How To Develop Good Spiritual Health
by Wayne D. Turner
Who doesn't want to be healthy? I mean...physically. Of course, we all do. That being the case, we are certain that there are specific daily habits which contribute to good physical health; we call them physical hygiene. Nearly all of us took courses in elementary and high school that covered the basics of good physical hygiene. Everyone agrees that good hygiene includes eating right, sleeping well, physical exercise, bathing properly and, of course, brushing our teeth. The symptoms of neglect for some of these become obvious more quickly than others. If you miss one night of sleep, your performance on even routine tasks may be severely substandard. However, it may be several days before people begin to notice that one hasn't been bathing properly or teeth brushing. Nonetheless, even the neglect of these over a period of time will have negative health implications.
A Believer's spiritual health is accomplished likewise - through good spiritual hygiene. The scripture abounds with admonitions that encourage the practice of spiritual hygiene. Here's the list - just four: (1) Read your Bible, (2) Pray, (3) Fellowship with other Believers and (4) Share your faith with others. I'm convinced that a Believer cannot experience the abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10) without exercising good spiritual hygiene on a systematic basis. Here's why. Let's start backward and work forward on this one - the bottom line (so to speak). God wants to see Believers living their lives before the world in a manner that glorifies God through Jesus Christ; that's the bottom line. In order for that to be the case, each Believer must demonstrate the attributes of Christ. Well...that comes naturally when Believers are led by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." There they are, nine attributes, symptoms of being led by the Holy Spirit of God. You don't work on those individually; they are symptoms of reality. To attempt to fabricate these attributes is like covering oneself with deodorant and cologne to disguise one's failure to bathe. It doesn't solve the problem - just disguises the symptom (and perhaps not very well).
It should be emphasized here that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the attributes of Galatians 5:22-23, not the manifestation of spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12. Paul makes this fact very clear in I Corinthians 12-14 and Galatians 5. Let's state it simply: When you are led by the Holy Spirit, you will be characterized by nine attributes of the "fruit of the Spirit." Now you might ask, "How do you arrive at a point in your Christian life where you are led by the Holy Spirit?" That's simple; those who are led by the Holy Spirit are those who are filled by the Holy Spirit. Due to the unscriptural teaching that prevails regarding the "filling of the Holy Spirit," this process requires some additional explanation.
Everyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as savior has received the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:13 says, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." Romans 8:9 further substantiates this fact when Paul says, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." However, receiving the Holy Spirit and being filled by the Holy Spirit are not functionally identical. All Believers receive the Holy Spirit at salvation. It's the Holy Spirit that makes the salvation possible in the first place (John 6:44), and it is also the Holy Spirit that seals our salvation experience by inducting us into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13; II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30). However, the filling of the Holy Spirit involves a continual process in the Believer after salvation. Filling of the Holy Spirit is not a one time experience, but a continual process. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." The Greek word for "filled" there is a verb (present passive imperative) that, based upon the tense, speaks of a continual process of filling. In other words, you don't get filled just one time and ride that out for the remainder of your life. Again, it's a continual process. Wouldn't it be great if we could fill our cars up with gasoline the day we purchase them and never have to do it again? We expect to fuel our cars. Expect also to fuel the spiritual man. When you fuel the spiritual man with practices of good spiritual hygiene, the spiritual man becomes strong in your life because you are filling up. When you are full of the Holy Spirit, you are led by the Holy Spirit. When you are led by the Holy Spirit, people see the attributes of Jesus Christ flowing out from you, the "fruit of the Spirit."
What is this fuel for the spiritual man within every Believer? The answer is simple: the practices of GOOD SPIRITUAL HYGIENE. Let's list them again:
Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Every Believer wants to experience this kind of joy in serving Christ. The key to success after salvation is to exercise GOOD SPIRITUAL HYGIENE.