Character con Carne

What do these words have in common?  Carne.  Incarnation.  Carnival.  Carnivorous.  Carnal. Yes, you see the similarity.  They all have the syllable, “carn” in them.  In the Latin, this means “flesh” or “meat.”  We may go to the carnival (a festival, a time to feast on meat) to have fun and to eat chili con carne.  A carnivorous species eats meat or “flesh.”  Scripture uses the word “flesh” in several ways, often negative, but not always.

When Jesus Christ became flesh, he became the one perfect human being (John 1: 14; Phil. 2: 5-8). Christ is the beautiful picture of “flesh” as “flesh” was meant to be in human perfection.  We call this teaching “the doctrine of the incarnation.” Then there is the negative use where “flesh” represents the sin nature or the old nature of humans (Rom. 7:18). This is the carnal nature – of the flesh, motivated by sin and self and for self.  In contrast is the new nature – of the spirit, motivated by God and for God, good, and His glory (Romans chapter 8).   

In my last post, I mentioned these two natures, and I used the caterpillar-butterfly as a metaphor to picture them.  Christians have within themselves both the nature of the crawling caterpillar and the nature of the transformed, soaring butterfly.  Christians will crawl unless they yield to the Spirit: “Yes, Loving Sir! Your way, not mine!”

The Bible uses this flesh/Spirit contrast to explain to believers what our choices are.  Before salvation, we were dead in our sins and incapable of choosing God’s way.  As believers, we now are empowered with His Spirit and can now choose His way. His goal is to transform us into the image of Christ, taking on His character (Rom.8:28-29; II Cor. 3:18).  Thank You, Jesus! This transformation can happen because we are “in Christ.”  Here at Troy Christian, we have defined 57 character qualities that describe Christ-likeness shining through a Christian.

We are naturally tempted to seek these good characteristics on our own and demand these behaviors from our children.  We can develop “character con carne” – character with the source being the flesh.  Carnally fueled character.  Imitation.  Deceived into thinking its transformation.

In our coming articles, I will be writing about individual character qualities and together we’ll seek to encourage each other to cooperate with the Lord in growing spiritual wings.

What is the difference in being kind through your own power and giving kindness through the Spirit’s power?


Categories: Being Like Jesus | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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