A Carnal Christian? (091018p)
Questions #01. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, October 18, 2009.
Sermon Notes »
I like things cut and dried. Don’t you like things “in their place?” Isn’t it great when you’re not left wondering why or how? Especially when it comes to matters of faith. It is so much easier if you can take biblical truth wrap it up in a pretty package put a bow on it and then sit it on the shelf and forget about it. If I ever need it – I know where it is. It I need to show it to someone I can get it down. Oh, and I want everything clearly labeled. And if you don’t mind, I’ll do the labeling. The problem of course is that faith is not nearly as “cut and dried” as we would like for it to be. It is, at times, messy. It can be confusing. No matter how hard I try – “He” just won’t fit into my box. There are things about our faith that are clear and easily understood on the face of it. There are other aspects that are mysterious and beyond our understanding. And there are those things that are too clear and so we do our best to distort or reinterpret to ease our guilt. Is it possible to know if a person is a Christian? Can you tell who is and who isn’t? Is it proper to even consider such things? What about the relationship between a Christian and sin? Is it possible to be free from sin? Can you be a Christian and live in open sin? Does the security of the believer mean “just trust Jesus and then live however you want to live?” Is Christ’s life and death sufficient for salvation? Is there nothing we bring to it? What about the “Spirit-filled” life? Questions I’m sure you have a lot of them – I know I do. The problem with some of my questions is that when I go to the Scripture and find and answer – the answer creates more questions! This evening we begin a series of messages on “questions.”
I want to begin this series by asking, “Is it possible to be a carnal Christian?”
This is a common teaching. It is the notion that it is possible to be a genuine Christian and yet live a sinful life. A life that does not reflect the will of God nor is interested in the things of God.
By genuine Christian I mean:
- You have genuinely repented of your sin.
- You have placed your faith and trust in Christ.
- You have been regenerated, made new by the working of the Holy Spirit.
- Christ lives in you through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- You live without regard for Christ.
- You live without thought or concern for the will of God.
- You have no interest in His church.
The “carnal Christian” teaching says while not ideal, not really what God wants or expects of us, such a person can rest assured they belong to Christ and are therefore guaranteed a place in glory.
Can such a view be supported from the Scripture? That’s what I want us to explore. I want to walk through 4 things in answering this question. I think it is important to walk through these steps to gain the best understanding.
- First, let’s consider some amazing Scriptural declarations concerning genuine believers.
- John 7:38
- Romans 6:14
- Romans 8:14
- That brings us to some disturbing questions.
- Considering the facts just mention, why is it some Christians do not sense the presence and power of the Holy Spirit? How is it some Christians are dominated by sin? How is it many do not recognize the leadership of the Holy Spirit?
- Christians through the years have tried to answer the questions I’ve raised. How is it a Christian’s life contradicts God’s promise? Some answers have been better than others. Many have concluded this is further proof that salvation can be lost. It is obvious to many that you could not be a Christian and live such lifestyles. Those who hold to eternal security, who believe that once God begins His work he will complete it – seek another solution.
- That brings us to a common but less than adequate explanation.
- Many have come to the conclusion the some Christians are not spiritual but rather “carnal” or worldly. This is the carnal Christian doctrine.
- This is a sober warning to us.
- A word of caution.
- So to answer the question – Christians often sin and often sin grievously. Christians can fall into gross immorality. But no, a Christian cannot habitually and characteristically live in sin and disobedience. Such a life is a betrayal of a profession of faith.
- Such a lifestyle demands a serious and careful examination of one’s soul.
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