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How to Overcome the Power of Sin | From Carnality to Spirituality

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 12, 2023 3:00 am

How to Overcome the Power of Sin | From Carnality to Spirituality

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 12, 2023 3:00 am

It’s possible to dutifully drive to the gym every morning, and drive thru the donut shop on the way back home. It’s possible to set aside time every morning for devotions, but then get distracted by all the stuff on social media. Good intentions by themselves don’t take us far down the path of holiness. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see where our lives are out of adjustment, and helps us chart a course away from carnality and into spiritual growth.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at Again, it's

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to That's actually a sign, I'm sorry to say, of carnality. It's possible to dutifully drive to the gym every morning and drive through the donut shop on the way back home. It's possible to set aside time every morning for devotions, but then get distracted by all the stuff on social media. Good intentions by themselves don't take us far down the path of holiness. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see where our lives are out of adjustment, and he helps us chart a course away from carnality and into spiritual growth. The Christian life is one of growth. It's one of consistency. We know that salvation means that our sins are forgiven, but then there's sanctification.

We've been talking about that. Salvation or regeneration is coming to Christ. Sanctification is growing in Christ.

That takes a lifetime. And the way you do that, according to Jesus, is you abide in him and his word abides in you. So it's abiding. I don't mean like the dude abides as in the great Lebowski.

That kind of abiding. What I'm talking about is just a consistent walk with Jesus Christ each and every day. But all of us would like to be a more deeply committed follower of Jesus than we are right now. But we struggle. We struggle with certain sins. And it seems like we have the upper hand and then they come back to haunt us again. Sometimes you feel like you take one step forward and three steps back.

Right? And the struggle goes on and on. And you wonder, am I ever going to be free from this struggle again? You can overcome sin. That's what the Bible tells us.

And that's what we're going to talk about. In Romans 6 we discovered together that sin no longer holds us in its grip. We no longer have to be a slave to sin. Romans 6 says our old sinful selves are crucified with Christ. So sin might lose its power in your life. You're no longer slaves to sin. What a powerful and hopeful statement that is. The power of sin, which used to control my life, your life, our lives, has been broken. I'm a new person in Christ. Old things have passed away. Everything becomes fresh and new. Awesome.

Fantastic. But then there is reality. You know some of us if we wrote the Bible we would have Romans 6 and then we would go right to Romans 8. There wouldn't be a Romans 7.

I'm going to be honest with you. Romans 7 is a little anti-climatic. Because there is a victory cry of Romans 6. You know Romans 1 to 5 basically says you're sinners. There is nothing you can do to make yourself right before God. But Christ died for you and justified you.

And you're free from the power of sin. But then Romans 7 is a story of a man who is struggling. A man who wants to do right but keeps doing what is wrong. He is honest about it. He is forthright.

And at the end of the chapter he gives a solution. And this man is none other than the great apostle Paul. So let's read now Romans 7. And I'm going to read verses 14 to 24. By the way I'm reading from the New Living Translation. The trouble with me writes Paul is I am carnal. A slave to sin.

Underlying the word carnal. We will come back to it. I really don't understand myself for I want to do what is right but I don't do it. Instead I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong this shows that he agreed that the law is good. But I am not the one doing wrong. It is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me that is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right but I can't. I want to do what is good but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do I am really not the one doing it. It is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life that when I want to do what is right I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart but there is another power within me that is at war within my mind. This power makes me a slave to this sin. It is still within me. Oh what a miserable person I am. Wow. Is that honest or what? And have you experienced that yourself? We all have I think.

So if you are taking notes here is point number one. If you want to win the battle with sin you need to admit your struggle. If you want to admit the battle with sin you need to admit your struggle. Paul begins with these words. The trouble with me is I am carnal sold under sin or under the power of sin. Now some would say Paul's statement here is a description of his old life before coming to Christ. This is Paul as a Pharisee trying to live by the law. Trying to do what God tells him to do but without Christ living in him. And so he is not describing an experience that happened after conversion but rather one that happened before.

