Blogging Notes: “Carnal or Spiritual? – Part I


Blogging with TheologyGirl & ReformedWomen
Author: TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen
BOOK: The Deeper Christian Life by Andrew Murray

Blogging Notes:  III. CARNAL OR SPIRITUAL? – Part I

   “And Peter went out and wept bitterly.” — Luke 22:62
This week’s text is a reminder of our weakness and inability to do anything in the flesh without the power and working of Christ. We, as sinners, are saved by grace and grace alone, are spiritually made new in Christ and that “newness” requires us to be obedient children, not fashioning ourselves as we walked formerly in the flesh but rather “walking in the Spirit” in the “newness of life” that depicts our inward man, the spirit of Christ. When Christ calls us into His Kingdom and we are born again, we are made into spiritual men and women and given the Holy Spirit and the power to love, obey and serve God. Our struggle against sin and the flesh (our natural man) will always be with us in this life and thus as children of God we must constantly, without ceasing, pray, be diligent in our calling as Christians, use wise discernment in our behavior, obey all things that are required by the Word of God, repent, confess and walk according to His Word.

Once we are saved by His grace, we are no longer carnal but spiritual as His Word so beautifully tells us. Thus, we are spiritual and our Christian walk must reflect that spirituality in total. It is His salvation, His grace, His ability and gifts that enable us to stand strong against the “wiles” of the “flesh and devil” and our own sinful falling away is of our own flesh.  He has told us when we have “done all that we are commanded to do, we are still unprofitable servants” and the story of Peter’s falling into sin is a picture of us so that we know that it is only by grace and grace alone, by Christ alone, that we are able to stand. The flesh profits nothing, the spirit is life. We, as His blood-bought and life-giving children must walk daily pressing on for the high mark of obedience knowing that as He has promised, He will keep us by His righteousness until the day of redemption and our homecoming. We are not carnal, nor was Peter, we are sinners saved by grace receiving His righteousness, are indwelled by His Holy Spirit, and kept by His power. We have no righteousness of our own nor can we obtain a honorable perfect life free from sin that would be “spiritually” acceptable but we are called to press toward that mark for the high calling of Christ. We must never believe that by our own works we can obtain righteousness or perfection or seen in the flesh as acceptable in His sight as He has said, those so-called righteous acts are “filthy rags” in His sight. When God sees the believer, He sees Christ and the righteousness of Christ applied to that believer. We then are called to obedience and to “walk in the spirit” to do what is “pleasing in His sight.” May it be that we press toward that goal every moment of every day and when we do not, that we repent, confess and rejoice that our sins are forgiven to be remembered no more. Alleluia, what a Savior!

Did you know that sin and disobedience in the life of the believer is a denial of his relationship with Christ? Think about it as you abhor Peter’s denial of Christ. Do you by your Christian walk and behavior deny Christ daily? Humbling, isn’t it?

“So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do.” Luke 17:10


4 comments on “Blogging Notes: “Carnal or Spiritual? – Part I

  1. Dear Theology Girls:
    I seems to me that this post is in contradiction to the previous post. I have often heard and read that the reformed position is that there is no such thing as a “carnal Christian” and yet everything I read in the previous posted seemed to ring true other than the use of the word carnal. I have known many new Christians or even back-slidden Christians who do seem carnal (controlled by the flesh) for a season. In fact, it also seems that even many churches could be considered carnal in their emphasis on the flesh. However, I would not say that any Christian, be he or she a true Christian, should be controlled by the flesh for more than a season, given the means of grace and the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Could you please clarify what you mean to say in regard to reconciling this post with the previous post, to help clarify my confusion? Thanks.

  2. Deb: There are many teachings, some in error, that teach a “carnal” or doctrine that allows for one to live like the devil and still profess Christ. The conflicts are the teachings that promote a “pure” or “perfect” Christian via their own ability or righteousness and that a Christian can become “righteous” or “spiritual” by their own works. We are spiritual and filled with the Holy Spirit by God’s work alone. When Murray is speaking, if one only reads his discussion in the earlier post, it would lead one to believe that they could live like the devil and still be saved but the Bible teaches that salvation is of God and although we still sin, we do not stay in that sin nor relish it. In other words, we have been “transferred” from the “life of the flesh” to the “life of the spirit” meaning that we strive, day by day, minute by minute to live for Christ. One who “continues in sin” cannot, according to Scripture, be filled with the Spirit of God. The Spirit does not, as some teach, go in and out of God’s children because they are filled (sealed) His spirit until the day of redemption. The point is as Murray has said, and we also say, albeit in different language, that one who professes Christ will walk in His Spirit and not continue in sin. The Bible is replete with the warning that “many will come in that day and say I am of Christ” and He will say, “depart from me, I never knew you” thus the warning to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” i.e., “make your calling and election sure.” Thus, we must always be careful when one professes Christ and yet lives a life that is contrary and/or one believes that by their own actions, they can maintain their own holiness or godliness. Reformed doctrine clearly teaches us that “salvation is of God” and that includes all things “for life and godliness” and eternity.

  3. Theological Helps:

    The beauty of the gospel, God’s providential election of His church, covered in Christ’s righteousness, free from the law of sin and death as Scripture teaches. What wonderful privileges we have as believers in Christ that encourage us to press forward in obedience.

    Westminster Confession of Faith

    “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of
    his glorious grace.

    As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified,
    and saved, but the elect only.” Ch. 3:5-6

    “The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future
    occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.” Ch 5:5

    “To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit;
    overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.” Ch. 8:8

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2Co 5:17-21

    “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:1-23

    “The Lord our righteousness.” Jer. 33:16

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