God Sweeps Away all Obstacles
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The Holy Spirit Destroys the Works of the Devil
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. Let us pray. Dear Father, we trust you to explain this clearly to each one of our hearts in such a way that we will submit to the victory of Jesus and of the dear Holy Spirit, and that we will become sons of God in spirit and in truth. We ask this for Jesus’ glory this morning. Amen.
You remember, we said that the reason the Son of God appears was to destroy the works of the devil. In other words dear ones, the Son of God appeared to takeaway sins. I think a lot of us feel he came maybe to save us in the midst of our sins, but we saw that even at the very point of conversion Jesus comes to take away our sins. So a man or a woman is burdened with an angry word that he speaks in his life and in his home, and God’s Spirit comes down and shows that those are the same angry words that destroyed the Son of God on the cross of Calvary. Or, a man begins to sense that there is dishonesty and deception in his business and he sees that that same deception of Jacob was what made it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. Had there been no deception in the world Jesus would never had to die. So that in a real sense his deception kills the Son of God.
He sees the sarcasm, and the cynicism in his language in his own home, and he sees that that same sarcasm, cynicism, and jibes was what helped to destroy the Son of God as the priest looked at him and said, “Save yourself and come down from the cross.” And even a dear one at the very moment of conversion sees that the sins that fill his life or her life have destroyed the Son of God. And so they see that if they are to be related to the Father again in forgiveness, and that is what real forgiveness is, the Father says, “Come and I will treat you as you were with me before the fall.” And before the Father is able to relate you to himself like that, the dear one sees that he must turn from those sins.
So he must turn from the sarcasm, he must turn from the deception, he must turn from the anger and in that way Jesus saves them even at the point of conversion from his sins, from his outward acts and words that disobey God. So dear ones, it’s impossible to have the assurance, the witness of the Spirit in your heart that you are a child of God while you still continue acts and words that destroy Jesus. It’s just impossible. The Father cannot have you in his own heart. He cannot show you his favor. You cannot expect the Father to be pleased with those who continue to hurt his Son.
So even at conversion dear ones, it is necessary to turn from the acts and words that destroyed the Son of God. And of course, God comes down in grace and forgives you, and you have a sense of freedom from guilt in your conscious because you know that from now on the blood of Jesus can be offered for your sins. Do you see that you cannot offer blood that you spill yourselves? Do you see that?
You can’t thrust the sword of your angry word into the side of the Lord Jesus and take the blood that comes out and offer it to God and say, “Be pleased with that Father, do not look at my sinful life.” You can’t dear ones. The only time the blood can be offered to Jesus on your behalf in place of your death is when you stop spilling his blood. And so it’s necessary, even at the point of conversion to have an experience of Jesus destroying the works of the devil in your life, in your
outward life. And you remember how we went on to say that soon after that you began to sense that all sin was not gone.
You began to sense that – well, to take the example of the dear one with the new dress, she came home and she said, “Look at the new dress I bought,” and you know what the bank account is like and you hold back the word, you don’t say, “Love, that was stupid. That was stupid you know the state of the account. You know we couldn’t afford it.” You hold back that but within you there rises up the desire to say that and you feel, “Does she know what she’s doing? Has she no sense? Has she no sense or responsibility?”
Dear ones that is sin. Now, that is sin. There’s no point in saying, “Ah brother, no you’re mistaken it’s only sin when it comes out,” or, “It’s only sin when it begins to get a grip.” Dear ones, if there’s a rising within that’s sin and the glory of the gospel is that through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit you’re able to be free from the rising. Ah dear ones, I would that I could say that to you more plainly, but do you see even when the dear one says, “Look at the dress and you rise up within and you want to tell her,” that is sin because salvation at its lowest is salvation from sin and salvation at its highest is salvation from the inclination to sin. Even the bent to be unchristlike, God can save you from that and so it’s not long we said, until the Holy Spirit begins to convict a Christian of that.
It’s not because of the inward sin that is in his heart, because it eventually breaks out into open sin and he starts this long train of confessions and repentances day, after day, after day. So soon he begins to realize that this sin has to go too and there he sees that it’s not a question of forgiving it, it’s a case of destroying it. And the Bible of course says that sin, or our old self, or our old man, or that desire for our own way and our own rights that was crucified with Jesus.
