Marks of a Spiritual Christian – Ezekiel 36:24-27

If we took a survey using the question, “What is the best color to paint your car?” we’d get a lot of answers. But if we somehow were able to ask Henry Ford, he’d give us but one answer – “black!” And a century ago his answer would have been the right one – the only one.
And if we took another survey asking the question, “What are the characteristics of a SPIRITUAL man?” Again, we’d likely get a variety of answers. But if we want the right answer, we would have to talk to the expert – the Holy Spirit. I’m going to try to answer that question myself, but in many ways, it will only be my opinion. Someone says, “A spiritual man is the one who talks about the holy Spirit all the time.” “No,” says another, “he’s the person who talks about the Saviour, the church, and saving grace – because the Spirit doesn’t talk about Himself.” Some else suggests – “The Spiritual man prays well – especially in public – long and a lot.” Someone says, ”The Spiritual person smiles a lot.“ Someone else says, ”No, he doesn’t smile at all; he is very, very serious.” “He quotes the Bible; he doesn’t own a TV; he makes his wife home-schools his kids.” “He doesn’t dance, he doesn’t smoke or chew, and he doesn’t date the girls that do.” Then someone else says, “Spiritual boys don’t date at all.”
The truth is, we may find nearly all of these things in a truly spiritual child of God…. And then again, we might find them in a lost Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon. The things that I just said could be applied to Christians, Pharisees, Sadducees or Roman Catholics. And then again, we might find only some of them in a truly spiritual Christian.
Spirituality resides in the heart rather than in the hands, feet or mouth. And as such it is only the Lord who can testify to the true state of a man’s spiritual condition. I know that our text in Ezekiel applies most directly towards Israel and in a somewhat future day. But the principles apply to God’s saints in any age and among any ethnic community. And obviously, true spirituality can only be found in the person who has been born again – verses 24-25. “I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” The heart is the key to spirituality – verses 26-27. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
TO BE a truly spiritually-minded person should be a desire of every one of us. Someone spiritual is not outwardly disobedient to the will of the Holy Spirit; he is submissive to the Spirit, and directed by the Spirit. On the other hand, just because someone looks good, and it looks like he is serving the Lord, that isn’t proof that he is actually close to the Lord. A really good gospel preacher may not actually be a spiritually-minded person. Just because some has swept out a few cobwebs doesn’t mean that his mud shack is fit for the King. God spoke to Samuel and said, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; Because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
For self-evaluation purposes only, what are some of the desires of the heart in the Spiritually-minded soul? I am not supplying you with criteria with which to judge your neighbor. This is for self-judgment only. What are some of the characteristics of a Spiritually-minded person – particularly in the light of our current lack of church attendance?
In such a person there is more desire to be HOLY than to be HAPPY.
I have often pointed out that there is a difference between happiness and joyfulness. Joy is a gift from God; it is something which is eternal; it endures all the trials that earthly life sends us. As long as our fellowship with the Lord is strong, we will enjoy joy. Happiness on the other hand depends on circumstances, and so it is variable – and vulnerable. The Holy Spirit is the source of Christian’s joy; joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. But our neighbor is happy because he found $1,200 in his bank account the other day – a gift from a self-seeking government. He is happy because he bought himself a new set of water skis with that money, and it looks like summer isn’t far away. He’s happy because his girl friend said “yes.” The stock broker may be happy today because the market is ripe for buying, but tomorrow he may be in the pits of depression once again. The child is happy because his friend broke curfew and came to see him, but ten minutes after his arrival they’ve had a quarrel, and the little boy is angry and pouting. Happiness comes out of the soul or flesh, while joyfulness is linked to Godand is found in the spirit. In fact, the Spiritually-minded person is more concerned with the Holy Spirit than with happiness. And that means that he is more concerned with holiness than happiness.
Now, someone may get confused in this, thinking that perhaps there is sin in being happy. There have been, and still are, religions and branches of Christianity which think this way. But it is no more a sin to be happy than it is it a sin to be healthy. It is not a sin to be happy that a loved-one successfully passed through this virus. Similarly, it is no sin to be smart or well-educated. Neither is it a sin to be rich, or to be happily married, enjoying the temporal blessings of God. If the Lord provides you with wealth or health, say “amen,” and give praise to God. But any of the things I’ve just mentioned can become idolatrous desires and goals, when they are placed above the Lord. These sorts of things are not the highest blessings in life. The spiritual man is more interested in the smile of God than he is in his own smile. And, again, that means that he will be more interested in holiness than happiness. He desires God’s will, God’s glorification and God’s smile above the things of earth.
