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Carnal Human Nature: What is it?

What does it mean to be "carnal?" Is this just a way people act from time to time, or is it more?

What does the bible have to say about mankind's carnal way of thinking without God in their lives?

  • Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity (hostile - hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

  • 1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  • Prov 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

  • Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

  • Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The mind of any and every human being, of itself, is evil and contrary to the mind of God. In fact, the apostle Paul, who had the spirit of God in him, had battles with this very mind...

  • Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

It is held by most traditional Christians that being "good" is something God is impressed with. We can all look the world over and find many "good" people. We have neighbors who seem good and act nice. We like them and it is natural for the carnal human mind to accept a level of "goodness" that equates to our own, however, is this "good," GOOD ENOUGH?

  • Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Sin is part of every human who has ever lived or will live. It is an expression of life that, without God involved, will lead to eternal death. We can have a hard time realizing just how "bad" sin is when we view human acts and "good" only in our terms and not Gods. Mother Teresa was a "good" person, but her righteousness was just as filthy as any of ours. Any actions we take of ourselves and based on our definition of what is "right and good" will lead only to death in the end.

The bible is full of the evidence against humanity, but it also describes the way to reverse the death penalty and to achieve eternal life. Unless we understand just how wicked we are, of ourselves, we will NEVER realize how serious this is in God's eyes...

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Who DOES know it? Who realizes that their personal life and mind is deceitful and wicked? Do YOU? Is that how YOU see your carnal nature?

Traditional Christianity accept the belief that once you "accept Christ," you are saved and that God somehow "makes" you righteous and that Christ somehow did it all FOR us, but is this true? In truth, this is a diabolic lie meant to side track people from the salvation process. God knows who He is calling, and who He is NOT working with in this age, and without Him involved, in spirit and in truth, we are deceiving ourselves about our spirituality and relationship with God. False religion is rampant across the world, including a false "Christian" religion that masquerades as true religion...

2 Cor 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;

Do YOU know the difference between one of Satan's "ministers of righteousness" and the true Gospel and word of God? If you don't, how can you watch for it and prevent being deceived by them? You must first realize that the carnal nature you have is there for the purpose of overcoming it to be conformed to the image of Christ?...

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Carnal nature cannot possibly achieve this by itself and without a lifetime of change...

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Overcoming or just enduring?

How many times have we heard that we will never be perfect in this life? We have been taught that sin and carnal human nature will always be part of our character and that we have to just endure to the end to be saved. Didn't Christ even tell us this? Well, no and yes. Christ did tell us to endure to the end, but He also told us to overcome.

The general attitude toward sin is to repent of it, and then go on, repent again, go on, etc. Is repenting of sin, then sinning again, repenting again, then sinning again, equal to overcoming? Is the repentance we exhibit toward sin really a life-changing, Godly repentance, or a worldly, deceptive repentance that is useless?

It is certainly easier to believe that we will never be perfect in this life, and sin will always be a part of our lives in the flesh, but is this biblical?

Did Christ have carnal human nature? That question might provoke an immediate, "Of course not," however, let's look closer at the facts and see what lessons we can glean from the nature of Christ and what that means for us. We understand that Christ came to this earth as God in the flesh. He divested Himself of all His previous nature, and took on the form of a servant, the form of flesh.

  • Heb 4:15 "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

Even though Christ was God in the flesh, he was tempted in all the basic forms that humankind has been tempted. In order for this to actually be possibly, Christ had to have carnal nature, the SAME basic carnal nature that any one of us has, yet Christ never allowed this nature to influence Him to sin. Christ certainly had memories of eternity and perfection, and also had the Holy Spirit from birth which God supplied Him. It wasn't His own power. Yet He was tempted to sin... but God cannot be tempted with sin...

  • James 1:13 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:"

Since God cannot be tempted with evil, Christ could NOT have had the nature of God in His human form while he lived on this earth. In other words, He could NOT have been a part of the Godhead "trinity" as many believe. The same carnal nature we battle each day of our lives is the same carnal nature Christ had to battle during His lifetime. However, Christ not once ever gave in to this nature and sinned, despite it's being a part of His daily existence. Of course, giving in to sin as we all have strengthens carnal nature, but this can be defeated through Christ's life in us.

What is the point?

First, if we realize that the very son of God in the flesh was "related" to us via the same carnal nature, yet He was able to resist and overcome this nature, then why can't we if we truly have Christ and the Father LIVING their lives IN us?

  • Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Christ had to overcome His nature...

  • John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Christ resisted and overcame human nature, just as the Father requires us to resist and overcome;

    Matt 5:48 "Be (become) ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

How often we have heard that while we are in the flesh, we will never be at the point of perfection, but is this necessarily true? Is this just a concept we've adopted to justify our weaknesses and sins, and to not be so "critical" of ourselves in this fight against carnality? What do the scriptures tell us about the path we are to take?

  • Phil 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:"

If Christ defeated carnal nature in His life, and He lives in us, shouldn't we be able to do the same? What is it that prevents us from achieving more than we are psychologically prepared to believe?

  • John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him."

Christ said that both He and the Father would make their abode with us... live in us. Is this just a piyour saying meant to sound religious and is empty of some sort of discernable experience? What good does this "abode" with us do us if we can't relate to it in any tangible way? What psychological warfare is Satan, and our own carnal old man, using to keep a carnal "ball and chain" around our complete escape from the spiritual damage from surrendering to our carnal nature?

