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Are we Mystics?

January 21, 2016

The concept of “mystical” is rather nebulous to define. The dictionary defines mystical as a spiritual experience of something that cannot be directly perceived by the senses or emotions. John Denver sang about the mystical as a Rocky Mountain High. Those who walk on the beach during a beautiful sunset may feel something mystical, an unexplainable connection to something bigger in the universe. The mystical is not directly sensed, but is “felt”. A mystical experience can be attributed to many things: God, Satan, devils, angels, ghosts, aliens, spirits, premonitions or “a bit of underdone potato”. The mystical is not a definable emotion but often produces a sense of awe, wonder, fear or peace. The very nature of the mystical defies any rigid explanation.

The spiritual, as used in the Bible, is that which relates to the Spirit of God and the spirit of man. That which is spiritual is such because it reaches to the heart and soul of man. The spiritual necessarily involves the supernatural. The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin. That is a spiritual event. Conviction does not only take place in the intellect and the will. Conviction takes place in the heart and spirit. Conviction is not only a result of learning and reason. Conviction is the working of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. Conviction is a rational process and an intangible work of God.

Spiritual must not be confused with mystical. The mystical is that which has no substance and is believed to consist in the vague world of impressions and sensations. Spiritual is that which involves the part of man that relates to God. This does not occur through vague notions, but clear revelation. The experience of internal impressions do not equal genuine fellowship with God and are not reliable guides to determine God’s will. The Bible is the objective basis for evaluating one’s relationship with God and for directing the believer’s life.

The commandments are spiritual. The commandments are not at all vague or subjective. The commandments are clear, objective and declare themselves to be from God. The commands are spiritual, they have come through the Spirit of God and can only be obeyed by the power of the Spirit of God. This does not mean obedience is subject to individual interpretation or only takes place in the invisible, inner man. Obedience to the commands can be objectively measured and contains a very definite physical aspect. This physical aspect does not deny the spiritual substance.

Sadly, many Christians have replaced the spiritual with the mystical. The mystical Christian believes he has experienced God because the church service has had a unique emotional impact upon him. The mystical Christian experiences God through a variety of indefinable impressions. That which is spiritual in the Biblical sense of the term, is an objective reality. The mystical is by definition subjective. For too many Christians have replaced the definitive revelation of God through His Word with the sensation of an awareness of God or a feeling of the prompting of God.

The mystic believes the experience of the Divine is what brings him close to God. A moving worship service, powerful sermon, stirring drama or awesome sunset can produce feelings of transcendence which are mistaken for relationship with God. The ability to reproduce feelings of transcendence does not equal spiritual growth. Though the Christian life is not devoid of emotion it is not defined by feelings. True spirituality is seen in the mundane practices of Bible study and prayer, service and fellowship, learning and teaching. The spiritual life is not filled with dramatic and stirring internal experiences. The spiritual life takes place through the normal, God given means of growth. At times those means will feel more effective. At times those means will feel ineffective. Christianity is not a search for a feeling. Christianity is an obedient walk with God in the normal routines of life.

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