True Spirituality is Absolution and Faith.

"[Jesus] breathed on His [disciples] and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:22a-23.

What does it mean to be spiritual? Because the Church has in her calendar the Season of Pentecost, namely the Sundays after the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-18), this question is a good question. Also, because in modern times there are so many other competing claims to spirituality, both religious and non-religious, the question is also a good question.

So what does it mean to be spiritual? What is genuine spirituality? According to Christ, true spirituality is Absolution. Jesus says in John 20:21: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Here Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to His disciples. And so here we have what it actually means to be spiritual, because here the Holy Spirit is given to men.

Jesus then gives the reason for giving the Holy Spirit: Absolution. Jesus says:

"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:23

True spirituality then is Absolution, whether applied to ourselves or to our neighbor (Galatians 6:1).

The tools of spirituality are Christ's Word and Sacraments. In Holy Baptism, the Word and the Lord's Supper we find forgiveness or Absolution of all sins:

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38)

"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:23

"This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28

The great Reformer Martin Luther writes:

"Thus we confess: 'I believe in the Holy Spirit and the holy Christian Church.' With these words we affirm that the Holy Spirit dwells with Christendom and sanctifies it, namely, through the Word and Sacrament, through which he works faith in it and the knowledge of Christ. Those are the tools and the means through which He continuously sanctifies and purifies Christendom. This also makes Christians holy before God, not by virtue of what we ourselves are or do but because the Holy Spirit is given us." Luther's Works, American Edition, Vol. 24, p. 168.

True spirituality lies then in the continuous use of Christ's Word and Sacraments through which Christ's Spirit continually sanctifies Christians through the remission of sins and, as Luther notes, faith which receives such Absolution and Righteousness of Christ. St. Paul writes:

"For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17

And sinners are justified or made righteous or made holy or sanctified by faith. St. Paul writes:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28.

Likewise in the Small Catechism of the Lutheran Church reads:

"What does such baptizing with water signify? It signifies that the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lust and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God inrighteousness and purity forever." (Also see Romans 6:3-7)

And this true spirituality of Absolution and faith gives the Wisdom of God. St. Paul writes:

"But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yea he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." I Corinthians 2:15-15.

The Spirit of Absolution, namely the Holy Spirit who makes sinners Holy through the Free Forgiveness of All Sins for Christ's Sake (Absolution), delivers God's Wisdom because in the first place He is the Spirit of God's Wisdom, Jesus Christ, and finally because He is called the Spirit of Wisdom by the prophet Isaiah:

"And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD ... ." Isaiah 11:2
And a truly spiritual people bless not only themselves with Christ's Absolution, but also their neighbor. St. Paul writes:

"Bretheren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness ... ." Galatians 6:1a

This spiritual work of restoring one's neighbor through Absolution the Confessions of the Lutheran Church call the preaching of the Gospel in Christ's Word and Sacraments:

"...the power of the keys administers the Gospel through absolution, which [proclaims peace to me and] is the true voice of the Gospel, [the word of absolution ... is the Gospel itself]. Thus we also comprise absolution when we speak of faith, because faith cometh by hearing, as Paul says Rom. 10:17. ... Thus faith is conceived and strengthened through absolution, through the hearing of the Gospel, through the use of the Sacraments, so that it may not succumb while it struggles with the terrors of sin and death." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XII [V] paragraphs 39, 42, 43.

In an age of competing, phony and spurious spiritualities it is especially important to know that genuine and true Spirituality lies in the Work of the Holy Spirit in Christ's Word and Sacraments. The Confessions of the Lutheran Church declare:

"Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments." The Smalcald Articles, Article VIII, paragraphs 10, 11.

True spirituality then lies in the Holy Spirit's work to sanctify sinners daily through Absolution and faith. Through this Genuine Spirituality, sinners are made wise unto salvation, the life everlasting and the resurrection from the dead.