Living by our Emotions and Minds
Spiritual Life #13
The Soulish Christian
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we know that only you can give us truth and life tonight. Lord, men and women can give knowledge to each other but only you, by your dear Holy Spirit, can give us truth and life and so we would ask you, Lord Jesus, as it is towards evening and the day is far spent, to draw near to us now as you did to those two loved ones on the road to Emmaus and to break bread to us so that we will receive it from your own hands. Us personally Lord, irrespective of what the loved one next to us receives. Lord Jesus, will you break bread to us that we can eat tonight? For your glory, amen.
Loved ones, for the benefit of those of you who might be here for the first time tonight, I would just mention that we’re studying the spiritual life and we will be dealing with that in a series of teachings over these next three years. And what we’ve done so far is in the first four teachings deal with the makeup of man: a spirit; soul; and body. And we’ve dealt also with a general introduction to the spiritual life and then with the fall, and then salvation. And then, you may remember, after that we dealt for 10 evenings with carnality. Carnality is the life that so many of us who are children of God have experienced. It’s the life where we know that our sins are forgiven and we know that God loves us but Romans 7:15 is the cry of our hearts. Romans 7:15 runs, “The good that I would I cannot do and the evil I hate is the very thing I do.” That was the subject we dealt with on 10 separate evenings and we’ve just completed that series.
If you want to, go back and listen to some of that. It is all on audio cassettes, loved ones, that are available in the book store after service and it’s also on video cassettes because we have the camera running on these evenings. Perhaps, sometime we’ll put those on television also, but they are available down at the Research Center on campus. Again, for those of you who are here maybe for the first time, we do have a Research Center where we run a seminary through the week. There are two fraternity houses and a cafeteria that we have there. It’s on 18th St. and University Avenue, loved ones. There are video monitors and you can watch just as you’re watching now, maybe better.
I would recommend that, especially to those of you who are in that kind of dilemma in your own lives, “the good that I would I cannot do and the evil I hate is the very thing I do.” For those of you who are still struggling with anger, jealousy, and envy — those works of the flesh that are connected with a selfish will — then you really ought to watch or listen to some of those teachings on how to be delivered from that. I would remind you that those of us who are in that position are there because even though our spirits are alive because of the Holy Spirit regenerating us, and even though we are children of God and have a sense of God as our Father, yet we are not actually walking by the Spirit. That is why we have that experience.
Now, you can find that in Galatians 5 where there is a distinction drawn by Paul between living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” And those of us who are in the position of Romans 7:15, are in that position because even though we’re born of the Spirit and in that sense our spirits have become filled with the Holy Spirit, yet the “I” is still so great inside us that we actually still live as the rest of the world lives, by what comes in through our bodies.
And so, we’re really meant you see, to live by the love and the life of God through our spirits. And if we live by that love and life, we would have a great sense that the Creator of the Universe cared for us, that he would provide all that we needed and we would have a great sense of enjoyment in his fellowship and his friendship. A great sense of importance in the world, we would just have those feelings. We’d just be wholly integrated balanced personalities if we actually depended on the dear Father that we believe in for all that we need in this life. But in actual fact many of us, even though we’re born of the Spirit, still have this “I” so strongly in us that we don’t want to depend on God for our security, our significance, and our happiness and so we still go on trying to get them from the world the way we used to before we were children of God.
And so we still continue to try and get these things that would normally come to us from God’s love, we still try to get them from the world. And we do it in various ways really. In the bodily realm, we take our capacity for reproduction and we don’t use it just to reproduce, we use it to produce the thrill of lust inside us. And by that means, to try and get the happiness that we’re meant to get from God. And so many of us don’t get our kicks, or our thrills, or our exhilaration, or a tremendous sense of peace from God at all but we get it still from the world the way the world does.
That’s why, you remember, in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul says, “That’s the mark of a carnal Christian.” 1 Corinthians 3:1, “But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ.” Why? Because of Verse 3, “For you are still of the flesh,” you are still carnal. “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?” You see, that’s the mark of a carnal Christian. They are behaving like ordinary men. They’re still getting their security, significance, and happiness from the world through their bodies the way everybody else is.
