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The Truth About Carnal Christians

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

–1 John 3:9

It has been my experience that Christians go to one of two extremes when it comes to the subject of carnal Christians, or those who act like unbelievers in their actions and their attitudes.

One extreme is to deny the existence of carnality. There are some people who say that unless Christ is in control of every part of your life, you are not saved. They refuse to accept the idea that genuine Christians can fall into an extended period of sin.

Now, I understand the rationale behind that point of view. Some Christians are nauseated by lukewarm believers who give Christ a bad name and hinder the work of Christ. And there are plenty of passages in Scripture that talk about the importance of good works in the Christian life. As James 2:26 says, “Faith without works is dead.” Yet in Scripture we also see genuine believers who fell into sin. Think about King David. Did he lose his position with God? Of course not. We understand that some believers do fall away from God for a period of time.

On the other hand, instead of denying carnality, many Christians embrace it. Once they get their free ticket to heaven, they live however they choose to live. They even laugh about it, saying things like, “Pray for me–I am a backslidden Baptist!”

But look what Jesus said in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To Jesus, belief and obedience were the same thing. The test of whether you truly believe Jesus is the Savior of the world is whether you are obeying Him.

Is there any allowance in Scripture for somebody who makes a profession of faith and then continually disobeys God? Absolutely not. That is what John said in 1 John 3:7-9: “The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as [God] is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. . . . No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The verb tense here refers to continual sinning. It is not that a Christian never slips up, but sin is not his way of life. He does not practice sin. The Word of God says if you choose to remain carnal all your life, it is evidence that you are not truly a believer.


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.

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