Why divisions – Part 1: “Are Ye Not Carnal?”
(Updated February 14, 2016)
Why are there so many divisions in the church? Is it not because we are yet carnal? This was the reason Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, identified for the divisions in the church at Corinth (cf. I Corinthians 1:10).
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? (I Corinthians 3:3,4)
Though the Lord had much people in this city of Corinth (Acts 18:8-10), certain members of the church there had allowed the old leaven of their flesh to pollute their inheritance in the body of Christ (cf. I Corinthians 5:1-8). Instead of walking in the Spirit, there were individuals among them who walked as men in seeking to fulfill the lusts of the flesh (cf. I Corinthians 6:9-18 with Galatians 5:16,17). Instead of sowing to the Spirit, they had sown to their flesh and reaped a harvest of corruption manifest through, among other things, divisions (cf. I Corinthians 1:11-15 with Galatians 6:7,8). Even though it was not everyone who had done so, the Apostle warned the whole body of the seriousness of this sin by reminding them that it only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump (I Corinthians 5:6 & 6:18).).
In an effort to bring healing to the church at Corinth, Paul sought to minister to its members according to the power and wisdom of God so that they might not be ignorant of spiritual things nor come behind in no gift (I Corinthians 1:7, 2:1-16 & 12:1). He taught them to no longer live after the flesh, but to live as new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:16-21).
And, as he had done in other churches to whom he ministered, Paul labored long among the Corinthian saints to impart spiritual gifts unto them whereby the whole body might be edified (built-up) in the Lord and, in particular, in the mind of Christ (cf. I Corinthians 1:3-10, 2:9-16 & 12:4-31, 13:1-13, 14:1 with Romans 1:11 & Ephesians 4:7-16).
From the writings of Paul and the other apostles and prophets preserved in scripture, it is rather evident that the members in the church at Corinth were not, nor would they be, the only ones in need of being admonished concerning the enmities born of the carnal mind and manifest by division. The present day conditions in the church attest to the fact that we have an urgent need to be admonished in these matters as well (cf. Acts 14:15 & James 5:16,17 with II Timothy 3:1-9 & 4:1-3).
Whether in Paul’s day or in our day, the effect of the carnal mind – that of living according to the dictates of our own wills and carnal desires and reasoning – is the same: divisions and disunity among ourselves and between us and our God (cf. Galatians 5:17-21, Romans 8:5-8 & D&C 2:2 with I John 1:7-9 & Ether 4:55). The carnal mind vigorously opposes the unifying work of the Spirit of our Lord (cf. Romans 8:5-8 & Ephesians 4:1-6 with John 17:20,21). Therefore, we have been admonished to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus by walking in the Spirit (i.e. by walking by faith) so that we might not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Ephesians 4:1).
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. … Because the carnal mind is enmity against God … So then they that are after the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1,7,8)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law [i.e. you are under grace]. (Galatians 5:16-18)
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:5,6)
Therefore let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel… (Philippians 1:27)
(For we walk by faith, not by sight;) (II Corinthians 5:7)
Now the Works of the Flesh are Manifest
Divisions born of the carnal mind are evidence of the separation from God which comes of sin and ungodly lusts.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19)
One of the surest and quickest ways to separate oneself from the Spirit of the Lord is to commit adultery, imaged or otherwise.
And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, He that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear... (D&C 63:5a)
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are things which defile a man… (Matthew 15:18,19)
Why adultery? Recall how Paul likened marriage to the covenant relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25-32). Like all sins, adultery is a sin against the body of Christ, yet doubly so (I Corinthians 6:18). Because marriage between a man and a woman is in the likeness of the covenant relationship between Christ and His church, the breaking of the marriage covenant through adultery constitutes a sin against both the marriage itself and the relationship between Christ and His church. Consequently, those who violate this sacred trust not only separate themselves from the blessings of this sacred trust, they destroy their own soul.
But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. (Proverbs 6:32)
Why is their soul destroyed? God created us for His own habitation, His temple. Therefore, whosoever defiles his or her body, Paul informs us that God will destroy that individual.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (I Corinthians 3:16,17)
As such, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Rather, their eternal estate will be like that of the hearth in the desert (cf. Matthew 12:38,39).
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and the man whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. (Jeremiah 17:5,6)
It is Not Lawful for Thee
Marriage is ordained of God (cf. Ephesians 5:31 with I Timothy 4:1-3). He has said that it is lawful for a man to have one wife.
And again, I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry, is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man; wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation; and that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made. (D&C 49:3a-c)
Nevertheless, there are those among us who have been unlawful toward God by committing adultery in their hearts if not also in very deed, and thereby they do not have His Spirit (cf. Matthew 5:29,30 with D&C 42:7d & 63:5a). To such the Spirit of the Lord speaks expressly now as He did in days of old to King Herod through John the Baptist,
It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife [imagined or otherwise] (Mark 6:17-19; [cf. Matthew 5:29,30]).
