What Is Christian Spirituality and Godliness?
There is much confusion in the Christian community today concerning the subject of the Holy Spirit and spirituality. Many say, "What is it that makes a person spiritual?" Or, "What is spirituality?" It is very important to understand that spirituality is available to all Christians just as salvation is available to all humanity. In the simplest definition of the word, spirituality is a relationship with God the Holy Spirit, just as being a Christian involves a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Spirituality is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Spirituality is another name for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
As a Christian we should understand that spirituality is not an overt action or deed. I have heard some Christians say, "That was a very spiritual thing to do!" There are no spiritual things to do. Spirituality is something you possess, it is not something you do. I have also heard some Christians say, "That was an unspiritual thing to do!" They may have been talking about dancing, drinking, smoking, or whatever they may think was a sin. But you must understand that you cannot DO anything unspiritual, you can only BE unspiritual. Spirituality is an absolute. And that means that you are either spiritual, or you are unspiritual (carnal). It is that simple. And I might add, there is no middle ground. No one is a little spiritual, or very spiritual, or a little unspiritual. You are either spiritual or unspiritual. There are not different levels of spirituality. Many times I have heard people say, "He is more spiritual than she is, or he is less spiritual than she is." Biblically speaking that is not true. Because that implies that some people have a greater degree of spirituality than others. But the Bible very clearly teaches that spirituality is an absolute! You either have it, or you don't. You are either 100% spiritual, or you are not spiritual at all. Either your life is controlled by God the Holy Spirit, or your life is controlled by your sinful nature. It is either one or the other. Now Christians vary in their knowledge of the Word of God, but Christians cannot vary when it comes to spirituality. You are either spiritual or you are carnal. It is that simple.
When your sinful nature controls you, you are said to be "carnal." When the Holy Spirit controls you, you are said to be "spiritual." And at every moment of your life you are either controlled by the Holy Spirit 100% or you are controlled by your sinful nature 100%. When you commit a sin, your sinful nature takes control of your life and you become carnal, unspiritual. When you confess or acknowledge your sin to God, the Holy Spirit takes control of your life and you become spiritual. Everything you do when you are controlled by your sinful nature is called "carnality" or "unspiritual." This also includes all of the good you do also. Carnality or unspiritual activity is not only related to sin. In fact, most carnality is centered around good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight...." Therefore, if you are controlled by your sinful nature and do good things, those good things are actually carnal, human good, and unspiritual, and God cannot accept them at all. They are a part of a righteousness that God detests, human righteousness. But when you are controlled by the Holy Spirit and do good things, those things are spiritual. And you are actually blessed by God for being spiritual, not for the good deeds you do when you are spiritual.
There are degrees of spiritual growth, but no degrees of spirituality. The moment you believed in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you were saved, you were born into the family of God (John 3:3; Gal 3:26), and you began the Christian life as a baby. A spiritual baby, no matter how old you were physically. From then and for as long as you live on this earth you are commanded to do two things. You are commanded to "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5:18), and you are commanded to "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...." (II Peter 3:18). So the question is, "HOW DO I BECOME SPIRITUAL?" The answer is found in I John 1:9; "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The word "confess" comes from the Greek word "HOMOLOGEO" meaning, "to acknowledge, to cite, to name." This word has no emotion connected to it. It simply means "to acknowledge our sins to God" and He will forgive us. God doesn't care how you feel about it, He simply wants you to face the fact that you have sinned, and He wants you to acknowledge that fact and take the responsibility for it.
There are many Christians who think that they must feel sorry, or have remorse for their sins. It is alright to feel sorry and have remorse, but God does not require it. He simply wants you to "acknowledge" your sins to Him. There are also those who say that the Bible tells us to "repent" and that "repent" means to feel sorry. But that is not true either. The word "repent" comes from the Greek word METANOEO which simply means, "to change your mind." It has nothing to do with sorrow over sins.
So how do we fulfill the command of Eph 5:18 "to be filled with the Spirit?" Or the command of Gal 5:25 "to walk in the Spirit" (or live our life in the Spirit)? By doing what I John 1:9 tells us to do, and do it on a regular basis. "To confess our sins to God." At the moment we confess or acknowledge our sins to God, we are filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. That is the status of "SPIRITUALITY." It is so simple that many Christians fail to understand it. We should note also, that the moment we commit a sin, we immediately lose the filling or controlling ministry of the Holy Spirit and at that time come under the control of our sinful nature. Therefore, it is imperative that we confess or acknowledge our sins as soon as we are aware of them.
From the standpoint of spiritual growth, Christians fall into three basic categories: babies, adolescents, and mature Christians. In one church Christians may range all the way from spiritual babyhood to complete spiritual maturity. Furthermore, there are spiritual babies and there are carnal babies (I Cor 3:1-3; Heb 5:11-13). There are spiritual adolescents and there are carnal adolescents. There are also spiritually mature Christians and there are carnal mature Christians (Rom 7:14-23). Therefore, the great objective in the Christian life is to constantly learn the Word of God and grow spiritually.
While many Christians may know how to be spiritual (by simply confessing or acknowledging their sins to God) and they can be spiritual with very little understanding of the Word of God, spiritual maturity is totally different. In order to reach spiritual maturity you must possess a maximum knowledge of the Word of God. But a maximum knowledge of the Word of God does not come from just reading it, it only comes from a consistent study of it. A maximum knowledge of the Word of God is a characteristic of spiritual maturity, but it is NOT spirituality.
Christians who think that they are spiritual because they do not practice certain vices like drinking, smoking, etc., etc., are living a lie and do not truly understand what the Bible teaches about spirituality. Christians who think they are spiritual because they work in the church, or are moral, or because they do good things are also living a lie and do not truly understand what the Bible teaches about spirituality.
Spirituality is simply the Holy Spirit controlling you. And when He controls you, you are spiritual, and when you commit a single sin, His controlling ends and at that moment you come under the control of your sinful nature and at that moment you are carnal, not spiritual. It has nothing to do with your overt actions. All sin begins in the thought center. Therefore, before any overt sin is committed, it has already been committed in the mind, by the thinking and the attitude.
Therefore, the key to a victorious Christian life is the understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how to obtain it. If you knew all that there was to know about the Word of God and you were not filled with the Holy Spirit, all of your Biblical knowledge would be useless. Also, if you were able to accomplish thousands of good deeds every week, but were not controlled by the Holy Spirit, all of your good deeds would be worthless as far as God is concerned. The filling of the Holy Spirit, good deeds, and the knowledge of the Word of God go hand in hand in the Christian life. You cannot have one without the other.
Everyday you make many decisons as to who controls your life for any given time. If you do not confess or acknowledge your sins to God on a regular basis, then you will be continually controlled by your sinful nature. But if you follow the teaching of the Word of God and confess or acknowledge your sins to God on a regular basis, then you will maintain the filling of The Holy Spirit. You must decide many times each day as to which path you will walk. The path of carnality with your sinful nature, or the path of spirituality with the Holy Spirit. May God help you as you endeavor to live for Him.
BACK to MBC Bible Doctrine Links Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone is allowed to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.
Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone is allowed to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.