The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.
Paul gave a strong word of rebuke to carnal Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:1: “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.” He addressed them as “brethren,” acknowledging that these Corinthians, by and large, were believers. But notice the other two phrases he used to describe the Corinthian Christians.
First of all, Paul called them “men of flesh.” The Greeks believed that human flesh in and of itself was evil, which is why they had a hard time with the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. Paul did not fall into the Greek way of thinking, but he said our flesh is evil because it has been polluted with sin. So when he called the Corinthians “men of flesh,” he was saying they were enslaved to the corrupt desires of their old sin nature.
In Galatians 5, Paul gave us a great checklist for carnality. He said, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (v. 16). The desire of the flesh is our corrupt desire to satisfy legitimate needs in an illegitimate way. Then Paul listed some “deeds of the flesh”: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (vv. 19-21). If any of these characteristics fit you, then you may be a carnal Christian, a person of the flesh.
The second phrase Paul used in 1 Corinthians 3:1 to describe carnality is “infants in Christ.” Babies are precious things. But when a person who is ten years old or thirty years old acts like a baby, there is nothing precious about that.
In the same way, there are spiritually stunted people in the church, people who have been saved for five or ten or thirty years, yet they still act like spiritual babies. You see, spiritual maturity has nothing to do with age; it is a condition of the heart. Christians who are spiritually stunted throw temper tantrums when they do not get their way. They are always intent on fulfilling their own desires regardless of the fallout to other people. That is what the Corinthian Christians were like: they were completely self-centered.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Baby Talk” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.