Monday, August 11, 2014

Who Is A Spiritual Christian?

            First, the term “spiritual christian,” as I employ, does not refer to a sect of Russian orthodoxy.

            Second, broadly there are two types of Christians –genuine and false. Genuine Christians are described as, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10: 9-10, NASB). A false Christian neither confesses nor believes in the historic Christ, and denies HIM. Therefore, a false Christian will not be saved.

            Third, within the spectrum of genuine Christianity, there could be spiritual and unspiritual (carnal) Christians. This is a complex subject, so I wish not to stand in judgment over anyone.

            Here’s an illustration of the complexity I am referring to. Consider a Christian soldier who, due to his work exigencies, cannot spend time positively communing with God. Would we term this Christian soldier spiritual or unspiritual? I’d rather not stand in judgment over this person or anyone in similar situations.

            However, let’s come to the topic on hand.

            The local church is an outstanding setting to observe the spiritual branding of Christians. For example, the pastor or a member of the Church board / committee or a preacher will be considered to be more spiritual because of his/her spiritual profile. Elsewhere, a Christian who speaks in tongues or prophesies would be considered more spiritual than those who lack these gifts. Is this how Christians should be branded as spiritual or not?

            Matthew 7: 22-23 categorically rules out a universal branding based on spiritual gifts. Therefore, possessing spiritual gifts need not be the criteria for spirituality.

            Spirituality is not about positions as well. Matthew 23 is a case in point. Christ condemned those who held high positions for their hypocrisy. 

            What about the learned and the scholarly? Is intellectuality a case for spirituality? The scribes and pharisees were learned; Matthew 23 negates spirituality based on intellectuality. Moreover, Satan knows the Scriptures well enough, for he quoted Scriptures to the Lord. So knowing the Scriptures need not be the criteria for spirituality.

            What about those who fervently pray in the public? Are they to be considered more spiritual than the others? Verses such as Matthew 6:5, 23: 14** and Luke 18: 11 negate a universal application of prayer as criteria for spirituality.

            What about those regularly attending their local church? If spirituality is determined by a diligent regularity to the worship in the local church, then this statement gains validity, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” A Christian gains nothing out of his church attendance, if his body is inside and his mind outside the church.

            Sacrificial giving does not attest to spirituality. Sacrificial giving amounts to nothing if the intention behind the giving violates God’s commands (Cf. Malachi 1: 6-14; Luke 18: 9-14, 18-27).  

            To sum up, a Christian need not necessarily be spiritual due to:

            (1) His high position in the local church or in God’s Kingdom (e.g. head of a Christian organization).

            (2) Spiritual gifts (speaking in tongues, prophesying etc).

            (3) Knowledge of Scriptures and intellectuality.

            (4) Articulate prayers.

            (5) Regular attendances to the local church.

            (6) Sacrificial giving.

            Who then is a spiritual Christian?

            First, a spiritual Christian lives in and for the truth (Joshua 24: 14; 2 Kings 20: 3; Psalm 15: 2 et al.). His private and public life should consistently testify to his truthful lifestyle, primarily to God and consequentially to man.  This is not to say that he would be sinless, for none are sinless.

            He does not willingly venture into sinful deeds for hedonistic or narcissistic intent, but he will quickly repent and relent of his sinfulness. God would be his primary focus and he would sincerely attempt to view and interpret the world and his life from Christ’s perspective a.k.a. “what would Christ want me to do…[in every situation].” He would not intentionally violate God’s commands.

            Living in truth mandates the exposure of lies that strives to destroy a Christian’s faith in Christ. Because Satan masquerades as an angel of light, the spiritual Christian will always fight the good fight against all dark and evil forces and their entailments with the armor of God (2 Corinthians 10: 5, 11: 14; Ephesians 6: 10-20).

            Second, humility would be the spiritual Christian’s hallmark with Christ’s humility as his benchmark. He would intentionally strive to be lesser while Christ becomes greater in and through his life. He would do nothing to glorify himself. Even if he unintentionally does, he would consciously strive to purge those unintentional self-glorification deeds from his life.

