen us in Jesus and to increase our understanding of God's plan and desire for us.