Well actually I don't agree with that. I think this is his description of what he was going through after he had become a believer. Now look when we all come to Christ there is an initial surprise. There is a lot of things we didn't know. You know we realize there are certain things we are not supposed to do anymore.

And there are other things we are supposed to be doing in their place. There is a whole new way of thinking. A whole new way of living. Everything changes. And we also find out now we are in this battle.

You know. The Christian life is not a playground. It is a battleground. And conversion has made our hearts a battlefield. And so we understand that and we start taking those steps that God wants us to take and making those changes in the areas He wants us to change in.

But then there is another state. This is not the new Christian making those first steps of obedience. This is a person who has known the Lord for a while and has stayed the same way and they are identified as someone who is carnal. Carnality or carnal. The word carnal comes from the Greek word sarkikos which means fleshly. And this is the description of a believer. In fact Paul uses the word carnal when speaking to the believers in Corinth and he addresses them as brothers.

And then he says brothers you are carnal. So again this is a description of Paul's life after he became a believer. I don't know if it was his continuous experience.

I doubt that. But I think it was an experience he had at some point in his life. Now you probably heard of Jeff Foxworthy the comedian. He is a Christian by the way.

And he is friends with Larry the Cable Guy who is also a Christian. In fact Larry the Cable Guy listens to our radio show and he called me out on Twitter. He said, why don't you follow me on Twitter. I follow you. So I was embarrassed.

And I follow Larry now on Twitter because I had to get her done you know. But he is a great guy. I have talked with him a few times. But Jeff Foxworthy you know he has this routine he does. You know you are a redneck when. Right.

Have you ever heard of those things. You know you are a redneck when. Here are some of the things Jeff Foxworthy says. You know you are a redneck when your stereo speakers used to belong to the drive in.

Right. You know you are a redneck when you own a homemade fur coat. You know you are a redneck when birds are attracted to your beard. You know you are a redneck when your mother has ammo on her Christmas list. You know you are a redneck when your tail light covers are made of red tape.

Right. You know you are a redneck when you take a fishing pole to Sea World. You know you are a redneck when you have a home that is mobile and six cars that aren't. Ok. So that is how you know you are a redneck.

Ok. So now let's flip that around and ask the question how do you know when you are carnal. You know you are carnal when. And I came across a list compiled by a man named Ryan French. I adapted a few of his and added a few of my own.

These unfortunately are not witty like the ones I just shared. So how do you know if you are carnal or not. Listen to this. You know you are carnal when going to church is a low priority in your life. You know you are carnal when you are more comfortable around sin and sinners than you are around righteousness and righteous people.

You know you are carnal when you don't like messages that go over 25 minutes and especially if they have any words of correction in them. You know you are carnal when you have no spiritual disciplines in your life. Like Bible study. Like prayer. Like Bible memorization. Like tithing.

Like sharing the gospel. You know you are carnal when you actually dislike worship and it bugs you when someone next to you is very expressive with their worship. You know so you don't even like it. You just stand there. You just stand there. And then the person next to you has their hands lifted really high and you are kind of looking at them going, really?

Yeah really. That is actually a sign I am sorry to say of carnality. You know you are carnal when you like to gossip and be divisive and complain and compare one preacher to another preacher. Because Paul was speaking to the believers in Corinth and some of them were saying, our favorite preacher is Apollos. Others were saying, oh our favorite preacher is Paul. Paul is saying, you guys that is carnal. You shouldn't be doing that.

