1 Corinthians 3:3 “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
If the Apostle Paul were to return and preach in our churches today, would we be able to receive the words he would have to say? Would he find us a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led church, or would we be rebuked like Corinth’s church as carnal?
The church has a threefold purpose.
Ephesians 4:12-16 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:“
All are given gifts and talents to be used in the church to perform this work. A wise pastor summed it up into three simple statements.
He said the church has three missions:
Outreach – Evangelism, missions, and meeting the community’s needs (poor, homeless, single parents…etc.)
In-reach – The maintenance of those in the church to be taught, discipled, and admonished to do the other two.
Re-reach – To go and find those who wandered away and in the bondage of sin.
To forsake any one mission or be strong in one and not the others will cause us to be weak and allow carnality an open door.
Many will look outside of their church compared to others and find that there are strengths where others are weak and vice-versa. But if we genuinely want to address our own carnality, a comparison is an unwise methodology.
Paul addressed the envying, strife, and divisions of the church at Corinth. Is our church free of these? We must ask ourselves, “Am I a part of the problem, or will I be part of the solution?”
The fruit for which God desires cannot come by conforming to a standard. It comes from an utter transformation on the inside of every member. Change on the inside will eventually show on the outside.
The issues preached in some churches become legalistic stumbling blocks if the heart issues are not addressed first. We cannot force standards on a rebellious congregation before the envyings, strife, and divisions are dealt with first. Forced conformity becomes legalism when we forsake the reasons why we do what we do.
I can wash, dress, and put makeup on a pig. In the end, it will do what pigs always do – get dirty and play in the mud. But when that pig is transformed into a child of God, their heart desires to please God. They willingly change to please their Savior.
They will no longer want to play in the pigpen of sin.
Carnal churches abound when their music sounds more like the world than true worship.
Carnal churches don’t address sin.
Carnal churches fail to reach the lost through evangelism.
Carnal church services are routine, scheduled, and lifeless.
Carnal churches have forsaken the prayer closet.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
One might feel helpless because once their heart comes alive, there aren’t many like-minded people in their church. You will have two choices. Stay and try to revive those around you, find a body of like-minded believers, and join them.
We must not allow fear to make our decisions or keep us from growing into that for which God created us.
When you head off to church next, pray and ask God to speak directly to your needs. Come with a clean heart. Try not to be distracted by others who are not like-minded. Listen to the words of the music that is played and sung. Wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
In this way, you will know that you are leaving your own carnality behind and becoming what God wants you to be. Then, when we let our light so shine before others, we can help ignite a fire that may be the beginning of a revival.