            Third, a spiritual Christian would love and yearn for more of God and for the continuous anointing of the precious Holy Spirit. His first love is God. His life would be lovingly dedicated for God’s glory.

            A spiritual Christian would ‘love’ [God and] man in the words of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (PHILLIPS):  

            “This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

            Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

            Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”

            Very significantly, a spiritual Christian would travel the extra mile to love that one needy person over and above the many. Contemporary Christianity is adept at ignoring the one person over the many. This is much unlike Christ who left the ninety-nine out in the open to care for the one lost sheep (Matthew 18: 12-14; Luke 15: 3-7)

            In other words, quite a number of contemporary Christian leaders love to serve the needs of the many and not the one. That one needy person is deemed insignificant. This is the bane of contemporary Christianity, which is scrupulously unchristlike and consequently unspiritual.

            Fourth and finally, the spiritual Christian would demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a growing measure from his life. So he/she would:

            …love the unlovable (Matthew 5: 39-42; 1 John 3: 18)

            …be joyous in pain (Job 6: 10)

            …as much as possible be at peace with everyone (Romans 12: 18; Hebrews 12: 14)

            …be patient with God and man in pain and suffering (2 Corinthians 1: 6)

            …be kind (Romans 11: 22)

            …be good (3 John 11)

            …be faithful when faith in Christ is threatened (Romans 1: 17; 1 Corinthians 4: 2; Cf. Isaiah 5: 20)

            …be gentle (Matthew 5: 5; Philippians 4: 5)

            …be self controlled amidst temptations (Titus 2: 11-12; 2 Peter 1: 5-7)

            These attributes or the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in a Christian’s life when he/she remains in the Lord (John 15: 5). Apart from Christ we cannot bear fruit.

            Therefore, truth, humility, love and the fruit of the Spirit are mandatory to the spirituality of a Christian. He achieves this by continuously yielding himself to the control of the Holy Spirit. Everything else (position, spiritual gifts, knowledge of Scriptures, articulate prayers, regular church attendance, and sacrificial giving) is a mere postscript to true spirituality.

            This, I believe, is God’s will for those in Christ Jesus – being truthful, humble, loving, and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit at all times by virtue of a loving and a surrendered life in Christ. Amen.


** - Matthew 23: 14 would not be found in certain translations because the verse was not found in some early manuscripts. 


Praveer Kullu said...

Hi Raj, great article. Got this link through a common friend. Had a question. Do you think a soldier can ever live a righteous life biblically.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you for your kind words, Praveer. Glad you enjoyed the article. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Yes, I do believe that a soldier can live a righteous life. When we refer to a soldier, we are not referring to a terrorist. We need to make this distinction.

I believe your question presupposes that killing is a sin and hence you are questioning the soldier whose task is also to kill, if need be.

Killing is indeed a sin in a personal relationship. But when it comes to defending a nation, I believe that killing as a means to eliminating evil is not a sin. This is merely defending the sanctity of life.

A soldier defends his nation whereas a terrorist's activities are unjustified.

I believe that the Bible allows defense but not an unjustified terrorist killing. So I do believe that a soldier can live righteously.

But in a personal relationship, let's assume that a rapist is out to rape a daughter in the presence of a father. In the act of defense, let us assume that the father either injures or kills the rapist. Would this be counted as a sin in the eyes of God? I do not think so. The greater good in this situation is the protection of life's sanctity.

Trust my answer provides clarity. Else please respond. Thank you.

david matcha said...

Hi raj, i got ur link thru a unknown friend in watsapp. I was tremendously blsd by ur msg. It realy encouraged me to know the various types of christian eg mat7:22-23 gave me so much of insight of a carnal christian doing so much of iniquity n all for self upraisal n not giving glory to Jesus..

Raj Richard said...

Thank you David Matcha. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Remain blessed.

Rani Richard said...

Anna...a lot of insight here. Thorough blessing to read this. Thank you for giving yourself to this ministry

Grateful !

Raj Richard said...

Thanks so much, Rani. Always a blessing to be acknowledged by your own sister.