We will do that. Oh this church is better than that church and this preacher is better than that preacher. Number seven. You know you are carnal when you regularly give in to the same temptations and struggle with the same sins over and over and over even after repenting. And finally you know you are carnal when you haven't felt the presence of God in a long time. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know when you have walked in the very land where Jesus Himself walked you will gain a whole new appreciation for the truth of Scripture. Hey everybody Greg Laurie here inviting you to the Harvest Ministries Israel tour April 9 to 19, 2024. This will be an unforgettable journey through biblical sites and a unique opportunity to grow in your own faith. Listen, spots are limited. Be sure to sign up as soon as possible at

Again it's Hope to see you there. Well we're considering the danger of carnality today as Pastor Greg brings his message called how to overcome the power of sin. Let's continue. What does it mean to be carnal? To be carnal is to be in an arrested state of spiritual development.

Let me put it another way. To be carnal is like being a big baby. It was a cartoon years ago.

Most of you won't remember it. Baby Huey. It was this giant baby.

You know and that is how some people are. They are like giant babies. They have never gotten over being a little one. You know babies are so cute.

Oh my goodness. You know firstborns or newborns I should say. Firstborns are good too but newborns is what I am saying. But you know they have to be fed. First you have to nurse them and you have to care for them and watch them carefully and change their diapers and then they get a little older and pretty soon you know they are toddling around.

We can't wait until the day they take their first steps and then when they start taking those first steps it is like aye aye aye. You know because they are just getting themselves into all kinds of trouble and so you have to watch over them and then when they can finally start eating foods you know you have to cut the food up. You can't just give them the steak. You know you have to. They only have one tooth right. So you cut everything into small little pieces and maybe you feed it to them.

You take the fork and you make airplane noises. Here it comes. Open up. Right. With my two boys they always were drawn to the wrong foods as am I. And I would say to them take two more monster bites and you will be done.

Which meant take big bites and we are done here. So that is how you deal with children. You have to care for them. Watch over them. Keep your eye on them.

That is ok. They are little babies and then toddlers and small children. In the same way when we first come to Christ we need lots of care. We need to be given the milk of the Word. We need people to explain things to us. We need everything we hear from the Bible sort of cut up into small bites in a way we can digest. You know we need people to watch over us. And if you know a new believer you need to care about them and watch over them and help them and answer their questions.

I actually think it is a wonderful thing to do. To have a new believer in your life. Because as they are discovering the truths of God for the first time you are rediscovering those same truths that maybe you have started to take for granted.

So that is all great. But if you have known the Lord now a decade and you are still baby Huey. If you have known the Lord for a long period of time and you haven't matured. You haven't even developed basic disciplines as a Christian and you need everyone to cater to you and everything is spoon fed to you or cut into little bites for you. You can't even just open up the Bible and read it for yourself.

Well we have a problem. And Paul talked to the believers in Corinth about this. He said in 1 Corinthians 3 he went, brothers, again he is addressing Christians. I cannot speak to you as spiritual people but as to carnal I had to feed you as though you belonged to this world as though you were infants in Christ.

I had to feed you with milk not with solid food because you weren't ready for anything stronger. Then the author of Hebrews said something very similar. Hebrews 5 12. You have been believers for so long now you ought to be teaching others. Instead you need someone to teach you again and again the basic things about God's Word.

You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food for someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. So it is time to grow up. You ought to be teaching. You ought to be teaching others and telling them how to do it.

And instead you are going oh I still need more for me. Wait. What?

Come on. When I was in school I goofed off a lot. Got in trouble a lot.

Spent a lot of time waiting for the vice principal because I was thrown out of the classroom. And on more than one occasion I heard a teacher say to me, Greg Laurie will you just grow up. And I think some of us need to hear that today. It is time for us to grow up. Ok. So here is another point. You do not have to be carnal if you don't want to be.

All right. You don't have to be carnal if you don't want to be. So if this is a description of you. If you feel a little bit like a big baby spiritually and you know you should know more and be doing more. Well you don't have to be that way if you don't want to be that way.

Look. Every believer will have moments of carnality. Ok. Will have moments of compromise for sure. But you don't want to be identified as a carnal Christian. Look at what Paul says in verse 18.

