Before I get in to the deep stuff on this subject it’s important that we are speaking the same language or… that you that you understand the language I am writing in so to get on the same page with word-play I will spell out some simple descriptions here.
Spirit - Your spirit is the spiritual or supernatural side of you, it is not material, it is not visible, it’s not of this world, but it’s from God. In Genesis we see God breathed His spirit in to Adam which made him a living soul, no other living creature received this treatment of God giving them a spirit or His spirit (Gen 2:7). Because you have this you are able to interact with the spiritual world. It is what allows you to hear from God, to have faith for miracles, to see angels and smell demons etc. For the born again Christian the spirit is filled with the Holy Spirit and He works through our spirit to effect our natural world.
Soul - An easy way to conceptualize what happens in your soul is whatever happens in your brain. It’s also invisible like your spirit and contains your emotion, your will, your desires, sensory perception, conscious, and your reasoning or logic. Out of all our three parts I believe our soul was effected the greatest by sin. Now, because of sin, it is pointed inward, always consumed with the self unless it is willingly disciplines and kept in check. The soul decides what you want to do and send the signal to your physical body in order to act out your decisions.
Body - Our body is the physical shell in which we reside on Earth, when we die our true self, our spirit, leaves the body behind and passes on to judgment (HEB 9:27). Out body is completely material composed of atoms, it works via electric signals and chemical reactions that connect with our soul (or brain). Your body is not who you are, it is merely shell that allows your spirit to interact with the physical realm.
This is what faithful Christians should strive to be, they should fight to conform their being in to the alignment as presented in the above chart. Why? Because we cannot live our life out of our soul, it can’t be trusted as it is subject first and foremost to sin and selfishness. Therefore, we are to live our life out of or by our spirit which in turn is our two way connection to God.
But what does this way of living look like?
The Spiritual man (or woman) does not consult with his own reasoning or understanding when it comes to God doing the impossible, this is faith.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
The Spiritual man realizes the greater reality beyond this natural or physical world.
2Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Galatians 6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
The Spiritual man actively lives out his allegiance to his true identity as a child of God, as a traveler through this world, and as a citizen of heaven.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
1Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
This may also be called the Soulish man, if you have ever heard the term “soulish Christian” it is referring to this, someone who lives according to their carnal mind (soul). This is a very dangerous thing to do especially if you claim to be a Christian. Living out of your soul is how the world operates so by it’s very nature being soulish is living how the world lives (Rom 12:2). As you push yourself further and further to live a more Christlike life you will experience something inside of you fighting back, it wants to return to the old, comfortable way of life. This is your soul, it is bound to rebel and must be controlled via discipline. Disciplining yourself tells your flesh who’s boss and who’s in control (God), it can be done through various methods of self control.
Have you ever known a Christian that constantly struggled with returning to old sins, in fact there wasn’t much of a struggle – they have about a 3 week shelf life of spiritual maturity. After this period they grow stale and stinky again reverting to old ways, often becoming worse off than before. They also have this ability to convince themselves that they hear from God time to time when in reality it was just their imagination which comes from your soul. It’s similar to the bipolar disorder – at varying speeds one will go between Manic which is extremely happy and positive and then Depressive where they become as dark and hopeless as possible sucking the life out of all around them. This is like some soulish Christians that try to grow but end up replacing their spirit with their soul. They will have periods of “growth” which are fueled by emotion and hype all to crash in to a “death” period where they either give up, hide from God, or revert to old ways.
2Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
I have known many young Christians who grow soulishly and not spiritually, they are led astray by their emotions thinking it was God, and by their desires thinking “This is the One God wants me to marry…” This is the poster child of a soulish Christian.
Christ As Our Example
We have heard it time and time again that Jesus was the perfect role model for how to live the Christian life, and I completely agree. Now take that and look at it in the context of what I’ve been writing about. Jesus did not act on His own urges, emotions, or will. He acted only upon what His Father wanted Him to do. His actions and mind was perpetually linked to do only what God would do. If His mind wanted something contrary to God’s mind, than He would lay down His own desire and act upon God’s will.
This is exactly how we should live. If something contradicts what we have read in the Word we rebel against our flesh and do God’s will.
2Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
We should say every day what Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done”.
Over Spiritualizing Problems
As I have written about before Demons can be the source of many problems in life concerning sins, struggle, and bondage. However as with the medical mis-diagnosing the problem leads to further complications. Not all problem you encounter in life are caused by evil spirits out to get you. You need to develop a Biblical worldview of sin and the spirit world along with discernment in order to tell if a problem is due to your sinful nature inside of you or a nasty spirit.
If the problem is a demon you cast it out, if it’s your flesh you crucify it. You can’t cast out your flesh but you must always crucify it.
The Salvation Deception
There is a nasty little lie floating around Christian churches in the West that after the moment of salvation all of your struggles against your soul or flesh will be diminished, so much so that you can overcome them all on your own unlike never before. While this is true with some sinful desires in certain individuals who experience what some call “radical salvations” it does not happen to everyone. So after the happy encouraging salvation message the person frolics home to find that not only has their sinful ways of the past diminished but in some cases the temptation is greater, the persecution is more intense, and their is more reason to doubt than ever before.
My point: the discipline of your flesh is daily, no, it’s from moment to moment, decision to decision. You’ve got to willingly re-steer your soul and spirit to line up with God’s spirit. One simple decision is not going to pave the path of perfect living in this world (it will for the next world but we’re not their yet). The killing of your own fleshly desires must happen every day, every hour, and in every decision.