“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33).The purpose of this series is to convince professing believers that a person can not inherit everlasting life while remaining carnal, or worldly, in nature, thought, and deed; that the carnal mind is wide open to deception because it is incapable of comprehending the spiritual truths hidden in God’s Word; what is necessary to acquire the spiritual mindset; and what truly constitutes the “mind of Christ”. Examples will also be used to show that the scriptures have, for the most part, been taught and understood only from a carnal perspective leading to grave error in doctrine, understanding, and behavior throughout what has come to be accepted as “the church”. In short, this is a call of God for professing believers to wake up and to be brought out of spiritual darkness (Ephesians 5:1-17).
In Romans 8:5-7 the apostle Paul wrote, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”. These few verses clearly show that people under the influence of the devil, still possessing the worldly Adam nature, have their minds set upon fleshly appetites and physical things, but those under the influence of the Holy Spirit, now possessing the righteous divine nature, have their minds set upon God’s kingdom and spiritual things. The carnal (natural, worldly) mindset is death because it is hostile to God, not submitted to His law and incapable of doing so. Furthermore, the carnal mind is unwilling and unable to have correct understanding of the scriptures. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receivieth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). A person must first be delivered from “the spirit of the world” and receive “the spirit which is of God” before he/she can know the things of God- “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Since the scriptures were not written according to man’s wisdom, they can neither be taught nor understood by human intellect. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. The spiritual man, however, having the mind of Christ, is able to discern “all things”. The carnal man can not understand him because he is still being moved by worldly passions (focused on physical things) while the spiritual man is being moved by heavenly passions (focused on spiritual things). This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus in John 3:8 when He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit”. A person’s heart must be turned to God before he/she can be spiritually minded because the spiritual mindset is the result of receiving the Holy Spirit. It is not acquired through the outward efforts of man, such as memorizing scripture, but by the inward working of God.
There are many who may have believed when the gospel was initially sown in their hearts but are as yet carnal in their thoughts and deeds. Paul wrote to the church about this in 1 Corinthians 3 saying, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (vs. 1-4). Most church goers think that those who continue as “babes in Christ”, carnal, and walking in the flesh will still inherit everlasting life. This mindset is, in and of itself, carnal, deceptive, and deadly. The book of 1 Corinthians is a letter that Paul wrote to those who believed when he first preached the gospel at Corinth. Since it is a letter, it must be considered in that context as well as the context of all the other scriptures. Look at Paul’s words as he begins to close the letter in the first two verses of chapter 15-“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain“. The phrase “keep in memory” means: hold fast to, keep firmly. We are saved if we hold fast to the gospel that delivers us from being sinful after the likeness of Adam and regenerates us to be righteous after the likeness of Jesus. To have initially believed, and then go on in the flesh, is to have “believed in vain”. Colossians 1:21-23 also confirms the necessity of continuing in the faith saying, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”. Now look at Hebrews 2:1-3 — “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;” A person can not remain carnal and inherit everlasting life- “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”(Romans 8:13-14).
The church at Corinth could not receive any spiritual meat because the carnal mind is hostile to God, not subject to Him, and incapable of comprehending the things of God. In addition to showing that the carnal church is unable to receive spiritual meat, the text from 1 Corinthians 3 points to some manifestations of the carnal nature and mindset. Again, verses 3 and 4 say, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, ‘I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos’; are ye not carnal?” In the carnal church at Corinth, one would say, “I am of Paul” and another, “I am of Apollos”. Is it not the same today when one says, “I am of this denomination” and another, “I am of that denomination”? Are not church denominations just divisions that are the result of envy and strife? Are they not the product of the carnal man? Does this not enlighten you to see that most of the church is still in a carnal, worldly condition? Being carnal, the church has been unable to grasp a correct understanding of the scriptures, making it open to deception, and presently flooded with false doctrines. It is filled with deceived people who walk after the flesh and are deceiving others. Don’t assume you’re not under the persuasion of false doctrines just because you attend a non-denominational church. Deception is running rampant in them as well. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 3-5). It’s not a new problem, and God doesn’t change!