I know that nothing good lives in me that is in my sinful nature. So here is the deal. You know we are dealing with different kinds of temptation. We have fleshly temptation and we have and how do I say it. I don't want to call it spiritual temptation.

Let me restate it. We have sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. Sins of the flesh are predictable.

You know just the stuff that people do. Lustful thoughts. Thoughts of hatred. Anger.

Vengeance. Just typical fleshly sins. But sins of the spirit are different. 2 Corinthians 7.1 says, Let us cleanse ourselves from sins of the flesh and of the spirit. What does it mean to commit a sin of the spirit?

Listen. It is knowingly going against what is true. We talk about some sins being worse than others.

And they are. But they may not be the sins you think. Because Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, the one who handed Me over to you has committed the greater sin.

Oh really. So whoever handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor, committed the greater sin. Jesus was either referring to Judas Iscariot or He was referring to Caiaphas the high priest. And in effect He is saying the same thing. Judas Iscariot who knew better, who spent three years of his life walking with me did this.

Or Caiaphas the high priest who studied Scripture and knows what is right. Then maybe he did it to me. My point is simply this. You think you have sinned beat in one area and it comes back to bite you in another. So I look down on the person who is committing sins of the flesh. Look at them. Look at the cuss word they just said.

Look at the thing they just did. They are so evil. Too bad they can't be holy like me. Oh sin of the Spirit. Sin of the Spirit.

Because that is pride. The best illustration of this is two men that went into the temple to pray. One was a sinner. The other was a publican. Not a Republican.

A publican. And we read that the sinner would not even lift his eyes to heaven. He just beat his chest and said, God be merciful to me a sinner. And a literal translation would be, God be merciful to me the sinner.

So this guy was bad. And he knew it. Meanwhile the Pharisee the Bible says he prayed thus with himself. That is King James. Which means I don't even know if God was paying attention to this guy's prayer.

It was so lame. He prayed thus with himself. And he said, Father I thank You I am not like other men. Especially this guy. Jesus says, so who went away from there?

Justify. The answer is the sinner. The guy who owned it. The guy who admitted it.

Not the guy who was self-righteous. So this is the tricky thing about carnality is you may not know that you are carnal when you actually are. Realize another point that the problem is you not your circumstances. The problem is you not your circumstances. Look at verse 14. The trouble is not with the law for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me for I am all too human a slave to sin.

See we love to blame things and people. Well the reason I went and did that is because of the circumstances. You know there is just no way I could have avoided that. That guy cut me off on the freeway so I had to run him off the road.

Really? Or maybe you have struggled with drinking and you are six months sober and then you fall off the wagon. Someone asks you, what happened? Well I just gave in. Where were you when you gave in? The bar. But if you struggle with drinking why were you at the bar?

They have the best hot wings there. No. Come on now. You are blaming your circumstances. Or you blame people. Well the reason I am the way that I am it is her. She drives me crazy. This marriage is falling apart because of her. And she says the same thing about him.

It is no different than Adam and Eve in the garden you know shifting blame. God asks Adam, did you eat of the forbidden fruit? He says, it is the woman you gave me.

That is fine. I am taking a nap. I wake up. A rib is missing and she is here. Next thing I know I am eating this fruit.

I didn't even want to eat. And then God goes to Eve. So what happened here? Oh the devil tricked me. See you have to admit that this is you.

The problem is you not your circumstances. Pastor Greg Laurie with important thoughts today on the problem of carnality and how to avoid it in our lives. And there is more to come as this study continues here on A New Beginning. Well we are so excited to make available the new film Jesus Revolution on DVD. People have been asking about it. Pastor Greg we have seen questions on social media about what situations in the movie were just as they happen and then situations where they took a little creative liberty. So let me ask you about these things. First did you really come to know the Lord after hearing Lonnie Frisbee speak?

