9. Practicing Spirituality
Purpose: The purpose of this session is to help the disciple understand the nature and importance of spirituality or “keeping in step with the Spirit.”
1. The disciple will understand the difference between spiritual maturity and spirituality.
2. The disciple will understand the significance of the practice of spirituality as it relates to the Bema.
3. The disciple will understand more clearly the example of Christ in the kenosis.
4. The disciple will know how to actively practice spirituality.
5. The disciple will understand the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and human goodness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
1. Mutual accountability and prayer.
2. Discuss the session material.
3. Mutual Scripture memory.
4. Discuss new terms.
The Nature and Practice of Spirituality
You have recently completed a study on the subject of spiritual maturity. This study is on the subject of spirituality. Spiritual maturity and spirituality are two different things that are interrelated. They are not the same, but they have a relationship with each other. It is the purpose of this study to give the disciple some understanding and background concerning the difference between spirituality and maturity as we have defined them, and yet show the relationship of the two. This session is also for the purpose of helping the disciple learn to practice spirituality, as well as helping him accelerate his growth.
Although spirituality and spiritual maturity are not the same, they have a close relationship with one another. Their interrelatedness includes the following: (1) Spirituality accelerates maturity and (2) Maturity makes the practice of spirituality more efficient. The more spiritually mature I am, the more effectively I can practice spirituality.
Remember from our previous study that spiritual maturity deals with my _____________, 1 Peter 2:2,3. As such, maturity is always a matter of something being __________ or less. By this we mean that maturity is always relative. “More or less” has to do with maturity being ___________. In contrast to this, spirituality is all or nothing. One is either spiritual or not spiritual. Another way of stating this is that one is either carnal or ____________. As opposed to being relative, spirituality is an absolute. By absolute is meant that something is all or n___________. So at any given time, a Christian is either totally carnal or ______________.
There are many ideas about spirituality that are confusing and not true, yet these are very popular. Let’s look at some of these and understand that they are false ideas that are not supported in Scripture in spite of their popularity. Please be aware that popularity of an idea does not mean that it is true.
The first idea that is not true is that spirituality is by tabooism. “Tabooism” is the teaching that if one observes a specific list of rules pertaining to certain things others feel he shouldn’t do, he is spiritual. A very popular exclusion is the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Another is smoking and yet another is going to movies and dancing. To think like this is quite prominent in many Christian circles and this is called “spirituality by t______________.”
We are not saying that some of these things are alright. Alcohol is the most destructive drug available to the American public. We also know that smoking is associated with heart disease and cancer. And simply because a picture is “moving,” it is not necessarily sinful. But the idea that to refrain from these things makes one spiritual is not taught in the Bible. Spirituality by _____________________ is not a biblical qualification for spirituality.
The second erroneous approach is spirituality by comparison. In this mode of thinking, one looks at another Christian, “sizes him up” and sees a problem this one has in his life and thinks, “I am more spiritual than that person, because I don’t have that sin in my life.” A common phrase used by those who think this way could be “that person is really spiritual,” or “she is a spiritual giant!” These are also ways of saying that another person is really not too spiritual, and that there are spiritual pygmies. Scripture warns against doing this in 2 Corinthians 10:12; “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” The Bible clearly forbids practicing spirituality by ______________. We should shun therefore, practicing spirituality in this very familiar way.
Then there is spirituality by withdrawal. These people are often called separatists and feel that they can _______________ themselves from everyone that may be tainted and become more spiritual. This is somewhat related to spirituality by tabooism, only it involves excluding those who don’t agree with everything I might believe. Simon Styletus, a separatist from other years was one such person. He lived on top of a pole thinking he would develop spirituality in this way. He thought that by living above the corruption of the world, he would surely become more spiritual. He is an example of spirituality by ______________. But when I do this, I am no longer the witness I need to be for Jesus, who was a Friend of sinners. Withdrawal from “contamination” is certainly not something that will make me ________________. Spirituality by _________________, or separation, is not a biblical approach to spirituality. I can be in the world, but not of the world.
A final negative to consider is perhaps the most difficult to talk about. This is “spirituality by prayer.” What we say at this point is in no way meant to depreciate the importance of prayer. Great men and women of prayer have lived in every age, and they model for us the needed time we might spend before the throne of grace. But prayer does not make one spiritual. It is certainly related to our spiritual growth and is important in our spiritual life. Prayer is one of our means of communion with the Father. It is related to our joy being ________, John 16:24. But _____________ does not make me ____________.
