The concept that the individual who is spiritual is Christ centered and the individual who is carnal is self-centered is key in the matter of discovering what Scripture means by being spiritual. Even those who claim to have special spiritual gifts are mainly carnal because they are always talking the 'talk' and telling others about their personal experiences especially re: the exercise of their personal spiritual gifts. They do this as if there is a competition, constantly comparing notes to see who has the more 'spiritual' powers and topping one another's stories about their personal experiences with the so-called'holy spirit'. Very little conversation is about what God has said in His Word. When such individuals do meet someone who is constantly referring to what God has said - qualifying thoughts, words and deeds through the words of God's Word, they are an irritant to them because they have no way to 'win' the competition when it focuses on what God has said and not on personal, can you top this experiences.
I met an elderly man and a younger woman, hanging on his arm, who seemed to be his wife, at the local Flea Market on Saturday. He took one look at my table with all of it's bibles, commentaries, and Christian books and was compelled to come up to me. He started the conversation by telling me in a very emotional tone that he did not need to study the bible any more. He had reached a status of becoming one with God. Studying God's Word, he said, was only needed by others less spiritual than he, like the ones he immediately pointed out across the table who were looking at one of my books. I wondered how he knew so much about others he had never met - re: their particular spiritual walk. I pointed out a few pieces of information about the gospel verse Jn 3:16 relative to eternal security and he just brushed it off as unnecessary information - but indicated by his reaction that he hadn't looked that deeply at the verse. He did not seem to acknowledge how the wonderous grace of God provided eternal life for the believer in God's gift of His only Son. He failed the test of God's grace and instead, he kept telling me about himself, his so-called higher spiritual level; that he was literally becoming one with God. So he didn't need to study the bible any more and furthermore, he was unimpressed with the grace of God. He was on such an emotional high, announcing how one he felt he was abiding with 'god' that he demonstrated no interest whatsoever in my own walk with God in order to enable me, edify me, support me like it says in Ephesians chapter 4 - in order to grow up in the unity of the faith. What kind of Christian behavior - Christlikeness, is it to demean Christians about being on a lower spiritual plane as if one is going to be impressed with one's spirituality [and not our Lord's as my Example] in such a way that one would long for what he has [and not long for what God has for one via a study of His Word] and throw away my bible! Whatever happened to one's desire to be of assistance to another 'fellow believer' to minister to his needs rather than to proudly display one's own spirituality which ironically is not demonstrated that way at all but is demonstrated by how one serves others as Christ served humanity on the cross? Taking up ones cross is certainly not a matter of beating one's chest in demonstration of how spiritual one is. Well, I ignored his veiled insults and when he spoke of abiding in Christ I began to teach him the mechanics of that through a quick dissertation to him from 1 Jn chapter one. He didn't seem to know of this all important passage as I told him that abiding in Christ was saying the same thing as being in fellowship with Him, and that it was not a matter of becoming a part of the Godhead which is never in view in the bible [that's satanic] but of confessing one's sins. They were compelled to listen to this 'lower' spiritual being because they had posed as those who were spiritually above me and could not demonstrate any negative emotions by telling me to 'shut up' even in a kind way - otherwise their negative behavior would belie their claims of superior spirituality and being one with god. The woman kept pointing to a group of people on the other side of my table which was looking at a bible commentary. She said, 'Why don't you go over there and tell them all of this? We don't need this. Go help them.' But the elderly man kept listening in spite of the pressure she put on his arm to pull him away. So I finished my explanation of 1 Jn 1:1-9 as he carefully listened. I showed him how scripture indicated that staying in fellowship with God was simply a matter of confessing one's sins on a moment to moment basis for all believers of all spiritual maturity levels. So those who confess are abiding in Christ no matter baby Christian or mature believer. Simple, I explained, all it takes is an understanding and application of what God's Word says about how to abide in Christ not some extra biblical, emotional experience. When I finished, they quickly left, the woman pulling her man down the aisle to inspect the bargains offered at the other tables and not the bargain of eternal life and fellowship with the Almighty God of the Universe through faith alone in Christ alone and confession of sins.
The following Sunday morning I was invited to attend a bible study to by a pastor who came by my booth. Before we started, I was asked to introduce myself and tell everyone a little about my 'ministry'. So I related some of the encounters I had yesterday at my evangelism booth. The group challenged everything I said. The meeting deteriorated into an attack on my personality and my enthusiasm to share information from God's Word. They beat me down as arrogant, having too much head knowledge and not enough heart knowledge of the bible (???). I was accused of being presumptuous and arrogant when I explained the gospel to people with confidence and emotion. Furthermore, they said they were sick and tired of hearing about verses like Jn 3:16 - they were beyond the bible they said. They were into spiritual experiences, not bible doctrine.
Yet none agreed that salvation came solely by faith alone in Christ alone; and all agreed that one can lose their salvation. So one can never be assured of being saved at anytime.
After a half hearted attempt was made to get into the bible study, the group again deteriorated into a personal attack on my ministry and the bible itself. Finally, one of them told me that I should close up my bible for a month and just get to know Jesus!!!! He had stated earlier that he had given up the study of bible doctrine in order to know Jesus. When I answered that the word doctrine simply meant teaching and that getting to know Jesus was simply a matter of learning what He had to teach from the Bible, everyone went into an uproar of objection. Each time I began my answer to one of their accusations - keeping it strictly from Scripture, they interrupted me to prove out how mean spirited I was with yet another mean spirited accusation. When I said that my answers must come from Scripture and that my personality had little to do with what the bible teaches, they jumped all over me and insisted that my personality was the entire issue. How I presented myself to them, not what the bible says was key. I was not acting properly coming into their home answering in such detail from God's Word with such confidence! The most repeated criticism they hurled at me was my unloving attitude toward them.
I mentioned that our Lord and Paul and others did not change their personalities as they were suggesting I do; and they were more often direct with the information from God's Word without compromise and this often resulted in very negative responses to them also.
I left with the teacher and we had a friendly lunch together. He insisted that he had to go lightly with his people and apologized for their behavior after a while and eased up on my personality difficulties for the moment.
Later on he surprised me with the question: 'Couldn't someone still be saved even though they insisted on interjecting works into what it takes to be saved?' He was calm this time and let me complete a series of thoughts from Scripture on the matter. I explained Eph 2:8-9 to him - that salvation was by faith alone and not by works and then explained a few of the hundreds of passages that stipulated faith alone in Christ alone. Then I went to Ro 11:6 which opts out any works whatsoever if you are going to be saved by grace - which is the only way that God can save. He seemed to agree on this. He reacted to my explanation as if he were a bit overwhelmed at this demonstration of explaining God's Word on such matters in such detail. I found it strange that he never supported me in the bible study but rather took part in the berating of my personality with the others instead. It's always amazing that everyone I talk to, the best place to begin the conversation is the gospel - you never know who is not totally grounded there - even this ex pastor. No point in moving on until you are assured that they are there on solid foundational ground of faith alone in Christ alone unto eternal life - eternally secure and assured of that at the moment.