In Ephesians 4:17-24 we read, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”. Here, Paul is exhorting those who have believed to no longer walk like the world, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, and alienated from the life of God through ignorance because of the blindness of their hearts. In the first place, Paul wouldn’t be writing this to people who had believed unless they needed to be warned or corrected. This condition is the result of a heart problem that can occur in those who have once believed- an unwillingness of the heart to let the word of God take root. Read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23. Through this parable, you should see clearly that there are those who believed initially but lose what had been sown in their hearts. Salvation requires a heart that allows God’s Word to take root and that will abide in the faith to bear the fruit of righteousness. It will also be helpful to read John 8:30-36. Going on in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of putting off the old man, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, and putting on the new man who, it’s worthy to note, is created after the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness. The carnal tendency is to put these actions into steps or programs where individuals try to do one, then the other, then the other, through the power of their own resolve. However, a person only puts off the old, is renewed in the spirit of their mind, and puts on the new man when his/her heart turns away from self and the world and turns wholly to God in faith. Until this occurs, a person remains carnal in nature, thought, and deed, separated from God, and blinded to the Truth, no matter how strong their resolve, or how religious they are.
It has been explained that the mind of Christ is not the result of man’s efforts, such as memorizing scriptures, but rather the product of a new nature by the inward working of God. It’s imperative that you understand and receive these things, so I’m going to write more about them before moving on. Most church goers are taught that “believers”, “Christians”, or “children of God” are people who will always sin, but who have come to realize their sinful condition, have received God’s forgiveness, and now, because of their gratitude, exercise various religious disciplines in order to grow more pleasing to God with fewer sinful acts being manifested in their lives. They are taught that by exercising these religious disciplines such as regular church attendance, Bible reading, avoiding worldly influences, and so on, they will grow less sinful and more righteous though they will always sin to some degree and can never really walk as Jesus walked. Simultaneously, those subjected to this doctrine are being persuaded that the spiritual mindset (mind of Christ) is intellectual and that it may be acquired by increased Bible teaching, study, and scripture memorization. These are false doctrines that keep people in spiritual darkness, sin, and death by denying the power of God. Read 2 Timothy chapter 3. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about some effort to improve the Adam nature which is a nature of pride, lust, envy, and wrath. It is about the power of God to remove man’s wicked nature and make him into an entirely new creature with the very nature, or disposition, of Jesus. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In reference to professing believers, 1 John 2:6 says, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked”. This is not a commandment; it is a fact. Why? Because a true child of God has been delivered from the sinful nature and has been “born again” or regenerated with God’s divine nature. He now has the same nature or disposition as that of Jesus- “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4). The regenerated man, the new creature, is not merely new in that he now wants to please God. He is new in the respect that God has made him into a being whose motives, thoughts, and deeds are righteous. Little birds don’t grow feathers and a beak and fly around and tweet in order to become birds. They do these things because God made them to be birds. In like manner, believers don’t exercise disciplines to be righteous, they produce the fruit of the Spirit because God has made them into a creature who is righteous. Anyone and everyone who is denying the power of God to accomplish this work in them is still abiding in sin and death because they are rejecting the only thing that will make them free- the faith that God is able to perform that which He has promised (Romans 4:13-25, Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 3:3-8).
