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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Baby Talk

Robert Jeffress - Baby Talk

Robert Jeffress - Baby Talk
TOPICS: Straight Answers to Tough Questions, Spiritual Growth

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. As our children are growing up, it's charming to hear them string their first sentences together, but the opposite is not charming at all, and in a spiritual sense, that's the behavior we find in first Corinthians chapter three. Today, we're going to look at the certainty, the cause, the characteristics, and the consequences of what Paul calls, "The carnal Christian". My message is titled, "Baby Talk", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Whenever you have people who should be grown spiritually, and yet they act like spiritual babies, the result is tragic, not only for the individual Christian, but for the church as well. And it's the problem of spiritually retarded people in the church that Paul addresses in the passage we're going to look at tonight.

If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to first Corinthians three, as Paul engages in some straight talk about babies, I call it "Baby talk". First Corinthians chapter three. Remember last time in first Corinthians two, Paul was answering the question, why is it that intelligent people reject the gospel? And Paul is explaining that God's wisdom is foolishness to man, and man's wisdom is foolishness to God. He said, "Spiritual truth cannot be comprehended by mere intellect, the natural man, the man apart from Christ cannot understand the things of God". And Paul talks about the natural man. That is the person who does not have the Holy Spirit of God to teach him, he is an unbeliever and then Paul says, "On the other hand, the spiritual man understands all things".

There's the natural man, the unsaved person. There is the spiritual man, the Christian. But now when we get to chapter three, Paul is going to divide that category of saved people into two subsets, he says, "The spiritual person", there are really two kinds of Christians, there is the spiritually mature believer, and then there is the carnal Christian. The carnal Christian is the believer who is saved, but he is a slave to his old desires, his old habits, his old way of life. Paul refers to him as "A fleshly believer". He's a slave to his old way of life because he never grows beyond the baby stage as a Christian, his carnality is manifested in two ways.

First of all, through his actions, that is, he engages in behavior still as a Christian, that more characterizes a non-Christian, not only does he resemble a non-Christian in his actions, but also in his attitudes. As William Barkley writes, "His interest and aims do not go beyond his earthly and physical life, everything about his existence is centered in this world". Do you know Christians like that? When you look at them and the way they behave, there's no difference between them and a nonbeliever. And when you look at their attitudes, they are like those of unbelievers. These are people who cannot maintain any spiritual discipline in their life. They have no interest in reading the Bible, no interest in praying, they've never won anybody to Christ, coming to church is a chore for them. Not only that, they are very, very self-centered in their attitude, just like a baby, they can only think of themselves.

Beyond that, they throw temper tantrums in the church whenever they don't get their way, when something doesn't go to suit them, they're the first ones to threaten, well, I'm leaving the church, if I can't have it my way, they are carnal, they are fleshly. Well tonight, we're going to look at what Paul says about the carnal Christian. Paul has a strong word of rebuke for the first church at Corinth, and for the First Baptist Church in Dallas, because the carnal Christian is not acceptable before God. And specifically tonight, we're going to look at the certainty of carnal Christians, we're going to talk about the cause of carnal Christians, we're going to look at the characteristics of carnal Christians, and then finally next week, the consequences of living as a carnal Christian.

First of all, let's look at the certainty, the reality of carnal Christians. You know, it's been my experience that Christians go to one of two extremes when it comes to this whole subject of carnal Christians. Christians who are saved but they act like unbelievers in their actions and their attitudes. One extreme is to deny the existence of carnality, to deny there's any such thing as a carnal Christian. There's some people who would say, you know, "Unless Christ is in control of every part of your life, the truth is you really are not saved".

They refuse to accept the idea that genuine Christians can fall into sin or any extended period of sin, but there's another extreme and frankly, it's the extreme that most Christians go to when it comes to the subject of carnality, they don't deny carnality instead they embrace carnality. They yes, accept the fact that there's such a thing as being a carnal, fleshly, Christian, and they are committed to being one themselves. They think it is an acceptable thing to live as an unbeliever lives. They make their profession of faith in Christ at six or seven or eight years of age, early in life, and once they get their free ticket to heaven, they live however they choose to live, and somehow they think everything's okay between them and God.

What does John say about this idea that you can go through your entire Christian life and sin continually and disobey God? Is there any allowance for that in scripture? Is there any allowance for somebody who makes a profession of faith, and that never has any fruit in his life, never has any desire to follow after God? Absolutely not, anybody who is saying that he has saved, but has no fruit whatsoever is a false deceived unbeliever. That's exactly what John says here, in chapter three verses seven to nine, "Little children, make sure no one deceives you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as God is righteous, but the one who practices sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God, practices sin, because God seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God".

