because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?1 Corinthians 3:3(HCSB)
Paul teaches that there are two types of people in the world, the saved and the unsaved. But he then expands his teaching to show that believers also fall into two categories, spiritual Christians and carnal Christians. Those that are growing and maturing in the faith are called "spiritual," and those that are not are labelled "carnal."
The meaning that Paul applies to the word "spiritual" is that the believer is allowing the Holy Spirit to teach and to train, to guide and to direct. The spiritual believer feeds on the Word of God by faith with thanksgiving, and submits to the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that "in myself I can do nothing, but in Christ I can do all things," for we live by the faith of the Son of God and not by faith in our own abilities.
A "carnal" Christian is sometimes called a "fleshly" believer as he does not submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but rather seeks to live his Christian life in his own strength rather that in the strength of Christ. He lives his life under the power of the old sin nature rather than the new born-again life in Christ.
If we live as a carnal believer, it means that we rely on our self-life rather than on the life of Christ. We proudly have faith in our own abilities instead of trusting the indwelling Holy Spirit and humbly admitting that of ourselves we can do no good thing. We try to function in our own strength, not understanding that we cannot accomplish any good thing this way. But it is only by relying on the Spirit, as we live our new born-again life in Christ, that we can properly function.
The Christians at Corinth may have exercised spiritual gifts, but they did not exercise spiritual fruit. They were lacking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and as a result we discover them to be the most carnal believers to whom Paul wrote - and carnality results in a stunted Christian life.
Let us remember that every Christian has the indwelling Holy Spirit and when we live in carnality, we grieve Him or quench His life in us.
Let us therefore seek to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us seek to mature as a believer by faith with thanksgiving, knowing that of ourselves we can do nothing that will please God, but in Christ "we can do all things in His strength," as we abide in Him.
Lord Jesus, I pray that I may abide in You and grow in grace so that, day by day, I may be conformed into Your image. I ask this in Your name, AMEN.
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