What is Spirituality?
Having stated several things spirituality is not, let’s take a little time and emphasize in positive ways what spirituality is. Perhaps a good way to begin is simply to ask, “What is Christianity?” The answer is, of course, a relationship with _________________. Remembering this, we might say that spirituality is learning to live in relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The question arises: “What should that relationship be like?” As I try to evaluate this, I must look at the example of Christ in His coming to earth. Paul says in Philippians 2:5, “Have this ______________ in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Then he elaborates on the attitude of Christ. He was One Who was willing to empty Himself and become a ____________. Becoming a servant was involved in the mind of Christ and is the example we are to follow. Of what did He empty Himself? When I understand this, I know what to imitate in Christ and this is the most necessary understanding in the practice of spirituality.
Let’s consider for a moment what Christ surrendered when He became a man. John 17:5 speaks of Christ giving up some of His __________. In the garden, He prayed that his glory might be restored. When Christ became incarnate, He became observable, touchable, and truly knowable as a man. In order for this to be true, it was apparently necessary that He give up some of His pre-incarnate glory.
Again in John 5:30, He states that He could do ___________ by Himself. Doing nothing by Himself would suggest somewhat of a change in the functioning of One Who had always been, and yet still is omnipotent. We behold Him changing water into wine, raising the dead, and healing the sick. Those were demonstrations of His _____________. Yet He says He can do nothing of His own volition. When we understand that He became a ______, and as a man became a s_______, yielding his rights and initiative to exercise His divine attributes which were still His, He became a servant to the _________ __________, Philippians 2, with whom He was coequal in the Godhead. Therefore, all during His lifetime, He never once exercised His divine attributes independently from the Holy Spirit. He voluntarily surrendered Himself to the Holy Spirit. Taking this then as my example in the practice of spirituality, I learn to practice living my life in concert with the Holy Spirit, being under His control. This is what it is to be spiritual.
The Practice of Spirituality
How can I make spirituality a daily practice? What is involved in this aspect of my Christian life which is so crucial? Romans 8:9 says that if one is without the Spirit, He does not ________ _____ _________. This means that I cannot be a ______________ without having the ___________ ___________ indwelling me. It is impossible to be a Christian without having the ___________ ___________! The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in our lives has many functions. John 14:26 tells us that He is our Helper to teach and bring to remembrance. Romans 8:26,27 tells us that He helps us when we are_____________. And, of course, He bears witness with our spirit that we are___________ ___ ________, Romans 8:16,17. He is also in us to _________ us, Romans 8:14. These passages speak of His ministry in our lives.
Remember that earlier in this session we saw that in the kenosis, Jesus became a ____________ to the Holy Spirit. He gave up His independent exercise of His divine attributes, surrendering them to the Holy Spirit. In reality, Jesus became a _____________ to the Holy Spirit during His earthly life. We do not, of course have divine attributes. But we have a will that needs to be in subjection to the Holy Spirit. We can, therefore, see our position with Him to be one under His ______________. In this way, we become true _____________ of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1. Now how do I do this? How do I live my life as a servant to the Holy Spirit? The answer to this question is the answer to what spirituality is.
First and primary is a commitment to ______________, John 14:21. Obedience implies my willingness ultimately to do, without argument, whatever the Scripture says to me. It is a commitment to not sin. When I choose to not sin in a situation in which I can make a choice, or when I commit to doing something the Scripture tells me to do, I am ____________________. _____________ teaches us to be obedient, Titus 2:11,12.,
The second point is that which enables me to understand what sin is in order that I might recognize it and avoid it “like the plague.” Sin seems to fall into two broad categories. The first of these is objective. When I break a commandment that is found in Scripture, I ________ the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:30. Grieving the Holy Spirit is breaking a known _____________________. I can grieve only those who truly love me.
There are also subjective aspects of sin. One of these that is mentioned in Scripture involves following His inner leadership that He gives me on a regular basis. When I do not follow that leadership, I ___________ the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Grieving and quenching the Spirit are the two ways we all sin. And when I sin in either of these ways, I break His control of my life. I am no longer spiritual but carnal. Spirituality is when the _________ _________ is in control. Carnality is when I am in control. Carnality is the opposite of _____________, when the Holy Spirit is in control. Becoming carnal does not cause me to lose my relationship with the Father but it breaks my fellowship with Him. At any given moment, I am either carnal or spiritual.
