Here on the streets of New York City, you can buy a Rolex watch for fifteen dollars. As every New Yorker knows, these watches aren’t truly Rolexes. They are simply “knock-offs”—cheap copies of the original.
There seems to be a duplicate for just about everything today. But there is one thing that cannot be duplicated and that is true spirituality. Nothing that is truly spiritual can be copied. The Lord recognizes the work of his own hands—and he won’t accept a man-made duplication of any of his divine workings. Why? Because it’s impossible for man to duplicate what is truly spiritual. That is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. He’s constantly at work doing something new in his people. And there is no possible way for us to reproduce that work.
This is the big mistake of modern religion. We think if we merely impart knowledge of the Scriptures and biblical principles to people, they’ll become spiritual. But the fact remains—no person or institution has the power to produce spirituality in someone. Only the Holy Ghost does that.
Very little of the work God’s Spirit does in us can be seen. This is why truly spiritual people rarely look for outward evidence of his work. Paul says, “We look not 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 and afflictions. He saying, “No one knows all the things we face, except the Holy Spirit. And this is where true spirituality is manifested—in the crucible of suffering.”
Those who submit to the leading of God’s Spirit—who face their afflictions confident that the Lord is producing something in them—emerge from their crucible with strong faith. And they testify that the Spirit taught them more during their suffering than when all was well in their lives.
In all my years of walking with the Lord, I’ve rarely seen an increase in my spirituality during good times. Rather, any such increase usually took place as I endured hard places, agonies, testings—all of which the Holy Ghost allowed.
At one point in his walk of faith, Paul said, “The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me that bonds and afflictions await me” (see Acts 20:21–22). Indeed, throughout Paul’s entire life, his afflictions never let up. They just kept coming.
“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). According to Paul, our afflictions and difficulties produce eternal values in us. He’s saying, “The suffering we go through on this earth will probably last our whole lifetime. But that’s only momentary compared to eternity. And right now, as we endure afflictions, God is producing in us a revelation of his glory that will last forever.”