1 Corinthians 3

Talks for Growing Christians

The Spiritual Christian and the Carnal Christian

1 Corinthians 3

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Lesson Number 4

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. A believer can decide to be either spiritual or carnal.
  2. A believer can decide to build for either reward or loss.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t deceive yourself.


  1. What is the difference between having spiritual gifts and being spiritual?
  2. Review the contrast between the spiritual man and the natural man in 1 Corinthians 2.
  3. What category did the Corinthian believers fall into when they chose not to be spiritual?
  4. Why can believers still be carnal or fleshly?
  5. What building is being built in 1 Corinthians 3? What is the foundation for this building?


  1. Spiritual gifts are received as part of the package of salvation and are developed with use. Being spiritual is a matter of walking in close fellowship with the Lord and obeying His Word.
  2. The natural man is the unbeliever who does not understand God’s Word or God’s ways. The spiritual man is the mature believer who is led by the Holy Spirit to understand the Word and ways of God.
  3. They were in the category of carnal or worldly believers who could only handle the milk of God’s word.
  4. Because Christians still have the flesh, the sinful nature. We now have new natures in Christ, but until we get our resurrected bodies we also have the sinful nature.
  5. The building here is the Church. The foundation of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. When a believer today chooses to walk according to the flesh, rather than according to the Spirit, the result will be like that in Corinth. There will be jealousy, strife, and division in the body of Christ. We will be worldly in our thinking and selfish in our ministry. And we will be rewarded according to our actions. How do these thoughts motivate you to walk according to the Spirit?
  2. Review the three categories of builders in the Church. We see that these builders correspond to the three categories of people: natural, spiritual, and carnal.


  1. As you go through this week, think about the building materials that you are using to build upon the foundation of Christ. Will these materials withstand fire? Will you receive reward?

Key Verses

  • “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:7
  • “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11
  • “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:14

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