If we are to walk in the spirit (e.g., Gal. 5:25), it is essential that we see ourselves as spiritual. Contrary to what you may have heard, spiritual does not mean religious. Manmade religion may stimulate your intellect and feed your flesh, but that doesn’t make it spiritual.

The word spiritual has both a generic meaning and a specific meaning. The generic definition of spiritual is “having to do with the spiritual realm as opposed to the physical realm.” The spiritual realm includes God, the heavenly host, fallen angels, and the spirit of every person who ever lived. The physical realm includes your body, the food you put in it, the bed you slept on, and the clothes you are wearing. In this general sense, spiritual simply means of the spirit. Yet there is another meaning of spiritual:

He who is spiritual appraises all things… (1 Corinthian 2:15)

In this context, a spiritual person is someone who has been born of the Spirit, has the Spirit of God, and is led by the Spirit (John 3:5, Rom. 8:9, 14). In contrast, an unspiritual person is someone who remains in the flesh or is walking after the flesh (Rom. 7:5, 8:4). Some teachers would describe the latter person as soulish or soulical, as though to live by the soul was the opposite of walking in the spirit. A better adjective would be fleshly (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:3) or worldly (Jude 1:19). The soul is neither fleshly nor spiritual; it is the chooser that decides how we will live.

So we can see that there are two definitions of spiritual; (1) having to do with the spiritual realm, and (2) originating with the Holy Spirit. In church, the latter definition is usually implied. If you are born of the Spirit, you are spiritual person. If your gift for teaching or encouraging or hospitality comes from the Holy Spirit, it is a spiritual gift. If your word or message comes from the Holy Spirit, it is a spiritual word.

Spiritual is a common adjective in scripture. We receive spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) and spiritual gifts (Rom. 1:11, 1 Cor. 14:1, 1 Tim. 4:14), sing spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16), struggle against spiritual forces (Eph. 6:12), are filled with spiritual wisdom (Col. 1:9), are being built into a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5), offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5), while we await spiritual bodies (1 Cor. 15:44).

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