It’s the same with the whole business of significance. They have really been given a natural desire for self defense that makes you jump out of the way when you see a car coming and that all animals have. But, we have perverted it into self exaltation so that we not only defend ourselves but we decide the best method of defending ourselves from the people underneath us at work is to get so far above them that they have no chance of pulling the rug out from under us. And it’s the same in our classes at school. And so we concentrate with our wills and willing ourselves into self exaltation so that we will have some significance among our peers.
And it’s the same with security. There is a natural desire that God has given us for self preservation. It’s essential or otherwise we would freeze to death if we went out without our clothes on, or, we would be worn out with the cold if we hadn’t shelters, or we would starve to death if we didn’t eat enough food. But actually, we pervert this whole thing, this whole business of self preservation. We pervert it into the whole desire for security and so we specialize in food, shelter, and clothing and we turn that whole thing into gluttony. And through gluttony we try to make ourselves feel the security that we would really feel from God’s love. And so that’s what a carnal Christian is.
And loved ones, if you are a carnal Christian and you have defeat inside in your life, it’s because you’re still living like ordinary people. And I would just point out to you that this is all done through the emphasis on this dear body here. And I would read to you, you remember, what we read a little last day where the emphasis is put by Paul on the perversion of the body. The body is not the problem; it’s using the body to get from the world what we should use our spirit to get from God. That’s it.
So don’t think tonight, oh you’re on the old body is evil. No, the body is beautiful and is perfect, and good. But, the body, when it is used to get from the world and other people the security, significance, and happiness we’re meant to use our spirits to get from God, then the body becomes a body of sin. And that’s the emphasis you remember, in these verses we looked at about two weeks ago, in Romans 6:12: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.” You see, for most of us, sin reigns in our mortal bodies. That is, sin is independence of God and the independence that we have of God is expressed through our bodies. Using our bodies to get from the world the love and life that we’re meant to get from God.
And then Verse 13, “Do not yield your members,” and your members of course are your limbs, your hands, your feet, your whole body, “Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. “And then if you look at Chapter 7:23, “But I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind,” — you see the members follow another law inside my body — “And making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.” And so our body is the instrument that sin uses to satisfy us when we should instead be being satisfied by God.
Don’t keep thinking of the flesh as sexy or something like that. That isn’t the flesh. And the flesh is not just the soft part of our bodies, the flesh is the body used by a carnal person to get from the world and other people what it should get from God. And the flesh then does what is said, you see, in Galatians 5. If you’d like to look at it Galatians 5:17, “For the desires of the flesh,” you see, “Are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.” And that’s exactly, you see, where Romans 7:15 comes in, and we find “the good that I would I cannot do, and the evil I hate is the very thing that I do.”
So that’s what happens. That’s why many Christians are so tense and have such a look of defeat at the back of their eyes. They’re not free people at all. Even when they were out and out sinners they were freer and often happier. But, defeated Christians are pretty miserable people to look at because they have an incredible conflict inside them because they live by the Spirit but they walk by the flesh. Now loved ones, that is all settled the moment a person allows that submissiveness of their whole being to the body — or you might even call it that permissiveness of the will to the body — to feed the personality from the world and other people — when that is at last put on the cross. That is, the old self with its submission of the will to the body to receive from the world and other people the love and life it should get from God – that is at last put on the cross.
When that is put on the cross what happens is described in Romans 6:6, and this will bring us up to our present study tonight. Romans 6:6, describes what happens when that old self, that selfish will that wants to depend on the world and other people to receive through the body what it ought to receive from God. We know that our old self, that’s that submissiveness or that will, the direction of the will, we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. And that old self of yours of course, was crucified with Christ.
It can be crucified this very night if you are willing to let it go. If you’re willing to stop depending on people for your sense of significance, if you’re willing to stop depending on your bank account and your stocks and shares for your security, if you’re willing to stop depending on your wife or your friends for your happiness, if you’re really willing deep down to take your place with
Jesus on the cross and depend on no one but your Father, if you’re really willing, the Holy Spirit is able to free you from this whole personality that is moving in the wrong direction. He’s able to transform and change that personality.
And that’s what happens, the sinful body is destroyed. The Greek word means the sinful body is rendered inoperative or is left unemployed. And that’s what happens. Suddenly the body does not need to get from other people happiness through lust, or from food and gluttony a sense of security, or from the way it looks a sense of significance because it’s receiving – the Spirit is receiving all those things from God and this body is left unemployed, it’s left utterly inoperative.
