Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. … Therefore let no man glory in men. (I Corinthians 3:18-19a, 21a)
Deception is acceptable practice among the hallways of this life. Hidden promises of corruptible glories beckon to believers to forsake the pathway of Light. The avenues of corruptible glories end in death. Carnality is one such deception, leading the professing church of Jesus Christ to destruction. The tolerance and sowing of carnality among believers and churches has become so widespread that it is considered normative and innocuous. The scriptures warn that saved men can pastor and build a church body with wood, hay, and stubble (wisdom of this world).
The church at Corinth was dating the world and her wisdom under the guise of Christian spirituality. When the world looked from their perspective at the corporate body of Christ in Corinth they beheld a reigning, satisfied, wealthy, wise, strong, honorable church (4:8-10). It was respectable and attractive to the world. The image and reflection of the Corinthian church was the image of the world and not Christ. Carnality was destroying and bringing judgment upon this corporate people of pride.
Carnality boasts in human reasoning and signs in place of revelation (1:21-22). The intellectual and influential are favored while the insignificant are despised (1:26-28). Popularization of men and causes are the badge of carnality. Where is the glorying in Christ and His cross (1:30-31)? The wisdom of this world minimizes spiritual illumination for rationalization (2:11-16). Carnality looks to men and methodologies instead of God giving the increase (3:4-7). It avoids any appearance of weakness, shame, or the charge of foolishness from the world (3:18; 4:10-13). After all, how can we win them if we lose their respectability, reasons worldly wisdom? Carnality flees the life-giving message of the cross and its implications. Commitments and decisions are nicer and much more acceptable terminology. Carnality is in direct opposition and contradiction to the Lord Jesus Christ. It robs God of His glory and deserves destruction. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (1:19).
Paul’s admonition to carnality and churches was repentance and the embracing of the shame of the cross. Do not be deceived by the wisdom of this age. Lay aside carnality and its spiritual adulteries and take up the wisdom of Christ and His cross. The world and the carnal will call you a fool but you will be counted wise by God. The church of God must forsake carnality and adorn the cross of Christ with its weakness and powerlessness. Then the gospel will go forth in the power of God effectively unto salvation (1:17-18).