How to Become Spiritual
By Pastor J.D. Link
1Corinthians 3:1-3 says “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual (ethereal, heavenly, supernatural), but as unto carnal (pertaining to the flesh, bodily, temporal), even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat (solid food): for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
As Christians, we should desire to be spiritual – and desire to not be carnal. However, we must define “spiritual” because you often get different opinions as to what spiritual means. Many think being spiritual is speaking over people’s heads, or perhaps dressing a certain way, or doing certain “religious” things, like humming while in the lotus position, or walking across hot coals. Some people think being spiritual is looking at someone with big spooky eyes as you tell them something “not so deep”. Ultimately, many think being spiritual is some outward action. However, being spiritual is a heart condition based on your faith in Christ Jesus. Being inwardly spiritually minded, which will be manifested by outward spiritual fruit. A truly spiritual person will consistently have the fruit of the Spirit present in their lives (Gal 5:22-23).
Unfortunately, not all Christians are spiritual. It doesn’t mean their spirit is not born again, or that the Holy Spirit isn’t dwelling in them. It simply means they are not spiritually minded (Rom 8:6). The Corinthians were saved, but were very carnal. They sure weren’t acting saved. Paul was encouraging them to be spiritual; to be spiritually minded; to be mature in Christ. Likewise, the Christians of Galatia were saved, but Paul said in Gal 6:1 that those that were spiritual (which, obviously means there were some who were not spiritual) should restore a brother in a fault in a spirit of meekness (Gal 6:1-3).
We need to be adults, or spiritual, in our understanding (1Cor 14:20). We need to understand spiritual things. God does not expect us to be spiritual dunces our whole life! He wants us to grow and mature, and not be perpetual babies in Christ. So, how did God ordain this should happen?
In Eph 4:11-15, we see that Jesus ordained the five-fold ministry to bring the church to maturity. The Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelist are traveling ministries that are often involved in starting churches. Then, the Apostles set Pastor-teachers (aka. Shepherds, Elders, Bishops) over the church to continue to lead and feed God’s flock. We want to grow up and become spiritual, so that we can handle the meat of the Word, and then be able to teach others as well (Jn 16:12, Heb 5:11-14).
Allow me to expound on Heb 5:13-14: “For the person that drinks only milk is inexperienced in God’s Word, being immature; but solid food belongs to those that are mature – even those, who by habitual practice, have the faculty of their mind for perceiving, understanding and judging, trained to discern both good and evil.”
What does this mean? We are all immature and inexperienced in God’s Word when we first become Christians. We are newborns. Newborns cannot feed themselves. Newborns need milk, that they may grow – or, go from being carnal to being spiritual (1Pe 2:1-2) Milk is that Word of God, that has been digested and processed already by mature Christian teachers, who have studied and consistently put into practice God’s Word, and trained their intellect to discern good and evil. So, spiritually speaking, the five ministry offices we mentioned earlier (Eph 4:11-13) are like nursing mothers to the young in Christ; helping them to become mature and able to handle solid food. Solid food is that revelation knowledge, understanding and wisdom; gleaned from habitual personal study, prayer and application of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit.
We are to strive for maturity. This never means we should stop going to church (Heb 10:25) or listening to and reading the writings of other gifted ministers (2Tim 2:15). No, we should never stop learning and growing. However, it does mean we should eventually come to the place where we get off the breast, take off the training wheels, and start being a diligent student of God’s Word on our own. It means we should constantly train our intellect in the word of righteousness. Even seasoned veterans of Special Forces, though long graduated from boot camp, never stop training, exercising, and being prepared and in tiptop shape for battle.
Many Christians have head knowledge, but it means nothing if it is not consistently applied, and manifested in spiritual fruit. You’re actually better off not knowing anything, than to know so much Bible – but have no fruit. Paul said the Corinthians were carnal because they had envy, strife, and divisions among them. They were biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15). They were contentious because they were prideful and carnal (Prv 13:10, Jam 4:1). If you are truly knowledgeable and wise in Christ (spiritual), then your conduct will show it (Jam 3:13).
Envy, back biting, strife, and contentions come out of a carnal heart. It is a heart condition (Jam 3:14-16). For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Let us not be perpetual milk drinkers, running to and fro, ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2Tim 3:7). Let us not have itching ears, longing only for some more ear-tickling (2Tim 4:3), saying in our hearts, “prophecy smooth things unto me” (Isa 30:10). Let us not remain babes in Christ; but let us, through diligent training in God’s Word and spiritual warfare experience (Eph 6:11-18), become mature, battle-hardened soldiers in the Lord’s Army (2Tim 2:1-4). To be 10, 20, 40, 60 years a babe in Christ in inexcusable. The Apostle Paul rebuked the Hebrew Christians for this very thing (Heb 5:11-12). Church is to be a boot camp for soldiers, not a daycare for babies. Daycare is fun, but it won’t train you to stand and fight. It won’t train you to be spiritual. Watered down, “feel good” messages will not get you in spiritual shape. You will remain carnal. You will remain a carnal, baby in Christ – until you submit yourself to being trained in God’s Word.
We need to get in our Bibles and spend real time in the Word; and in our prayer closet, spending quality time with Jesus. Living a quiet and peaceable life, being a humble and Godly person, knowing and practicing truth, growing and maturing in Biblical spirituality – this what is important. Examine your heart: are you a peace maker or trouble maker? Are you walking in love and unity, or are you trying to force your agenda? Are you in envy and strife, or do you care for the benefit of others? How much time do you spend doing for others? Are you about being a servant? Or are you all about being served? Be honest with yourself. Ask God to show you. Be truly spiritual. Submit yourself to Godliness, and choose to grow. Then you’ll be able to feed others. Selah.