Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1).
In an important passage describing immature Christians (I Corinthians 3:19), Paul uses two similar but different words, both translated in English as carnal; yet they need to be distinguished.
Paul writes: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it (I Corinthians 3:1,2). The Corinthian believers had become aware of the need to reorient their pre-Christian attitudes and actions along Biblical lines, but at first their transformation was incomplete, and they were just babes in Christ, to be pitied and nurtured in their immaturity. The Greek word sarkinos implies this infant stage.
However, as the years went on, they continued in their immaturity. Regarding meat, or aspects of Christian maturity, Paul continued, neither yet now are ye able (to bear it). For ye are yet carnal (vv.2,3Greek, sarkikas). By this time they should have grown to Christian adulthood, themselves helping others through the infant stage, but instead they had willfully and sinfully remained in their immature state. For this Paul rebukes them.
It must be recognized that these Christians are indeed in Christ, and therefore Christian brethren. They should be taught and cared for in the early stages, but if such a one refuses to grow up, insisting on feeding fleshly appetites, continuing in the sin patterns established before their spiritual birth, then they should be rebuked and disciplined if necessary. JDM