Those who heed the Lord’s admonition to repent and forsake their sins may obtain mercy and healing through being restored to the Lord’s fellowship (cf. James 5:16 & I John 1:3–2:3 with Joel 2:12-14 & Isaiah 1:16-20). Those who do not – by remaining unrepentant in this probationary state – stay as they are, without God in this world, and eventually die unto things pertaining unto righteousness, both in this life and in eternity (cf. Alma 9:15-32, 16:228-238, 19:75,84 & Mosiah 11:196-199 with Ephesians 2:12).
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10)
For the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation; Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness, they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; Wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God to be judged of their works: And if their works have been filthiness, they must needs be filthy: And if they be filthy, it must needs be that they can not dwell in the kingdom of God. (I Nephi 4:52- 56)
The Lord is able to grant us eternal life in His kingdom or to cast our souls into hell with the damned (cf. Romans 14:4, Hebrews 7:24 & II Corinthians 9:8 with Luke 12:1-5 & D&C 63:1). Which of these two will be our end depends upon our response to God’s will for our lives (cf. John 6:44,65, Mark 3:30 & Romans 8:12-17 with I Peter 4:2-7, I John 2:17, Ephesians 6:6, I Thessalonians 4:3 & 5:18).
Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:30)
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; And remember after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. (II Nephi 7:41,42)
Recall again how it is written that it is as unlawful for a person to imagine having another’s spouse, i.e. to commit adultery in one’s own heart, as it is to commit the physical act of adultery (Matthew 5:29,30 & III Nephi 5:76,77). Oh then my brethren of the church, I urge you to be wise and heed the godly counsel given by Alma to his son, Corianton, and do not risk one more offense against your God lest your former sins return and you become worse than if you had not known Christ (D&C 28:1b, 81:1c,2 & Alma 14:58).
And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin. Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, Wickedness never was happiness. And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration, to take a thing of a natural state, and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration, is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish; good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful; Therefore, my son, see that ye are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things, then shall ye receive your reward; Yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; And ye shall have good rewarded unto you again; for that which ye do send out, shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore the word restoration, more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all. (Alma 19:72-80)
Note here how Alma testifies to his son that the Lord will restore each of us to a state that is consistent with the way in which we have lived our lives in this world (cf. Mormon 4:24 & I John 4:17). This same witness is found in the closing chapter of the book of the Lamb of God, the Bible, and thus represents the final state of the souls of men (cf. I Nephi 3:190).
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy; let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:11,12)
Except we repent by confessing and turning away from (i.e. by dying to, by putting off) the works of the flesh, including adultery, and repent and bring forth the fruits meet for repentance – those which are by Christ Jesus the Lord (John 15:4-8) – we will be restored to a carnal state and, thereby, do that which is unlawful in the sight of God forever unto our own condemnation and destruction (cf. Romans 6:1-16, 8:7,8, Ephesians 4:22, Philippians 1:11 & I Corinthians 6:12 with John 8:39-44).
For after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness, wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye can not say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye can not say this; for that same spirit which doeth posses your bodies at the time that you go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to posses your body in the eternal world. (Alma 16:230-232).
For he <God> hath made it impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to be renewed again unto repentance; seeing they crucify unto themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
At the end of our life in this world, those in whom the Spirit of the Lord abides, who have continued to bear the fruit of the same, i.e. all godliness and righteousness and truth, will inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:9 & Galatians 5:22,23 with D&C 83:8b,c & 98:13d). On the other hand, those in whom a spirit resides which bears the fruit of fleshly lusts will have their reward with that carnal spirit unto their own place outside the kingdom of God (cf. Jacob 4:4 with Hebrews 6:6-8). The reason?
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
May we, therefore, yield our whole souls a living sacrifice unto the Lord’s will by coming unto Him to be healed and to bear Him the fruit of His Spirit (Matthew 11:29,30 with Alma 16:195-200)
O all ye that are spared … will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, If ye will come unto me, ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. (III Nephi 4:41-43)
And now my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, which is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of His salvation and the power of His redemption; Yea, come unto Him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto Him, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth, ye will be saved. (Omni 1:46,47)
… for as ye have in times past yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. (Romans 6:19)
 Similarly, it only takes a little blood poisoning to infect the whole body.
 Romans 1:18–2:1, 6:11-19 & 8:1-17; Galatians 5:13-21 & 6:1-10; Ephesians 4:17–5:12; Philippians 2:3,4,14; Colossians 3:5-14; I Thessalonians 4:1-8 & II Thessalonians 3:10-15, James 4:1–5:12, I Peter 4:1-7,15, II Peter 2:9–3:3, I John 1:5 & 2:15-17, etc.
Originally published here. For more on this subject, select here.