Thursday, April 1, 2010

Soulish Selfishness

Photo courtesy Monique Tremblay

For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.
~ I Corinthians 13:12

Spiritual maturity involves reckoning myself to be dead to sin and alive unto God (Romans 6:11). When I first believed and accepted Christ as my personal Saviour, I did not fully understand what had happened to me. The Christian life is a lifelong process: we never "arrive" at fully understanding all of it until we get to heaven.

I, just as you, am a tripartite human being (spirit, body, and soul). As I travel along through this Christian life, I am coming to understand, a little at a time, what that really means. (1) My spirit was renewed at salvation and became dominated by the Spirit of God instead of the god of this world. The Holy Spirit moved in. (2) My soul is my mind/intellect, will, and emotions. This was not renewed at salvation, so the enemy of my soul (satan) still tries to dominate it. (3) My body/flesh is my third part, which, also not renewed, can still give in to the enemy.

"Babes in Christ who are 'yet carnal' [acting in the flesh] need a fuller apprehension of the meaning of the cross." ~ Jessie Penn Lewis

Because I was renewed in my spirit at salvation, I have His Spirit power indwelling me. The exciting thing is that I can yield myself to that power and live in true rest, peace, and victory in my spirit and soul, yes, even in my body/flesh!

There is one yielding to the soul that is a very dangerous, self-centered way of living. Jessie Penn Lewis calls it "the soulish element in teachers and professors of holiness." In the name of fighting for truth and witnessing for God, many devoted believers get caught in soulish selfishness.

"The soul-life, influenced by evil supernatural powers [rather than yielding to the Spirit], is the main cause of divisions and separations among the professing, and even the true children of God." (JPL)

Jude 16 says, "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." Verse 19: "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." (emphasis mine)

When I seek to separate myself with the wrong motive*--in the name of spirituality, a holier-than-thou attitude, seeking other men's admiration and praise--I am acting as a soulish human being, not under the Holy Spirit's influence and power. I am not allowing the Holy Spirit to control my soul (mind, will, and emotions). I am being soulishly self-centered. I am filled with pride. The sad thing is that when I do this, satan has me so duped into thinking that it's all about me and that I'm right, that I don't even recognize that he is really the one in control; not me!

I am not the one who should be separating myself. "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake." (Luke 6:22, emphasis mine) When I choose to live for God, there will be those who will separate from me, but that should be their choice. I should not seek to separate from them, putting myself up on a pedestal.

When I yield to my own soul instead of the Spirit, I am choosing to once again "see through a glass darkly." I am selecting shadow over substance. I am walking an artificial walk with God. I'm actually in bondage to the enemy!

How silly, when I can choose to simply feel at home in the presence of Jesus, leaning way back in His Love! I can just yield myself to His tender embrace, by faith, taking hold of the Word; then my fetters will fall off and I'll anchor my SOUL, because the Haven of Rest is then truly my LORD! ("Feeling at Home in the Presence of Jesus," by William J. and Gloria Gaither; "The Haven of Rest," public domain)

Next time, we'll talk about another area in which I can choose to yield to my soul, rather than the Spirit of God.

*Note: The right motive for separating myself is found in II Corinthians 6. There is an appropriate time for separation, but not with a motive to show myself as the more spiritual. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

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