And there comes a blessed time in a Christian’s life when he begins to see that sin within him that anger, and irritability, and anger, and jealousy. That desire to have his own way. That desire to rule over other people’s life as enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can it be and he cries out, “The good that I would I cannot do and the evil I do not want is what I do.” And then he sees that that self was crucified with Jesus and that the Holy Spirit is asking him, “Are you ready to be crucified with Jesus yourself? Are you ready to die to self from this day forward and live only to what Jesus wants in your heart?”
And there comes a great day when it’s like a dear one whose lungs have given up and they’re put on the artificial lung machine, and they give up their own lungs and they’re utterly dependent on the artificial machine. And if it stops they stop living. If it doesn’t give them resources they have no resources to live by and the dear one changes the source of his motivation and he turns from that old self and he puts it on the cross once and for all. Allows the Holy Spirit to make that crucifixion real in his heart and then he begins to live on the basis of the Holy Spirit and he begins to depend desperately, and trust and obey the Holy Spirit like an artificial lung machine that he cannot do without. And the dear one begins to walk in victory within.
And then you remember, we said yesterday that the Holy Spirit gives then power for service and he gives gifts. So you can see in a way that the Holy Spirit sanctifies you first in your outward life in the body in the acts and words, secondly, in the spirit inside in your spirit where you want to rule over your own life and over others and thirdly, he sanctifies you in your soul by supplying the resources that your soul once supplied. He supplies them by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now dear ones, after you’ve entered into conversion, the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, and the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit you’re ready to begin the deeper life. Now, do you see that? The deeper life doesn’t begin until then. While you’re still struggling with sin dear one, while you’re still fighting that battle within you’re not ready to begin the deeper life. The deeper life begins after a dear one has died to self, been cleansed by the Holy Spirit and been baptized with the Holy Spirit with the gifts of the Spirit. Then the dear one is ready to begin the deeper life and so really in a way the conference begins when we have entered into that.
So in a sense dear ones, if you have not experienced those steps well all of what we’re going to say is so much mental wisdom to you, you see, because you cannot enter into it until you’re at that point. Now dear ones, I council you to pray about that today so that you will seek to come to that point.
I’d like to just in the next three sessions, if possible, to deal with three aspects of the deeper life. First of all, the ministry, the Christian’s ministry in the spirit and then this evening, the Christian’s witness in the spirit, and then tomorrow morning the Christian’s fellowship in the spirit. And I think it is a very different kind of life and an exciting one. The one that God originally meant us to engage in, in the Garden of Eden. You remember, he said, “I want you now to allow my Holy Spirit from the tree of life, to pervade your mind, and your intellect, and your body, and to fill you completely, and to express himself through you freely.” Well, that’s the life we’re engaged on when we move into the deeper life, to allow the Holy Spirit to integrate all of us.
Now, would you like then dear ones, with the ministry and the spirit in mind, to look at Romans 1:9, and it’s only part of Verse 9. There’s so much in it I don’t think we could deal with it all but we can deal with that middle piece. Romans 1:9 and I’m sorry I just have the RSV here but I think you’ll be able to find the same clause in the King James. Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers.”
Now dear ones, there’s too much and really all we can take is, “Whom I serve with my spirit.” “Whom I serve with my spirit.” What is the ministry of the Christian? Well the ministry of the Christian is to serve God with his Spirit. I think it’s necessary first of all to see that the ministry of the Christian is not to do God’s work. The ministry of the Christian is not to do God’s work.
Now, you cannot do God’s work. Only God can do God’s work. Your ministry depends on God’s work but it is not to do God’s work. Now you see the distinction? You may say to me, “Now pastor, that’s only a matter of speaking? It’s only a manner of speaking we have when we say, ‘We’re doing God’s work.’” But dear ones, so often it tends to be a manner of thinking also, you see. Our Christian ministry depends on God’s work but does not consist of doing God’s work. Only God can do his work.
