Who is More Spiritual?

On the Rebelution forums I recently replied to a thread asking about spirituality and what it means. The starter of the thread pointed out that people often use the word ‘spiritual’ in a derogatory way (either in the sense of “I am more spiritual than you” or “he is so spiritual”), and was wanting to discover its proper use. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and posted the following short word study on the subject. * grins *

Great conversation, and great questions. I was very pleased to see the depth of thought expressed here. Defining your terms on these kinds of things can make a huge impact in your life.

Pardon me as I rearrange and edit your questions a bit to better fit with the flow of my thoughts on this. Smile

What do you understand as being spiritual, and what do you think it SHOULD be?

Whenever I want to define a word, I always do research beforehand, and I always go to Webster’s 1828 dictionary in my research. I firmly believe that his is the best English dictionary ever created, especially because he based it off of the Bible, and so is actually one of the most powerful study helps you can have for studying the Bible.

Anyways, to paraphrase what he says about spirituality that is germane to our discussion here, to be spiritual is to be holy, and to follow after spiritual things. Which makes perfect sense. (You can look up the full definition here.)

If you really think about it, there actually only two definitions of spirituality that make sense: 1) to walk in the Spirit, or 2) to look like you are walking in the Spirit. This differentiation is vital to our discussion.

Are there any Bible verses/passages we can use to address this issue? Do they help tell us why this issue matters?

There are quite a few, as it turns out. Just do a search for ‘spiritual’ in the Bible (check it out here) and you will find a slew of passages talking about this concept. And in fact I could only find one that might have had a bad connotation with the word. All New Testament mentions contrast spirituality with evil, darkness, carnality, the unsaved, and sin.

But here are some highlights:

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Obviously, from the above passages, some people are more spiritual than others, and that is a good thing. We ought to all strive to become more spiritual: that is our goal. And some have gone farther along that road than others.

What does being biblically spiritual look like, in private and public?

In both cases, being spiritual is being Spirit-led. And what is being Spirit-led? It is being Christ-like. Quite simple, really.

John 15:26-27 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Romans 8:1-6 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 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:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 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.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

What are some common misconceptions about spirituality? What kinds of standards do these misconceptions flow from?

Those who maintain a Pharisaical attitude towards others, seeking their own righteousness, not the righteousness of God, behaving in a way that is contrary to the true law of God in order to make themselves look more righteous than others, will often call themselves spiritual, and others will do the same in a derogatory way. But they are the farthest people from true spirituality, for the are not following the Spirit of God, but rather their own fleshly desires.

We only perceive it as spirituality because they, like the devil, make themselves look like angels of light in order to deceive others.

2 Corinthians 10:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

What are some things that people do that make others consider them to be spiritual, or more spiritual than others?

Legalism is actually the correct term for this attitude, but unfortunately people misuse it so much, I hesitate to promote using for its right use. I wrote an article on it here, if you want to find out, in depth, what I believe on the issue:

https://siremethmimetes.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/legalism/

What steps can we take to work towards the right kind of spirituality, and avoid the wrong kind?

Meditate on God’s Word with the motive of becoming more like Him. Pray to God with the motive of learning to love Him more. Consider things in light of the eternity of God. Learn to see yourself in your proper position, from the eyes of God. Study to see God for what He is, truly. Then you will have the true humility that starts you on the path to true righteousness and a spirit-led life.

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I’m Better than You

Alternate versions of Superman

Image via Wikipedia

And I’m proud of it too.

* grins * Calm down. Don’t close the page. Hey, I said don’t close the page! Wait! Come back!

Thanks… whew. Give me a chance to explain myself, eh?

People get so uptight when anyone claims to be better than them at something. Sit down until you are called upon individually to stand! Yipes…

Think about it: what does ‘better’ mean?

“It means you are superior to me.”

Right. It does. What else does it mean?

“That you are worth more than me!”

Right, that too.

