God works holiness in His people. It is the very holiness of Christ Himself, exotic to us, but working in us none the less. Spirituality does not have degrees. One Christian is not more spiritual than the next. A person is either in the flesh or he is in the spirit (Romans 8:9). He is either saved or lost. The manifestation and experience of spirituality is always to some extent immature in this life. It never reaches its potential here. There are certain conditions of our being that affect our spiritual maturity for good or ill.
1. We are born with bodies that are not yet redeemed. Even after the New Birth our bodies still have the pre-installed settings that dispose us to tuning in to the here and now. That means that there is a built in reaction to the world around us much like the training built into a premiere athlete. His muscles are trained to react in a certain way when certain circumstances prevail. Just so, but much more deeply, our minds are trained to respond to the impulses of a body that is born to live in the flesh.
2. Worldly thoughts, secular mindsets, godless world views, false religions and humanistic philosophies surround our thinking processes. The very way we are trained to think (or not) fashions an ungodly tendency of reflection. We in the West, are being trained to reason in ways that are not based in reason.
3. Satanic powers are loose in the world that amplify and validate this worldly thinking. They are always present to tempt us to sin and to lead our thinking astray. They validate the false, emphasize the unimportant, amplify the sensual and degrade holiness. Their whole purpose is to defeat God’s purpose (but they can’t win).
4. The ability to control our thinking and meditate on things infinitely larger than ourselves has largely been lost. Just to sit quietly and think on God is a skill foreign to even our Christian culture. It is much easier to dwell on things below you than to think on things infinitely higher than you.
In spite of all of this the Lord leads His children on to Christlikeness. It is His relentless purpose and He is ruthless in pursuing it. He is going to make His children like Jesus in their inner man. God is fashioning a temple out of each of us. From it and through it he is determined that His glory shall shine. To be made like Christ is to be made like God for Christ is the very image of God, and to reflect the image of God was the original purpose of humanity in the first place.
For some it takes tragic loss and extreme privation for the old ways to be seen and forsaken. For others it may be years of chronic pain or mental anguish. Still others are made transparent temples of God’s grace and character through merciless persecution. Even for the few to which Christlikeness seems to come easy when you look beneath the surface, you find hidden crosses doing their chiseling work.
All of this is done to lift our minds and our hearts to something higher, better, more noble than the things of this sin cursed world. They are to lift us away from ourselves up to God and to make us know that God has a purpose. They call us away to contemplate the work of God for us and the work of God in us. They make us gaze at an object of worship that loses us in wonder and awe. And by doing that God works holiness in His people.
2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Romans 8: 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.