I’m spiritual but not religious = even the demons believe and tremble

“I am spiritual but not religious.”
Might be the same as…
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” -James 2:9.

Humans are masters at trying to rebuild spirituality over and over again in ways that keep themselves as the king.

Our modern world loves what I call “Twitter theology.” Simple one or two sentence statements that are catchy yet easy to misuse, misunderstand and misapply.

“I am spiritual but not religious.”

I too loved this one at first. It sounded like a battle cry against Pharisaism. However, the more I thought about it and the more I heard it used in the real world, something was amiss.
This wasn’t only a war against Pharisees. It is also war over what gets to compass our hearts. I think this simple axiom is accidentally making way for a new (it’s actually only new to us) type of spiritual pride.
Believe in and be amazed by God while refusing real humility.

When most people tell me they are spiritual but not religious they are acknowledging a higher power and are even emotionally moved by it. What they don’t want is to submit to anything but their own interpretation and preferred applications from their spiritual experiences. They want to be god of God. 

Humans are masters at trying to rebuild spirituality over and over again in ways that keep themselves as the king.

I wish “I’m spiritual but not religious” was simply a battle cry against Pharisaism but it’s not being used this way. It’s becoming a decree that acknowledges God while keeping a tight grasp on personal power. These people may not even see the pride in themselves because they are so emotionally moved by the power and presence of God.

Here is the clue.

The person that reads the Bible and says things like, “I don’t like the parts about sex but I was in awe of God during that worship set.”… is beginning to lean towards James 2:9. To believe in and be impressed by a spiritual power is not the same as submitting to it.  It appears that this type of spirituality is becoming the new witch and warlock. They are enamored by the power, but desire to master it rather than be mastered by it. Is this not very similar to Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8?  This new pride-centered spirituality is raising “believers” that have rejected the real intention of Scripture, Christian community, Christian history and ultimately the way we are supposed to come to Christ. Consider how different this is from the repeated metaphor the Apostle Paul uses, “Paul, a slave/servant (doulos) of Christ Jesus…” Romans 1:1

Humans are masters at trying to rebuild spirituality over and over again in ways that keep themselves as the king.

The way we are saved is not by admitting that God exists, or even being impressed by Him. The way we are saved is by making Jesus Christ King of our lives. Everything submits to Him and His kingdom. Even when people say “relationship over religion,” if there is a dethroning of Christ it isn’t Christianity. We don’t date Jesus. We bow before the king. We don’t make prenups in salvation, we give everything to Him.

We have so bought into this way of thinking, some now call any statements against our personal spiritual preferences “spiritual abuse.” Yes, some Christians misrepresent Christ. The truth is, all Christins misrepresent Christ. The problem is some misrepresent Him in detrimental ways. However, if someone absolutely butchers Für Elise we don’t blame Ludwig van Beethoven. We know when it is played rightly, it’s beautiful.  Let the original masterpiece master you. My heart breaks for people and spiritual abuse is real, but so is pride. It just happens to be that pride is popular. Don’t justify weaponizing personal pride. It will backfire. You are choosing yet another flawed king, yourself. The only way out of this mess is full submission to love itself, Christ. You let the masterpiece master you.

Every powerful denominational leader… submit to Christ.
Every pastor… submit to Christ.
Every elder… submit to Christ.
Every political leader… submit to Christ.
Every lay person… submit to Christ.
Every hurt person… let Jesus lift you up! 

My friends, humans are masters at trying to rebuild spirituality over and over again in ways that keep themselves as the king.

After hearing the way the phrase “I’m spiritual but not religious” has been used, I have changed my mind. I am an advocate for right religion. If by religion you mean Christ as King and His kingdom as the prime good that I submit to and joyfully work to display to the world, then I am religious.

What does real submission to love look like? Here is a great place to start: https://mcolaw.wordpress.com/2022/08/30/the-problem-with-love/

Published by

Mike & Leslie Colaw

Husband, father, pastor. I work here www.encountertrinity.com. Wrestle through ideas here www.luke117.com. I don't have all the answers, but I love the journey searching for them!

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