Could that be any more clear? Now, is it saying that a Christian will never ever sin? No, the verb tense here is a continual sinning, but what he is saying is, it's not that a Christian never slips and sins, but it is not his way of life, he does not practice sin. A true believer will be characterized, not by unrighteousness but as righteousness. And so with that in mind, Paul had a very strong word to those who would say, "Okay, I'm just one of those carnal Christians". Remember bill bright's book years ago, "The spirit filled life" and it had the three kinds of life, you'd be the natural man, the unsaved man, and then you'd be the carnal Christian, and then there was the spiritual Christian, where Christ was on the throne.

Now I appreciated that booklet, it taught me a lot of things. The downside of that booklet is it gave Christians the idea that carnality was an acceptable state. You know, I think if I'm going to choose one of these three circles, I think I'll choose carnality because after all, it means I get to go to heaven when I die, and I can have all the fun I want here on earth at the same time, I think I'll choose that circle. No, the Word of God says, if you choose to remain carnal all of your life, it's evidence that you are not truly a believer. That's why Paul says in chapter three, verse one, a strong word of rebuke to carnal Christians, "And I brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as to men of the flesh, as to infants in Christ". He addresses them in verse one, as brethren, adelphos, it means from the same womb, he acknowledged that these Corinthians by and large, were believers, most of them were believers, but notice how he describes them, he says, "You're not a spiritual man". He uses two phrases to describe them.

First of all, he calls them "Men of the flesh", that's the first description of a carnal Christian, he is a man of the flesh. What does that mean? We're all a flesh. You know, when he is talking about being a fleshly Christian, he's talking about being a slave to your old nature, and when the Bible speaks of flesh, sarkinos, it's not talking about human flesh. You see the Greeks believed that human flesh was evil, they believed only that which was spiritual was good, and anything that was material was evil, which is why they had a hard time accepting the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.

Well, Paul didn't fall into that Greek trap of thinking flesh in and of itself is evil, but he said, "Our flesh is evil because it's been polluted with sin". He's talking about the corrupt desires of the old man. He uses it in the same way in Galatians 5:16, he said, "But I say walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh". We talked about that this morning, the desire of the flesh is that corrupt desire, we have to satisfy legitimate needs in an illegitimate way. Turn over to Galatians five for a moment, look at verses 19 through 21. Here's a great checklist for carnality, okay. If you want to know if you are a carnal Christian, if you are a person of the flesh, just look at this checklist and see if these words characterize you, Galatians 5:16, "But I say walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh". Now skip down to verse 19. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality". That's an umbrella term, it means pornography, it can be pornography, it can be lust, it can be premarital sex, it can be adultery. "The deeds of the flesh are evident, immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry".

By the way, idolatry is not just bowing down before a six inch statue, idolatry is loving anyone or anything more than you love God, that's what idolatry is, worshiping anything or anyone more than you love God. "Sorcery, enmities," that's hatred toward people, "Strife", can't get along with people, "Jealousy, outburst of anger", can't control your temper, "Disputes, dissensions, factions", dividing into groups, "Envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God". Do any of these characteristics fit you? If so, you may be a carnal Christian, a person of the flesh. The second phrase he uses to describe carnality is babes in Christ. He said, "I couldn't speak to you as spiritual men, but as the men of the flesh, as to infants, babes in Christ".

Now in our culture, we think of babies as precious things. Babies are cute and sweet and attractive and appealing as long as they're babies. But you know, when you have a person who is 10 years old or 20 years old or 30 years old, who acts like a one year old, there's nothing precious about that. In fact, we use that term in our culture to describe an adult who acts like a child, we call them retarded. There are spiritually retarded people in the church. People who have been saved five years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and yet they still act like one year olds. They throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way, always threatening to leave, always intend on fulfilling their desires, and what they want, regardless of the fallout to other people. That's what these Corinthians were. They were spiritually retarded. What is it that causes a Christian to become spiritually retarded, to remain as a babe in Christ? Paul tells us in verse two, the causes of carnal Christians.

First of all, it's a wrong diet. Look at verse two. He says, "I gave you milk to drink not solid food, for you were not able to receive it, indeed even now, you are not able". In the Bible, there are two categories of spiritual food, now, we all know food's important to grow, but there are two categories of spiritual food in the Bible. One is milk and the other is meat. And you say, "What's wrong with milk"? There's nothing wrong with milk, it's absolutely necessary, I love milk, but if you keep giving a person milk and give them no meat, they are not going to grow, and that's what Paul was saying here, he said, "I couldn't give you meat, I could only give you milk". What is the milk of the word? When we talk about spiritual milk, what are we talking about? Hold your place here and turn over to Hebrews chapter five. We're all over the Bible tonight but I like that.

