Carnality and Its Cure

What is carnality? Our English word carnal comes from a Greek word that means having the nature of the flesh. Another definition is controlled by the senses or governed by human nature. Perhaps the easiest definition is worldly and not spiritual. In Romans 8:6 Paul wrote, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." From James 4:1-10, let us examine carnality and its cure.

In James 4:1-4, James points out the products of carnality. Fights and wars have their roots in the carnal mind. Lusts, murders and covetousness also have their beginnings in carnality. Adultery comes from a desire to please the flesh. All these things lead to enmity with God. Enmity with God will lead to mourning and gloom (James 4:9). Surveying the before mentioned products of carnality, do we really want to be carnal?

While the spirit is willing to overcome carnality, the flesh is weak. How then can we cure carnality? In James 4:6-10, we see five ingredients needed to remove carnal thinking from our lives. The key ingredient is Humility. "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6) "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10) Christ defeated carnal thinking by becoming humble (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus taught that the greatest in the kingdom would be servants (Matthew 23:11).

The second ingredient is Submission to God. Words that describe submission include meekness, obedience, humility and selflessness. When we submit to God, we die to self (Galatians 2:20). We submit to God’s will and not our own (John 6:38). Submission to God gives us the freedom to please Him.

Next, we must Resist the Devil. Peter warns us about our adversary in 1 Peter 5:8-9. John describes Satan as the "father of all lies" (John 8:44). It is interesting to note that resisting Satan will cause him to flee from us.

Fourth, we need to Draw Near to God. This implies action on our part. We draw near to God through prayer, through study of God’s word, through worshipping God in spirit and truth, through the fellowship of the saints, and by living the Christian life. If we draw near to God, He draws near to us.

Fifth, we must Repent. Repentance is defined as a change of heart that leads to a change of life. In Luke 13:3-5, Jesus said unless we repent, we would all perish. In Paul’s great sermon on Mars Hill we learn that God requires all people to repent (Acts 17:31). Carnality can not be overcome without godly repentance.

In Titus 2:12, we are admonished to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly. John commands us to love not the world and the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). In Galatians 5:16-26, we are taught to walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. What drives us? The desire to please self through the flesh or the desire to please God through the spirit.

~ Greg Neill


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