Now you can see this more clearly if you look at what God’s work is and Brother Elmer has been telling that to you plainly. John 16:8-11, this is God’s work and this is why no Christian ministry consists of doing God’s work, though all Christian ministries depend on God’s work. John 16:8-11, here is God’s work and this is specifically his work not ours, “And when he comes,” (when the Holy Spirit comes) “he will convince the world of sin and righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” That is God’s work, to convict the world of sin of righteousness, and of judgment.
Now, if you ever go in to minister as a Christian and no work of God has taken place in the dear one’s heart, you waste your time and deify yourself. So it’s vital dear ones, you see for a work to take place in a person’s heart before you actually speak to them. I remember that dear old white haired man that I told you of with the hole in the wall you remember, and the Holy Spirit making the hole if you jumped. He said, “You know you can do no witnessing unless a work of God has already taken place in the dear one’s heart.” And that’s true you see, right from before conversion, unless God has awakened them in some sense there’s no point in you saying anything.
So that’s why the Christian’s ministry depends on the work of God. But where the Christian goes in without a work of God taking place then all the attention is drawn to the Christian. So you know dear ones, there are many churches where all the attention is drawn to the building, or the preacher, or the choir, or the great preaching, or the power of the place. And that happens when the work of God is not central. But when the work of God is central and the Christian’s ministry depends on that, then this happens as it happened in Romans 1:8 if you look there.
They don’t thank God for the preacher, or for the choir, or the beautiful building, or for the many good people in the church but in Verse 8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.” Why? “Because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” In other words, where God’s work is taking place among people and the Christian’s ministry depends on that. The people’s faith is talked about. They’re expectancy for God to do mighty things and their trust that he will do mighty things. Those are the things that other people talk about. They talk about the people’s faith because faith of course is the gift of God and is not stirred up by great preaching, but is the gift that God gives to the people who are willing to submit to him.
So where God’s work is really taking place and the Christian’s ministry depends on that, then people’s faith is talked about. But where there is no work of God and Christian’s are trying to minister without a work of God, the people begin to talk about the preacher, or the great church, or the great choir, or all the wealth they have, or the possessions they have. So there is a real difference dear ones, one work will not last and the other work will last forever. You can see that’s true in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13.
1 Corinthians 3:12-13, there are two very definite kinds of work that are done under the ministry of Christians so-called. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13, “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble – each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.” And you can see that Christians can minister in two ways, you see without the work of God and trying to do the work of God, or with the work of God and depending on the work of God. And the one does not last and will be temporary, and the other lasts forever. And we want to build with precious stones not wood, hay, or stubble. So it’s important even with our sons and our daughters not to go in and do our own works in their hearts you see, but to be sure that God has done a work before we speak and then the work remains.
Dear ones, the second thing I think we should look at in the ministry of the Christian is there in Romans 1:9. First of all, the ministry of a Christian depends on God’s work but is not God’s work and then in Verse 9 that we read, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.” A Christian in his ministry serves God, he does not serve men. A Christian in his ministry does not serve men, he serves God.
Now we have a danger in these days of saying, “Well again, that’s only a manner of speaking brother.
We mean we’re serving God I mean, if you give a glass of water in my name you give it to the Lord Jesus.” But dear ones, the tendency seems to be in these days that we emphasis that we’re serving man and God fades from the picture. And the Bible puts it very bluntly that a Christian’s job in his ministry is to serve God and God must be foremost.
Now you can see another verse where that is present in Ephesians 6:7. Ephesians 6:7, this emphasis is present again, “Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men.” “Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men.” So we are called to serve God and not serve men. Do you see that there is a great danger that many of us who have had our sins forgiven and have been cleansed from inward sin, and have been baptized with the Holy Spirit will move out into self again in our ministry? Can you see that?
That many of us are tempted by the devil after we have had our sins forgiven and been cleansed from inward sin and self and been baptized with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There’s a great danger that in our ministry we will move back into self. And if we’re conscious first of serving men dear ones, that’s what happens. So there are many churches today, and you know it, which are bent on serving men and then end up men pleasers. The preachers end up men pleasers because they have to please the men that they’re serving. And they become preoccupied with the affect their preaching is having on the men that they’re preaching to. Or, they become preoccupied with the amelioration of social evils, and they say, “Our job is to serve men,” and I think it’s Fromke says, you know, “The liberals have a tendency to say what can be done by men to improve the world.”
