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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Carnal

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Anything related to the fleshly or worldly appetites and desires rather than to the godly and spiritual desires. Basic human nature is carnal, sold out to sin and thus living in the realm of death, unable to observe God's spiritual law (Romans 7:14 ). People walk either in the flesh or in the Spirit, leading to death or to life. The carnal person is hostile to God, unable to please God (Romans 8:1-11 ). Jesus Christ in human flesh overcame the condemnation of the fleshly way to offer the free life of the Spirit's way. Paul said that Gentiles had received the spiritual gospel through the Jews and should thus minister to the fleshly or material needs of the Jews (Romans 15:27 ). Compare 1 Corinthians 9:11 .

Even church members can be carnal, being only babes in Christ, as Paul indicated in writing the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ). Such Christians are jealous of one another and quarrel with one another. Christians should solve their problems with different “weapons” (2 Corinthians 10:4 ). Such weapons serve God's purposes, destroy human arguments and human divisions, and bring glory to Christ.

Hebrews teaches that Christ had a distinct kind of priesthood from that of Jewish priests. Priests had always served on the basis of commandments written to meet fleshly needs. Christ served on the basis of His indestructible, eternal life (Hebrews 7:16 ). In Hebrews 9:10 the writer of Hebrews made clear the fleshly nature of the law. It consisted of commandments for the old order dealing with external matters until Christ came to deal with the spiritual matters of eternal redemption, sanctification, cleansing, and eternal life.

Using the same Greek word (sarkikos ), Peter issued a battle cry against “fleshly lusts” so that glory would go to God and people would be attracted to His way of life (1 Peter 2:11 ).


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Carnal'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/c/carnal.html. 1991.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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