What is the carnal man? 


By BibleAsk Team

The Carnal Man

The carnal man is the unregenerate, natural, worldly person who is uninfluenced by the Holy Spirit. The carnal person exhibits the sinful nature of man in which “dwells no good thing” and which lusts to do evil (Romans 7:18;  8:1). Also, the Bible speaks of him as having “fleshly wisdom” (2 Corinthians 1:12). A carnal person is said to “mind the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5; Colossians 2:18). “No good thing” resides in his “flesh” (Romans 7:18), for it is “enmity against” God (Romans 8:7). 

Man’s natural impulses are called “the lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16). These include all strong inclinations for indulgence that are against the will of God. There is the inherent enmity that exists between God and all forms of sin. Among these, there are the lusts of the eyes that refer to mental pleasure stimulated through sight (Matthew 5:27, 28). Many who don’t wish to engage in open sin are eager to read about sin, to study it in a picture, or to watch it depicted upon a screen. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” ( Genesis 3:6).

And there are also, the desires for the “pride of life” which points to the materialistic satisfaction with worldly goods instead of the spiritual elements. All humans, in different degrees, tend to have such pride and need to watch for it.  People often take undue pride in their work, their possessions, their accomplishments, or their children.

The Carnal Versus the Spiritual

The battle resulting from the inner conflict between good and evil (Romans 8:3–14; Galatians 5:16–23) caused Paul to say this apparently despairing cry for help: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). But Paul knew the source of deliverance from his carnal mind and hastened to declare it (Romans 7:25).  Therefore, He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). 

Thus, Paul showed his strong aim to have full victory over all his evil desires and corrupt passions and inclinations. He planned the good fight of faith with spiritual weapons, not those of the world (Ephesians 6:12–20). There was no thought of feeble efforts with him. He knew that it must be a war that is to be won, no matter what the price in suffering and pain for his earthly nature; that evil thing that was warring against his spiritual nature must die. This is a lesson that all must learn who wish to gain the acceptance for the heavenly citizenship. The urges and cravings of the natural appetites and passions must be fully controlled.

Divine Victory 

Triumph over the flesh is possible only when the will is yielded to the Lord. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” ( Philippians 4:13). Christ is the source of all our power. When the divine commands are kept, the Lord makes Himself responsible for the success of the work done by the believer to curb the carnal nature.

Thus, in Christ, there is power to complete every duty, strength to resist temptation, energy to endure suffering, and patience to live the Christian life. In this manner, those who are controlled and guided by the Spirit do not “fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 also Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:18) but the will of God.  

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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