And there’s a tendency in many of us to go that way. We say, “Well right enough we should be doing something about the Negro problem. We should be doing something about the race issue. We should be doing something about the gun law.” And suddenly we begin to change over to serving men and to trying to ameliorate a society that God has promised us is going to be destroyed. And so many dear ones in their Christian ministry are led into frustration and futility because they begin to serve men, and they begin to try to renew this world that only God can renew instead of turning to God and serving him through the saving of individual souls and the leading them into the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit and into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Instead of that, they begin to concentrate on serving society.
Now dear ones, the Bible says, “We are called to serve God and not to serve men.” Now you may say, and this is just the third part of what I would like to say this morning, “How do you know how you should serve God? And, how do you serve God? How can you serve God?” Well, you find the statement of how we serve God in 1 Corinthians 3, and maybe you would like to turn to it since it will be basic to what God can say to us this morning.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are fellow workers of God; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
I don’t know how the King James translates that dear ones. Can someone read the King James Version? I think it’s that word “with” that the sister read, the Greek is really “theou” which means of God. And the Bible emphasis is that not are we so much fellow workers with God, you know, equals walking along and Father you do a bit and I’ll do a bit, but we are fellow workers of God. We work together as fellow workers that belong to God.
God does his work and then he calls in workers to work together for him. So not so much you see, we are fellow workers with God but we are fellow works of God. God does his work and then we are called to work together on the basis of the work that he has done already. So it’s like a surgeon who is doing a heart transplant, he’s the one that does the heart transplant and he renews the dear heart in the person and he has nurses and other doctors and assistants around him. And as he does the work he requires assistants and each one must know what God wants them to do so he needs forceps at this time, so he needs a needle at this time, so he needs tissues at this time. And he calls from each one what he needs.
Now it’s in that sense that we are fellow workers of God. So God sees a dear one who is struggling under bondage of sin and he convicts that person of his sin and that dear one needs someone to explain to him what conviction is. And God calls one of his fellow workers and tells them, “Will you explain to him what conviction of sin is?” And you maybe meet that dear one and explain it. Then that dear one needs to go on from the forgiveness of sins to sanctification and God calls another of his fellow workers and says, “Would you go and reveal the message of inward victory to that dear one?” And maybe it’s you that are called this time. And so God is the great surgeon and he does the work and we are fellow workers of God. We do what he tells us.
You can see how vital it is to know when God tells you what to do. It’s vital dear ones to know what God tells you he wants you to do and when he wants you to do it. Now, how do you know that? Well let’s look to the verse of scripture that shows us. And you see it just over the page from that 1 Corinthians 3, it’s 1 Corinthians 2:11b and then Verse 9b-10. 1 Corinthians 2, how do you as a fellow worker, how do you as one who is to minister as minster of Christ, how do you know when you ought to minister and what you ought to minister? 1 Corinthians 2:11b, “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” In other words it’s the Spirit of God that’s the only one that knows.
Now look at Verse 9b-10, 10 especially, “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” Now, you know what God is thinking because God’s Spirit knows what God is thinking and is able to tell you. Now it’s important dear ones to see that this is part of the ministry in the Spirit, that your ministry is determined, and commanded, and directed by God’s Spirit. Now you may say, “Why all this mystic stuff? Why not just use your own mind that God has given you, and your feelings, and your good common sense, and do what you think ought to be done for God’s cause to forward the world?”
Well dear ones, let’s look at Moses who did that and let’s look at Exodus 2:10-15, and he did just what some of us think of suggesting and what I’m afraid many of us do in our Christian ministry. Exodus 2:10-15, he used his own native wit. He was committed to God and he wanted to do what God wanted but he decided to work it out for himself. Exodus 2:10-15, “And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, ‘Because I drew him out of the water.’ One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people,” the Israelites, “And looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, ‘Why do you strike your fellow?’ He answered, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid, and thought, ‘Surely the thing is known.’ When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.”
And there is old Moses using his own native judgment and his own native abilities, and you see what a glorious success he made of the task. He fled and ended up sitting down by a well. Now dear ones, if you carry out your Christian ministry on the basis of your own native wit and common sense, you will end up fleeing from the situation and sitting down by a well and being of no use to God.