Does this mean we should reach a point where we would NEVER sin? What do you think? If Christ never sinned, and yet had the same nature we have, why not? Couldn't we at the very least achieve a spiritual stance that is as close to God's nature as possible while in the flesh? Christ set the example for us. Is this an impossible standard? Christ did it so why can't we?

  • Heb 12:1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Paul speaks of "the sin that so easily besets us," and that we should "lay it aside." Would he encourage us to do something impossible? He mentions Christ, the author and FINISHER of our faith. Do we presume this means that only as spirit beings is our faith finished?

  • 1 John 2:1 "My little children, these things write I to you, that ye sin not. And if (in case that) any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"

Notice John states that "IF," or, "in case that any man sins," not "when." Does this sound like someone defeated by the idea of ever overcoming sin in this life? Does this sound like sin is going to be a permanent part of our nature in this life?

  • Heb 12:4 "Ye have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin."

Striving against sin, even to the point of bleeding?

  • Eph 4:24 "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

  • Col 3:10 "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"

The new man... being conformed to the image of Christ, in this lifetime. Why do we struggle against this goal?

  • Rom 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed (over time) to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

  • Rom 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

The whole point of salvation is to become exactly like Christ, and unlike Satan. Anything less than that thwarts the process and plays into Satan's hands. We are being reshaped... our innermost self is being conformed into the very image of Christ as we submit to God's hand, and utilize every word of God in our lives. Our very natures are being changed... Carnal nature, the old man, is being destroyed and replaced with another nature, the nature of God. This process has to be completed and it won't be if we neglect the simplest of tools scriptures give us, and do battle to stir up God's spirit.

Do we presume that sin will always be with us so we allow it to linger in our lives? Do we presume that Christ will do all the hard overcoming FOR us? Do we assume that the Father will impute the "character" of He and Christ to us as He imputes the righteousness of Christ through grace and forgiveness? If that were possible, then we wouldn't have had to go through any of this flesh experience. Character can't be created (or imputed) by fiat. Satan wants to provide us every excuse to hang on to sin and carnal nature... to exercise it (or keep it alive) through a "yoyo" process of sin and repentance so it damages the process.

Yes, we have forgiveness and yes we sin in the process and have God's grace, but if overcoming the sin is NOT taking place, (and the yoyo isn't slowing down) then we are NOT allowing ourselves to be changed by God into Christ's image. Forgiveness is real and grace is real and we can be absolute about that and accept it and not be overcome with guilt for our sins. However, if we are not applying every word of God in our lives and don't see change, then are we really overcoming?

  • Matt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Do we remember the ending to all the warnings to the Churches in Revelation two and three? "To him that overcomes..." This isn't pointing to a time AFTER the resurrection, but prior to it. If we haven't repenting and overcome, we can't be given...

  • Rom 12:21 "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

  • 1 John 2:13 I write to you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

These scriptures clearly indicate overcoming is possible in this life. If the brethren John is speaking to have overcome the wicked one, isn't this a clear past tense situation? Have overcome...?

Let's bring this all together now. If Christ overcame human nature while in the flesh, and He and the Father live in true Christians, literally in their flesh, then shouldn't we also be able to do this? Christ Himself learned and became perfect in the flesh from the process of being tempted...

  • Heb 5:8 "though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;" Heb 2:10 "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

This isn't saying that Christ learned obedience from the suffering on the stake. Christ had to learn to obey through overcoming... enduring the temptations to sin yet obeying the Father and NOT sinning. Did Christ die, and THEN become perfect, or was He perfected in the flesh, THEN crucified and given eternal life? Are we to believe the scriptures? Can we believe that God in human flesh with carnal nature had to be perfected while in the nature of flesh? How many times has God been tempted with sin in the eternity past? Never.

How often are we tormented by temptation to sin? How many times have we fought this nature, failed and yet went on repenting and continuing the fight and seen growth? That's the way it SHOULD be. We suffer during these times, especially when we fail. Thankfully God in the flesh was able to do what is impossible for us because He had perfect contact with God's nature and achieved His perfection while flesh because of that contact:

  • John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing:

  • John 14:10 "Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works."

Christ didn't achieve any of the overcoming through His own efforts. He had no power of His own. He needed the Father as much as we need Christ because only God can do what needs to be done. Being conformed to the very nature of how God thinks and acts... perfection.

Consider all the scriptures that speak of our being complete... perfect:

  • John 17:23 "I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you hast sent me, and hast loved them, as you hast loved me."

  • Rom 8:29 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son , that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

  • 2 Cor 12:9 "And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

  • 2 Cor 13: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

  • Eph 4:13 "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"

Can we believe this? Can we be created in the fullness of Christ in this life?

  • Phil 3:15 "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you."

  • Col 1: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:"

  • Col 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

  • 1 Thess 3:10 "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?"

  • 2 Tim 3:17 "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished to all good works."

Becoming complete in Christ involves applying all the tools of scripture. It also involves the unity of the Body of Christ, for the perfecting of the saints... something sorely lacking today and likely directly resulting in the confusion, false doctrines, bickering, party spirit and divisions we see throughout the COG.

We can become one with Christ and the Father, perfect, only when we decide to become one with each other as the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ - the Church - cannot function on the spiritual plane of existence otherwise. From now on, let's not limit ourselves or Christ's nature and work IN us by believing anything other than that our full stature in the image of Christ is possible, here and now!

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