Now loved ones, may I share with you what I shared just about two weeks ago in connection with what happens to many of us after that takes place? What happens is this: the battle before was in the realm of the body. And what Satan did at that time was to get you to use the body to receive security, significance, and happiness. Now, once you let your own selfish will be crucified with Christ, the body no longer fulfills that function. And many of us think, “Ah, I’ve been delivered from the power of my body over the rest of my personality. I’ve been delivered from having to be dominated from what my body wants.” And we think we’re free and we don’t realize that what Satan does is move one step back. He moves into the realm of the soul.
He moves out of the realm of the flesh as far as the body is concerned but he moves in to the realm of the soul which is still part of the flesh. Let me show you why it is. How do you get a thrill of exhilaration from lust? It’s not that your body transmits it directly to your spirit, sure it’s not. Your body transmits it to your emotions and your emotions are part of your psychological nature, your soul. And so what Satan does is he sees that the battle is won in the realm of the body and he just moves back into the realm of the soul and he gets you to be preoccupied with the emotions that you have, and with getting a sense of thrill and excitement from your emotions.
So okay, you aren’t tempted any longer to go out and have sexual intercourse and be promiscuous. But, he moves you back into the realm of the emotions where he says, “Now, go to the services where you get a bit of a thrill and a kick. Look in the songs for an emotional thrill. When you get down to prayer in the mornings, do you feel the presence of God in your emotions? Is there a warm sense of God’s love flowing over your whole personality?” And Satan moves us into the hedonistic realm of the emotions just as filled with the love of pleasure as we were before when we depended on the body. But somehow we think, “Ah, we’ve escaped from the power of the body.”
It’s the same with regard to the mind, loved ones. The mind actually, is the one that directs the accumulation of enough food, shelter, and clothing to give us a sense of security. The mind is the one that does that. It buys this house, buys this car, takes care of it, trades it for this car, buys this house and repairs it, trades it up to the next housThe mind dictates the body’s method of gathering security to itself. All Satan does is move back into the realm of the mind and he still gets you to use the mind, now among Christians, to manipulate yourselves into positions of security.
And it’s the same with the will. Where he used the body before to get you a sense of significance, he now gets you to use the will. You gently exert the will so that you are looked upon as a good Christian, as a competent child of God, as someone who can achieve things for God, and Satan moves back into the realm of the soul. And loved ones, that’s what we’re trying to begin to talk about.
Last day, we talked about deliverance from sin and the soul life. And tonight I’d like to talk about the soulish Christian. The soulish Christian or the soulish believer. And could I show you
again, what a soulish Christian is? A soulish Christian is one who no longer lives by what he receives from the outside world and from people through his body. He’s been freed from that by a crisis experience of dying with Christ on the cross. But now, instead of receiving from the Holy Spirit and from God’s love and life all the security, significance, and happiness that he needs, he now begins to receive it through the soul. And so he is just as shut in really as he was in regard to the body. He doesn’t look outside to the world, he doesn’t look to God for these things — he still looks to himself and to his own soul.
Now, I would just share with you that there is a slight difference in the problem in the two areas. For instance, the problem in this area is one of downright rebellion. A child of God who is born of the Holy Spirit knows in his own conscience that he should be receiving all he needs from his Father but he or she determines, “I will not depend on him only. I will continue to get from people and the world, things that I used to get so that I will have both.” And so it’s a case of rebellion.
And here the issue is the question of the selfish will. Is the will willing to give up its right to get what it wants when it wants it from the world and from other people? Here, the problem is more subtle; that battle is won, the person has died to the will of the old nature, but here the problem is deception. And I would share that with you loved ones, don’t be crude, or course, or naïve about this realm of soulishness in the Christian. Don’t think this is something that you can grasp tonight, deal with and finish with. This is a realm of deception where Satan holds the greater bulk of Christendom captive. And probably all of us probably have some soulishness in our own lives and probably until we meet Jesus face-to-face we’ll be continually being freed from that soulishness. So don’t let’s be naïve about it because it’s primarily a matter of deception.
I don’t think, for instance, any of us feel there’s anything wrong in enjoying the lilt and the tune of a good song. We don’t feel there’s anything wrong in it and that’s what Satan plays on. He plays on our feeling that, “Ah yes, it’s all right to get a bit of excitement and thrill from the lilt and tune of a good song.” And we don’t realize that the only place you can legitimately go to for thrill and excitement is our dear Father and everything else is bluff and everything else is a substitute for that.
