There seems to be a counterfeit for just about everything today. It used to be that as you walked down the streets of New York City, you encountered street vendors hawking “authentic” Rolex watches, designer purses, jewelry and other desirable wares. They looked great but they were cheap imitations of the real things.
One thing that cannot be duplicated is true spirituality. Once in a while, certain Christians become convinced, “To truly honor God, we need to go back and adopt the customs and observances of the early church.” So they institute all the known programs of the apostolic church from the disciples’ day. They install elders, deacons and bishops and then set in “divine order” the ordinances of baptism and communion precisely as the early church did — but it is all just a copy, a dead religion without the Holy Spirit.
Much of modern religion thinks that if they impart knowledge of the scriptures and biblical principles to people, they will become spiritual. People attend Bible school or seminary, where they learn the scriptures and are taught to preach, baptize and administrate. They are shaped into theologians, pastors, and missionaries, but the fact remains that no person or institution has the power to produce spirituality in someone. Only the Holy Spirit does that.
The spirituality produced by the Holy Spirit is a deep, unseen work within the heart. Paul says, “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). In the context of this passage, Paul is speaking of sufferings, saying, in essence, “Only the Holy Spirit knows all the things we face. And this is where true spirituality is manifested — in the crucible of suffering.”
Not everyone who suffers becomes spiritual; many end up bitter and hard, mad at God and the world. But those who submit to the leading of God’s Spirit, facing afflictions with confidence that the Lord is producing something in them, emerge from their crucible with strong faith.