In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”. Here, Jesus is comparing men with trees, and this should help you to see the difference in the true gospel and the false gospel that is so widely proclaimed and accepted. Just as a thorn bush can not produce figs, a corrupt man can not produce good fruit. Likewise, just as a fig tree can not produce thorns, a regenerated man will not produce evil fruit. Trees produce according to their nature. All of the life of a tree is brought forth out of the root wherein lies its nature. Man’s root is his heart and therein lies his nature. Just as a tree produces according to its nature, man produces according to his nature. The carnal, unregenerated man has the knowledge of good and evil in his heart producing a selfish nature and unrighteousness (Genesis 3:1-10). No amount of water, light, or fertilizer will cause a thorn bush to produce figs. Likewise, no amount of religious discipline will cause a man with the selfish, sinful Adam nature to produce less sin and more righteousness. The carnal nature of man can no more be disciplined to produce righteousness than a thorn bush can be fertilized and watered to produce figs. In order for man to produce righteousness, the knowledge of good and evil, which is residing in his heart, must be removed and replaced with the love of God which is the selfless divine nature (Romans 5:5 & 2 Peter 1:4). Then, the man is a new creature, not a reformed creature, and has a nature that produces righteousness or good fruit. He is a good tree because the power of God has made him to be one. It is as natural for a true child of God to produce righteousness as it is for a fig tree to produce figs. He does not grow out of sin and into righteousness. The new creature has a righteous nature, does righteousness (1 John 3:7), and matures “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
To further convince you of the Truth and enlighten you to discern between the false and true gospel, look at the words of the prophet Ezekiel as he spoke concerning the New Covenant- “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). The love that God has expressed in allowing Jesus to die on the cross is the power to break our stony heart and turn our affections away from ourselves and to God. Through the resurrection, all men may now freely receive the Holy Spirit Who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts(Romans 5:1-5). His love in our hearts produces the selfless divine nature which, in turn, produces righteousness. So, as Ezekiel prophesied, in repentant believers, God removes our stony heart, gives us a soft heart, and puts His Spirit within us thereby causing us to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments and do them.
Now, concerning the spiritual mindset, I have already used Romans 8:5-9 to show you that to be spiritually minded, or to be carnally minded, is dictated by one’s nature. Man is made up of spirit, soul, and body (1 Thes. 5:23). As the whole life of a tree is generated by its root, the whole life of man is generated by the spirit, or nature, that is in him. Man’s soul is where the mind, intellect, reasoning, and emotions are housed. The soul does not dictate the nature, but rather the nature dictates the direction of the soul. The direction of one’s thoughts stem from the spirit, to the soul, and are worked out through the body. In our natural, lost condition, the knowledge of good and evil has consumed the spiritual portion of our being. It, the knowledge of good and evil, only generates thoughts and subsequent deeds that are worldly, physical, and contrary to God. This keeps our soul (thoughts, reasoning) and body enslaved to self-gratification, self-preservation, and those things that can be perceived with the nature senses. Phrases such as “spiritual mindset”, “spiritually minded”, “the mind of Christ”, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind”, and “transformed by the renewing of your mind” do not refer to an intellectual or head knowledge of the Bible. Instead, they all speak of the inclination or disposition of the heart. An unregenerated man can never acquire the mind of Christ by memorizing scripture because his understanding is distorted by his worldly, selfish nature. This was the problem with the Pharisees who had more intellectual knowledge of the scriptures than anyone. Yet, they could not recognize Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Why? Because their understanding was distorted by the knowledge of good and evil. Their nature only allowed their minds to be set upon worldly, physical ideals and values along with their own self-gratification and preservation. Regretfully, this condition has come to be prominent among most who are professing Jesus these days. Degrees from Bible college and worldly ideas of success have come to be the standards of qualification for church leadership and growth. Like Nicodemus in the third chapter of John, most contemporary preachers, Bible teachers, and church goers can only relate the Word of God to what is physical and are unable to grasp the spiritual realities of the scriptures. Just as most of the religious people did not recognize Jesus at His first coming, most will be unable to recognize Him when He comes again. This is because they are denying the power of God to literally be delivered from the sin nature and completely regenerated with the divine nature. Without the divine nature, it is impossible to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, have the mind of Christ, and walk as He walked. Previously, I quoted verses from 1 Corinthians 2 showing that godly teaching is not according to man’s wisdom, but according to the Holy Spirit, and that the natural, carnal man does not receive from the Spirit because he thinks it’s foolish, and that he can not know the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned. I hope you can now see that the carnal man’s inabilities are not due to a lack of intellect or discipline, but because his nature is inclined, or disposed, to physical, worldly things, self-gratification, importance, and preservation.