Now, look at Moses when God’s own Spirit directed him. Exodus 3:1, “Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.” And then in Verse 7, “Then the LORD said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings.” The Spirit of God spoke to Moses and told him. Then in Verse 10, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel out of Egypt? But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’” And his own native wit rose again, “He said, ‘But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain.”
And then in Verse 20 you see the achievements of God continuing through Moses, “So I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt with all the wonders which I will do in it; and then he will let you go.” And so the message goes on into 30 and 31 of the next chapter where eventually the people are freed. And God’s mission is accomplished through God’s Spirit telling the co-worker of God what he ought to do.
In other words dear ones, there’s a difference between your ministry being directed by God’s Spirit who alone knows God’s thoughts and your ministry being directed by your own soulish powers. You see, just as there is a clear distinction between God’s Spirit and our spirit, you remember, we talked about the Garden of Eden and the tree of light through which God was going to pour the spirit of the begotten life into our spirits so that it would pervade all of our lives, our minds, and emotions.
Now as there is a difference between God’s Spirit and our spirit, Romans 8:16, “The Spirit of God witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.” There’s a distinction between them. So there is a distinction dear ones between the spirit and the soul that we have. You see, there is a distinction between our spirit and our souls. Now, you may question that and you may want to look at it more carefully so would you like to turn just to some of these passages?
First of all the most obvious one is 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and most of you perhaps know it by heart and don’t need to turn to it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now many of us read that and say, “Well that just means your body, you know, and all the spiritual part of you.” Now dear ones the word of God is precious and was inspired by the maker of the world so that the right words were given to us to convey the right meaning.
Now when the Bible makes the distinction between body, and soul, and spirit that distinction is there because we are loose in our use of language it does not mean that God is loose in the use of language. And God says “Body, soul, and spirit,” because he means that there is a distinction not only between body and soul but there is a distinction between soul and spirit.
In fact, you’ll see by the next reference that we take that it is vital for a Christian in his
ministry not only to know that there is a distinction between soul and spirit but actually to allow his soul and his spirit to be distinguished in his own life. It is essential for him to be able to see the difference in his own life and to know when he is listening to his spirit and when he is listening to his soul. Now you can see that in Hebrews 4 dear ones. Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit.” “Piercing to the division of soul and spirit.”
In other words, not only can you know that you have a soul and you have a spirit but the word of God is able, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of God’s word to distinguish for you between your soul and your spirit. And the Bible calls us to serve God with our spirits. Now, do you see the importance of it dear ones? We are called to serve God with our spirits not with our souls. And many of us are having failure in our own Christian ministry because we’re trying to serve God with the power of our own souls. And you know again, and again the Bible emphasizes this, worship with your spirit, pray with your spirit, serve with your spirit. The Bible emphasizes that we must pray, and worship, and serve with our spirits not with our souls.
Now you may say, “Well, what are our souls? What does our soul consist of?” Well, would you just be patient then and we’ll follow just a few references through and see it from the scripture and then we can apply it to our own hearts. 2 Peter 2:7-8, first of all our soul consists of these things. 2 Peter 2:7-8, “And if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds).”
Now he was distressed, he was vexed. You feel distressed and vexed when your emotions feel distressed and vexed. But the New Testament there says, “He was vexed in his righteous soul.” Now the soul consists first of all of our emotions. That’s one of the parts of the soul and that’s one of the things that we’re not called to serve God with first and foremost, with our emotions.
Now at times we do serve God with our emotions, you see. At times we go up to this old dear one and we think, “If we can only get over to them the joy of life in Jesus, then they’ll want him for themselves.” And so we pray it up, and we work it up, and we feel really joyful and we hit that deck with a smile on our faces, and with the emotions bursting out and we say, “Life in Jesus is great.” And the emotions pour out to them and we minister with our souls and we minister death dear ones.
You minister death. You do not minister the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus has a precious joy that no one can imitate but we turn on this human joy for the best motives. I know dear ones, for the best motives but it is not of Jesus. It is not of the Spirit of Jesus, it is the emotions of our soul. And so often we witness in the strength of our soul. You see, that was the very temptation in the Garden of Eden. You remember we said it was not choose good and avoid evil but it was choose the knowledge of good and evil. It was a rising up of the soul in the Garden of Eden.
