Just as personality has nothing to do with spirituality, so also asceticism has nothing to do with it. Punishing oneself in the hopes of becoming more spiritual is not in God’s plan for the Church-age believer. Many believers through the ages traveled the road of extreme asceticism hoping to experience a closer walk with God. They would have been much better off if they had used all that energy and determination to study about how God really wants His children to live. Even today, many believers attempt to approach God through self-denial or self-crucifixion. How often we hear modern day believers trying to bribe God with empty promises of self-denial and sacrifice. Don’t misunderstand—self-denial and sacrifice have a definite place in the Christian walk, but they are the result of spirituality, not the means to achieve it. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, God does not want us to beat ourselves up; He just wants us to trust Him and follow the Spirit’s leading. Spirituality is not “Thou shall not”; it is “Thou shall,” opening the door into the eternal resources and energy of God.
The most dangerous form of pseudo-spirituality today seeks to gain God’s approval through human good or good works apart from the filling of the Spirit. The reason it is so dangerous is that it lulls believers into a false sense of security. They believe that if they are doing good works, it must be pleasing to God.
MAT 6:23“If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
LUK 11:35 “Then watch out that the light in you may not be darkness.”
Remember, God is only pleased with the believer who is obedient to the Holy Spirit. Obedience leads to good works; spirituality is never gained by performing good works. Here are some of the traps to watch out for:
Obeying Taboos: Spirituality by obeying taboos such as giving up smoking, drinking, dancing, movies, and other so-called worldly activities, has no foundation in the Scripture. A taboo is something forbidden by tradition, social usage, or some other form of authority, but that it is not taught in the Word of God. Therefore, a taboo superimposes legalism on the Word of God. However, many believers suppose that the Christian way of life is realized when they live their lives by these petty rules. However, according to the Scripture, the divine plan for control of the flesh in the believer’s life is constant dependence upon the Spirit; this is the only means of victory for the believer, not some man-made list of do’s and don’ts. In the Church-age, it is God’s will to change the desires of the heart and empower the believer to realize those divine desires through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can change the desires and empower the believer. Obeying laws, rules, and taboos could give no such enabling power, GAL 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” Remember God looks on the heart, not on the outward activities.
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