A major consideration is how I can leave my chosen state of carnality and become spiritual again. What must I do to be controlled again by the Holy Spirit? The answer, of course, is found in my _______________ of that sin, 1 John 1:9. This Scripture is written primarily to Christians. I must acknowledge that sin. When I do, I am forgiven because the sin has been paid for by the death of Jesus Christ. So confession of sin is necessary for me to once again be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look for a moment at the meaning of the word confess. In the original writings it carries the meaning of agreeing with God or literally “saying the same thing” that God says and believes about a specific behavior. I see sin to be sin and tell God I see it as such. Therefore, confession of a sin is ________________ a certain action or behavior as __________, and telling God that that’s what it is. It is simply bringing my mental faculties in line with His. This is in reality what repentance is. Therefore, confession is closely related to _____________, or changing one’s mind about a certain behavior that is sin. It is acknowledging a sin with a heart for obedience.
Now notice the results of confession. 1 John 1:9 says he will ________ us our sin. He doesn’t forgive our sin, rather He forgives ______ our sin. Two characteristics of the Father assure us of this. He is ___________ and ________________ in forgiving us. “Faithfulness” has to do with His consistent forgiving. He will do it every time. “Righteous” has to do with His ability to forgive with a just foundation for forgiveness. This, of course, He can do because of the sacrifice of Christ and the shedding of His blood.
A problem sometimes arises because of the unique difficulty posed by a particular sin and the reality that we are not to use forgiveness of sin as a license to sin. How many times will God forgive us? To answer this, let’s first affirm that no one should use God’s forgiveness as a license to sin. That would be unthinkable. But it is also true that God forgives no less than He has instructed us to forgive. In your own words, what does Matthew 18:22 mean?
We are also to remember that God keeps no accounts. When He forgives, He also _______________________________________, Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 44:22. These and other passages support the reality that God chooses to not remember sin when we confess it. Therefore each time I bring Him a sin in confession, it is as if it were the first time.
A final step to consider is that which involves a recommitment to obedience, and faith that I have been restored to fellowship. I accept forgiveness and believe the Holy Spirit is again controlling me. Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore, just as have you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” How did I receive Him? In the same way, I need to walk in Him. I can believe I am forgiven. Let’s practice this in our practice of spirituality.
Results of the Practice of Spirituality
Now let us consider the practical aspects of spirituality. What will be the results of the Holy Spirit’s control of me? Before we look at these, let’s review once again some vital truths. Some would teach us that speaking in an unknown tongue is the mark of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit can transcend the giving of any gift in the life of an individual today. Remember the experiences spoken of as:
Being led by the Spirit, Romans 8:14
Being filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
Walking by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16
These are all speaking of the same things. Therefore spirituality can be called _________ ___ _____ _________, Galatians 5:16, _______ ____ ___ _____ ________, Romans 8:14, and ______ ______ ___ _____ __________, Ephesians 5:18. These all refer to the same type of relationship which in this session we have called the p_________ of s_______________.
We are interested in the results of spirituality in the final part of this session. First, the Holy Spirit is in control of my life and He __________ me on a moment by moment basis. What does Psalm 32:8 say?
This passage surely makes it clear that the Holy Spirit gives me ____________. Just how He does this is not quite clear. Surely He does it through the Scriptures and my understanding of them. He is also deep within my psyche and as He controls me, He will surely _________ __________, John 16:13. Other results of spirituality are found in Galatians 5:16. This passage tells me that I will not _______ ______ ____ __________ ___ ____ _______. This means that I will not make choices to sin as long as I submit to His control. While He controls me, He enables me to choose to go the way of the Scriptures rather than the way of carnality, or the flesh. A third and specific result is found in vs. 22,23. Here I am told that the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is _________, ______, __________, ____________, ________________, ____________, _______________, _____________, and _______________. These are a cluster of fruit. They are also the fruit of the __________. They are not human goodnesses which have no value to the Father. They are the direct result, without effort, of the control of the Holy Spirit in my life. There is no struggle in the banana tree to bring forth bananas. The fruit is just there. Fruit is my reaction before I get myself under control.
