One of the greatest dangers that faces the Christian in his pursuit of a holy life is that of ending up being religious and not spiritual. Religiosity is often mistaken by the undiscerning believer for spirituality. But there is a world of difference between the two. The former is human, the latter is divine. The law could make people religious, but not spiritual. Religiosity is being taken up with the external, visible things. Spirituality is primarily a matter of the heart. God's word warns us that there will be many in the last days who have a form of godliness without its power - in other words, they will be religious, but not spiritual (2 Tim. 3:5). They will go religiously to meetings, pray and read the Bible daily and even attend all-night fasting and prayer meetings, tithe their income, etc. But they will still seek honour from men, live for themselves, love money and be interested in gossiping, etc. Such people are religious, not spiritual. They have a form of godliness without the power. Here are some examples.
· If you are more interested in going to meetings than in crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), you are religious, not spiritual.
· If you are more interested in reading your Bible every morning than in controlling your tongue the whole day, you are religious, not spiritual.
· If you are more interested in fasting and praying than in being free from the love of money, you are religious, not spiritual.
· If you are more interested in evangelism than in personal sanctification, you are religious, not spiritual.
· Religious people are interested in the written word alone (`the letter') and end up having the righteousness of the law. Spiritual people, however, are interested in the Word being manifested in flesh and blood and, thus, end up having the righteousness of God, the divine nature.
· Religious people justify their actions by quoting the words or actions of some man of God. Spiritual people, however, never seek to justify themselves before men.
· Religious people are more interested in men's opinions than in God's opinion. Spiritual people care only about God's opinion.
· Religious people can meditate for years on the words of praise that some elder brother spoke concerning them. Spiritual people, on the other hand, like Jesus, refuse to receive testimony from men (Jn. 5:34). They know that other men do not know the corruption that they see within themselves, and so they realise that the praise of men is worth less than nothing.
· Religious people are legalistic and are under the law. They think in terms of the minimum necessary in order to please God. This is why they calculate exactly how much 10% of their income comes to and then offer it reluctantly to God. In the Old Testament, this attitude finally ended up in the Israelites offering blind sheep and sick bulls as sacrifices to the Lord (Mal. 1:8). It is possible to have an identical attitude to the New Testament commandments.
· A sister can think in terms of the minimum necessary in order to keep the letter of the word that commands her to be subject to her husband or the minimum necessary covering required for her head in the meetings - without the beauty of her hair being totally hidden!
· Men and women can think in terms of the minimum necessary in order to be 'spiritual' without altogether giving up everything. "What is the minimum that I have to give up of this world?" is a question that is always in the minds of such people. Such can never be spiritual. They can only be religious.
· The attitude of mind that thinks "What can I get out of the Lord?" leads to religiosity. On the other hand, the attitude that thinks "What can the Lord get out of the one earthly life that I have?" will lead to true spirituality.
· All the activities of religious people mentioned in the above examples are good. But it is a question of priorities. It is right priorities that make a man spiritual.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon