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The Spirit Directs our Soul




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The Spirit Directs our Soul

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

The Scripture lesson is Romans 8. It’s always deeper than you have ever thought it to be. “There is therefore now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Then it goes into this deep explanation. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own sin in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” That’s it: “walk—according to the Spirit.”

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

“But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit which dwells in you.”

Now look back to those verses: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Of course it goes back to the important verse 4: “in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Who “walk.”

I’d like to try to make it clear to my own dumb mind as well as to yours today, and I think I can by God’s grace. It’s this one here {pointing to diagram}.

I was saying to Irene {Rev. O’Neill’s wife}, “You know, when you think back to Minneapolis and those days {when Campus Church was operating}, you may not call it general revival, but undoubtedly there was an aliveness in the air – that, I could say as a preacher. There was a sense that everybody heard what you said, and they understood it! There was that feeling. There was a sense of spiritual aliveness and revelation and light.”

As I look back, and I think of the days and the things that happened, I have to admit that! However skeptical or intellectual I am in looking back and saying, “Now that wasn’t the 1859 Revival, and that wasn’t Finney’s Revival. It wasn’t Wesley’s Revival.” After all that was said – there was undoubtedly an aliveness in the air! In the hearts of people! In the minds of people. In the hearing ears that listened to the preaching. I know full well – I’m game to go at it! {again} — but unless there is that – there is no revival.

So God did something in those days in Minneapolis. Not just in us! For you know there was the Jesus People Church, Bethany Fellowship, and several others. There was an aliveness. God somehow brought sensitivity to his truths, that meant that people listened, and were enlivened by it. As a result, the prayer meetings were alive. Everything was alive!

So there was undoubtedly a difference in the atmosphere. That undoubtedly is what is lacking not only in ourselves, I would dare to say, but certainly in the world generally. There are plenty of mega churches, plenty of excitement, plenty of bands, plenty of substitutes for spiritual life – but there is not that intense aliveness that God is speaking to us.

I do believe it is still possible to experience what they did in East Africa where the revival continued for years. I think it is possible to live even in a local spirit of revival.

I think it depends on that {pointing to the diagram}, and I’m going to try to explain that precisely. So that you don’t get it just as, “Oh! You mean us to practice what we preach.”

When the Spirit comes in to your own spirit, however dead you might be at this moment (and I don’t know how dead or alive you are), God does at times manage to get little thoughts through to you to do this or to do that.

Maybe it’s to get your Quiet Time into order – or to do something, or to think something, or whatever it is. But he gives you some little thought. And your conscience gives a sense of obligation in you to make that thought real down here in your soul.

Your soul is actually the unique part that is you. Trish Overby has a soul – a mind, will, and emotions – like nobody else! Nobody else! Christ has not created another will, mind, and emotions exactly in the combination he has created in her. That’s why at times we’ll say, “There were 24 souls lost in a shipwreck.” They call souls not just the “psuche,” not just the psychological part of us – but they regard that as the whole real person.

So in a real sense, your soul actually is not just some psychological equipment that you have. Your unique combination of will, mind and emotions, is yours and yours only! The reason Christ is giving you his Spirit through your own spirit, is so that you will allow your conscience to pass it on to your will, and your will will direct your mind and your emotions accordingly. THAT is walking in the Spirit.

Now, I would say the danger I have seen in my life is that I’ve known that Christ’s Spirit is in me. I know I’ve been born of the Spirit. And I’ve faced this issue of being crucified with Christ – dying to self, dying to depending on things, people, and circumstances for what I needed of security, significance, and happiness – and that that’s a crisis experience, something where Wesley says you’ve come to the ground of your heart. You at last through the revelation of the Holy Spirit come to a place where you find that the one thing that is stopping you, that is holding you back from the place that Christ has given you himself on the cross – this one thing – you see it. You become willing for what God wants for it, and you say, “I’m willing for that.”

