1Co 3:1-4 “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?”
Paul was not addressing his comments to those who had no spiritual life, but he was admonishing them that they lacked spiritual maturity. He recognizes that those he speaks to are babes in Christ and therefore carnal in their thinking about the church. At no time was Paul guilty of trying to make unregenerate sinners into children of God.
How often have we been found in a condition where we were not ready to have spiritual meat? We are often prone to trying to understand the works of God based on our earthly experiences and thoughts. At times like that, we are not spiritual but carnal, considering the things of the Eternal God in the light of temporal flesh. The things of God are spiritually discerned.
It is by God’s grace that He sees fit to send us milk at those times and not meat. We would never try to force a ribeye steak on an infant, no matter how wonderful the steak might be. The infant is not able to break down the steak into manageable bites nor is their system able to digest such an offering. Paul was blessed to understand this condition spiritually as pertained to the Corinthian brethren and was content to feel them with milk.
As babes in Christ, we are not given milk as a sign of weakness. Instead it is given so that we might grow (1Pe 2:2), mature, and become strong enough to eat meat. Until we are strengthened to the extent that we can rely on God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit more than on our earthly understanding, we are still carnal. The evidence of our carnality is simple and easily recognized.
Is there jealousy (envying) among us? Do we quarrel and debate contentiously (strife)? Is there dissension and sedition within our ranks? If we answer yes to these questions, then Paul says we are carnal: we are yet babes and not capable of handling the meet of God’s word. We have some growing up to do.
If we give man any credit for what God has done in our lives, we are carnal. The apostles do not deserve the credit. Pastors and preachers cannot claim credit. Our parents and grandparents do not deserve the credit. While all the sources may have said godly things to us and set godly examples before us, we are carnal as long as we do not give the Holy Ghost all honor for our understanding of the truth.
May God feed us with milk as long as we are babes, and may we grow by His grace to be able to feast on the meat of His word!