I think many of us are led very gently into a dependence on fellowship. We are told fellowship is good for you, fellowship will help God to strengthen your spirit and so we naturally begin to enjoy going to Bible study groups and enjoy going to church services. And gently bit-by-bit, Satan leads us on and deceives us into an absolute enslavement to other Christians and to other brothers and sisters in Jesus until our whole spiritual life comes from their communal life and from their corporate worship life. And we have no life at all that we get from our own quiet times. Indeed, we cease to look forward to our quiet times and we instead look forward to corporate church services and Bible study groups. And it isn’t because we want to do that, it’s because Satan deceives us gently, gently into it.
It’s interesting, if you get a child of God on this stage who is really on the cross with Jesus and get them singing a song from their spirit, you’re bound to get food from that. And it’s so easy for Satan to gently lead you on and on, until you begin to look for the food that you get from them and not from Jesus himself. And that’s where the whole of Christendom’s leadership becomes perverted. Because we begin to look to leaders for what we’re meant to get from Jesus and it’s because we’re living in the realm of the soul.
Now loved ones, the problem there is simply the independent soul. Our souls have become independent
and that’s what has to be dealt with. Here it’s the selfish will that has to be dealt with on the cross. Here it’s the independent soul that has to be dealt with and it’s a matter of deception. You could say, “Here it’s the direction of the old life or the old nature. But here it’s the LIFE of the old nature that is the problem. Here it’s the DIRECTION of the old nature looking out to the world and people; here it’s the LIFE of the old nature that is the problem.
And loved ones, there is a difference with the way Jesus deals with it. Here he deals with it by the crisis experience of the cross. George Muller said, “There came a day when I George Muller died to sin and died to self.” And I would testify to that too in my life. There came a day when I died to self and died to sin. That’s a crisis experience which you can experience and all his Spirit will fill you with the beauty and fruits of Jesus. but there is a continual daily experience of the cross to deal with this soulishness. And this is mentioned, if you’d like to look at it, in Luke 9:23. Because some of you have often quoted these verses, they occur in the four gospels, the verses that talk of dying daily, you remember.
Actually, the word “daily” occurs only in the one gospel but the principle occurs in different gospels, in the four gospels. And it’s Luke 9:23, now this is the realm that is dealt with by the daily cross. Luke 9:23, “And he said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” And of course, as always, the Bible is beautifully clear and the context always is a unity, “For whoever would save his life,” and those of you who know Greek will know what that word is. That’s the word for “life” there, that word. I’ll spell it for you in English, “psuche” which becomes psychological and means the soul. “For whoever would save his soul life will lose it.” And so any child of God that depends on his soul for what he should be getting from his Spirit, will eventually lose the soul.
And that’s of course what happens. You lose everything actually because you’re back in to the body life so you lose any activity of the soul life at all and you become back under the domination of the body because you’re declaring your independence again from God. “For whoever would save his soul life will lose it; and whoever loses his soul life for my sake, he will save it.” There’s another beautiful verse in the Bible that you will “possess” your soul if you begin to look to the Spirit for what you need to receive from God. You’ll eventually come into a place where you can control your soul.
Now loved ones, I would like to deal with some of the marks of a soulish Christian. And you’ll see that some of the marks of the soulish Christian fall into that category; it’s a soul out of control. That’s what happens. When you depend on your soul instead of your body, and now instead of your spirit, for the security, significance and happiness that you’re meant to get from God through simple faith — which is belief and obedience — then you begin to find that that soul crushes your spirit. You spirit is meant to control your soul and your soul control your body, so that there’s a beautiful integrated flow from God of his life through you and out in to the world. Instead of that happening, the soul becomes utterly independent itself and it actually begins to crush the spirit and it crushes it to death until eventually you lose all spirit life at all. And you’ll find that the soul becomes utterly independent and utterly irresponsible and you have no sense of control of it at all. And instead of your body fighting against your spirit, you now find your soul fights against your spirit.
