Monday, June 22, 2015

THE SPIRITUAL ONES AMONG US

what is spirituality?
What does it mean to be spiritual?

There is continual discussion about the so-called differences between religion and spirituality, with the current trend being toward a claim of “spiritual, but not religious.”



The very statement by the SBNR crowd sounds quite spiritual. 
  • Is it? 
  • If so, what does that mean? 
  • How can we identify spirituality without the trappings of religion?

One observer has noted that even this group bases its “designer spirituality” on various religions. (Ecc. 1:9)

Did the Apostle Paul have this distinction in mind when he wrote, “…you who are spiritual…?” (Gal. 6:1)
Was James also thinking of this difference when he penned, “Pure religion…is…?” 
(James 1:27)

Let’s examine Paul’s understanding of this concept more closely.
Gal. 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.
(For those of you who understand and appreciate biblical exposition, please notice how much is contained for your exploration just within this verse—brothers, overtaken, fault, spiritual, restore, meekness, tempted.{there is some revelation within all this if you care to search it out})

For our purpose here, though, we will examine only the concept of those who are expected to participate in the restoration of a fallen brother or sister. (The idea of restoration will be examined in a future posting.)

Notice that Paul chooses a word not mentioned too often in the Bible, nor in our churches—“spiritual.”

By default, the restoration of those overtaken in a fault has been left to those in leadership in the church, ie, the pastor. We have become so far removed from the biblical concept of the local church that this is quite understandable, though still inexcusable.

Paul could easily have chosen a leadership title if he had wanted, for he is the one who lists them all for us in various passages—apostle, prophet, bishop, elder, pastor, overseer, teacher, evangelist.

But he didn’t.

He chose the word “spiritual.”

And we have devolved to the place where only those in leadership are considered spiritual.
Sadly, such is not the case (neither in scripture, nor in present-day reality).

Begin by taking out the chapter designation for this verse. It is actually within the context of the foregoing verses back to Gal. 5:16.

In this section, Paul is making the distinction between carnality and spirituality, a concept he has dealt with before (Romans 7 & 8). In doing so, he gives us the characteristics of each so that we might be able to know which realm we are walking in.

The word “Spirit” in Galatians 5:16-25 has long been interpreted to mean the Holy Spirit. Such an interpretation is understandable given that the word “Spirit” is capitalized.

Is that correct? Should the word be capitalized?

Of course. It should be capitalized since it refers to the Holy Spirit.

Does it? Really?

Let’s look more closely.

The New Testament was written in the Greek language using uncial script. Consequently, all the letters of every word are capitalized. Therefore, any leaning toward a proper grammatical usage of capital letters is rendered futile by definition.

Notice also that the word “Holy” is missing in this entire section. That is not necessarily proof in and of itself; but since we have numerous places in the Bible where the phrase “Holy Spirit” literally occurs, it is certainly worth noting the absence of ‘holy.’

(Please understand. I am well aware that there are passages that use the spirit in reference to God that do not use the qualifying word ‘Holy.’ (cf Rom. 8:14)

A third thing to notice from this passage is verse 17--
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (NKJV)

At first glance, we would agree with the concept here that my flesh does not desire the things of the Spirit of God, and vice versa. It is true that the Holy Spirit is against the flesh.

However, consider the conclusion of the statement: “…you do not do the things you wish.”

It is your desire Paul is writing about here. It is the exact same concept he presented in Rom 7:15-23. The conflict is between your own spirit, which was dead but is now alive (Eph. 2:1), and your flesh, which is not yet dead (Rom. 8:13).

The fourth thing to notice is a purely logical observation, having little or nothing to do with the scripture under consideration.
Galatians 5:22 lists the “Fruit of the Spirit,” which we have all been taught refers to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Observational deduction tells me this is not a true interpretation.
  1. We have been taught that when we are born again, we receive the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit. (there are different theological positions on this, but that is not for this space). 
  2. If we all have the Holy Spirit, then there should be some evidence of Holy Spirit fruit. 
  3. There are just way too many believers who manifest not the least bit of fruitfulness in their lives. 
  4. Therefore, this verse cannot be referring to the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the spirit is contrasted with the works of the flesh. The contrast of “fruit” and “works” is germane to the whole epistle as Paul is summarizing his argument.

Given these four factors, it is my considered opinion that Paul was writing about being spiritual as opposed to having the Spirit.

Being spiritual is much more than simply having religious activities on your to-do list.

Being spiritual is about living your life as a spiritual person, guided by the Spirit moving upon your spirit (Rom. 8:14) in all that you say, think, and do.

That kind of living will begin to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Gal. 5:22-23).

That kind of fruitfulness will begin to nullify the workings of the flesh in your life (Gal. 5:16).

It is a person possessed of these qualities who can most readily and lovingly restore someone “overtaken in a fault” (Gal. 6:1).

Any and all comments, critiques, questions, or criticisms are welcome here. Your response does not require my approval before being posted. While I certainly appreciate your comments on Facebook, I would prefer that you also leave your comment here, just below this article. There are many people who do not visit Facebook, and cannot join in any discussion that may be generated by your thoughtful insight. Please consider leaving your response below--either through words, or simply checking the appropriate box that equals your reaction. Thank you.

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