The “Christian” Abuser: Couldn’t He be a “Carnal” Christian? (Part 4)

The following is a summary of the conclusions of Sam Storms, who writes at Enjoying God Ministries.  His take on 1 Cor 3:1-3 is a bit different than we have presented in parts 2 & 3 of this series of posts, but it is also excellent and he also rejects any notion that there exists a “carnal Christian” who is genuinely regenerate but who persists without repentance in a state of sin.  I think that you will benefit from this article as well.  Here is the link:

http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-carnal-christian-study-of-1-corinthians-31-3/

This is how Dr. Storms concludes his article:

“From what has been seen, we may now draw four conclusions.

First, there are two senses in which a Christian can be spoken of as “carnal”. (1) As new converts, all Christians are to varying degrees carnal. (2) Among long-time Christians, some may be. The former is expected. The latter is not. However, insofar as the word “carnal” has come to have such negative connotations, it would be wise for us to forego calling new Christians “carnal”, and do as Paul: refer to them as “babes” in Christ.

We are still left with the fact that Paul refers to the Corinthians, by way of rebuke, as carnal. The use to which Paul puts the word in v. 3 should not be rejected, for it is clearly biblical and appropriate as a descriptive term for those Christians who fall into a similar pattern of behavior. So I see no reason to be disturbed that someone would distinguish between “carnal” Christians and “spiritual” Christians, especially in view of the obvious distinction between “mature” and “immature” found elsewhere in the NT.

Second, I caution against referring to “carnal” and “spiritual” as rigid categories or classes of Christians. The idea of a distinctive class or category implies a strict line of demarcation between one group of believers and another. It suggests there are readily identifiable stages in the Christian life into which one may enter if certain things are done or out of which one may fall if other things are done. Sanctification, however, is far too fluid for such strict categorization. In other words, sanctification is a process which, because of its constantly dynamic and progressive nature, defies rigid classifications. There are “babes” in Christ, as Paul indicates, but no two Christians are ever at the same stage of spiritual infancy. There are “carnal” Christians, but again in varying degree. No two Christians manifest the same depth or degree of carnality. There are “spiritual” or “mature” believers, but all the marks or fruits of spirituality are not apparent in all Christians at the same time and to the same extent. No individual’s spiritual growth is wholly constant and undisturbed and you will rarely, if ever, find any two Christians at precisely the same stage of sanctification. There are countless hills and valleys, stumblings, falls, moments of victory and defeat in the process of our growth in grace.

Carnality, then, although ideally a condition to be found only in the newly saved, is such that may raise its ugly head at any and every stage of the Christian life. Thus, it may be more accurate to say that there are as many categories and classes of Christians as there are individual believers. The principle which bears repeating is this: carnality and spirituality, rather than being categories or classes into which one enters in the Christian life, are characteristics or moral tendencies which one manifests in varying degree throughout the course of the Christian life. The ideal as set forth in Scripture is, of course, a progression that is always upward – away from manifestations of carnality and toward manifestations of maturity.

Third, carnality in the Christian, whenever and in whatever way it manifests itself, is a temporary condition. There is no basis in Scripture for the teaching that genuinely born again and justified Christians can persist, without great discomfort, in their sin (a discomfort, I might add, due to the promptings of the Holy Spirit or the chastisement of the Father, such as lead to repentance). Samuel Bolton put it well:

“We still have the presence of sin, nay, the stirrings and workings of corruptions. These make us to have many a sad heart and wet eye. Yet Christ has thus far freed us from sin; it shall not have dominion. There may be the turbulence, but not the prevalence of sin. There may be the stirrings of corruption. It was said of Carthage that Rome was more troubled with it when half destroyed than when whole. So a godly man may be more troubled with sin when it is conquered than when it reigned. Sin will still work, but it is checked in its workings. They are rather workings for life than from life. They are not such uncontrolled workings as formerly. Sin is under command. Indeed, it may get advantage, and may have a tyranny in the soul, but it will never more be sovereign. I say, it may get into the throne of the heart and play the tyrant in this or that particular act of sin, but shall never more be as a king there. Its reign is over; you will never yield a voluntary obedience to sin. Sin is conquered, though it still has a being within you” (The True Bounds of Christian Freedom [Banner of Truth], p. 26).