Hebrews 5:12, the writer's going to tell us what spiritual milk is. He says, "For though, by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for somebody to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food, for everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness for he is an infant". And he goes on to say, "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice had their senses trained to discern good and evil". Then he says, "Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and a faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, and this we will do if God permits".

The milk of the word, spiritual milk is the elementary teachings about Jesus Christ. The writer says those teachings about Christ, who he is, what he did for us on the cross, those teachings are foundational, nothing wrong with being foundational. They are foundational, but they are also elementary. You cannot grow as a Christian, as long as you keep going over those basic, basic facts of the Christian gospel. There is a time when you have to go from milk to meat. When you go from the milk to the meat of God's word, you will develop a taste for it because the fact is, the more you read, the more you want to read. You know, there are many times I don't feel like reading my Bible, that may shock some of you.

There are many times I'd rather watch a television program. Other times I'd rather read a book or read a magazine. But once I get into God's word, that craving continues and continues and continues. Or many of you tonight are in danger of starving to death spiritually because you've subsisted on the milk and not the meat of the word. There's a time we move from milk to meat. Why could the Corinthians only partake of milk? There's a second problem and that was a lack of exercise. Look at verse two, Paul says, "I gave you milk to drink not solid food, for you were not able to receive it, indeed even now, you're not able". Mom's what happens if you tried to feed a t-bone steak to a six month old? Doesn't work, does it? The reason it doesn't work is that child's digestive system has not been fully developed. Paul said, "As much as I wanted to give you meat, I couldn't do it because your digestive system wasn't well developed".

How you develop your spiritual digestive system, your spiritual muscles? Again, the writer of Hebrews tells us two ways. First of all, by our service to Christ. Flip back to Hebrews 5:12. Remember what he said? The writer said, "For though, by this time you ought to be teachers. You have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food". The audience to whom the writer of Hebrews was speaking, were going backwards in their spiritual maturity. He said to these people, "You have been hearing the Word of God over and over and over again, by this time you ought to be teaching the words yourself, and yet you've become spiritually bloated, you've just taken in and taken in and taken in, and gorged yourself on spiritual food, but you've never taught it to anyone else, and so you're going backwards, and now you're to the state where you are so spiritually retarded, you need milk again. You need to start giving out the truth you've received".

Maybe by teaching a class, maybe by discipling a person, giving out what you're taking in. Because if you don't do it after a while, your spiritual appetite will be dulled. That's what he's talking about here. One way we develop our spiritual muscles is through service. The second way we do it is through obedience. Look at versus 13 and 14 of Hebrews five, "For everyone who partake only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness for he is an infant, but solid food is for the mature, who because of practice", underline that word, "Have their senses trained to discern good and evil".

You know, one way we develop our spiritual digestive system. It's by practicing what we know to be true. Again, if you are taking in truth from God's word, but not acting on that truth, the result is going to be spiritual retardation. The way we develop ourselves spiritually, the way we develop our spiritual muscles, is by practicing what we know to be true, from the Word of God. One of my professors in the seminary said something I'll never forget. He said, "Nothing will cause more doubt in a Christian's life than trafficking in unlived truth".

When you say things, when you sing hymns, when you quote scripture versus, that really are not true in your own life, the result can become spiritual apathy, it dulls our appetite for the Word of God. That's what was happening here with these Corinthians. They had heard great teaching, but they weren't serving God, and they weren't obeying what they knew to be truth. If there's one thought I want to leave you with, it's a thought I actually want you to write down tonight. Here's the summation of the whole thing. Becoming a carnal Christian is natural. Becoming a carnal Christian is natural, remaining a carnal Christian is unacceptable.

What do I mean by that, becoming a carnal Christian is natural? What I mean is this, the natural bias of this world will always pull every Christian toward carnality. We live in a sin infected world, we still have an old nature with us, and if we don't take pains to exercise discipline in our life, if we don't discipline ourselves to take in spiritual meat instead of milk, if we don't discipline ourselves to serve Christ, to obey what we know to be true, if we just rock along, the normal course of life will pull us toward carnality. Becoming a carnal Christian is natural, but the second part of that statement, remaining a carnal Christian is unacceptable. God loves you too much to allow you to remain in a carnal state.

If you want to know what God thinks of carnal, lukewarm Christians, remember his warning to the church at Laodicea, in revelation 3:15-16. He said, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot, but I wish that you were cold or hot, so because you are Luke warm and neither hot nor cold, I will literally vomit you out of my mouth". That's what God thinks of carnality. That's what he thinks of carnal Christians. The Bible says, "For whom the Lord loves he disciplines". If you are a carnal Christian tonight, God's not going to allow you to remain in that state without bringing some serious intervention in your life. Next week, we're going to look at the serious consequences of carnality, and then we're going to discover the cure for carnality.
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