The term "spiritual" is an important, but widely misunderstood term. What does the Bible say on this important topic?
6-5-10 What Do You Mean, Spiritual?
Introduction – Some of the most fundamental concepts of God’s way of life are unfortunately some of the most misunderstood and misapplied.
• I would say that the word love is probably the most notable example.
• I would also say that the term spiritual might be the second most misunderstood concept.
SPS – What does it mean to be spiritual? The term spiritual as it is understood by others has a wide variety of meanings, many of which we would not agree with.
• These varying beliefs labeled as spirituality are not limited to Christianity, as explained in the Wikipedia article on the subject: Traditionally, religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience. Many do still equate spirituality with religion, but declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world has given rise to a broader view of spirituality. Secular spirituality carries connotations of an individual having a spiritual outlook which is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas/influences, and more pluralistic than that of the doctrinal faiths of organized religions. At one end of the spectrum, even some atheists are spiritual. While atheism tends to lean towards skepticism regarding supernatural claims and the existence of an actual "spirit", some atheists define "spiritual" as nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by the mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale. In contrast, those of a more 'New-Age' disposition see spirituality as the active connection to some force/power/energy/spirit, facilitating a sense of a deep self.
For some, spirituality includes introspection, and the development of an individual's inner life through practices such as meditation, prayer and contemplation. Some modern religions also see spirituality in everything: see pantheism and neo-Pantheism. In a similar vein, Religious Naturalism has a spiritual attitude towards the awe, majesty and mystery it sees in the natural world. Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life; such practices often lead to an experience of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world. A couple of major themes become apparent in these definitions: 1. Spirituality is seen by many as the opposite of anything material.
• This goes back to the pagan, Gnostic belief that matter is evil.
• Therefore, to be spiritual, one must distance oneself as far as possible from anything material and from material pleasures, even to the extent of inflicting pain and punishment to the body.
• Many pagan religions involve the practice of self-denial such as fasting and physical pain in order to enter a trance-like state that connects the person with an outside source of spiritual power, after which whatever the person does in that condition is considered to be “spiritual.”
• Gnosticism also advocated emancipation from the flesh, so there was also a belief that since being spiritual had no connection with physical matter, it made no difference what one did or didn’t practice regarding material pleasures and physical behavior. 2. Another concept considers the “soul” of every person as the source of spirituality, so that becoming spiritual involves getting in touch with that inner self.
• Drugs are often used to achieve this.
• This approach gained inroads in the western world in the 1970’s, which also involved involvement in eastern religions. Both of these mistaken philosophies have found their way into Christianity, almost from the beginning of the NT Church. Colossians 2:8 Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
American King James Version×- 3:7 - By Philosophy and Empty Deceit: Colossians as a Response to a Cynic Critique by Troy Martin Paul and the Gnostics by Walter Schmithals is an eye-opening book that discusses the Gnostic concepts that Paul had to contend with in the churches in Galatia, and why he wrote the epistle. Galatians 5:1-14 Galatians 5:1-14  Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.  You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?  This persuasion comes not of him that calls you.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  I have confidence in you through the Lord, that you will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he be.  And I, brothers, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.  I would they were even cut off which trouble you.  For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×– The Gnostic form of circumcision was actually a form of mutilation of the flesh that the heretics were trying to validate as a biblical practice. Galatians 5:16-25 Galatians 5:16-25  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.  But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
American King James Version×– The reason he wrote about the works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit is to point out what true spirituality is and is not. So let’s shift gears and consider the scriptural teaching and truth about what it means to be spiritual and why it is so important. Obviously, being spiritual involves spirit, but how? 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 1 Corinthians 2:1-16  And I, brothers, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing:  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.  But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
American King James Version×– Walter Schmithals also wrote a book titled, Gnosticism in Corinth.
• This chapter tells us that although there is a spirit in man that forms the basis of human intellect and distinguishes mankind from animals, God’s Holy Spirit is necessary to understand spiritual truth and is the basis of true spirituality. • We recently celebrated the anniversary of the Holy Spirit being made available to the firstfruits of God’s spiritual creation. NLT Acts 2:1-5 Acts 2:1-5  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
American King James Version×¶ On the day of Pentecost1 all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,1 as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. • This brings up yet another widespread belief regarding spirituality within Christianity—the belief that speaking in tongues and other alleged gifts of the Spirit are proof of who is spiritual and who isn’t. Mark 16:17-18 Mark 16:17-18  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
American King James Version×17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.1 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed."
• Charismatics emphasize seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit to validate their spirituality.
• They also place emphasis on what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians to substantiate their beliefs.
• Well known Christian author John MacArthur has written books to counteract these teachings, including The Charismatics.
• He explains the situation in Corinth as a wrong approach to spiritual gifts and points out that Acts 2 should be the starting point for understanding spiritual gifts, and that no one today has tongues of fire on their heads.
• What Paul wrote to the Corinthians clearly shows that their approach to spiritual gifts was at best misguided and, MacArthur believes (as do I) that their alleged spiritual gifts were actually counterfeits from their pagan past. 1 Corinthians 14: 6-19) 26-33) 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11) purpose of spiritual gifts 27-30) The rhetorical question, “Do all speak with tongues?” contradicts the idea that speaking in tongues is a litmus test to validate spirituality. 31) This “more excellent way” is love—the subject of the next chapter. 1 Corinthians 14: 1-4) Paul admonishes them to pursue love and prefer the gift of “prophecy” to speaking in another language, with the motivation of edifying others, based on love.
• “prophecy” = “speaking before” (in time or in front of) with God’s special inspiration. Spiritual gifts are given at God’s discretion to do His work—preaching the gospel and edifying the church—not as a proof of spirituality. The proof of one’s spirituality is what Paul refers to in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×as the fruit of the Spirit. • The term fruit(s) is used in the Bible to refer to what is produced.
• “produce” = agricultural products Matthew 7:15-20 Matthew 7:15-20  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
 Why by their fruits you shall know them.
American King James Version×15 ¶ " Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them. NKJ Luke 3:8 Luke 3:8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say to you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
American King James Version×"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, NKJ James 3:17-18 James 3:17-18  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
American King James Version×But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. NKJ Hebrews 12:11 Hebrews 12:11Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
American King James Version×Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:10 2 Corinthians 9:10Now he that ministers seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
American King James Version×¶ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, NKJ Galatians 5:19-25 Galatians 5:19-25  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
American King James Version×19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 ¶ If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:1-28 Romans 8:1-28  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you 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.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.  Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope,  Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×– True spirituality involves living God’s way by being led by the Holy Spirit instead of just pleasing the self and going along with the way of the world.
Ephesians 2:2-10 Ephesians 2:2-10  Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)
 And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
2 Peter 1:3-8 2 Peter 1:3-8  According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue:
 Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×3 ¶ as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Conclusion – This is true spirituality.
• Living God’s way by being led by the Holy Spirit.
• Looking forward to eternal life in the family of God and seeking to fulfill our part in His great master plan for mankind now and forever. Philippians 1:9-11 Philippians 1:9-11  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.
 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
American King James Version×9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.