• Joseph Durso

What it Means to be spiritual




What is a spiritual person? In our present American culture, a spiritual person can be anything from a Satan worshipper to a born-again evangelical. However, how should an authentic believer in Jesus Christ understand what it means to be spiritual?


Jesus preached the greatest sermon ever and began by saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) The journey to heaven always begins with honesty about our sinful condition. To be spiritual a person must acknowledge their poverty. Who in the Old Testament knew the reality of spiritual poverty better than David? He prayed to the God for whom he once fought a giant, but then as a fallen sinner in bitter sorrow. "For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:16, 17)


David understood the value of honesty, the destructive force of pride, and the necessity of brokenness. During his humble youth, he enjoyed God-given faith, by which he slew Goliath. As a proud king, David lusted after the wife of one of his mighty men. (1 Chronicle 11:41) After being found out he did not contest it, as he might have as King, but instead fell before the feet of His Lord and God.


In Psalm 51 David disclosed the vital truth that God takes no pleasure in empty religion. To sacrifice a lamb on an altar marred by a false profession of faith and an insincere offering is to offend God. God is the One who sees and He sees the human heart perfectly. Therefore, David did not sacrifice a lamb first but his reputation, as he had done many times before, and acknowledged his sin through a broken and contrite heart.


Broken can mean to be ruined with a negative connotation as in Isaiah 8:15, "Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; they will be snared and caught.” In this kind of brokenness, there is ruin and not a restoration. The brokenness of which David speaks in Psalm 51 is to experience full awareness of his sin and failure and displeasing heart before God. A person can be aware of his imperfection and not own his sin in repentance and contrition, such behavior infuriates God. David was crushed by the way he treated the God of his salvation. Thereafter, he became pleasing to God.


My dear readers, I have lost track of how many times my heart has been broken over the awareness of my sin. Martin Luther said, "Where self-hatred remains, repentance remains." A spiritual person is an authentic Christian who is always in the process of calling sin, sin in his own heart. Repentance is the first step that justifies the redeemed, it is also the process by which spiritual people are continually being sanctified.


To be continued...