Carnality unto Death
Traditionalist Perseverance theology will not countenance the doctrine of the carnal Christian. Most Calvinists seem to think that us Free Grace advocates (and/or Dispensationalists) are happy to teach this doctrine. This could not be further from the truth. It is a chore to have to do so, but I, like the Bible and the Apostle Paul, am a realist. Therefore I teach this doctrine, not as an excuse for carnality, but as a warning to those who would slip into the comfortable confines of apathy and dangers of sinfulness. When I have come to my senses from bouts of carnality I look at my disposition with thorough disgust. What emptiness! What meaninglessness!
What wasted time!
As I said, Paul is a realist. He understands the sinful disposition of the Christian as well as the necessary principles of sanctification. God does not drag his children down the path of obedience. But God is not happy to see his children on wayward paths. We are accountable to Him! His Word contains many warning passages that express real dangers for disobedience, carnality, and backsliding.
1 Cor 10:1-13
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
[Those "fathers" who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and died there were:
1) our fathers
2) all ate the same spiritual food
3) all drank the same spiritual drink
4) they all drank from that spiritual Rock, who was Christ
And this is not all. These were the same who celebrated the first passover and applied the blood of the sacrifical lamb to their doorposts. These were regenerate Israelites!]
5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
[Do you get this? The Israelites, who celebrated the passover, appropriated and applied the blood of the paschal lamb, who all ate the same spiritual food and all drank from the same spiritual Rock, Christ, displeased God. Their carnality persisted, provoking the anger and wrath of God which brought their physical destruction. They were all the aforementioned, "BUT", says Paul, but God was not pleased with them and they perished.]
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
[Paul includes himself in this admonition: These things are "our" examples so that "we" should not lust as they lusted. How are we to understand "example? I propose that the sinfulness of these regenerate Israelites incurred the wrath of God and that we are subject to the same consequences if we "lust after evil things".
Were these Israelites regenerate? Yes, as we have already seen. Were they carnal? A cursory reading of Exodus and Numbers confirms that they were. Did they persist in this state until death? Well, Paul explicitely says so! What does this do to the Calvinist's doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints? You decide.]
7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
[The list of sins of these carnal, regenerate Israelites goes on. Some of them were idolaters (Ex 32), some committed sexual immorality (Num 25), some tempted Christ, complaining about His provisions (Num 21:5ff) and pushing God to the limits, and others complained about God's justice (se Num 16:41ff).
Do you realize that only 2 out of the estimated 1 million Israelites made it into the promised land? These carnal, regenerate Israelites bodies "we scattered" all over the "wilderness" because of their persistent carnality!]
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
These Israelites are examples for us Christians in this dispensation. Their sins brought with them terrible consequences, even death. We are in the last days. Christ's kingdom is imminent. We will all stand before Him and give an account of our lives at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ. Carnality will not only bring temporal ruin, it will bring eternal consequences. The ends of the ages are upon us:
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
Sin is never a good idea.]
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
[Growth in sanctification and security from falling takes vigilance, perseverance, and determination. No one, no matter how godly they really are at the present moment, is immune to the power of the whirlpool of sin. You must not even travel near sin, for it will pull you into its gravitational reaches and gradually transport you to its center. We must not give sin a foothold!]
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
[This verse ought to be written in lens of our eyes, imprinted on the backs of our hands, impressed on our minds, and flowing from our mouths.
God is faithful! God is determinate not to allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able to handle. No sin is irresistable! There is no excuse for carnality. We have all that is necessary for life and godliness, we have been blessed with all the spiritual blessings, we have access to great and precious promises whereby we can escape the lusts of the world, the Holy Spirit dwells within us (yearning jealously!).
Persistent carnality is an unfortunate possibility for the regenerate Christian. But unless we first understand that it is possible, we will not be able to address its solutions properly! The Traditionalist will say that the persistent "carnal Christian" must go back to square one and get saved, and show that he is saved by doing good works! But those of us who understand the sad possibilities of this state for a regenerate Christian ought to be prepared. What this person needs is to be taught Christian accountability and the principles, blessings, and consequences of discipleship]
Antonio da Rosa