Philippians 2:2-8 perfectly describes the mind of Christ which is the only mindset by which a person can be taught by the Holy Spirit, understand the scriptures, and please God— “Fulfill ye My joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. The mind of Christ is the mindset that is disposed to not seeking the world’s glory, considering others first, forsaking its own reputation, and humbling itself to fully obey God. Nobody can acquire this mindset by gaining knowledge. It only comes by receiving the divine nature. To be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2) and “renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23) both speak of the same action that is called for in Philippians 2-“Let this mind be in you, . . .” We “let” this mind be in us, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and transformed by the renewing of our mind through believing the gospel and yielding to the divine nature God imparts to us. Intellect does not determine one’s ability or inability to know, understand, and walk in the things of God. The nature of a person and the resulting mindset it produces are the determining factors.
The heart of our heavenly Father is crying out for the people He has called to wake up and hear His voice. Church people often make references to strongholds in people’s lives that need to be torn down and, indeed, there are strongholds that separate us from blessing. The most dangerous stronghold in anyone’s life, and the one that must be torn down, is that which is built upon false doctrines proclaimed in the name of Jesus. This stronghold is developed by presenting partial truth in such a manner that the unlearned, unknowing individual is seduced into believing a lie. It is so powerful and deadly because deceived individuals are fully persuaded in their error. Suppose from the time my children were toddlers, I had begun pointing at butterflies and telling them, “This is a bird because it flies”. Since they look to and trust me, they would come to be convinced of the error I had instilled in them. This would be a stronghold of deception and, being fully persuaded in their error, it would be nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. In the same way, it is very difficult to enlighten, or awaken, individuals to the Truth once the stronghold of demonic deception has been established in their hearts by those they look to and trust. Nevertheless, all things are possible with God (Matt. 19:26)! His will be done!
Many professing believers, including the ones in pastor, teaching, and preaching positions, have been captivated by this stronghold of deception, keeping them in sin and not knowing the only true God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The demonic spirit that is working through a multitude of false prophets and false teachers has flooded the so-called “church” with doctrines of antichrist. Yes, they are preaching and teaching Jesus, but they are proclaiming the wrong Jesus! The wrong Jesus keeps sin alive, keeps his people enslaved to the flesh, and continuing to sin. The true Jesus, Son of God, Son of man, Emmanuel, God with us, Prince of Peace, Messiah, I Am, Alpha and Omega, Lamb of God, Savior, the Jesus Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, has destroyed the power of sin, frees His people from it, and lives through them producing righteousness and true holiness to the glory of God. Read 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, Ephesians 4:17-24 and 1 John chapter 3. From the innermost parts of my being, I pray the Holy Spirit is working with the contents of this teaching to open the eyes of your understanding, to wake you up, so you can grasp the Truth and escape the bondage to sin and death that is hidden within the ungodly, unholy, demonic, earthly doctrines that are being proclaimed and adhered to by so many who consider themselves to be the body of Christ- “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits, . . .” (Matt. 7:13-16).
Much has been said to distinguish between the true and false gospels, to show the necessity of believing the Truth in order to possess the mind of Christ, and that this mindset is disposed to not seeking the world’s glory, considering others first, forsaking its own reputation, and humbling itself to fully obey God. You’ve been shown that the gospel is not an attempt to improve the Adam nature through religious disciplines, but is actually the power of God to crucify the carnal nature and replace it with the Divine nature so that repentant believers are literally regenerated to walk as Jesus walked and to be as He is in this world (1 John 2:6 & 4:17). Those who profess Jesus, and yet deny this power, are excluding themselves from regeneration, the mind of Christ, being conformed to His image, and from everlasting life. Subsequently, their form of religion is not by the Spirit of God, their understanding is carnal and so is their teaching. Jesus says, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). It should be no surprise that so much deception is being accomplished through people professing Him to be Christ. These are the very souls Jesus makes reference to in Matthew 7 saying, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (vs. 22-23).
