And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.1 Corinthians 3:1(NASB)
There was disorder in the Church at Corinth and division within the congregation. The teachings that Paul had given to these believers was being ignored. They had become carnal and needed their minds to be renewed and their hearts to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
They were focused on themselves instead of looking to Jesus. They were self-centred, self-indulgent and full of self-importance. They were living and acting as in a worldly way, rather than behaving as spiritual believers.
Although they were saved by grace thorough faith in Christ, these believers were being deeply influenced by the fleshly world system, rather than being led and guided by the indwelling, Spirit of God.
They had responded positively to the gospel of grace and had been wonderfully saved. Paul had already taught them many spiritual truths and expected them to embrace and apply them in their lives. He expected them to grow in their faith, become mature believers and develop the mind of Christ. However, due to the internal disorder, deep-rooted division and even some sexual impurity, they had remained in spiritual infancy and became carnal in their outlook.
Paul was required to upbraid them strongly and chastened them by remarking: brethren – I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh. I could only talk to you like little babies or infants in Christ. Christians that should have grown into maturity were behaving worse that the unsaved heathen.
Paul had to make it clear that the unsaved or “natural man” neither accepts nor understands the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritual matter, which can only be discerned by a spiritual man. These Christians should have become spiritual giants in the faith – but sadly remained spiritual babies. They regressed into a carnal, fleshly state – showing little if any difference from an unsaved, “natural” man.
They did not progress on to maturity but remained spiritual infants who could only stomach simple gospel teachings, when they should have been going on into spiritual maturity and coping with much weightier spiritual issues.
It is easy for us to look back and criticise these carnal believers, but we need to be very careful that we do not become overconfident and self-righteous, in our own Christian walk, lest we also become entrapped in a carnal mind-set and fall into similar condemnation.
May we seek to be true, spiritual Christians. May we grow in grace and progress into spiritual maturity, so that we may gain spiritual discernment and be renewed in our heart and transformed through the mind, into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many warnings against worldliness, carnality and fleshly desires. Help us to press on for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and may we become spiritual men and women, whose focus is on Christ and Whose desire is to live and work for Your greater praise and glory – this we ask in Jesus name, AMEN.