Loved ones, I’d like to try to deal then with some of the marks of the soulish Christian. Luke 17:23 is one of those marks. You’ll that a child of God who looks to the soul for what they should receive from God has to get it from the soul. And so their whole Christian life becomes centered in the
soul and in the activities of the soul. And of course, God cannot dwell in the soul. God dwells in the spirit and the spirit then controls the soul as a servant. And the only purpose of the soul is to be the connecting link between the spirit and the body.
So the soul’s purpose is simply connection between the spirit and the body. The spirit can’t act directly on the body. The spirit can simply receive through intuition a direction from God, can pass it on through the mind, the mind can say, “Raise your right hand.” But it’s the soul, or the mind and emotions, that control the body — so that’s the only purpose of the soul. The soul isn’t built to give us what God alone can give us and so a soulish Christian looks to what is actually a neutral connection between the spirit and body and tries to get from it what it should get from God so it falls into this kind of thing.
Luke 17:23, “And they will say to you, ‘Lo, there!’ or ‘Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them.” And look at the previous verse and you’ll get the context, “And he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Lo, there!’ or ‘Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them.” Curiosity, endless curiosity. A soulish believer is continuously curious, preoccupied with end time prophecies. Preoccupied all the time with, “When is it going to happen? When is Jesus coming? Do you think these are the signs of the end times?” The reason is of course, they have no life in their spirits.
Their spirits are really already beginning to sleep. And yet, they know they’re to be interested in the things of God and so what they do is they activate their minds. Now, they activate their minds not as their minds are meant to be activated to pass on to their bodies the directions that they receive through the spirits — because they don’t receive any directions through their spirits. Their spirits are asleep again and so they use their minds to do what they think Christians are supposed to do: be interested in God’s things. And the way they get interested is to be endlessly curious about little facets of doctrine and little facets of truth.
You’ll notice there’s a kind of excitement and a manic interest about them but there’s little or no life that’s comes from all this preoccupation with the end time prophecies and the arguments about when Jesus is coming. And of course, they are disobeying the Lord himself who said, “Look, don’t you be concerned about those things. You are my witnesses and you’ll see the Son of man coming as you see him go now but meanwhile you be my witnesses.” But they aren’t. They’re continually curious about what is happening.
They’re obviously therefore an excellent target for the thousands and thousands of books that come out on these subjects. Some of them giving life but many of them simply giving another view, another opinion, another piece of information. And so many loved ones read these books and they don’t come away filled more with a love for the loved ones who do not know Jesus, they come away either with a kind of manic burden on their shoulders, “Oh, we have to save the world before Jesus comes.” Or, they come away just with a preoccupation as to whether it’s premillennial or amillennial or whether this person is right or that person is right. Now loved ones, that’s one of the marks of a soulish Christian.
Another of the marks is found in Colossians 2:16. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without
reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.”
In other words, differences in actions and in standards among Christians. The soulish believer gets preoccupied with, “Is it right to do this or is it wrong to do that? Is this group right in doing this or is that group right in doing that?” In other words, they’re preoccupied with everything but the living Lord. They’re preoccupied with arguing about whether they should do this or they should do that. They’re preoccupied all the time with differences in action and standards and they’re always preoccupied showing that they are in some way different from every other child of God. These loved ones are always interested in showing that the body they belong to is the one true body. Other bodies are good but their one has something a little over the others and they’re preoccupied with that particular difference.
Another mark, loved ones, is in 1 Timothy 1:4, and again you can see yourself as we go through these that they all center on the soul. They all center on over activity of the mind or the emotions. Over activity or over exercising of the mind or emotions. 1 Timothy 1:4 and Verse 3 would give us the continuity, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith.” And their mind is not used to pass on the directions that they receive from their spirits to the body; their mind is used to argue, and to debate, and to dispute. And of course, it brings nothing but dispeace to their own hearts and nothing but dispeace to the body of Christ. And they believe of course, that by exercising their minds they’re in some way dealing with God’s word.
Another mark is in that same letter in 1 Timothy 6:4 and you get the continuity if you look at Verse 3, “If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions.” And the mind produces a self righteousness about its own opinion. A soulish believer or a soulish Christian is very self righteous in his views.
Jesus has, you know, that really funny line, “They strain at a gnat and they swallow a camel.” And that’s what a soulish believer does. They’re always intent on showing, “No, no, that’s not quite the way I believe it. No, you’re almost right but I believe it this way. Now, no I differ with you on that issue.” And they’re always preoccupied with whether you believe the right doctrine of baptism or not, whether you believe on the right doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit or not. The child of God who is filled with Jesus’ Spirit and lives by the Spirit and walks by the Spirit is like old John Wesley, “If your heart is as my heart give me your hand.” And you find that an old saint who moves by the Spirit has that kind of breadth about him.