For me, it was those three things {pointing to the diagram showing “Security” Significance” & “Happiness}. It was reputation. Was I willing to be nothing? Was I willing to be thought a failure? Was I willing to have no more sexual satisfaction for myself, if God wanted that? That kind of

thing. You could tie it down to certain things. You’ll tie it down to different things for you – different things that you feel you must have –whether God wants you to have it or not — and you’re going to get it through things, people, and circumstances any way — and you’re not prepared to do without it.

Eventually you come to a place where you see – that’s what God did to you in his Son {pointing to the Cross}. He destroyed your dependence on these things, and you are able to have that freedom yourself.

So that’s the crisis experience we talk about in regard to sanctification – the dying to self, the being crucified with Christ – or, being baptized with the Spirit — because we think of the baptism of the Spirit as being baptized not only with the power, but into the purity of Jesus’ life within you.

I think it’s possible to come to that place – and, have a wall there! – that stops all those things {pointing to the diagram} from actually operating in your will, mind, and emotions. In other words, it’s possible to be baptized with the Spirit, and then not to walk after the Spirit, and not to give the rest of your life to allowing that to transform your will, mind, and emotions.

So yes, you are crucified with Christ, and yes, you are willing to be crucified. You know that you’ve been crucified with Christ – that it’s true. But it stops there. Or – you mutilate that thing so that it is no longer the power that constrains your will in the light of what God is giving you of intuition through communion with him. Instead, you make that the conscience of your hegemony, your church, your belief, or the books you’re reading. And you govern your life — saying, “I’m walking in the Spirit” – when all you’re doing is obeying not your real conscience, but the deformed conscience that you have, which says: your church won’t let you do this. Or, your family has taught you not to do that. Or, you have an integrity that makes you think you should do this other thing. But the conscience is not being the servant of intuition and communion, and is not constraining your will.

So you’re trying to work on your will, mind, and emotions. You try to read the Bible every day. You try to do what the books say. But it’s all run by a human, deformed conscience – not by your real conscience. In other words, you’re not walking after the Spirit. You’re walking after standards that you think are good. So you’re not really walking deeper and deeper after the Holy Spirit.

And as well as that, because you’re not allowing your conscience to constrain your will in the light of what God is giving to you through the spirit and intuition – because of that, you’re grieving the Holy Spirit. So there’s a lack of liveliness of the Spirit within you. Instead, it becomes a kind of “self-run” discipleship that you have going. You’re not really walking after the Spirit.

There are many things that we do that are in some ways evil, and in some ways are not evil. In reality, what they are is inexpedient things. I can hit myself up on it easily. I would have trouble working up anger now. I can’t get as hopeless about things as I used to, and anger is often what you express when you don’t know what to do about the thing. I don’t feel that! I always feel the Father’s in charge. So I could honestly say – I don’t have trouble with anger.

But I’ll work out that if I’m firm with Martha, it may help her. Well, the Holy Spirit could direct me to that at times. Jesus did say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” He did throw over the tables of the money lenders. So being guided by the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean you throw away all rebuke and all

reproval. But I think it’s very easy for me, because I no longer have the old self bursting to express itself – it’s sensible for me to think, “Well, it’s reasonable for me to use my mind and my emotions in this way to speak severely to Martha, or to someone else about something.”

It’s me doing it. It’s not the Holy Spirit doing it. And I will think, “Well, I’m not doing it because I have to do it. I don’t feel anger rising within me.” At times Irene {Rev. O’Neill’s wife} says, “Oh, what makes you angry?” Well, I’m not angry! I don’t feel angry! But – what I say sometimes sounds angry. The tone of the voice – that’s the big thing. The tone of the voice is not giving grace and transmitting grace and gentleness. So, often the poor girl has to put up with my severity of tone. There isn’t that gentle grace of Christ in it.

So there is a difference, between being baptized with the Spirit and being crucified with Christ — and then walking in the light and the Spirit of power that comes through to you. I don’t like to put it this way, because it gets us into works again. But our job is to clean up here in our mind, will, and emotions! Our job is to clean up. All I’m saying is: don’t do it yourself. Let the Holy Spirit guide you through your conscience. That’s how you clean it up – because he knows things that you need to change that you don’t think affect you at all.

