What does it really mean to be Spiritual?

We are used to hearing  people describe themselves as “spiritual.” What these people often mean is that they believe they are more than atoms and molecules, and that there is an immaterial part to them. They may even use some sort of spiritual exercise or discipline to cultivate their spirituality. However, according to the Apostle Paul, most people who say they are spiritual are really not.

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In 1 Cor 2:14-15, he contrasts those who are spiritual with those who are natural. The natural man “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14). By “the things of the Spirit of God” he means the words “taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor 2:13) which God revealed to him and the other apostles through the Spirit (1 Cor 2:10). This is what we today sometimes call divine revelation, or the Word of God, including both the Old and New Testament.

In 2 Cor 2:15 Paul says that the spiritual man “appraises all things” (NASB). The word translated “appraises” means to judge (ESV) or to discern. In the previous verse, he explains that the revelation of the Spirit of God can be discerned by the spiritual man, but the natural man is unable to discern or judge them. In fact, he explains that to the natural man, the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness.

What then is a spiritual person according to Paul? A spiritual person is someone who receives the word of God. For Paul, receiving the word of God is not a natural event that people do, but it is something that God Himelf does in the individual. This is why Paul thanked God that the Thessalonians received the word of God (1 Thess 2:13) – because he knew that this was a result of the work of God in them.

If you have received the word of God, this means, according to Paul, that you are spiritual. While this isn’t where Biblical Spirituality finishes, it is where it starts.

Question: How did the word of God begin to impact you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Many are conscientious in some things, and not in others; they listen to the monitor within when he directs to important duties, but in smaller matters they often disregard the voice of conscience and follow present inclination. Such cannot grow in grace.

Archibald Alexander
Thoughts on Religious Experience (Louisville: GLH Publishing, 1844), 2745, Kindle

Is “Biblical Spirituality” biblical?

Putting the words “Spirituality” and Biblical together seems almost improper. But it shouldn’t. Here are some reasons to allow these words to re-enter your vocabulary.

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Firstly, lets recognize that these words seem out of place. But are they? The word spiritual is not often used in the context of Christianity. When the word is used, it often used to refer to “alternative spiritualities” or as Wikipedia puts it, “almost any kind of activity through which a person seeks meaning.” However, in the Bible, spirituality is a word used to describe something about reality generally and man specifically.

Why a PhD in biblical counselling?

I’m studying toward a PhD in Biblical Counselling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The reason I’m studying for a PhD isn’t because I want a few letters before my name, in fact letters are quite meaningless to the bulk of people in New Zealand. The reason simply is that New Zealand needs biblical counselling. I want to share the need for biblical counselling in New Zealand to explain my trajectory.

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