How often do we hear one say, "He is so spiritual.".... or, "Those people are not very spiritual."
What IS it to be spiritual? Do you know?
Here is the plain truth from the Bible, plainly stated.
We Need, just now, to be WARNED against being deceived into a false standard of spirituality. The Devil, we are warned again and again in the Scriptures, will deceive, if possible, even the very elect — that is, even the most spiritual people. The devil is a spiritual being. His demons are spirits. The devil is transformed into an angel of light. Angels are spirits, and he appears as a spirit of light and of truth. He is able to counterfeit spiritual blessings and experiences. It is those who feel they are progressing into the deeper spiritual paths whom he finds most susceptible, and attempts most to deceive. We "wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against WICKED SPIRITS" (Eph. 6:12, see margin,) and so God has solemnly warned us to TRY the spirits, WHETHER they be of God. (I John 4:1).
Four Things Usually Accepted as Sure Evidence
There are four things many good people regard as sure evidence of a spiritual mind. 1. Speech, noise, or demonstration. 2. Knowledge of the Scriptures. 3. Faith. Let us briefly examine each, and measure according to the true Scriptural standard. 1. The most commonly accepted evidence of spirituality is the way people talk, write, or demonstrate. Some people have deliberately cultivated spiritual-sounding language. They have learned that it impresses others with their deep spirituality. Their speech and their writing is prolific with spiritual-sounding phrases and expressions. People say, "My, isn't Brother so-and-so spiritual?" Many think a meeting does not amount to anything unless there is more or less noise, much enthusiasm, and a great deal of emotion. They never enjoy a sermon, no matter how edifying, or how much sound spiritual food it contains, or how much profitable instruction from the Scriptures, unless the preacher is full of emotion, fluent in the accepted spiritual phraseology, and able to play upon their emotions. If these things are present in the delivery, they enjoy the sermon immensely, whether they learn anything really edifying or not.
Getting a Right Balance
This is not to discount, or to criticize, the emotional or true spiritual language springing from an honest heart. But merely to warn against permitting one's emotional nature to become more highly developed than his love of the TRUTH of God's Word (which often corrects, reproves, and rebukes, II Tim, 3:16 and 4:2), or than his obedience to it, or than his desire and effort to show the fruits of the Spirit in his every-day life. Some people are naturally emotional. Some are not. Emotion, and spiritual language, when earnestly and sincerely from the heart, and not for a show and pretense — and even "tongues" and manifestations, when truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and not "worked up" by self, are good, scriptural, and right. But many have been turned and bitterly prejudiced against all emotion, or "tongues", or manifestations, because they have seen so much of the counterfeit — so much of it deliberately worked up by physical senses and emotions and put on for show and effect — so much of it from those who go home from the meeting to criticize, find fault, grumble and complain, lose tempers, gossip, leave bills unpaid, live a worldly life, show spite, jealousy and resentment, and even tell dirty stories.
Other Snares and Pitfalls
2. The second class is well indoctrinated. Usually these folks do not believe in much, if any, noise or emotion, or any spiritual manifestations. They have a great deal of head knowledge, but most of this class have a great deal of misunderstanding, and often they have queer personal theories and hobbies resulting from misapplied, wrongly divided Scriptures. They love to try to trap and corner others with the Scriptures, and especially do they delight in it if they are able to corner up some minister. Arguing Scripture is their one great interest in life. These misguided folks believe their arguments, contentions, and beliefs will win their eternal salvation, without any real thorough repentance, or living a surrendered, righteous life in Christ Jesus, showing the fruits of the Spirit in their lives.
Saved by Faith Alone
3. And then there is the "faith" group. These folks say they are saved "by FAITH, and faith ALONE." They are not so much concerned about the Holy Spirit, and seldom mention such things as repentance, utter surrender, or any need of submission and obedience to God's will. Their religion never works any miracle changes in their lives. Since "Jesus died for our sins," we do not have to obey. Just BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, is their sole condition to salvation and Christian living. The invitation of the ministers of this group is "Give the preacher your hand, and the Lord your heart." And when, later, you ask such "converts" what they did — what really happened — when they "gave the Lord their heart," they usually just look blank. They do not know. It really did not MEAN anything. It was merely a FORM. The churches of this class should be called social clubs — they are not soul-saving institutions.
The Self-Righteous Christian
4. Finally, there are those whose spirituality consists of a rigid standard of righteousness. Usually they believe in strictly keeping God's law of love, as defined in the two great Commandments of love toward God and love toward neighbor, and sub-divided into the Ten Commandments, the first four telling how to love God, and the last six how to love neighbor. In fact, they usually are so strict about it they fall into the error of keeping the strict LETTER of the law in their own strength. They are scrupulously honest, severely punctual, critically exact. But, like Paul said of the strictest sect of his day, they are "going about to establish their OWN righteousness," and have not "submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10:3). And they are usually harsh, stern, critical, intolerant of those who do not live up to their particular ideas of the standard of righteousness.