I’ve often found myself in that spot, where the Holy Spirit has given me light about something, and I’m thinking to myself, “What has that to do with this problem?” Then, of course, I find it’s exactly that problem he’s dealing with — with the light he’s showing me then.

So, it’s a faith activity and a faith ministry. Walking in the Spirit is walking after somebody you can’t see! It’s not walking after the last book I’ve read about how to govern my mind, or how to keep my emotions at peace. It’s not that! It’s not walking by sight. It’s walking by faith, in the Holy Spirit giving you light through the communion that you have with your Father, giving you intuition about what you should do, and you allowing your conscience to constrain your will to guide your mind and emotions accordingly.

I wonder if that is not the area that God wants us to get into. Because of course, it affects exactly what we do in Christian Corps. It’s everyday life. It’s going out and getting into the car, looking up the address to the store, getting to the shop, and it’s going in. It’s all that. All that is affected by your will, mind, and emotions. The Holy Spirit wants to fill those with himself and his ways.

That will only happen if we are aware: we are involved in a magical walk here. We are involved in something that touches every part of our life. That’s why I push a little on, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is gracious.” Some people have a tendency to be negative. That’s the whole area of our psychological natures – that is meant to be cleaned out, and cleansed COMPLETELY and filled with Jesus.

I have a feeling that if we started to do that, the prayer times would be bouncing! Why? Because we wouldn’t any more be pre-occupied with ourselves. We’re so busy thinking about ourselves, and the things we should pray for — that we can’t hear this dear person who’s right inside us and telling us what to do.

Or he speaks a little word, and we say, “We should speak out!” But we don’t speak out. Or, “We should raise a song!” But we don’t raise a song. We just grieve and grieve him, and tamp him down more and more. We tamp his life down so that it won’t spring up.

I wonder if it’s somewhere in there that God has light for us — somewhere in this realm of walking in the Spirit. I think it’s a magical thing. I think walking after the Spirit is walking after what God is saying to you through your communion and intuition.

That’s what it is! It’s not your conscience being exercised after what Finney said you should do, or after what Andrew Murray said you should do, or what Ernest O’Neill said you should do. Or even what you think you should do! But – exercising your will in the light of what the conscience of Jesus’ Holy Spirit within you is indicating to you.

Often you’ll think about things that seem utterly irrelevant to you, “What has that got to do about anything?!” But if you do it, you’ll find yourself walking into a whole new world of light that you never knew was there.

So it is a miraculous walk! I think it’s what God has for us. I suspect that’s how you can actually experience continual local revival here. I suspect that’s what would lift us above ourselves, and take us out of ourselves.

If you say to me, “What do you think? Do you think each of us is crucified with Christ?” Well of course you’re crucified with Christ. The Bible says that. But what you mean is, “Do you think we’ve experienced it?” I could certainly believe you have. ONLYYOU know! No man can speak for another man, or another woman. But I could believe you have.

I’ve done all kinds of practical things like given advice to you on business clothes to wear, and other things like that with each of you. I don’t feel there’s a great self rising against it. I don’t think you’re a proud little thing, and you don’t want to look anything other than the way you want to look. I don’t think there’s a great self in each of you. It seems to me you’ve fought a lot of that battle, and you’ve come to a place where you are willing to give your life to Christ and whatever he wants.

So I wonder – is this not the area? Maybe the issue is not the one time crucifixion with Christ. Maybe the issue is – you’re not letting it go anywhere! You’re not letting it spread to the rest of your personality! You’re not letting it affect your day-to-day operation.

You’re going out to the car {to start your job selling that day}, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I know what the day holds. I know what to do.” And you’re pre-occupied with yourself. You have no idea of someone sitting beside you, or thinking the Holy Spirit is really on your shoulder, and he’s wanting to show you some new things today.

It’s more an indifference, or an ignoring of the Holy Spirit — a failing to walk after him. I know that’s the King James Bible translation, but I think it’s a better one than “walking in the Spirit.” Walking AFTER the Spirit — it’s as if he’s walking ahead of you, and you’re walking behind him. I’d ask you to think about it, and of course most of all, go before God.