It will further enhance your discernment between Truth and false doctrines if you can grasp one of the most prevalent contrasts between those who are in the Spirit and those who are in the flesh. The apostle Paul wrote, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Individuals who have been regenerated, possess the spiritual mindset, and who walk in the Spirit are a people who “look not at the things which are seen”. This speaks of far more than those things an individual merely looks upon with his physical vision. It speaks of those things that are comprehended by his entire being. A regenerated person’s focus, his gaze, his heart, his thoughts are directed upon the invisible God and His unseen kingdom. Sons of God have their treasures and keep their hearts in this unseen realm (Matt. 6:19-21). You can see this through the testimony of Moses recorded in the 11th chapter of Hebrews- “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaohzs daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (vs. 24-27). Note that Moses endured, “as seeing Him who is invisible”. The entire being of the spiritual man applies faith to look beyond those things that are within the confines of the physical arrangement and natural senses. Subsequently, his thoughts, understanding, reasoning, and actions are beyond the dictates of the physical and the natural. His mind is set upon the unseen kingdom of God, his actions are governed by the unseen Jesus, and he is empowered by the unseen Spirit Who is at work in him. His whole life is generated by looking at the unseen, knowing that the physical arrangement, and its effects, are temporal and that his life is in the eternal. This is not to say that the spiritual man is unable to view and be affected by physical things. He can see and experience them, but they do not dictate his actions. This is what the sons of God are empowered to endure, for this is the suffering of Christ- looking to, drawing from, and living in accordance with the unseen kingdom of God while all of the elements of the physical, visible realm are working to press and squeeze him off the narrow way that leads to life. “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2). Adam and Eve looked “not at the things which are seen” until they partook of the knowledge of good and evil. After eating the forbidden fruit- “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7). The wellspring of their lives was turned from the realm of the unseen, and they began to live according to the physical and natural. Their efforts to be acceptable in God’s presence by making their own garments are indicative of those who are following the wrong Jesus today. Being without the work of God in their hearts, they attempt to appear righteous by exercising various religious practices and outward observances. Since Adam’s fall, all of the thoughts, reasonings, intellect, appetites, and deeds of unregenerated man have been held captive to the physical arrangement and his natural senses. Therefore, his understanding does not comprehend the unseen, his deeds are not dictated by the unseen, and he is not empowered by the unseen. The carnal state, and corresponding mindset, can easily be seen in the 3rd chapter of John where Nicodemus came to question Jesus. After being told that men must be born again, Nicodemus responded by saying,“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (vs 4). He could not comprehend a spiritual rebirth because his mindset was confined to that of the physical and natural. Another scriptural account that reveals the carnal man is in the 6th chapter of John where Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (vs. 53-54). Hearing these words, many of His disciples turned back and quit walking with Him (vs. 66). Why? Because their carnal state kept their understanding within the confines of the visible realm. All they could hear was a message of salvation through cannibalism. Today, carnal men can read both of these accounts and gain a partial understanding of the words Jesus is speaking because they are spelled out in additional text. But, without regeneration, a person can no more gain a full grasp of these statements than could Nicodemus or those early disciples. This is clearly seen by the numerous, conflicting doctrines on salvation and partaking of the Lord’s body and blood. Being unable to grasp the unseen messages of the scriptures, carnal preachers and teachers can only present the Word of God according to the physical realm, and thereby proclaim false doctrines.