In your own words list the results of the practice of spirituality. see Acts 1:8; and Luke 24:49.
It is important to look at the Judgment seat of Christ (the Bema) in relation to the practice of spirituality. Read carefully 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 3. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, to whom is the apostle referring when he says “we”?
It is interesting to observe that the word translated “judgment seat” is the word used for the award seat at the Corinthian Olympics. No athlete was ever punished at the Bema. He just stood before it to receive his awards for participating. This enables us to understand more clearly the purpose of the Bema for us who know Christ. How is this affirmed in Romans 8:1, 31-35?
Two kinds of good works are evaluated at the Bema. The first are works produced through me by the Holy Spirit and are described in Galatians 5:22,23 as the __________ of the ___________. The second are produced by me apart from the Holy Spirit’s control and are described in Isaiah 64:6 as a ___________ _____________. A larger description of the Bema is found in 1 Corinthians 3 - 4:6. Here the criteria for the Bema are described as how he __________; 3:10, and the _______ _________ _______ ________ _____ ___________, vs. 13.
Therefore “how” we produce works and the “quality” of the work are so very crucial. What are the ways we can produce works? __________________ and ___________________________. List some of the results of the Bema seat. See 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15; 4:5.
Please note: The word “bad” in 2 Corinthians 5:10 is not “bad” in the sense of evil, but rather bad in the sense of being “worthless.” Although human goodnesses are convenient and desirable as far as society is concerned, they will have no ultimate value as far as God and eternity are concerned. No one will be punished at the Bema. The “loss” referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:15, is a loss of awards. It is an award seat where distinctions will be given for one’s efficiency in “walking in the Spirit.” Spirituality and maturity are at the heart of the concerns of the Bema.
Questions for Review and Discussion
1. List some of the leading misunderstandings regarding spirituality and maturity among Christians today.
2. Who can practice spirituality?
3. What is central in understanding the kenosis?
4. What is the purpose of the Bema seat of Christ?
5. What is central in the practice of spirituality if one is to be successful in this practice?
6. How far-reaching time-wise are the results of the Bema? Or, the significant results of the Bema will extend to what?
7. This question is for your speculation and thought. What effect do you feel spirituality and its practice will have upon certain aberrant behavior such as an explosive personality disorder, child abuse, a poor self-concept, etc.?
8. How does patience learned by discipline and rigid means of self-control differ from patience which comes through the practice of spirituality?
Perhaps another emphasis upon the importance of spirituality and maturity is redundant at this point. Nevertheless, I want to make the point again. There is no aspect of the Christian life so central and yet so clouded as spirituality and spiritual maturity. It would be good to work and rework these areas until they are such a part of you that they become a lifestyle. Joy in the life, peace on a daily basis, and a life that speaks of Jesus will be to the results of practicing spirituality.
Key Thoughts and Concepts
In looking to see if you are comprehensive in your understanding of spirituality, be sure the following things are included.
Whereas maturity is relative, spirituality is an absolute. One is either spiritual or carnal (controlled by the flesh). Practicing spirituality is “keeping in step with the Spirit.” It requires obedience and immediate confession of sin and one’s failure that results in sin. Confession does not mean saying “I’m sorry.” It means, rather, acknowledgment, and seeing sin as the Father sees it. Repentance is implicit in confession.
Central in the understanding of spirituality is the kenosis—the emptying of Christ. In the humiliation of Christ, He surrendered the independent exercise of His divine attributes to the Holy Spirit. His entire life was lived surrendered to the Holy Spirit, with Whom He was equal in the Godhead. And in living this way, He sets a perfect example of what spirituality is for us.
Closely related to the practice of spirituality, the Bema or judgment seat of Christ is considered. Here believers will present their works for which they might logically expect recognition. Many of our works, however, find their source not to be in the Holy Spirit and His control of our lives, but rather in our own strength and self-effort. Christ will separate that which is good from what is “worthless.” What is “good” will cause us to be distinct for all eternity.
Remember! No one is more spiritual than anyone else. We are at any time either spiritual or carnal— controlled by the Holy Spirit or controlling ourselves.
It is also important to reiterate some of the things spirituality is not. These include prayer, withdrawal, comparison and tabooism.
Practicing spirituality is central to successfully living the Christian life. There is nothing more important than spirituality and its practice.
Related Topics: Discipleship