By: Brian Salazar
There is a way of thinking that is not so uncommon among Christians. This perspective has within it the conclusion that if they could see something supernatural with their own eyes, it would either cause their faith to increase or some measure of spiritual growth. For example, someone might conclude witnessing a miracle, a dramatic healing or even seeing Jesus Himself would most certainly lead to a strengthening of faith. The unfortunate reality is such a perspective is completely carnal. Thus, within a carnal perspective is an inability to observe what God is doing though it is right in front of them. The Bible shows us a distinction between those who are spiritual, thus spiritually minded, and those who are carnal and therefore carnally minded. Though it is a term used with some frequency, many Christians don’t have a clear sense of what the term “carnal” means. Simply put, it is a description of someone whose entire existence and consciousness is governed exclusively by their natural senses. Most often it references one who is not born again nor received the Spirit. For a carnal person, what they see, smell, touch, taste and hear defines reality. Within their consciousness, there is a limitation of what they are capable of knowing and how they think according to the natural stimulus around them. Furthermore, that stimulus must pass through the filter of sin which dominates them. As such, their perspectives, patterns of thought, decisions and actions are governed exclusively by their natural senses and a fallen nature. Though The Bible references those who are carnal primarily as those without God, it does make clear the unfortunate truth that a person may be born again and still be carnal. A perfect example of this is found in the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians where Paul admonishes this church for the divisive attitudes and practices they are engaged in. Then, he lays bare the truth of their inability to receive the deep things of God because they were still carnal and behaving like mere men.
Jesus explains in John 14:17 that the world, those who are carnal, cannot receive the Spirit because they neither see Him nor know Him. Because their vision is limited to their physical eyes, there is no capacity whatsoever to observe God or what He is doing. The clear declaration that the world does not see or know Him implies that we who are not of the world do see Him, or at least should. When we are born again, when we become one Spirit with him, we gain the capacity to carefully observe who He is and what He is doing. Such vision occurs in the heart, in our innermost being. Our inner man, in perfect union with God, possesses the full revelation of all He is. Within our perfected spirit is the fullness of His nature, character and goodness. So then, when a carnally minded Christian desires a visual demonstration of God or the miraculous, it is conditioned within a lack of fulfillment. From this place of spiritual deficiency, they are expecting an external observation to bring them inner satisfaction. When a person is carnal, they hunger for carnal fulfillment, even in regard to what appears Godly. In a sense, they want God to prove Himself according to the expectations of their flesh. For the spiritually minded, inner satisfaction and fulfillment are already realities. While the carnal person concludes they must see to believe, or believe more, the spiritual person truly sees because they already believe. There is vision greater than the limitations of natural, carnal sight.
In Matthew 16:1-4 there is an incredibly pertinent event.
"Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed."
The most carnal of people asked a sign of Him. The reply is profound in that His final statement is that they would receive no sign except His death, burial and resurrection- the most profound sign of all. Though He declared the sign that would be coming, in their carnality was a complete inability to see it when it arrived, though it was right in front of their eyes. Furthermore, Jesus makes clear that the signs were all around them, yet they were completely incapable of recognizing them. This illustration shows that what God was doing was as open and obvious as the changing face of the sky. However, they could not see it because of the wicked, carnal condition of their heart. The truest vision we will ever have of God in this world occurs within our heart and is viewed through the eyes of faith. It is from within that we behold the grandest of revelations. From within, where Christ becomes our most intimate acquaintance, is where the miracle of God is manifest from. With such profound perspective we clearly see the signs of God in us and all around us. No longer is there a sense of needing God to do something external to prop us up internally. For those who live by His Spirit, there is strength and awareness beyond the comprehension of carnal man. For those who live by His Spirit, the miracles are everywhere.