“I am not religious, I am spiritual”. In recent times I have heard this sentence uttered by many people from all walks of life. I have heard it from middle age people as well as young people. It seems to be a spiritual catch phrase of the day.
If I am to be honest, I really don’t know what this sentence means. Does it mean that the individual believes in a “god” but they are not extreme? Or does it mean they believe in “god” but they don’t belong to a particular religious organization?
May be what this phrase means is that the person believes in God, but he or she is not bound by all the religious rules and regulations. It seems like most of us would like to be spiritual as long as it doesn’t place any demands on us.
The word religion conjures up ideas of demand, rules, authority and dogma. While “spiritual” is so freeing and pleasant with no particular demands. But what do these words “religion” and “spiritual” actually mean?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines religion as: the service or worship of God or supernatural. Commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
The same source defines spiritual as: relating to, consisting of or affecting the spirit. Relating to sacred matters, concern with religious values.
Today in our culture, we have many misconceptions about religion. The word religion conjures up ideas in people’s mind that we do not want to associate with, so we use spiritual because it sounds nicer and more pleasant.
But what does it mean to be a spiritual person?
In the Bible in Rom: 7:14 we read “the Law is spiritual…” If I was going to define what it means to be a spiritual person I would define it this way.
To be spiritual or wanting to be a spiritual person means that we conform to the Moral instructions or Moral law of God. A spiritual person is a person who directs his life by the word of God. These instructions come to us from the realm of spirit and to be spiritual we need to conform to its instructions and directions. To me this is what it means to be spiritual.
Today we act as if the Law of God is something that we want to avoid at all costs. We treat it as if it were a disease. This is a misunderstanding on our part in regard to the Law of God. The word that is translated “the Law” refers to Mosaic Law. The word itself comes from the Hebrew word “Torah”. Torah means direction, teaching, instruction, or doctrine.
In my understanding the ceremonial and civic aspect of “the law” does not apply to us today. But the Moral aspect of the Law in both testaments would apply to us today.
Adultery is viewed as sin in both the Old as well as the New Testament. There really is no difference in regard to the moral Law of God. The trouble we have with the Law is in it’s application.
We don’t become accepted and in right standing with God based on conformity to his law. Jesus lived under the law and kept it’s moral precepts. When we come to Jesus, his merit is placed into our account before God.
He not only paid the penalty for our sins, his righteous life of obedience is placed or “Imputed”, “reckoned” to our account before God. As the result we don’t obey God’s moral law to be accepted by him, rather because we have been accepted and adopted by him.
We can embrace the moral law of God without the fear of what if I fail? Or what if I don’t measure up? It has nothing to do with our standing with God. In these moral instructions God shows us the behavior that is pleasing unto him and also what offends him.
Obedience to God’s instruction is proof of our love for him, because we choose to do what pleases him rather than the impulses of our own heart. We think freedom from the Law means freedom from its directions to guide us. As a result we become Lawless.
Sometimes we have heard that the opposite of the law is grace. But I think the opposite of the law is lawlessness. We are called to live lives that are distinct from the rest of the fallen humanity, to be a special people who reflect God’s values and character. But how can we be that if we don’t conform to its instructions and values?
Once again please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I never want to convey legalism or justification by the Law. But what I am saying is the spirituality that is permeating is a spirituality that believes God without wanting to follow him and his ways. It’s a feel good spirituality and reflects Gnosticism.
One of the tendency of Gnosticism was that it’s the soul that gets saved. The body counts for nothing, so as the result we may behave anyway we choose it’ll not affect the destiny of our souls.
In the final analysis I believe that we need to go forward and try to conform to the ethical directions that God has set forth for us in the Bible. And if we fail we just confess to the Lord our failure and start fresh with full assurance that it is Christ who has justified us and not our obedience.
May the Lord be with you all.