Now look at some examples to see that the scriptures have largely been taught and understood from a carnal perspective, leading to grave error in the doctrines, understanding, and behavior of most who are professing Christianity. In the beginning verses of John 14, Jesus says,“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (vs. 1-3). It is most often taught and widely accepted that, in this text, Jesus is saying there are a lot of big fine mansions in heaven, and that He was going there in order to get them built so that His disciples would have an exquisite home to live in once they arrived. You may have heard various “believers” speak of the vision God has given them of their heavenly mansion. They claim to have seen a beautiful home made of fine marble or other precious minerals, having huge rooms, spiral stairways, and crystal chandeliers. The kingdom of heaven is spiritual; it is not physical. Spiritual beings do not require or desire homes that are constructed with physical materials. Let’s compare spiritual with spiritual to see the Truth. In the first place, the word translated as “mansions” simply means “dwellings”. Jesus spoke of going to prepare these dwellings in several respects. Look at these verses in 1 Corinthians 15 which speak about the resurrection of the body- “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (vs. 42-44). In one respect, Jesus was speaking of the spiritual bodies that the souls of saved people will inhabit in the resurrection. For more spiritual comparison, look at the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 saying, ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life”. A spiritual man sees that “mansions” and “tabernacles” refer to the body. Our heavenly dwelling will indeed be a mansion in that the glory of the spiritual body far exceeds that of the fleshly. As Paul stated, those who are born of God, and still in their fleshly bodies, groan to be clothed with their immortal habitations. The carnal man only sees a big fine home because he is enslaved to the visible realm and his physical appetites. He groans for himself, and his only consideration is that his lusts might be more fully satisfied when he gets to heaven. Jesus also spoke of dwellings in another respect. He was ascending to be in the presence of the Father and in saying, “I go to prepare a place for you”, He spoke of preparing the spiritual bodies that would be inhabited by the souls of true believers in the resurrection. The word “prepare” does not mean “to build” as in constructing a house. It means “to make fit”. Through His sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus has made it possible for the spirit of this world to be put to death in us and for the life of God to be rekindled within our soul. This speaks of the Holy Spirit abiding in the believer’s heart. “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Now look at the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:19-22 saying, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone: in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit”. Believers are of God’s household, and this building that is “fitly framed together” is not made of 2×4 studs or any other physical matter. It is constructed with the souls of the saints. So, the mansions in heaven speak of the glorious, immortal embodiment that the souls of the saved will inhabit. The place that Jesus went to prepare speaks of justification for us to enter the Holiest of all in heaven, as well as the habitation of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of true believers. The spirits, souls, and bodies of believers presently reside in the kingdom of heaven because Jesus has made the way.
A brother in the Lord once asked me, “What is the kingdom of God?”. The Holy Spirit immediately gave me the answer and it’s found in Romans 14:17- “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”. The sons of God presently dwell in the kingdom of God because they abide in righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost. Their dwelling is in the unseen! When the Pharisees demanded that Jesus tell them when the kingdom of God would come, He said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). Carnal, unregenerated people only consider the visible realm because it is all their worldly, fleshly condition can grasp. They look to those things that can be perceived with their natural capabilities and comprehend things in a manner that satisfies fleshly lusts. Most professing believers, including their leadership, are seeing the mansions in heaven as fine homes made of physical matter. Their doctrines, understanding, and behavior can not be in agreement with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I earnestly pray that you will turn your whole heart away from self and this world and turn it to God so you will have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive what the Spirit is saying so that you will not be led away with the error of the wicked and drowned in the flood of deception that has flooded the land!
In John 3:6 Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”. He is not only speaking of the new birth. Anything that is generated by flesh, or carnality, is flesh. Most people presume that men with impressive theological degrees must surely be telling them the truth. Any person who professes Jesus, and yet denies the power of the gospel, is still carnal, in the flesh, can only minister according to the flesh, and is only capable of producing the works of the flesh. Let me pause to make it clear that when I speak of denying the power of the gospel, I am referring to denying that the gospel is the power of God to regenerate us into new creatures who walk as Jesus walked and to be as He is in this world (Rom. 1:16, 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 6, 1 John 2:6 & 4:17). As they preach, teach, and prophesy in the name of Jesus, false ministers are filling the hearts of their followers with worldly, distorted, deceptive, and deadly doctrines. Countless numbers of unknowing souls are “being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17). “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14).
We’re about to look at another example to help you recognize and properly discern between preaching, teaching, and prophecy that is carnal, or worldly, and that which is generated by the Holy Spirit, or heavenly. As you consider these things, remember this- “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” and “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (Luke 6:45, 1Cor. 2:14). A natural, carnal man can not know the things of the Spirit and neither can he speak them. Therefore, if a minister preaches, teaches, or prophesies according to the world concerning one topic of the Bible, it is most probable that what he/she says about other Biblical precepts will be according to the world as well. Some may argue that a babe in Christ is incapable of grasping spiritual content and may still only see from a worldly, carnal perspective. On his own, or being misguided, a babe may only grasp a worldly perspective of the scripture, but a true child of God, even a babe, is capable of grasping spiritual truth, will seek it, and come to that light when it is presented to him. Spiritual truth will immediately bear witness with his spirit and that light will come to be more and more clear as he matures- “But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). On the other hand, those who still love the world, whose hearts are hostile to God, and who think that gain is godliness will not come to the light and subsequently can not speak by the Spirit of God in agreement with the light. False ministers have the world in their heart, and it comes out of their mouth.