Fourth, our consideration of this issue must never result in an unbiblical separation of sanctification from justification. Holiness and a progressively changed life are not optional. “By this we know that we have come to know him,” says John, “if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). Mere profession of faith, unattended by good works, does not guarantee the reality of faith. We would do well to remember the rebuke of Jesus to those who professed their loyalty and cited their miraculous deeds: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt. 7:23).

Go to Part 3 of this series

Let Me Show You What a Den of Robbers (“church”) Really Looks Like – An inside view

Mat 21:12-13  And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  (13)  He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

I have often been accused of being “too negative,” or “too judgmental.” The religious leaders in the swamp want us all to believe that their churches are wonderful, loving, holy places that are doing great things for Jesus. Well, I have been a pastor now for 36 years and I have been the pastor of 4 churches in that time, the last 26 years here at Christ Reformation Church in Tillamook, Oregon. Our small remnant here is a unified band of real believers who love the Lord and one another.

But it wasn’t always like this.

I could tell you stories from the previous three churches to accomplish my “fly on the wall” viewing that I want to show you, but I will just stick with this church in Tillamook, as it was 26 years ago when I first came. Why am I doing this? Because I want to suggest to you that THIS picture I am going to show you is the typical, real condition of most local churches today, AND this is why the innocent victims of evil are so typically oppressed by their pastors and churches when they expose the evil and ask for help. Sexual abuse victims. Domestic violence victims. You see it in the news all the time.

So here we go. This is the “church” I came to, presenting itself as the most wonderful, Christian, family church in all the county. What a show they put on each Sunday. Let’s look behind the scenes:

Jack and Jill – Jack was head of the church board. Longtime resident. Active in the community. Taught the adult SS class. You wanted something – just ask Jack. In fact, you better ask Jack or else. Jack however, when he wasn’t obeyed, raged. Ultimately he raged by storming out of a board meeting when I confronted him with this dictatorial behavior at a recent congregational meeting. And finally he raged by storming down the church aisle in a worship service and raging at me on the pulpit for things such as “We built this building and HE (me) doesn’t give us any credit for it!” And Jill? Well, Jill was a rather nasty, mean person as well. Jack and Jill stormed off and went down the road to “bless” another church with their presence.

Jerry – Jerry was a deacon board member. Presented himself to everyone as a fine Christian man. But Jerry abused his wife. More than once she came to me in tears (this was long before I knew what I know now about abusers). Jerry exploded in anger in front of the whole church at a church function. He refused to apologize and ultimately left the church, coming up to me after a worship service and saying “we are leaving so your pure church won’t have to be corrupted by the likes of us anymore.”

Harry – Harry was also a deacon board member. A seminary graduate and professional counselor. Yep. You got it. A “Christian” counselor. Harry and his wife were at each other all the time. In fact, Harry left every week for several days so he could do his counseling in another town, and then their “marriage” worked better.  I helped Harry bring his wife home from the hospital when she was dying of cancer, but Harry ended up hating me anyway. In front of several people one Sunday he said “you are not qualified to be a pastor.” He then left and never returned. Harry wanted everything to be about Harry and the pastor was to serve his whims.

Charles – Charles professed to be a humble Christian man, a member of the church for  years. But Charles had engaged in a perverted sexual relationship with another man and had been caught in the act. Over time, Charles and “the church” thought it was wonderful that Charles and his wife were so gracious in that they worked to “lead this partner in fornication” to the Lord.

Leo – Leo had molested his step-daughter and been arrested and served some jail time. But Leo was “forgiven” by the church and he continued to live with his wife. In fact his wife had been counseled by the previous pastor to forgive him and remain married to him.

REMEMBER: These people were all members of the church when I came, the ones sitting in the pews, clapping away to the happy 7-11 worship songs each Lord’s Day.

Ned – Ned was a dairy farmer, known well in the community for having a terrible temper and a foul mouth. But Ned also was a full-privileged member of the church. His children once announced to the other children in their SS class that their mommy and daddy said we should all pray for the pastor (me) because “he is being used by Satan.”

Ray – Ray was another member of the deacon board. Ray was known throughout the community as a lazy, gossiper. I found out later that he would go tell the other evil people in the church all of the details of our discussions in board meetings. His co-workers all cheered when he retired so that they wouldn’t have to be plagued with his presence at work any longer.

