What makes a person spiritual? Some people would look to externals for the answer—they would say a person is spiritual because of the pious way he dresses or talks, the things he does or does not do, the places he goes or refuses to go. Others would say a person is spiritual simply because he believes in and seeks to tap some sort of higher power in the universe. Webster’s dictionary vaguely defines spirituality as “sensitivity or attachment to religious values.”

God’s definition is anything but vague. According to the Bible, a person is spiritual when—and only when—he is filled with the Holy Spirit. Spirituality is an absolute—at any moment of time we are either one hundred percent filled with the Spirit and therefore spiritual, or we are not filled with the Spirit at all and are therefore carnal (1Co 2:14–15; 1Co 3:1–4; Gal 5:16–17; Gal 6:1).

At the moment of salvation, every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. Indwelling is a once-for-all thing; it cannot be changed or lost. The Spirit indwells every believer all the time (Rom 8:9; 1Co 6:19–20; Gal 3:2; Gal 4:6). But with the indwelling, an inner conflict begins between the Holy Spirit and our old sin nature. Our volition—our freedom to choose—is the arbiter in the conflict. We decide moment by moment who will be in control of our soul.

So, the filling of the Spirit is a matter of choice. We are commanded to be filled (Eph 5:18), and we choose every day whether to obey that command or not. The command in Ephesians Five is in the passive voice, indicating that the filling of the Holy Spirit is a gift which we can receive or reject, but cannot earn. Like everything else in the Christian life, the filling of the Holy Spirit comes one way: by grace through faith. We lose the filling of the Spirit by choosing to grieve or quench the Spirit through sin or apathy (Eph 4:30; 1Th 5:19). We regain it by choosing to confess, which results in our being cleansed from all unrighteousness (1Jo 1:9; Pro 1:23).

Being filled with the Spirit is not an end in the Christian life; it is the means to an end. The Holy Spirit is not given to us for nothing; He is given to us to provide power for life. Our goal is to bear fruit (Joh 15:4–5); the fruit described in Gal 5:22–23 is the character of Jesus Christ. Spirituality—the life that is produced by the consistent filling of the Holy Spirit—is the life of Christ in us.

Series Navigation
<< Water and the Spirit <<--->> Synonomous Terms >>