Spiritual High vs. True Salvation
Hi Everyone! My name is Casey Bowden, and I’m the youth pastor of the church Austin attends. He asked me to do a guest piece for his blog about the difference between a “spiritual high” and true salvation.
Oooh boy…where to start? The elusive “spiritual high” is so intensely sought-after that one could appropriately associate it with the physical effects of common drugs: people will do increasingly radical things to get back to the high, they will neglect all good sense and the admonitions of mature Christians, and even abandon what they know to be good and true just for the sake of the high. To be sure, anyone who has walked with Jesus Christ for some time understands that these moments of wonderful elation often accompany focused worship; but, again, anyone who has walked with Jesus Christ for some time knows that these are “moments.” Let’s look a little more deeply at what people are chasing when they seek the “spiritual high,” versus what mature Christians constantly pursue.
First, to dig in to the “spiritual high,” let’s turn to Acts 8:9-24. I won’t take the time to write out the entire section here, but do take a moment to read the account for a fuller understanding. The Lord sent Philip to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of Samaria, and many came to trust in God through his ministry. One man is of particular note—Simon, a magician, was a major celebrity around town in his day. He was used to the rapt attention of his fellow citizens as he performed magical acts that earned him the reputation of “the Great Power of God” (vs. 10). When Philip entered the scene, truly filled with the great power of God in the person of the Holy Spirit, Simon’s stock fell dramatically among the people. For the first time, the people of Samaria were confronted with the difference between an imitation of power (Simon) and actual power (Philip as empowered by the Holy Spirit). Philip’s ministry among the Samaritans was so markedly unique that Simon himself believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (vs.13), and followed Philip to see the “signs and great miracles” he performed. Everything seems fine at this point, but Simon’s true heart is revealed in a request made to the apostle Peter in verses 18-19, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying ‘Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’” Do you see how Simon attempted to manipulate the situation by suggesting that both the apostles and he would be satisfied with this proposition? What Simon really wanted, however, was not a city filled Spirit-empowered people for the good work of the Gospel, but the restored ability to amaze his neighbors once again. Simon had gone from wealthy celebrity, to exposed fraud overnight—and through the apostles, he saw an opportunity to regain his previous status. His plan failed miserably…”But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.’”
When people seek out a religious high, they’re guilty of the same sin as Simon the magician—they’re trying to bribe God into pouring out His Spirit so they can feel good for a while. Increasingly few people come to the Lord to worship Him in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Look around you next time you’re at a Christian concert or even a church gathering….see those people with passionate faces and arms stretched toward the heavens? How transformedare they? When the music stops or it’s time to leave the altar, is the love and life of Jesus Christ still as plainly evident on their faces and in their actions? What did they really seek with all their hearts, minds, and strength—God or an emotion? What’s their purpose in pouring out so many tears and so much sweat—is it to gain a more intimate relationship with their Creator, or to produce a show of spiritual life? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not against lifted hands, tears, and other demonstrations of love for the Lord, but those things are only valuable when the outside truly matches the inside.
What does real salvation look like then? Luke 18:13, “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” The first characteristic of salvation is humility. It’s recognizing that you are in such a lowly state of desperation you need a Savior. Yes, a lot of good things and even good feelings accompany salvation, but a person humble enough to admit his need for redemption is not bent on having a good time. Rather, that person is set on thanking and glorifying the One who saved him.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 nicely sums up the difference between those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ and those who merely seek the spiritual high, “The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.” When you come before the Lord in worship, what’s your goal? Are you wise enough to be humble and grateful for how the Lord has rescued you from the terrible darkness of sin? Or, are you foolish enough to think that a few moments of pleasure could ever substitute a true knowledge of Jesus Christ?
I asked Casey to write this because I see so many teens daily at school who have just had a “spiritual high” and they think they are truly saved. However, they have no real relationship with Jesus Christ. That really saddens me. When Jesus tells the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, he speaks of those who received the message, but their hearts (soil) was rocky. They had no root and the seed was scorched. We were talking about that in Sunday School this past week and it really hit home with me. When the “spiritual high” was gone, those people, since they have no root, aren’t committed and their faith doesn’t last. When you only have a “spiritual high,” you will quickly return to the things of the world. That’s what I saw in the people at school. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking of some specific people now from my school. I was there when they had their “encounter.” They were at the altar bawling their eyes out. But it didn’t last. I pray the Lord doesn’t give them peace until they come into a real relationship with Him.
I’ll leave you with the lyrics of a Christian rapper called, KB.
“I’ve seen the Lord, the same I’ll never be
Some say they seen the Lord, but live on casually
I don’t know what you saw, but the Lord ain’t what you’ve seen
Once you’ve really seen the Lord, you’re obsessed with what you’ve seen”
Posted on August 13, 2012, in Bible and tagged Bible, Biblical, Biblical Theology, Christ, Christian, Christian Theology, Christianity, Faith, good news of jesus, Holy Spirit, Jesus, jesus christ, Love, mature christians, person of the holy spirit, power of god, Relationships, Religion, Salvation, Spiritual, Spiritual High, spirituality, The Bible, theology, True, True Salvation, Truth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.