Mitch – Mitch was another dairy farmer. He was extremely arrogant and demanding. He and his wife pretended to be genuine Christians and good friends, but as I preached through Romans their demeanor quickly changed. Mitch angrily shouted at me just before they left the church, “I don’t care what you say! My mother was a Christian! I know because I heard her pray one time!” I had never said anything about his mother. I never met her. Real reason? He hated the Word of God.

Gerry – Gerry was a real “go-getter” in the Christian realm. He had organized a local men’s outreach ministry and put together what you might call mini “crusades,” bringing in well-known speakers and so on. Gerry was right there for me when I came, offering his full support. But when Gerry realized that I was not going to make “his” ministry my main focus, he literally turned on me overnight. To this day I can see the hatred in his eyes if I run into him in the store.

Now I could go on and on and on and on. There were scores of others just like these kind that made up this “church” over two decades ago. What in the world had the “pastors” who preceded me been doing? I can tell you. They had been ear-tickling. They had been teaching false doctrine which said you can be a Christian and though it is good that you don’t walk in sin, well, we are all still sinners and you are still saved even if you do.” And this is the horrid evil mess that it created. Of course, those pastors eventually “moved on because the Lord had called them” to a new ministry. Right.

As I look back over all these years, I have the advantage of seeing these people not just for a few years, but for many. And I can tell you with absolute certainty – NONE of them are saved. None. Oh sure, most of them just went down the street to another “church” when they left and continue their “Christian” facade in a place where they can keep doing their evil and never be called on it. But for all their churchianity, they are children of the devil. I can only think of maybe 10 people out of that original 150 or so who, over the years, have shown themselves to be Christ’s true people.

I write this because I want you to know that the wickedness with which you as a survivor of sexual or domestic abuse, were treated in your church is explained by the truth that Darkness hates Light. People and churches such as this are counterfeit, and they are not just a few, they are everywhere today.  Don’t believe or accept their shaming lies and accusations made against you. If anyone is truly born again, indwelt by the Spirit of the Lord, then they are certainly going to be hated by antichrist and his minions. If you track this theme through the Bible, you will find that this is how it has always been. The visible church is very largely counterfeit, and its trademark is the persecution of true believers.

And this is why I regularly tell our people in this little flock in Tillamook and those who have connected with us online, never, ever be discouraged that there are not many of us. Never, ever wish we had bigger buildings and hundreds of people in the pews. Glory in the fact that Christ has set us free. 

1Jn 2:19-20  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  (20)  But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

“The Lord Says” – A Common Line Used by the Wicked to Deceive and Control Us

It is soooo common today for people who claim to be Christians to also claim to speak God’s Word to us. They have their little phrases – “Well, the Lord says….” or “The Lord showed me that…” – you’ve heard this stuff I am sure.

This is not a new evil. The enemy always sends His lying counterfeits to us in order to deceive, shame, control, and destroy. Paul pronounces such a person “anathema” (damned by God for destruction) in his letter to the Galatians. Read the following Scripture passage carefully and you will see that this very same wickedness was going on in Jeremiah’s day. And notice also that the Lord’s wrath is set against people who claim they speak His Word but have not been sent by Him at all:

Jer 23:21-36  “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.  (22)  But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.  (23)  “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?  (24)  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

(25)  I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’  (26)  How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,  (27)  who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

(28)  Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD.  (29)  Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

(30)  Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another.  (31)  Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’  (32)  Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.

(33)  “When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off, declares the LORD.’  (34)  And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ I will punish that man and his household.  (35)  Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’  (36)  But ‘the burden of the LORD’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.

Many of you have been the target of evil people we call abusers (revilers is the word in Scripture). And I suspect that those of you who have would be able to tell us how your abuser would claim to be speaking or acting according to the Lord’s instruction to him.  They can be rather slick at this deception. So much so that people who really know Christ and want to serve Him can end up thinking that they have to listen to “the word” a lying, counterfeit speaks lest they end up disregarding the Lord’s command to them.

Beware of anyone who is quick to hand out “divine” orders to others. For myself, I immediately dismiss anyone who comes up to me and says something like “the Lord gave me a word for you.” I literally say to them before they can even get started – “No He didn’t. Begone.”