You remember we said that all our functions were perverted of every part of our personality by the fall. Our bodies instead of giving out people in the image of God began to enjoy themselves and concentrate on their own enjoyment. You remember we said that our spirits that were meant to rule over the world and God through them to rule over the world began to rule over themselves and rule over other people. And then the soul, which was meant to receive directions from the spirit, it began to work itself, it began to operate itself. It began to substitute its power for the resources from the tree of life.
Dear ones, when you pour out your own emotions to someone to whom you’re supposed to witness and those emotions do not come from the Spirit of Jesus, because of course the Spirit of Jesus can use your emotions, I don’t mean you go without emotion, but there’s an emotion that is soulish and there’s an emotion that comes because the Spirit of Jesus has provoked it. Now one gives life and the other gives death. One can be used by God, the other draws attention to self and they say, “What a happy person that fellow is.” Well, what good does that do? That’s of no good to God.
So the emotions dear ones are one part of the soul. Now Psalms 119, this will seem strange to you, I just never realized there was a Psalm with 167 verses in it but Psalms 119 has more than that. Psalms 119:167, and this is dear ones, another part of our souls. Psalms 119:167, “My soul keeps thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly.” “My soul keeps thy testimonies,” it means commandments and it’s your will obviously that keeps commandments.
Part of the soul is the will. The soul consists of your emotions and your will. And the Bible calls us to serve God with our spirits not primarily with our wills. The Holy Spirit will use your wills. He will guide your wills. You need to allow the Spirit to use your wills but you yourself must not use your will. So there comes a moment when God asks you to do some work for him and you don’t feel like it at all and you say, “Well, I’ll do it,” and your will determines to do it and you go in that spirit and you go and you minister to the dear one but you do not minister the Spirit of Jesus, you minister your strong will to them. And many of us, when dear ones come to us and say, “I cannot, I cannot keep the commandments. I cannot do it. I don’t know what’s wrong, there’s something within me that rises up.” We minister the power of the will to them and say, “You must will it. You must will it.”
Now you must will obedience over outward acts and words but you know that you cannot will down the risings up within a converted man or woman. That’s something that only the Holy Spirit can deal with. And so we are not called to minister by our wills or in our wills, but through our spirits to minister with our spirits. Well dear ones, another part of the soul is found in different parts of the Bible but I think that maybe we have only time to look at the mind and you can see it there in Deuteronomy 11:18.
Deuteronomy 11:18, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” Now if you lay up words for an examination you obviously lay them up in your memory and that’s part of your mind. And the soul consists of the emotions, and the will, and the mind. So do you see that the soul consists of the mind, the emotions, and the will? I believe also there’s reason for saying it consists of the conscience but the vital things in the ministry of a Christian are the mind, the emotions, and the will. And dear ones, God calls us not to minister with our minds but to allow the Holy Spirit to use our minds.
Now I think Philip could have ministered with his mind. God came down to him and said, “Will you go to the desert road that leads to Gaza?” Philip, if had been ministering with his mind would have said, “Thinks, the desert road that leads to Gaza? A desert road has no one on it. No Father, because there’s a revival going on here and I’m needed here to lead other dear ones into conversion. No, I will not go to the desert road that leads to Gaza because my mind tells me that’s a desert road.” Now often if we minister in the power of our minds, we will go astray in our own Christian ministries because that’s ministering with the soulish powers.
Now dear ones, we cannot, we cannot do any work for God by ministering with our minds. So often in an argument we minister with our minds. We’re determined that they’ll see the doctrine as we see it and we’re determined they’ll understand the infinite minds definition of sin just as we understand it. Dear ones, that isn’t the vital thing at all but that they see the beauty of Jesus and they see that sin is any falling short of that beauty. But many of us minister in the power of our minds and not in the power of the spirit. We do not serve God with our spirits we serve him with our minds.
