God Uses People to Care for People
God’s Definition of Caring – Part IV
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-11
Key Verse: 1 Peter 5:2a NLT
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you…
A fourth aspect of caring for people is dealing with what the Bible calls “carnal” people. Carnal Christians differ from immature Christians in that they have the knowledge of Christ but intentionally follow their own fleshly desires:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Immature Christians are people who need to grow in their faith and that simply takes time and effort on their part. Carnal Christians make decisions according to their “flesh” and ignore the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul described carnal Christians:
…for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? (1 Corinthians 3:3)
The carnal Christian still allows their sinful nature to control them. They could surrender to God’s Spirit and be free of that control but refuse to. Carnal Christians come to church but can end up causing all kinds of strife in the church.
How should pastors and mature Christ-followers deal with carnal Christians?
Here we must balance a love for the carnal Christian and our love for the other members of the flock that these carnal Christians negatively affect. Read how the Apostle Paul dealt with a Carnal Christian:
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)
This is an extreme example, but the principle applies. We must protect the church family from the negative impact a carnal person may have.
The Apostle Paul later told the church to invite the man back into the fellowship once he changed his carnal ways (2 Corinthians. 2:7). Most of the time, the church can confront a carnal Christian for their critical spirit and hurtful ways to God’s family.
It has been my experience that a carnal Christian refuses godly direction and leaves the church in a huff… blaming everyone but themselves. The only thing worse than confrontation is to allow carnal Christians to hurt the entire body of Christ by not challenging carnal behavior.
Father, grant me strength and courage to protect Your flock and be a good shepherd to them. In Jesus’s Name, amen.