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Being “spiritual” does not mean “made up of spirit.” “Spirit” is not a ghost-like substance that inhabits the truly “spiritual Christian.” The adjective, as in “spiritual man” and “spiritual body,” does not mean ethereal, incorporeal, immaterial, otherworldly, or even unworldly as depicted in movies like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Ghost, and The Sixth Sense. True spirituality takes form as we live in this world in our own bodies following God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit:

To be Spiritual is to be guided and motivated by the Holy Spirit. It means obeying His commands as recorded in the Scriptures. The Spiritual man is not someone who floats in midair and hears eerie voices. The Spiritual man is the man who does what the Bible says (Romans 8:4–8). This means, therefore, that we are supposed to get involved in life. God wants us to apply Christian standards everywhere, in every area. Spirituality does not mean retreat and withdrawal from life.[1]

Spirituality is measured by “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Good works manifest themselves at the personal level as the Christian exhibits the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–24), at the family level as children obey their parents (Eph. 6:1), at the business level where employers pay a promised wage (Deut. 24:15), at the judicial level where all should be considered equal before the law (Lev. 24:22), and at the civil level where civil governments are paid their due (Matt. 22:21) and do what’s right (Rom. 13:4).

We have been redeemed and rescued from the pollution of the world. This does not mean that we are to turn our backs on life. Rather, we are to avoid all participation in the world’s uncleanness. “Christians, indeed, as our Lord taught, are the light of the world; this they cannot be if their light is hidden or withdrawn. Thus they are to let their light shine before men (Mt. 5:14ff.), though at the same time shunning the depravities of unregenerate society and of unchristian worship.”[2]

A prevailing and false understanding of true spirituality is the work of the gospel turned in on itself. To be spiritual, in the modern and corrupt sense, means to internalize the effects of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work on the sinner “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). The weakness of this definition is not that spiritual “renewal starts in the private world, but that it ends there too.”[3] While there is an internal and spiritual reign of Christ in every believer, there must also be an external expression of that internal faith. This is the Good Samaritan faith where Jesus tells us to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Jesus does reign in the hearts of His saints. This is a necessary first step:

The internal, spiritual reign of Christ as Savior and Lord must not be overlooked or minimized in importance. One cannot enter into the kingdom of God apart from spiritual rebirth: “Truly, truly I say unto you, except one be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Those who are redeemed have already been transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13) and as such appreciate that “the kingdom of God is . . . righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).[4]

If the new birth stops with growth on the inside, then it is not true saving faith, just like a light that is hidden under a bushel is not a real light (Matt. 5:14–16). Encouraging someone to be “warmed and filled” is not an expression of true faith (James 2:16). True spirituality is the Christian faith manifested. Jesus exhibited His love for the world in deeds of love and righteousness.


[1] David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, [1985] 2007), 3–4.**
[2]** Philip E. Hughes, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 256. [3] Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 78. [4] Greg L. Bahnsen, “This World and the Kingdom of God,” in Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1988), 351.