Oh, there was a little story about my hero you know, and Wesley was an old, old man, about 88 years of age and he visited this home of one of his leading layman in the church in England. And this layman had a beautiful daughter and one of the things of course, that Wesley encouraged was a plainness of dress so that you would dress in a plain good way that would be attractive but would
not take a lot of money, and would not use a lot of expense, and jewelry and all that kind of thing. And so in the middle of the evening the father knowing this of course, and knowing that Wesley himself dressed very plainly, he held out his daughter’s hand and his daughter’s hand of course had a ring on it, a beautiful ring. And he said, “Mr. Wesley, what do you think of that for the hand of a Methodist?” And the old 88 year old said, “A very pretty hand, sir.”
And just the love and the saintliness of a child of God who is filled with the Spirit shines forth at moments like that. A soulish believer is preoccupied with, is it right to wear jewelry, is it not right to wear jewelry; is it right to do this, is it not right to do that. But a child of God who is filled with the Holy Spirit has a magnanimous heart. And loved ones, you’ll find that in your own heart. Your own dear heart will grow small and wizened and petty if you live in the soul. You actually begin to eat at the tree of knowledge of good and evil and you can see that. You cease to eat of the tree of life and you begin to eat of the tree of “is this right or is that wrong” — and it’s not, of course, of Jesus.
Another mark loved ones, is confusion. A soulish believer over exercises the mind. Now, the mind is meant to be exercised, you can see that, but it’s meant to be exercised under the control of the spirit. So you receive through the intuition of the spirit a direction of God and in complete peace and rest you’ll pass that through to your mind and your mind will just calmly direct your body to take action. But when you cut the soul off like that and you begin to dwell in the soul alone, the mind becomes confused. And a child of God who is a soulish believer has always too much to do.
And I’d ask you to think of that, those of us who love to say, “Oh, we’re too busy, we’re too busy.” A soulish believer has always far too much to do. Their mind is continually confused and they can’t get the thing done at the right time. I remember my dad, you know, used to drive me crazy by saying, “Oh no son, if you want something done give it to a busy man.” And it was interesting because of course a busy man has learned to bring his life into order and he will get the thing done. But a soulish believer has his mind in such continual confusion through over activity that he has everything in disorganization and he has never enough time to get things done. A Christian who walks by the Spirit has a peace and calmness in the Holy Spirit that is the mark of the kingdom of God.
Now, the opposite strangely enough is true also. A soulish believer works on his emotions and so he works by really fits and starts. When the emotions are raised up he can do things. When the emotions are down he’s bummed out, “I can’t do a thing. No, I need a vacation.” That’s it and then he rushes at things and gets some things done and then he’s bummed out again. And there’s no sense of stability or regularity in his activity or in her activity. It’s a movement by emotions, when their emotions are up they can do it. When their emotions are down they’re lethargic, they’re in despair, they’re in depression. They fly high and they dive low, they’re really manic depressives because of course, that’s what happens when you begin to concentrate on the soul and to look to your inner experience you see, and that’s what we do. We somehow think, “Ah, we’ve moved out of the body realm, now Jesus is in me.” He isn’t, Jesus isn’t in you. Do you see that?
Jesus isn’t in you, the Holy Spirit is in you. Jesus is at the right hand of God and as you look up and out to Jesus the Holy Spirit will bring into you the things of Jesus. But many of us don’t see that and we instead look into the soul realm, we look in to the realm of our mind and emotions and we try to get from them a sense of the presence of God. And as soon as we do that we become preoccupied with the soul and therefore preoccupied with the emotions and they become totally over exercised and of course, they’re under no control at all. In fact, we are utterly dominated by
them. They’re either dominated by the body or they’re dominated by themselves and their own momentum. And so the soulish Christian is completely dominated by the emotions.