Yeah that is true. Now in the movie I come to Christ right before I am baptized. The reality is and for folks that listen to our radio broadcast you have heard me tell my story quite a few times but yes I was on my high school campus and that sort of reflected in the film where you see Lonnie get up and you hear a little of his message and then he says Jesus says you are for me or against me. That is exactly what Lonnie said and that was the statement that got my attention and I walked forward on my high school campus.

A little detail on that I did not know until recently. I found out that normally that Christian group met in the science room on the high school campus but on that particular day the air conditioning was broken so they moved outside. They normally did not meet on the front lawn. That is where I came across the Christians. Had they been in a classroom I would have never walked in that room and I would have felt too conspicuous and I would not have done it but because it was out on neutral territory so to speak I went and sat close enough where I could eavesdrop on their conversation and that is the day I came to Christ so I believe it was all orchestrated by the Lord.

Oh absolutely. So did Lonnie Frisbee really show up at Pastor Chuck's house when Chuck was not expecting it? Well the real story is Kay Smith had a real burden for the hippies and she was really praying for them to come to Christ. In fact there was a group of kids that would walk by her house every day and every day there were young stoner type kids and she would pray Lord reach those kids. Reach one of those young boys there for the gospel and as it turns out and I found this out years later I was part of that little gang of kids because we used to get stoned.

That's sixes vernacular for you know smoke weed. We would get stoned at a house not far from where Chuck and Kay lived. I didn't know Chuck and Kay lived in that neighborhood and we would walk right by our house so she in effect was praying for me as well as the others but so Chuck did want to meet a hippie and his daughter Jan did meet a young hippie man named John Higgins who introduced him to Lonnie Frisbee who was then brought to the house of Chuck Smith. Yeah it was a long way around the barn to say Lonnie came to Chuck's house yes.

Okay so the historic band Love Song which we're all familiar with. Yeah. Did they really get their start by informally sort of auditioning for Pastor Chuck that one day at his church?

Yeah they did. In the movie it happens in his front room but in real life it happened in his church. At this point Lonnie was preaching at Calvary.

The reputation was spreading quickly. There's this hippie preacher at this church called Calvary Chapel so Love Song shows up. They're an existing band already just playing clubs and other things but they had all become Christians just recently. In fact Tommy Coombs one of the members of Love Song was still going to jail on the weekends and so they auditioned in Chuck's office they said hi we're Love Song we have some songs Chuck's a little skeptical wouldn't you be and they start playing and he couldn't believe it.

Chuck began to weep as they played these beautiful songs that the Lord gave them and Chuck said would you like to play tonight and that's how Love Song got started. That's amazing. Well you know the movie has as fascinated people it's inspired people many have been brought to the Lord through the film and now we're bringing the film home quite literally we're bringing this to people's homes. That's right you can now have your own DVD copy of the Jesus Revolution film. Now I know it's streaming you've probably seen it out there in different platforms like capital and Amazon but here's what's unique about the harvest edition of the Jesus Revolution DVD.

You get the movie but then you get bonus content you won't get anywhere else including a special cinematic message I shot on the beach that is designed to be shown right after a person has viewed the film. I'm telling them how they can come into a relationship with Jesus Christ and I even lead them in a prayer. So this is a great tool I think it's one of the best evangelistic tools out there and I think it's the greatest resource we have ever offered here at Harvest by a country mile. So I'm encouraging you now to order your own copy of the Jesus Revolution DVD order it from us and start doing evangelistic outreaches in your front room. Yeah that's right we really want to put a copy of this in your hands and we'll send you this new DVD along with a free streaming code to thank you for your partnership right now your investment so a new beginning can continue to come your way and by the way the resource costs us more than we normally pay for other resources so thanks so much for your generosity right now you can call us anytime at 1-800-821-3300 that's 1-800-821-3300 or write us at a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to

Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. When is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.

Join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Well next time be sure to tune in as Pastor Greg brings us more insight from the challenging seventh chapter of Romans. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners helping people everywhere everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life share your story leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-12 05:34:30 / 2023-05-12 05:45:40 / 11

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