“I’m a pretty spiritual person.”
That’s a phrase you might have heard recently. It’s probably a phrase you have said before in conversation. But what exactly does it mean to “be a spiritual person?” This expression is so common place today, it needs definition if it’s going to mean anything concrete in our lives.
There are many ideas of spirituality “on tap” in the world we live in. It can be tempting to think, “the more the merrier.” The thinking goes, “Why choose one idea over another if can try to combine them all as basically being the same thing?” In this attempt at explaining spirituality, every idea is in and no idea is out, so the end result is that little or nothing is actually clear. More is not merrier when it comes to spirituality, after all.
By contrast, as with many other things, less is more when it comes to spirituality. The Bible reveals God’s definition of spirituality, and in heeding it’s one message, we find all that God offers to us. So here is a very brief answer, based on the Bible, to the question of “What is biblical spirituality?”
Biblical spirituality could be described as the life of God in man. More specifically, it is the fullness of the life of Jesus Christ, applied to a person by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father. So, biblical spirituality is Trinitarian in nature, proceeding by the initiative and operation of the triune God. It is revealed to us in and constrained for us by the Bible’s revelation (1). It is revealed that this life of God in man is salvific in nature, dealing with the deadening and condemning effects of human sin. These effects of sin have been overcome by the perfect life, substitute’s death for sins, and resurrection of Jesus on behalf of a vast elect people of God.
The life that was lost in Adam’s sin, has been redeemed in the person of Jesus Christ, creating a superior communion with God, since in Jesus, there is the perfecting of humanity by divinity. This life is applied to spiritually dead sinners, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who grants faith in the hearing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through personal faith in Jesus, spirituality consists of the experience of God’s forgiveness of sins by the redeeming blood of Jesus, a measure of freedom from sin’s power by the indwelling Spirit, and the anticipation of being freed from sin’s presence at the return of Jesus.
Having been reconciled to God, a believer is now progressively being remade into the image of Jesus. This process is called sanctification, impacting a person’s heart, will, mind, words, and deeds. This process involves the mortification of indwelling sin, and daily living out of a new identity in Jesus Christ (2). Union with Jesus also brings union with all believers, so spirituality has a vital church component. Lone-ranger spirituality is foreign to the Christian faith.
In summary, true spirituality is biblical, Trinitarian, Christ-centered, church-related, and lived out in every day life. By God’s grace, this is the kind of spiritual person we want to be.
1–As Donald S. Whitney states (as cited in Emmaus Theological Seminary Class Lectures 2022. https://www.emmausseminary.org/): “It is grounded in and guided by God’s self-revelation in Scripture and has for its goal the conformity of the believer to the image of Christ.”