The other is true too at the other end of it. They become over sensitive. A soulish Christian exercises the sensitivity of his mind and emotions to such a decree that he can see the flicker of your eyelid before you flicker it. He can become paranoid before you’ve spoken a word. And a soulish Christian becomes over sensitive and you dare not buffet against him too strongly or he gets very upset. He’s highly sensitive. Sensitive to what people say, difficult to live with, he’s difficult when people neglect him or when people ignore him. He easily becomes intimate with other people but just as easily rebels against them and rejects them. So it’s a constant swaying from one extreme to the other. Coming in to close confidences that are almost claustrophobic and then backing away from them so that you don’t know if he’s going to be the same as he was yesterday or the same as he was today. And that’s part of a mark of a soulish Christian, loved ones.
A soulish Christian, of course, is utterly dominated by his environment. Because you only have to be at a Vikings football game to know as everybody else stands up and cheers madly and yells, so your soul kind of wants to stand up and cheer. So you can sense that your souls are connected with the cosmic soul of the world and with the souls of all other people. And so if you’re highly developing your soulish powers you’ll be very sensitive to what all the other souls around you are doing and you’ll become easily oppressed by the soulish atmosphere in your office.
If there’s a very critical bickering spirit, you become oppressed by that and you’ll have great difficulty not carrying that home with you. If there’s a spirit of unrest in your office you’ll absorb that. You’ll find it difficult even to be calm in peace as you’re walking down Nicollet Mall because you’ll absorb all the attitudes and all the feelings of all the other souls around you. Because of course, you’re no longer looking to the one place of stability in your life which is your spirit and Jesus. And so you become utterly dominated by your environment and very subservient to it.
And then there’s talkativeness. A soulish Christian talks like a train. At times they become sulky at the other end of the scale but often they will talk with a kind of excited emotion and they’ll have no sense of control of their speech. They’ll often speak the wrong words at the wrong time. They’ll be facetious at the wrong time, they’ll be flippant at the wrong time, and afterwards they’ll wonder, “Why did I say that?” And really, it’s because they’re beginning to lose any control over their soul. That’s the strange thing; when you concentrate on your soul you lose control of it and your soul begins to control you. And I’ve only to ask you, who controls your soul? Well, the Prince of the Air, you know, the Prince of the Air through all the elemental spirits of the universe and through all the other souls around you and so really you’re his mercy. It’s almost like being in a car with no driver; the car is careening all over the place and you have no sense of control at all and that’s so in conversation.
I don’t know if you’ve found that, but I used to find myself often in that situation where you’d say something because you thought it would please the other person or you thought it would fit in with what they were saying, or you thought it would make the right impression. And by and by you began to say things that you didn’t really want to say and when you get out of the conversation you wondered, why did you say it. And yet you hadn’t the sense of calm peace to keep quiet, you had to say something. And you often excuse yourself by saying, “Oh well, I had to say something to make the other person feel at home.” But again, and again, you found yourself saying things in conversations that you didn’t really mean to say and that you knew were not really honest. At times
they were compliments that weren’t good compliments and honest compliments. At times they were critical things that were maybe true but weren’t the appropriate thing to say at that moment and you came away from the conversation with a sick feeling in your stomach.
And really, you know, it wasn’t because you just wanted to exalt yourself but it is because you think that now you’ve been crucified with Christ you’ve been delivered from all of the flesh and actually you’ve been delivered simply from the domination of the body. But, there’s a daily walk that needs to be taken in the cross that we’re going to be talking about over the next four or five weeks that deals with this problem of soulishness. And loved ones, that’s one of the problems, talkativeness.
Another really, is the whole preoccupation with knowledge and maybe you could just leave it at that. A preoccupation with knowledge, a preoccupation with what we know, preoccupation with dissecting other people, with analyzing them. Preoccupation with knowledge that makes us actually stiff with other people. stiff with people. Not fluid, not flexible, not the kind of picture that even the old psychologist present us with as the perfectly integrated human being, but a person who is kind of stiff with others. And that’s of course, because the outer man, the soul, is unbroken and that is the whole problem.
The soul instead of being a good servant to the spirit which would gladly pass the life of the Spirit on through to the body and out to other people so that the love and life of God would get out to others, the soul is in fact encased in itself and is hard and unbroken. And so it passes nothing through and so even though you’re born of the Spirit there’s nothing of the fragrance of Jesus comes through. And of course, what needs to be done is what was done, you remember, oh I think it was John 12:3. There was a beautiful record you remember, when Jesus went to Bethany where Lazarus was. You remember Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead…
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