Because we know fine well – his will for us is to be filled with joy, and filled with praise and glory! But I do think when we get together even in prayer times, we’re too much sunk into and pre-occupied with ourselves.

I don’t think it’s because you’re a selfish crowd. I don’t think that’s it! You know yourselves

best. Maybe you know things I don’t know about you. I don’t think it’s a great will battle. But I think here is a will battle {pointing to the diagram where the conscience directs the will, mind, and emotions}. Here is a refusal to govern your will by your Holy Spirit-filled conscience.

I think it’s more deception than unwillingness to follow God. I understand! There’s always something of “will” in deception. But I think it’s more to do with that kind of thing than it is that you’re not willing to die with Christ. But – only you know that.

I’d ask you to think about it and pray about it. Because you know fine well – too often you find yourself in a status quo situation, where the thing is just glued, just stuck! The prayer meetings are not lively. We don’t sense we’re moving forward. We’re not looking forward with excitement to what God may say through Greg the next Sunday. There’s just a heavy deadness that is not of the Holy Spirit.

Could it be that without intending to do it at all, without wanting to do it – you are just quietly grieving the Holy Spirit, day after day? By failing to walk after him, and by failing to allow what he has done in your spirit to touch in any way the only bit of you that’s you! {Pointing to the diagram} That’s the only bit that’s you. That’s the bit that is unique. You’re a unique will, mind, and emotions that God has made.

It’s in Genesis. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. In Hebrew it’s “nephesh.” So God made his body from the dust, breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life – and man became a living “nephesh” – a living soul. {Paraphrase of Genesis 2:7} That’s the unique part that is you.

It may be that that’s the only bit you’re not allowing to be touched. You’re not allowing God to renew you – as it talks in Romans 12:2 about the renewing of the mind. It may be you’re not allowing him to rule and renew your emotions, as it says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart” {Colossians 3:15}.

So that’s the only bit that matters, and it could well be – that’s the only bit you’re not letting him touch. But you have to think through it and pray about it. Get God’s light about it. But I do believe that it’s his will that we would experience what he gave us graciously back then (in Minneapolis in the 70’s and 80’s). It may not be the widespread thing it was back then — but that we in our family are meant to live in that reality. So I’d ask you to look at it.

If you push me and say, “Is it the horror movies, or the sex movies? I don’t think it’s that! I think your sometimes engaged in those things because of lack of light, or because you’ve allowed your own spirit to get a bit coarse. But only the Holy Spirit can explain those things to you. Man cannot touch those things, because otherwise you to start to do what I say.

It can’t be that. It’s you individually. God has for each one of you – your will, mind, and emotions – a unique life that Christ planned to live through you. Christ planned, using Joanne’s will, mind, and emotions, to live a unique expression of his Father, here on earth, and in heaven forever. That’s the important bit that’s to be remolded by the Holy Spirit.

You can read in 2 Corinthians 4 how part of it comes: “struck down, but not destroyed” {2 Corinthians 4:9}. This chapter mentions breaking experiences. These are where you come into situations where you’re baffled. Or, you’re continuing on and become frazzled {looking at a woman

nearby}. But “frazzled” is one of those breaking experiences! Being frazzled is God trying to tell you, “You’re not resting, daughter, here in me in this.” That’s part of it.

When he and I {indicating a man near him} bump up heads against each other, that’s God allowing both of us to come into a breaking experience – an experience where, “We have to find some way through this!” We’ve had our little moments {indicating that man near him} on different issues – not necessarily conflict between ourselves – but difficulties – such as how to get this pond here sorted out? You came through wonderfully {speaking to the man nearby}.

So, everything is moving to change us, so that Christ can be seen here through this will, mind, and emotions – behaving like him. It is doing this as it says in another verse of Romans 8 – so that we can be conformed to the image of his Son. And as it says in the verse before that one in Romans 8 — all things work together for good.