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What Is Spirituality? Can I Be Spiritual Without Religion?

The Bible’s answer

As the term is used in the Bible, spirituality can be described as a deep desire and willingness to please God and adopt his way of thinking. A spiritual person strives to live his life in harmony with God’s values and under the direction of His holy spirit. *Romans 8:5; Ephesians 5:1.

The Bible often uses contrasts to explain spirituality. For example, unlike a spiritual person, “a physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God,” or God’s teachings. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) In contrast with spiritual people, fleshly people are prone to “jealousy and strife” rather than generosity and peace. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) And those whose speech slanders and separates close friends are called “animalistic men, not having spirituality.”—Jude 19; Proverbs 16:28. *

In this article

 Where does spirituality come from?

We have the capacity for spirituality because we are made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) Thus, it is not surprising that most people have some appreciation and a yearning for things that are not material or physical.

We have an inborn ability to display qualities like those of Jehovah * God, such as peace, mercy, and impartiality. (James 3:17) Further, God strengthens the spirituality of those who strive to obey his commands.—Acts 5:32.

 Why is spirituality important?

Spirituality leads to “life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) These gifts from God have value beyond compare.

  • Life: God promises to grant everlasting life to spiritual people.—John 17:3; Galatians 6:8.

  • Peace: This is peace with God. Those who focus only on their physical needs are enemies of God. (Romans 8:7) Further, God rewards those who cultivate spirituality with “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Such inner peace helps them to find happiness in life.—Matthew 5:3.

 How can I develop spirituality?

  • Learn and obey God’s commands. You can do this by reading the Bible, which contains God’s thoughts as recorded by men who “were moved by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) What you learn will help you to worship God “with spirit and truth,” guided by holy spirit and in harmony with God’s will.—John 4:24.

  • Pray for God’s help. (Luke 11:13) God will help you to display the qualities that identify a spiritual person. (Galatians 5:22, 23) It can also give you the wisdom to deal with life’s challenges.—James 1:5.

  • Associate with spiritual people. They will encourage you to build your spirituality. (Romans 1:11, 12) In contrast, associating with people whose thinking conflicts with that of God can erode your spirituality.—James 4:4.

 Do I need religion to be spiritual?

Simply belonging to a religion does not make a person spiritual. The Bible says: “If any man thinks he is religious but does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he is deceiving his own heart, and his worship is futile.”—James 1:26, footnote.

Even so, the Bible shows that spiritual people worship God in the way that he approves. They acknowledge that there is only “one spirit”—God’s holy spirit. That spirit moves them to worship God as “one body,” a congregated group that maintains “the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”—Ephesians 4:1-4.

 Misconceptions about spirituality

Misconception: Spirituality includes any path to self-fulfillment or achieving a person’s full potential.

Fact: The Bible refers to spirituality as a way of life guided by God’s thoughts. It does not promote self-fulfillment independent of God. Spiritual people find fulfillment by acknowledging Jehovah as their Creator and living in harmony with his purpose.—Psalm 100:3.

Misconception: A person can develop spirituality by practicing extreme self-denial or inflicting pain on himself.

Fact: Harsh treatment of one’s own body is “a self-imposed form of worship” and a form of fleshly thinking. (Colossians 2:18, 23) The Bible links a life of spirituality, not with pain, but with joy.—Proverbs 10:22.

Misconception: Any connection with the spirit realm, including spiritism or spiritualism, promotes spirituality.

Fact: One form of spiritism, sometimes called spiritualism, is the belief that the spirits of dead people can communicate with the living. However, the Bible teaches that the dead are unconscious. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Spiritism is actually communication with spirit creatures who are opposed to God. Spiritism angers God and prevents a person from being spiritual.—Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:11, 12.

Misconception: All creatures possess an innate spirituality.

Fact: Everything God created brings honor to him. (Psalm 145:10; Romans 1:20) However, only God’s intelligent creatures can develop spirituality. In contrast, animals act on instinct and cannot establish a friendship with God. Their actions are mainly driven by their physical needs. (2 Peter 2:12) Thus, the Bible contrasts spirituality with animalistic thinking and behavior.—James 3:15; Jude 19.

^ par. 1 The original-language words in the Bible translated “spirit” have the basic meaning of “breath.” Their extended meanings refer to something that is invisible but gives evidence of force in motion. The Bible describes God as the Supreme Spirit Being. A spiritual person chooses to be guided by God’s will and His holy spirit.

^ par. 2 In the Bible the terms “fleshly” and “physical” when applied to humans refer to people whose thinking and actions are mainly driven by their bodily or physical needs, with little or no regard for God’s standards.

^ par. 4 Jehovah is God’s name as revealed in the Bible.—Psalm 83:18.