The True Scriptural Standard of Real Spirituality
Now let us turn to God's Word, and reverently and humbly seek to learn what is GOD'S standard of spirituality. Of the true spiritual mind, God says to us, thru Paul, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5). But HOW can you have the mind that was in Christ Jesus in YOU? Jesus says: "Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock: if any man hear my voice, and OPEN the door, I will come in to him." (Rev. 3:20). And Jesus meant exactly what He said! He will come in, thru His Spirit, and literally LIVE His life of true righteousness in you, if only you will surrender all of SELF and let the blessed Saviour IN. "For to be carnally-minded is death." That is, naturally-minded, actuated by selfish impulses and a love of self. "But to be spiritually-minded is LIFE and peace... But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell IN you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NONE OF HIS." Unless His Spirit abides within you, living HIS life of true righteousness in you, you are not even saved! "And if Christ be IN you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Rom. 8:6-10). When God first takes us as His children, He takes us who have been earthly, worldly, sensual, disobedient. His ultimate aim is to make us like unto Himself. This transformation (not reformation) is a tremendous undertaking. It requires a miracle. But God stands pledged, upon real thorough repentance, and faith in Christ (Acts 2:38) to start the performance of this tremendous miracle by putting His Holy Spirit literally WITHIN you! But God will work the complete change in your life ONLY if you are willing to SUBMIT to the process! The FIRST condition is real, deep, thorough repentance. You will have to be willing to accept correction and repeated chastisements at His loving hands, for "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." (Heb. 12:6). The Spiritual mind is the surrendered mind. It is the yielded mind. It is the mind that has given up all wanting its own way. It is the mind that has been thoroughly CONQUERED in its rebellion against God. It is the mind that, hence-forth, is willing to obey God, no matter what the cost, and which continually studies God's Word, not to argue and strive and corner folks, but to learn more of God's will, and to WALK in it! It is a mind FILLED to overflowing with real LOVE for God and all fellowmen — even one's enemies — and which has sympathy, patience, and kindness for others in their faults and mistakes; which speaks softly, gently, kindly; which seeks only to help and to serve. It is the mind that has DIED to SELF.
Christ IN You
The real spiritual mind can say with the Apostle Paul: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME." (Gal. 2:20). When you can say that, then you have the mind that was in Christ Jesus. The real spiritual mind is a SOUND mind! "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of A SOUND MIND." (II Tim. 1:7). To those being carried away with a false and pseudo-spirituality, where real manifestations of the Spirit were being counterfeited by DEMONSTRATIONS of SELF in a fanatical emotionalism, Paul, correcting them, said: "Brethren , be not children in understanding. (I Cor. 14:20) How, then, about emotionalism, manifestations, etc.? Some people are naturally emotional, and others are not. Let not the emotional one judge him who is not emotional. And let not the unemotional condemn as a fanatic him whose emotions express themselves more freely. God looks on the HEART, not the outward show of emotion. And the manifestations? Just leave them to God. If, and when, the Holy Spirit is the real author, let us not criticise, but praise God for it! But do not attempt to work up a demonstration of SELF, which is only to impersonate the Holy Spirit. Neither "quench the Spirit." Seek God with an honest heart. Seek the GIVER of the gifts, not the blessings. If this is done we believe there will be but an infinitesimal part of the so-called "manifestations" so common today, but there will be a great deal more of the real Spirit of God.
The Four Substitutes
Real Spiritual-mindedness is the mind of LOVE, for God is LOVE. So let us review our four SUBSTITUTES for spirituality in the light of God's Word. 1. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not LOVE, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (I Cor. 13:1). Did you ever hear one speak with the tongues of ANGELS? Spiritual TALK, "tongues", or "manifestations," are only a lot of hipe or a noise like beating old tin pans, If you have not LOVE. 2. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and ALL KNOWLEDGE:" and, 3. "though I have ALL FAITH so that I could remove mountains, and have not LOVE, I am NOTHING." (V.2). 4. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not LOVE, it profiteth me NOTHING." (V. 3). What is it to have LOVE? The next four verses tell. Here is TRUE spiritual-mindedness: "LOVE is very patient, very kind." Are YOU? "LOVE knows no jealousy; love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated, never resentful; love is never gladdened when others go wrong; love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient (I Cor. 13:4-7; Moffatt's translation.) Read those three verses again, substituting your own name wherever "Love" appears. Try it as a test on yourself. It will tell you how truly SPIRITUAL you are. Let us seek more real, genuine SPIRITUAL-MINDEDNESS!