The scriptures that testify about the street of pure gold in “that great city, the holy Jerusalem” should further enhance your discernment between worldly and spiritual doctrines. In describing his revelation of the heavenly city, John wrote, “. . .and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Rev. 21:21). Those who minister according to the flesh proclaim that this is a physical street paved with the mineral gold. They see this from a carnal perspective and proclaim it in like manner. It has previously been shown, by the scriptures, that the “mansions” in heaven do not refer to physical houses constructed of earthly matter, but rather our spiritual habitation in God and His kingdom. This “holy Jerusalem” refers to the same; its foundations, walls, gates, and street are not constructed of physical, earthly matter. Yes, these verses are literal and mean exactly what they say, but they are not speaking of earthly things- they speak of spiritual, heavenly things. John was not speaking about a physical street paved with corruptible gold.
Making reference to our redemption, the apostle Peter wrote, “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;” (1 Peter 1:18). You see that silver and gold are corruptible. Look now at the words of the apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 15:50- “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Earthly matter that is corruptible, or perishable, is not in the holy city that John is describing. He was not of this world, and he did not speak according to the world- “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6). In 1 Peter 1:3-7 we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”. First note that our inheritance reserved in heaven is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading. Then see that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold that perishes. A believer’s faith is tried or purified by spiritual fire like corruptible, or perishable, gold is purified by physical fire. The mineral gold, even though purified, is still corruptible and will be dissolved with the other physical elements in the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10-12). Faith that is tried by fire, however, is more precious because it purchases, or grasps, those things that are eternal. In Revelation 3:18, Jesus says, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, . . .” He is speaking about being rich in spiritual things (Matt. 6:19-21) and the gold He is referring to is purified faith.
Several verses have been used to show that those who are in the Spirit have their focus, or gaze, fixed upon the invisible God and His unseen kingdom- “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Faith looks beyond the confines of the physical arrangement and natural senses to grasp the unseen realities of God and His kingdom. Again, John says, “The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Rev. 21:21). He is speaking about the purified walk of faith whereby we may walk and abide in God’s presence. The street is pure gold because it represents faith that has been purified through trials. It is as transparent glass for two reasons. One being that our faith is purified to the degree that there is no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing in our hearts and lives (Eph. 5:27). It is also transparent, or unseen, because “we walk by faith, not by sight:” (2 Cor. 5:7). The purified heart does not walk according to what is dictated by the things that are seen but according to what is ordained by “Him who is invisible”(Heb. 11:24-27). Those with purified faith walk and abide with God in “the holy Jerusalem”. I trust that these examples about the mansions in heaven and the street of pure gold will awaken you to not only see the vast differences in carnal and spiritual teaching, but also cause you to realize how worldly influence has corrupted the doctrines that many are hearing and believing. The issue isn’t mansions and gold streets; the issue is that those who are of the world speak according to the world(1 John 4:5-6). 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of “a falling away” that precedes the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering unto Him. “Falling away” was translated from the Greek word “apostasia” which means “defection from truth” and is related to the type of separation which occurs in a divorce. This defection from truth and separation from Jesus has been happening for some time and continues to occur as the hearts of multitudes are captured by carnal, false doctrines that are proclaimed in His name. The New Testament contains numerous scriptures warning us about these false teachers and their deadly doctrines-“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” and “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:11 & 24). If you are being ministered to by anyone who denies that the gospel is the power of God to regenerate us into new creatures who walk as Jesus walked, being as He is in this world, without spot and blameless; if you are being told that God doesn’t see your sin, that obedience is optional, and that you can walk in the flesh yet still please God, the instruction and guidance you are getting is not being generated by the Holy Spirit. Run for your life!!