What does God say about true spirituality? How do we discern who is spiritual and who is not? Perhaps Christians who are used of God are spiritual, or maybe those who have it all together and never seem do anything wrong are the spiritual ones. The Pharisees seemed outwardly perfect but Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” and hypocrites. How can we tell if we are really spiritual?
Spiritual People Understand their Personal Bankruptcy
This is one of the first steps to being truly spiritual. Isaiah experienced this at the beginning of his ministry. In Isaiah 6:5, after having a revelation of God he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Peter also experienced this at one of his first encounters with Jesus in Luke 5:8. After receiving a revelation of Jesus he said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Whenever we have an authentic revelation of the Lord we don’t become arrogant and self righteous. On the contrary, we are humbled and see ourselves as we really are. The problem is, after we have been saved for a while we start to trust our new life in Christ instead of leaning completely on His grace.
We lose our sense of spiritual poverty and bankruptcy. This is why God, at times, allows us to experience failure. We need a fresh revelation of our spiritual depravity so we will lean solely on Jesus and His grace.
The closer we get to the Lord, the more contrition we should experience. We must forever be like the publican and unlike the Pharisee in the mirror of God’s Word and presence. Sadly, we so frequently start off as the publican and end up like the Pharisee. This is why the Holy Spirit must so often allow us to go through a time of failure, to bring us back to the first things of our Christian experience.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:11-13).
Oh God, give us afresh and anew a revelation of who we really are outside of You, that we might lean completely on You – Your blood and righteousness (Colossians 1:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:12)! That we might “be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
The Word of God makes it clear the depths of our depravity knows no bounds apart from Christ. We read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9). “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word” (Isaiah 66:2). Jesus comparing the publican to the Pharisee said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:14).
Spiritual People take God at His Word
We must take God at His Word even when we are filled with doubt. In Mark 9:23-24 a man came to Jesus seeking help for his child and Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
In Luke 5:5 when Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep for a catch of fish he replied, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your Word I will let down the net.”
In Luke 1:34 when Gabriel appeared to Mary saying she would give birth to a child, her first response was, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” But her ultimate response was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy Word” (Luke 1:38).
Even when we see no way and our hearts are filled with doubt we must respond in faith, “Nevertheless at Your Word” I will do as you say or “Be it unto me according to thy Word.”
When King David desired to build a house for God, he was told by the prophet Nathan, that his seed would build a house for the Lord and that He would establish his throne forever, David’s response was similar to that of Mary’s. He said,
“Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and DO AS THOU HAST SAID. Let it even be established, that Thy name may be magnified for ever” (1 Chronicles 17:23-24a).
Spiritual People Restore the Fallen
It has often been said that the church is the only army that shoots it’s wounded. That is sad. The church is to be a spiritual hospital where those who have been beat down and wounded by the enemy and the things of life can find healing, hope and encouragement.
All too often, those who are viewed by many as spiritual, are the first ones to cast blame and condemnation on someone who has experienced failure. The Bible says,
“Let My outcasts dwell with you… Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler” (Isaiah 16:4).
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
The truly spiritual person will pick up their fallen brother or sister, encourage them to keep going and not quit or give up. It’s the devil’s job to kick us when we’re down, beat us up, and get us to give up. He’s the accuser of the brethern (Revelation 12:10). Far too often, we become his emissaries and the accuser of the brethern along with him.
Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness – vindication is from me, saith the Lord.”
Romans 8:33-34 – “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Romans 14:4 – “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
In Mark 16:7, after Jesus rose from the dead, Mary was told, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter.” Don’t forget Peter, the Master isn’t finished with him yet. Peter’s denial was worse than any sin of the flesh we could ever commit, yet Jesus continued to use him. In fact, Peter was the one in Acts 2:14 who preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost, where 3,000 were saved and the other disciples stood with him in full support – just fifty days after Passover.
How wonderful it would be if we could stand with our fallen brethren today like they did. It’s interesting that Peter was not told to sit down for a period of time, but was encouraged to get up and continue working for God. Praise the Lord! God is a merciful, restoring and gracious God.
“The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance – irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).