Spiritual vs. Carnal
It is no real wonder, or surprise that our world is in great turmoil these days. So many are hurting and crying out. Others are responding in anger and confrontation, while still more are confused and lost. We see people here and around the world being oppressed, persecuted, and afflicted. We observe abuses of power, arrogance, and a complete imbalance of responsibilities. The list goes on and on. The fact is, the world has always been in turmoil – at least it has been since man was expelled from Eden (Genesis 3). When mankind was separated from his Creator, he became more “carnally” minded. While in the Garden, man walked with God, who provided anything and all that could be needed. There was no reason to be concerned about worldly things. Yet, once expelled, he was condemned “to till the ground from which he was taken,” (Genesis 3:23) forcing him to deal with his own, worldly flesh.
The ancient Hebrew word for “ground” (adamah), is a word derived from the same word as “man,” (adam). Both have to do with moving liquid, or blood. Both have to do with the flesh; the ground is a thin layer covering the earth, while skin is a thin layer covering the human body. When man had to start providing for himself for his own survival, it meant his focus turned toward the more physical, animalistic, or carnal aspects of his nature. He had to till the ground in order to provide for the flesh. Perhaps, Paul had this imagery in mind when he addressed the troubled Christians of Corinth, “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, …” (1 Cor. 3:1).
The ancient Greek word for “carnal” (sarkikos) means “pertaining to the flesh (as earthly and perishable material).” It is a derivative from a word (sarks) that is defined by Thayer’s Dictionary as, “flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts; denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.” That certainly carries with it the idea of what happened in Genesis 3! Essentially, Paul is explaining that a mind set on the flesh is one that rejects the Word of God and His love. In contrast, the spiritually minded are those who, after conversion, have continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Paul uses the term carnal here to describe those Christians who continue to live like the unconverted – being full of envy, jealousy and strife – mostly concerned about worldly affairs. It is someone who could live differently, but chooses to not do so.
I find it rather striking that even today, in our own society, our schools and knowledge outlets are teaching people that they are nothing more than a descendant of a primate. In doing so, we shouldn’t be surprised when they begin to behave like wild animals. It is the result of having no real basis, or foundation for one’s moral compass when one is led to believe they’re simply a cog in the giant, vicious cycle of a carnal ecosystem. They are behaving as one who is carnally minded.On the other hand, when human beings are shown that they are a purposely created being, made in the image of their maker, and that their Creator has prescribed certain expectations He desires from them, then an entirely different behavioral pattern is manifested. One’s moral compass gains cardinal points and specific bearings are developed to guide them through the complexities of life. This only happens when one is spiritually minded.
The one who is spiritually minded is the one who knows the things of God and does them – which is what Jesus did, as our example (John 13:15). The one who is carnally minded is the one who knows the things of God, yet is still characterized by and mostly preoccupied with all the concerns of this world – which is what Adam did (Rom. 5:12). We choose which one we will be. Which one are you?