Peter exhorts us: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” I think it would be Biblically permissible to temporarily change a couple of words in that verse: “But as he which hath called you is Heavenly, so be Heavenly-minded as you live upon this earth.” Or better yet, “But as he which hath called you is Spirit, so be ye Spiritual in all manner of conversation.” How do we convert that into our daily lives? The meaning of the verse swings on a very tiny hinge – “as.” The standard of our holiness, or our spirituality, even our joy, is the Lord Himself. Would Christ steal something in order to be happy? The spiritual man will therefore not steal. Would Christ lie? Would Jesus join the Masonic Lodge? The spiritual man will not join the lodge. Would Christ blaspheme? Would He cheat someone? Would He smoke marijuana? For whom would He vote? Yes, your vote can be an indication of your spirituality. What sort of things would the Saviour do? He’d seek first the Kingdom of God and His Father’s will. And in that He’d show the difference of between Himself and the world around him. “Go thou and do likewise.”
Holiness parallels joy, because both flow out of God’s salvation. As I say, the spiritually-minded man seeks holiness rather than happiness. He would rather maintain the Lord’s joy in his heart than to hold the junk of the world in his hand. He settles on eternal things rather than the pleasure of sin for a season. Because He is a citizen of a different kingdom; he has a Heavenly Father; hHe is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Another mark of that spiritual man is his willingness to DIE RIGHT rather than to LIVE WRONG.
What has the Christian to fear in death? Death is simply the door to a room that we’ve never entered before. ‘Tis a far, far better room than we have ever entered. Sure it may be a tight squeeze, and we will have to leave much behind to pass through, but it’s good to pass through.
But, someone says, “I get nervous thinking about the judgment seat of Christ.” Why do Christians get nervous about their future judgment before the Saviour? That judgment has nothing to do with their eternal condition; it’s not about Heaven or Hell. Our eternal destiny has been taken care of by the Lord Jesus at Calvary. The Bema Judgment is about our works and lives, not our soul and eternity. Why do we get nervous thinking about the judgment of our works and our lives? It is because we know that we are not as Christ-like and Spirit-filled as we ought to be. We are not as spiritual as we know that we should be.
The Spiritual man is not concerned with either death or judgment, because his current life pleases God. You might say that this is being rather nonchalant about death, and in a way you are right, but it’s okay. Let’s say that you’re on a long trip and you’ve been driving for a long time. As you come around a curve there is a State Patrol car, parked just off to the side of the road. You are now passing through the sphere of a very sophisticated piece of modern technology called “radar.” Do you immediately stomp on your brake and drop 15 mph? No, not you, because your car has cruise control, and you know that you were not going too fast. The Spiritually-minded soul doesn’t get overly concerned about death and the judgment seat of Christ, because his heart, mind and hand have been busy about the master’s work. I say in a good way – the spiritual-minded man is on spiritual cruise control – cruise control set precisely where the Lord wants it to be.
Of course, that saint hasn’t any business inviting or tempting death. But like Paul he possesses a willingness to depart and to be with the Christ whom he has been faithfully serving. To put it another way, the Spiritual man serves eternity while living in the present. By faith he rises up above the earth, and views things from God’s vantage point. He says, “This sounds good today, and it will also sound good a thousand years from now, so I am going to do it.” He says, “This sounds like it comes from God’s Word; it must be His will for me.”
What if some government declared it to be illegal for even two people to meet together for the purpose of broadcasting a Bible message to God’s scattered people? Obviously, that rule wouldn’t be designed to protect the public from any virus; it would be to protect an evil society from the truth of God. What if the Post Falls police department was empowered to break down the door and arrest the Fultons and Oldfields for what we are doing here tonight? We would have several options – We could take up arms and try to shoot any officer coming to arrest us. I think that would not only be futile, it would be spiritually unacceptable. We could flee to the mountains, which would be acceptable, but it would kill our purpose for being here tonight – we couldn’t any longer transmit these broadcasts. Or we could peacefully defy the law, accept the summons to meet a judge next week, but in the mean time continue to meet and suffer the legal consequences. I think that in the process we would be giving a testimony to our God and of our God-given responsibilities.
History is filled with accounts of men and women who were willing to suffer for the right things. What motivated them? They had purposed in their hearts to live according to the Word of God and to die if necessary. Not in an offensive jihad. But as the Savior did – as lambs before the shearers and slaughterers. And perhaps that is our greatest encouragement – the Saviour was the most Spiritual of all God’s servants. He endured much and gained everything. “For we reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
The Spiritual man desires to see the honor and MAGNIFICATION of the Lord at whatever the cost.
He prays: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Have you ever gone to the doctor, and he took that little hammer and rapped just under your knee cap? What did your leg do? Didn’t it automatically jump? What does it mean when there isn’t that reaction? It suggests nerve damage – some sort of internal problem. It means that there has been a broken connection between your brain and your foot.
The Christian ought to have a spiritual reflex similar to that one. There ought to be a connection between the Lord and your feet – your hands – your mouth – your brain. Every choice you make ought to bring glory to the Lord. Every movement you make ought to come from the Holy Spirit, who resides within you. The Spiritual man yearns for the glory of the Lord, as much as his lungs yearn for air. That sort of person redeems the time which the Lord has given him. He lets his speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. He does all things without murmuring and disputing.
He strives for ways to advance the Kingdom of God and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, even when society seems to hinder him or says that it is impossible. Are you a spiritually-minded person?