A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
10th August 2003
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True Spirituality is the work of the Spirit of Truth - who is the Holy Spirit of God the Father and God the Son.
Removing the Spirit from His relationship with the Father and the Son, many in our society have sought to experience spirituality without the gospel. Their experience may well be spiritual but it will not be true.
The “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” will gladly deceive any who wish to have spiritual experiences.
Paul reminded the Corinthians of pagan times when they were led astray to mute idols! He warns the Colossians about being taken captive by false philosophy and empty deceit.
Jesus repeatedly calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”. He it is who leads us into truth. He it is who inspires the word of truth the scriptures. Jesus taught this close connection of God spirit and truth to the woman of Samaria “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. Similarly he taught the people of Jerusalem that the devil “has nothing to do with the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
It is by Jesus death, resurrection and ascension that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon us in the new age of the Kingdom of God. The Old Testament Kingdom of God was composed of the nation of Israel. Only some of them, like the prophets, experienced the work of the Spirit of God. In the New Testament Kingdom of God is composed of people from every nation. What unites them is not their natural birth but that each one has been reborn by the Spirit of God.
But how do we know whether the work of the Spirit within our life is that of the Spirit of Truth or the spirit of error and deceit?
One of the errors common amongst Christians as well as non-Christians is to try to judge the spirituality by experiences. It is the error of so many testimonies. The personal testimony is the evangelistic method of false spirituality. To hear of how somebody was moved, overwhelmed, healed, astonished, transported or whatever by some spiritual experience is no guide at all as to whether it is of God or not. Indeed we were warned by Jesus “False Christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.”
So how do we “test the spirits to see if they are from God”? The Spirit of Truth will lead us into the truth of Jesus. He will confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. He will move us to listen to the Apostles’ words that He has inspired. He will move us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. He will convict us of sin righteousness and judgement. He will enable us to call the judge of the entire world “father”. He will lead us to “put to death the deeds of the body”.
True Spirituality is therefore not the mystic journey into your inner soul, nor the spectacular expression of signs and wonders, nor the overwhelming personal experiences that people testify about.
True Spirituality is being moved by the Holy Spirit in the ways that the Bible teaches us the Spirit will move us that is: to the truth that Jesus as Lord; to the knowledge of God as our Father; to accept authority of the apostolic words of God; and to renounce the works of evil in our lives.
Beware of ‘experiencing’ the Spirit and then looking in the Bible to find your experience. Beware of those who testify to their experience of the Spirit and then find it in the Bible.
Follow the Spirit by reading His word the Bible and from that determine what to expect that the Spirit of Truth and the false spirits will teach. Then you will understand your experiences by the Bible rather than the Bible by your experiences. So you will be lead by the Spirit of truth.