So I did this, you know, at my first church in Minneapolis I decided, “What they need to do is read the Bible so I’ll get Bible study groups going.” And right enough we did it and I had a good Bible study book, and I duplicated sheets, and I had six groups going, and there were 10 or 12 people in each group and that was magnificent. In a Methodist church any way, it was magnificent. And there were 70 of us meeting every week for an hour. And I led every group so that I led six groups a week just to make sure that they saw the word of God as it really was.
And I had thought this whole thing up with this great clever thing here. And then it went for six months and six months passed by and I looked around for the fruit and there was no fruit. They all knew the Bible and they were enjoying the groups and, “Reverend O’Neill we really think the groups are good.” But there was no life pouring through the groups because this mind had thought the idea up and I had organized them as I would organize an army. And dear ones, if you serve God with your mind like that instead of with your spirit there will be no fruit.
The Christian’s ministry depends on serving God with the spirit. Now, you say why? Well, God wants this to be the situation in your life, the spirit receives directions from his Spirit. Then the spirit wears the soul. You see, wears the soul as I wear this coat. The spirit wears the soul and expresses the directions that God has given it through the mind, and emotions, and the will of the soul and then the soul wears the body and the soul expresses what it has received from the spirit out through the body. And the will of God is that the life that he gives to your spirit should come out untinged and untainted through your body. And that’s why the body, the soul, and the spirit must not only be completely sanctified but they must work in that order dear ones.
If it works from the soul then it is not of God, it is of the soul. It is still of the old independence of men. And you know, you’ll often see a person who has claimed to be sanctified and claimed to be baptized with the Spirit and that dear one pours forth their soul and all you meet is their soul and the power of their soul and you do not meet the Spirit of Jesus and you know that. There’s something that grinds inside you and you know that’s soulish power pouring out.
Now dear ones, that is not God’s will. You can see this is also why psychology has little place, psychiatric counseling as little place in the life of a Christian because the spirit is the one that’s wrong or right. The soul only expresses what is in the spirit. Now psychology is “psuche” and “logos” it’s the knowledge of the “psuche”, or the mind, or the soul. And when psychologists work with you they work on that second level and they’re working all the time with symptoms.
So you deal with the dear one who is neurotic at home and you decide, “The only way I can do it is give her electric shock treatment.” And you try and shock a soul. I don’t know what you’re trying to do you’re just trying to shock it. You know it shouldn’t be as it is, you know, you try to shock it out of the syndrome that it’s in, in that moment. But you see dear ones who are Christians know that the soul is only expressing what the spirit has felt and it’s at the spirit level that the problem is. And that’s why it’s so precious that the best psychiatrist of all is the Bible which is
the word of God which can divide even the soul from the spirit and can reveal to us the intentions of our hearts. So it’s vital to see the distinction.
Dear ones, we could go on for days on this, it’s so precious. Could I just point out one more thing to you, that it’s vital for us, you see, to begin to deal at the level of our spirits in our own lives. If you deal at the level of the soul, and many churches do, many churches try to educate the soul. Many churches who even believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, are all the time trying to educate the soul. Well, it’s like me taking my car and driving it back and forward between Bethany and my home. Driving it back and forward two or three times and then saying, “Okay, you can go on your own.”
That’s what you’re doing when you’re dealing with the soul you see, because the soul’s driver is the spirit. And however often you run the soul back and forward over that line it won’t get used to it because the soul itself is strictly speaking neutral, strictly speaking neutral. And if it is predisposed one way it’s predisposed because the spirit is predisposed this way. You can see that that’s why the Bible is so wise, isn’t it, when Isaiah cries, “I am a man of uncleanness.” Not, “I spoke with my lips unclean words,” not, “My mind thought unclean words,” but, “They all did what they did because the spirit was unclean.” And so it’s the spirit that guides the soul and the soul guides the body.
A Christian needs to receive his directions directly from the spirit. Now many of us have gone astray because we’ve come into all the experience of the spirit and we have not lived by the spirit. We have not ministered in the spirit we’ve looked at the books, the psychology books, and we’ve read all the other books. And I’m sure it’s good to read them, but it’s good to realize that your direction day-by-day moment-by-moment must come from your spirit.
Now last of all dear ones, and there isn’t really much time to talk about it but God wants to show you the distinction between your soul and your spirit. So again and again dear ones who are about to enter into the deeper life find they’re meeting defeat