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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Religion Or Spirituality?



Text: 1 Corinthians 2:12-16

Thesis: "Spirituality" is a concept that is leading many away from true Christianity.


1. For 25 years The Oprah Winfrey Show was one of the most-watched programs on television.

The series came to an end on May 25, 2011. In an interview with Piers Morgan,

Winfrey made a claim about her influence: "I am the messenger to deliver the message of

hope and redemption." Her message was described by an article in USA Today as

"Big Hug Spirituality".

2. At first glance the term "spirituality" seems innocent. In fact, it's even something to be

desired, isn't it? But when we look more closely we'll find that modern views of spirituality

are not an upgrade, but a definite challenge to our faith in Jesus Christ.

3. "Does My Faith Need An Upgrade?" is a theme we propose to examine for the next few

weeks. Just as we often need an upgrade for a computer, a car, or some other aspect of

our lives, it's valid to ask whether our faith needs enhancements. We'll begin with a very

fundamental consideration: Should I seek religion, spirituality - or both?


I. Spirituality, A Growing Trend

A. Jn. 4:24 - Most of us have a basic idea of what "spiritual" means. God is Spirit, Jesus

told the Samaritan woman, and we know there is a spiritual realm. For most of us,

"spirituality" simply means that we're not just thinking about things that are material. And

that's a good thing, isn't it?

B. How the world today views "spirituality":

1. One site, written from an atheistic perspective, gave its definition of "spirituality":

"The term itself came to be used frequently only after the 1960s when there were

widespread revolts against every form of organized authority, including "organized

religion." Every establishment and every system of authority was thought to be

corrupt and evil, including those which were religious - but of course, Americans

weren't prepared to abandon religion entirely. So, they created a new category which

was still religious, but which no longer included the same traditional authority figures.

... They called it Spirituality."


2. Another site gave this definition in 2007: "Religion usually entails adhering to a

certain dogma or belief system. Spirituality places little importance on intellectual

beliefs, but is concerned with growing into and experiencing the Divine

consciousness. ... Religion places more emphasis on outer forms and outer rituals.

Spirituality is less concerned with outer rituals. Spirituality says that what is important

is a seeker's inner attitude. Through practising spirituality we seek to develop an

inner shrine in our own heart."


3. Douglas Todd, in an article "5 Spiritual Trends To Watch For In 2009", wrote: "The

ranks are mushrooming of those who claim, "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual." A

Pew Forum poll concluded this year that more Americans are embracing a

"non-dogmatic approach to faith." Spiritual anti-institutionalism is expanding

everywhere, especially British Columbia. The influential sociologist of religion, Robert

Wuthnow, writes in his new book, After the Baby Boomers, that young adults have

become spiritual "tinkerers," piecing together beliefs and practices to suit their

needs." (

4. I frankly was not prepared for the overwhelming volume of material on the Internet

that promotes this view of spirituality. One site seems to sum it up: -

"Spiritual But Not Religious". Their masthead gives their view of "religion": "All

religions contain some wisdom, but no one religion contains all wisdom."

5. Col. 2:23 - Paul wrote about lifestyles that some tried to press on Christians in

Colossae which involved asceticism. He declared that though they have "an

appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion", they were of no value for what

people really needed. Modern-day spirituality has an appearance of something really

good. But is it really what we need? Would this be an upgrade to our faith?

C. We've just celebrated a very patriotic holiday. Suppose we broke a law, and in

defending ourself in court we argued that we highly value patriotism, but have rejected

the idea of being bound to the laws of the country. Would that argument work? But isn't

that the idea behind modern spirituality - "Spiritual But Not Religious"?

II. People Who Follow Spirituality, Or Spiritual People?

A. But in our rejection of modern spirituality, let's not overlook the importance of being

spiritual people. As we will discover, this is a requirement of being pleasing to God! Do

we know what it means?

B. Rom. 8 - Being spiritual is a requirement for pleasing God:

1. 8:1 - After discussing his struggle to do right, Paul came to the joyful conclusion that

we are not condemned if we walk according to the Spirit.

2. 8:2 - The law of the Spirit of life frees us from the law of sin and death.

3. 8:3,4 - If we walk in the Spirit, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us by

means of Jesus' death on the cross.

4. 8:5,6 - Here Paul clearly states the mandate: We either set our minds on the flesh or

we set them on the things of the Spirit. If we are carnally minded, death awaits us.

5. 8:7,8 - Keeping our mind on earthly things is enmity with God. If we're "in the flesh"

(i.e. of the flesh) we cannot please God.

6. 8:9 - If the Spirit abides in us we are "not in the flesh but in the Spirit".

7. Acts 2:38 - Peter declared that those who repent and are baptized are forgiven of

their sins and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

8. 8:10,11 - If the Spirit dwells in us then we'll be raised to life.

C. Only those who are spiritual fulfill God's will:

1. 1 Cor. 2:14,15 - The "natural man" doesn't receive the things of the Spirit of God. He

who is spiritual is open to God's guidance.

2. Gal. 6:1 - If one is not spiritual, they don't care that their brother has gone astray and

will do nothing to restore him.

3. Wayne Jackson: "Spiritual" may connote one who has accessed knowledge from

God, and has an appreciation for the same. … In this context, the "spiritual man" thus

may be the one who welcomes the Spirit's revelation, while the "natural man" is the

one who depends upon human wisdom, hence, does not esteem spiritual reality."


D. Bill Maher: ""I would describe my spirituality as exactly the opposite of having a religious

affiliation." "Spirituality" in the modern sense will only take us further from God. But

becoming spiritual people who are open to the will of God will help us reach our

heavenly home!


1. A person injected with a syringe of water may believe they're going to be cured; but believing

something to be so will not make it so. That water won't cure a thing.

2. "Spirituality" sounds nice. But if we're not guided by God's wisdom, it won't help us at all.

Tim Hall, Central Church of Christ, Johnson City, TN


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