By Justin Goff
1 Corinthians 3:1 Passion Translation
Brothers and sisters, when I was with you I found it impossible to speak to you as those who are spiritually mature people, for you are still dominated by the mind-set of the flesh. And because you are immature infants in Christ,
The New King James translations says, “I could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal …”
What is a carnal person? Here, Paul is speaking about someone who is born-again but who has not fully developed or grown up into the stature or pattern of Christ … they are still in an infant stage.
It is sadly true that many “believers” are in this condition and have been for some time. They love Jesus but haven’t decided to grow up spiritually yet. In some ways it’s a painful process of being conformed to the image of Christ, but the gains are well worth it. We should not fear being developed by our Heavenly Father.
The carnal or immature believer is basically still being governed or controlled by the dictates of the flesh and by the physical senses, rather than by his inward man; his spirit.
Romans 7:22 AMPC
For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].
Paul said that after he was born again, his spirit-man, being made-alive by the Zoe life of the Father, now delights and desires and even knows to do what is right, good and pleasing. But knowing and doing is the challenge. Many new believers must press into doing …and to get into doing you have to tell your flesh it is no longer in control.
You know what to do …and if you’ll do it …you’ll develop and become strong spiritually.
There are no “cheat days” when it comes to growing and developing spiritually.
The spiritual or mature person is one who has grown and become strong in heavenly and divine things. His spirit has gained and increased over the things of the flesh and intellectual processes. A mature and spiritual person is governed by God through His word and easily led by unction that comes from within. (1 John 2:20, 27)
The carnal man is one who trusts more in what he can understand with the physical senses and his natural mind. To grow in Christ, you have to develop being led of Holy Spirit irrespective of what the natural circumstances may look like. Jesus was led by Holy Spirit …you and I are to learn this too.
The Corinthian believers even had demonstrations of the gifts of the Spirit …in fact, Paul said that they did not come short in the gifts of utterance …and yet they were still undeveloped as new creations in Christ. They were not newly born-again …they just simply had not grown up.
Operation of “the gifts” is not a sole and sure indicator that someone is a mature and spiritual person.
Just like the Corinthians, you and I have to continue to grow up …continue to move in the gifts, yes of course …but we must not use that as an excuse to not evaluate the carnal areas that are keeping us from fully developing.
1 Corinthians 3:3 AMPC
For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?
To be carnal is to be under the control of fleshly impulses. Holy Spirit says that an indicator that we are still babies is to be envious, jealous, to debate, and participate in strife and division.
Other signs of spiritual infancy are selfishness, touchiness and being overly sensitive and picky. As long as we allow these things to rule and dictate our actions and thoughts, we will remain infants in Christ and will not grow. There is no other way to get out of carnality except to grow out of it!
You and I can do it!
We can grow up!
We can be just like Christ!
I’ll leave you with one simple, but important, way to start growing and developing even more than we already are.
Whatever He says to you …do it! Do it immediately. Start to train yourself to immediately do whatever He says. If it’s to forgive someone …do it, by faith, and do it immediately!
If it’s to do something kind for someone, do it and do it immediately. Don’t let your flesh talk you out of obeying what God speaks to you through His word. Nobody builds muscle without resistance …even if you don’t want to do it … do it anyways!
And you what? You’ll start to grow and develop and become a strong, mature and spiritual person … divine things will come easily for you!