The Carnal Christian At Church

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

–James 4:1

What are the characteristics of a carnal Christian? Yesterday we saw that, first of all, carnal Christians are slaves to their old nature. Even though the power of that old sin nature has been broken, its influence in our lives remains. And carnal Christians have become enslaved to the selfish desires of their old nature.

Second, they are self-centered. When you think about it, there is no one more self-centered than a baby–all she cares about is getting her needs met. And it is the same way with carnal Christians. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:3: “Since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” These carnal Christians in the Corinthian church, whom Paul called “infants in Christ” (v. 1), all wanted their own way. And whenever there are immature people in a marriage, in a friendship, or in a church who are each intent on getting their own way, you are going to have conflict. James 4:1 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

When you hear people in the church who are always complaining about the music or the sermons or the programs, you are dealing with baby Christians. They think the church exists to do everything the way they want it done. But the church is not Burger King–you do not get to have it your way all the time. The church is not about you or me; it is about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The third characteristic of carnal Christians is they are focused on other people instead of God. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:4: “When one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” Paul was the founding pastor of the church at Corinth, and Apollos was the current pastor. Paul continued, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (vv. 5-6). Paul was saying, “Do not get hung up on your pastors. We are all simply servants of God–He is the one who produces a spiritual harvest.”

The same is true for us today. Do not focus on the servants of Christ; focus on God. Because if you focus on the pastor, you are going to be disillusioned and disappointed. Our focus ought to be not on people but on God. That is why the writer of Hebrews said, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2).

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Growing Up by Growing Strong” 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.

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