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January 21, 2018

The Inner Work: Is Spirituality Squishy and Subjective?

As a result of mysticism and falsehood there can be an aversion to dealing with the inner workings of the heart. Yet the Scriptures speak of this inner work often, even as it affirms the reality of God’s truth that exists whether we have an inner connection to it or not. Spirituality isn’t merely squishy and subjective. True spirituality deals with truth.

So the psalmist can say that God gets enjoyment, even delight “in truth in the inward being” and he teaches ‘wisdom in the secret heart’ (Psalm 51). There is the concern on God’s part that what occurs in the heart resonates with what is true or real or right.

JC Ryle wrote of the ‘mathematical parallelism’ that righteousness demands. Any lack of conformity to that is sin. And this need for parallel conformity to the truth and righteousness of God must be realized in the heart.

So there is an inward work in the heart, but it is far from a mystical ‘inner journey’. It is also far from the self-evacuation and attempted emptying of thought or consciousness. What God requires is exactly the opposite. It is an inward turning of the heart, the affections and attentions, toward what is real and true. It is a constant recalculating of the equations to test and prove that all of the principles involved are in their correct place and proportion.

The inward work is heart work, but it is not undefined and subjective. It is the systematic testing of the inward soul against the revelatory clarity of the Word of God, which is the revelation of truth and righteousness. It is then, the souls conformity to the living embodiment of this truth, even God, the Son— Jesus Christ.

Any lack of conformity, as a criminal sin, must be atoned for. But that is where Jesus Christ offers right standing to sinners (conformity of righteousness), as well as punishment absorption, like a sponge, (atonement for nonconformity). He also gives the promise of making us conform through the powerful inner working of his Holy Spirit. Though it is the task of a lifetime, it has a promised result, full conformity- that we will be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1.16).


If you are wanting to learn more about what it means to be holy in a crazy, unholy age, then join me at our annual Calvary Grace Conference February 5-6, Holiness: The Refiner’s Fire in a Facebook Age.

About Clint Humfrey

Pastor of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I'm married with three sons. Views expressed on this blog are my own.