Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 7:23 π Jn. 8:31-32 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 8:59 π Acts 8:7 π Acts 8:10 π Rom. 2:6-10 π Rom. 8:9 π 1 Cor. 12:18 π 2 Cor. 11:3-4 π Eph. 2:10 π Jas. 1:17 π 3 Jn. 11

The contrast is often made between good people and spiritual people. But to make this contrast is to place differing things on opposite ends of a single scale and to oversimplify a much more complicated reality. The spiritual man who is truly in tune with Christ and God will be a good man. That is, his life will exhibit characteristics that reflect the goodness that is the nature of God Himself. Why? Because all good things come from God the Father of lights ( Jas. 1:17 ) and he who does good is of God. ( 3 Jn. 11 ) Spirituality, while certainly not a guarantee of moral perfection, must not be allowed to become a cloak over our fallen, sinful flesh nature. The greatest deception may very well be that we consider ourselves spiritual but we do not obey God and do the good works He has prepared beforehand for us to do. ( Eph. 2:10; top )

Our real problem is most often found in our judging men and things according to the basis of what is right in our own eyes. If a man does things that we agree with, then we call him a good man and consider him spiritual even if (when he is out of our sight) he is really a selfish, conniving, evil man. Further still, if a man simply agrees with our point of view, we are more apt to consider him a good, spiritual man. And if a man does things we disagree with or the man disagrees with some of our basic, foundational presuppositions, then he must be an evil man. In this way, we maintain our own smug assuredness of our own superiority and the fact that this false certainty lies, for the most part, undetected and unchallenged does not cause us any concern. Such is the blindness of fallen, fleshly human nature.

We also neglect to recognize that the devil and the demonic are spiritual beings. The exact nature of whether these are what we would think of as individuals or "people" is not clearly revealed in the Scriptures. But from the Scriptures and from experience we know that these evil spiritual beings will do and instigate what men call "good works" so as to gain power and control over human beings. Simon the sorcerer, for example, enjoyed great reputation among the people of Samaria as he was perceived as "the great power of God." ( Acts 8:10 ) - yet when Philip came with the truth about Christ, there were many who were demonized who needed set free. ( Acts 8:7 ) Wherever the human believes a lie (the natural resources, native language and the thing manufactured by the devil and the demonic - Jn. 8:44 ) this creates a "place" where the lie is "attached" to the human soul. This affords a place of concealment "within" a person for the demonic from which further invasive, controlling, manipulative actions may be made. This is precisely why Jesus said to a demonized group of Jews that the truth would set them free - but the price of freedom from the demonic was to follow Jesus and abide (remain, dwell, live) in His teachings. ( Jn. 8:31-32 ) That was more than they could embrace and the demonic was then able to manifest through them its full fury against the Son of God. ( Jn. 8:59; top )

A further contrast is to be noted. The religious person who attends "church" all or most of their life is one who is very likely to routinely participate in such evil things as slander, gossip, false judging - and this is in addition to their regular physical, emotional and financial support of the Nicolaitan, heretical (divisive, separated) sect they routinely attend (a further, yet more subtle evil). Such a person is well "churched" but is also apostate (fallen from the faith). Such a one can hardly be deemed spiritual - yet, much of fallen, fleshly mankind considers any routine religious practice to denote good spirituality.

The one who has been enlightened regarding spiritual matters (that is, he recognizes the flawed and misguided nature of "church," for example, and actually forsakes the institutional "church" building and the meetings therein) but who fails to press on to attain to genuine spiritual maturity in Christ (that is demonstrated in obedience to Christ and in Christ-directed, self-sacrificing love for others) - the enlightened but stagnant one is also still carnal (of the flesh nature) and cannot be considered truly spiritual. Yet many will consider that one to be so anyway.

The deeper contrast, then, is not between those who are spiritual and those who are good (as if they were mutually exclusive) but rather the contrast of which spirit inhabits and rules the person. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not one of His. ( Rom. 8:9 ) A preacher speaking under the control of a different spirit is one of the schemes of the devil to draw followers away from Christ. ( 2 Cor. 11:3-4; top ) These two Scriptures alone ought to show us that our usual evaluations of goodness versus spirituality fall far short of the spiritual realities involved.

There is no one single bottom line by which we can measure ourselves. There are several factors that Paul gives as the basis upon which all men will be judged by an impartial God. ( Rom. 2:6-10 ) These multiple characteristics preclude a simple contrast between good people and spiritual people. The so-called "man of the world" who walks in genuine goodness and even love may very well have more of an experiential interaction with the Spirit of God than does the very well expositionally-educated "church" "pastor" who manipulates his flock and excludes all who don't agree with him. The former may do rather well on judgment day while the latter may, in the end, hear, "Depart from Me, you who practiced lawlessness!" ( Mt. 7:23; top )

Many people today have had some kind of "church" experience and have left the "church" far behind because they recognized (whether they were able to understand and articulate it or not) that the "church" was antagonistic to simple goodness and to honest, open life with one another. These people seem to have something of the good nature of God in their everyday basic dealings with others but don't pry too deeply into "theological studies" which don't help them live or do good. These will often, when pressed, admit to a limited interaction with God (that is, on occasion they pray, read the Bible, etc.) and yet, these are the ones you will find regularly helping the poor, the orphans, the widows and any neighbor who just needs a helping hand while far too often the well-"churched" "Christians" remain huddled in their meetings, discussing the nuances of a certain Greek word or construction and the orphans, widows and the least of Christ's brothers remain alone in their miseries. God is able to use these "sinners" much more than He is able to use those who claim to be His saints. Yet, by default, the "church" goers are routinely viewed as spiritual and the non-"church" goers are viewed as worldly "sinners." Note well the exceptions to this generalization (on both sides of this coin) but do not dismiss the generalization just because there are some exceptions to it.

The supposedly spiritual man who is not good is not as spiritual (that is, in tune with the Spirit of God) as he thinks he is. The good man who is not spiritual (again, not in tune with the real Spirit of God) is probably rejecting truth at some level or another and needs to deepen his relationship with God. The spiritual man who practices the good deeds God has given him, who refuses to go to "church" because God is not directing him to go there and who enjoys unity of thought and purpose with those people (the body of Christ) whom God has placed in direct connection with that man (as He has willed - see 1 Cor. 12:18; top ) is likely to be exactly where God has placed him.

Let he who has ears hear.

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