* listens to stunned silence for a moment, silently chuckling *

I love lexicology… it’s so much fun.

Think about it. If I beat you easily every time we ever play chess, I am better than you at chess. If I beat you at wrestling, I am better than you at wrestling, and so on. There is nothing wrong with that. It is actually perfectly normal and inescapable. Everyone in this world is inferior to most everyone else on some level, and better than everyone else on almost none.

Let me say that again: everyone is inferior to almost everyone else in the world in some area, and almost no one is better than everyone else at anything.

So get used to it. We aren’t equal. I am better than you. At least at something. If I am paid more, that means I am (quite literally) worth more.

The question is not whether one person is better or worth more or superior to another in any particular skill, or even in all skills together, though. Even if someone was better than every single other person in the world at everything you could possibly measure each other by, his life would not be worth more. He would be worth more, but his life wouldn’t. Our lives are all equal before God, each one worthy of living, each one equally free to be saved, each one equally loved by God.

So if I say I am better than you, I am not talking about in that sense — quite simply because you can’t say it in that sense. People try, but they are stating an oxymoron. The value of your life is not predicated on what you do with it.

But does that mean I should say I am better than you, even when I am referring to intelligence, or vocabulary, or wrestling or chess skills? Should I be proud of it?

Well, proud has a couple meanings. It can mean justly pleased with something, or inordinately pleased with something. I can be proud of my friends for the way they maturely handle situations, or even proud of the fact that I finally worked my way up to one hundred pushups. I can also be arrogant and condescending about both facts.

This arrogance, occurs, I believe, when we get the two kinds of worth that I just talked about mixed up. If we begin to imagine that our value makes our lives any more valuable than anyone else’s life, then we become condescending and arrogant. If we see everyone as having something that they are better than us at, and value them for it, then honest appreciation for our own value is perfectly healthy.

Here is the key: if your appreciation for your own skills or value makes you thankful — honestly thankful — then it isn’t arrogance. If it makes you condescending, then it is the bad kind of pride.

So yes, I am better than you, and proud of it, but you are also better than me. And you should be proud and thankful for it.

That was probably, honestly, the most confusing article I have ever written… hopefully you all will be able to understand it. 🙂

Apologies

Greetings and heartfelt felicitations,

You may have noticed a marked absence of posts this week. This is not due to lack of topics, as you well know. But I find that when I am struggling in various areas, I cannot find the words to write. The words do not come from me, but by the strength and grace of God. And when I fall away from Him, I lose my source of inspiration, among other, more desirable things.

Recently I have been fighting a tendency to arrogance and selfishness, which many of you have doubtless noticed, and disliked. I don’t like it either. 😛 And I want to apologize for any behavior that has turned you away from my friendship. It was my Old Man, and not me.

Principle Eight

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the eighth.

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO FIGHT A FLESHLY TEMPTATION WITH FLESHLY WEAPONS.

First off, let us define some terms.

A temptation (in this context) is pressure from the world, your flesh, or the devil on you, trying to get you to go against what God wants you to do. When the world tempts you, it always appeals to your flesh in some way or other, and the devil does the same thing. Therefore, all these temptations are fleshly.

But what is a fleshly weapon? A fleshly weapon is anything that you use to combat those temptations that is not what God wants you to use. You are deciding, in your flesh, to do what God wants, but not in the way that God wants.

So this principle is simply stating that the only way to live life God’s way in the face of temptation, is to combat that temptation God’s way, and not your way. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

So why do we forget it?

Because we don’t want to remember it.

We don’t want to be humbled, we don’t want to have to give up and give it to God, we don’t want to admit that we can’t do it, we don’t want to let go of our pride.

We want to win.

But when we win, we are actually losing. We are giving up the ground to the enemy. Even if we do not do what the temptation told us to, we yielded to another temptation, and we made the stronghold of pride yet stronger. And it is from that stronghold that all the armies of hell march.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser