8.1. Living Soul
( Gen. 2:7 ; John 6:63 ; Rom. 8:16 ; Heb. 4:12 ) Since soul and spirit can be divided, they must be different in nature. When God inbreathed into man, the breath of life became man’s spirit, that is, the principle of life within him. When this spirit came into contact with the body, the soul was produced. Hence, the soul is the combination of man’s body and spirit. From this, man is called ‘a living soul’.
Man was designated a living soul, for it was there that the spirit and body met and through which his individuality was known. Man’s soul represents him and expresses his individuality. It is the organ of man’s free will by which man chooses to follow God or some other source to guide and direct his life, goals, and purposes.
( 1 Cor. 15:44,45 ; Luke 1:46-47 ; John 16:13 ) The first Adam, a living soul, lived through the body, and the body gives us world-consciousness. The soul is the site of the personality because it is where the spirit and body merge. The soul belongs to man’s own self and reveals his personality, and the part of self-consciousness. The spirit is that part by which we commune with God by which we apprehend and worship Him. This spirit is called the element of God-consciousness. Thus, God dwells in the spirit, self dwells in the soul, while senses dwell in the body.
The spirit transmits its thought to the soul, and the soul exercises the body to obey the spirit’s order. Since the soul lies between spirit and body, it is the medium by which the spirit or the body determines its character. Before the fall of man, the spirit controlled the whole being through the soul. It is the will in the soul which determines whether the spirit, the body, or even itself is to rule. As such the soul is the organ of man’s individuality, and the reason the Bible calls man ‘a living soul’.
( 1 Cor. 3:16 ; 1 Thess. 5:23 ) God formerly dwelt in the temple, as the Holy Spirit indwells man today. As in the temple, God is present in the Holy of Holies and His Light shone on the Holy Place – the soul of man. The soul directs the body, the outer place. Before the fall, God’s word, the Light, was directly linked to man’s spirit. Before the fall, the soul was governed by the spirit. This is the order God still wants: first the spirit, then the soul, and lastly the body.
( Ps. 51:10 ; 1 Cor. 2:11 ; Mark 2:8 ; John 4:23 ) Human spirit is not the same as the soul nor is it the same as the Holy Spirit. The human spirit has three functions: conscience, intuition, and communion. The conscience is the discerning organ which distinguishes right and wrong, not by influence of knowledge stored in the mind but rather by a spontaneous direct judgment. The intuition is the sensing organ of the human spirit. We really ‘know’ through our intuition; our mind really helps us to ‘understand’ through the medium of our imagination. The revelations of God and all the movements of the Holy Spirit are known to the believer through his intuition. Communion is worshipping God. Our worship of God and God’s communications with us are directly in the spirit – the ‘inner man’ – not in the soul.
( Lev. 11:44 ; Lev. 17:11 ; 1 Chron. 22:19 ; Prov. 19:2 ; Luke 1:46 ; Matt. 16:26 ; Luke 9:25 ; 1 Cor. 15:44 ; Heb. 4:12 ) The soul comprises the mind, intellect, memory, emotion and will. The soul is man’s life, his natural life. The life of our present body is that of the soul. The soul is the organ of volition and the natural life. Thus, as humans we determine what kind of Christian we become, whether spiritual or soulish. Before regeneration, whatever is included in life-be it self, life, strength, power, choice, thought, opinion, love feeling – pertains to the soul. Soul life is the life man inherits at birth. All that this life possesses and all that it may become are in the realm of the soul. Therefore, if we can distinctly recognize what is soulical, it will then be easier to recognize what is spiritual.
( Gen. 1:24-26 ; Gen. 2:7 ; Ezek. 36:26-27 ) Our spirit comes directly from God, it is God-given. Our soul is not so directly derived; it was produced after the spirit entered the body. God bestowed upon man sovereign power and gifts to the human soul. Thought, will, intellect and intention are among the prominent portions. The original purpose of God is that the human soul should receive and assimilate the truth and substance of God’s spiritual life by a voluntary action. Man is given the choice of two trees: one tree germinates spiritual life; the other develops soulish life.
( Gen. 3:1-6 ; Gen. 3:12-13 ; 1 Tim. 2:14 ; 1 Pet. 2:24 ; 1 Cor. 3:18-20 ) Eve by trying to answer Satan exercised her mind-disobedience to the spirit. Satan provoked her soulical thought first, then advanced to seize her will. Exercising soul in relation to the body brought forth the lusts and associated emotions. The intellect was the chief cause of the fall, the activity of the mind. Thus, become a fool that you may become wise ( Prov. 3:5-6 ).
Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)
BSAF on Eph. 4:22-32 .
Study Ps. 119 . For each set of 8 verses, summarize and meditate on one principle to live by for each set. Visualize and dwell upon the truths revealed – a meditation process. You are a spiritual being and as such to live solely by the Spirit of God through the Word of God – rest in and allow God to speak to your spirit – a contemplation process. By faith, the word is anointed, and the anointed word connects the natural with the supernatural: Through us God establishes His Kingdom on earth. We are the salt and light, to shine into the deep darkness of this world, that is, God’s light in our spirit, to our soul through the body to the world.
Review Section 11.7, “Center of the Soul” for more insights.
Reference: See [Nee1] for further reading. For a comprehensive understanding of personhood and of the life principles we are to exercise to impact our culture, see [Spitzer1].
8.2. Sins of the Flesh/Self of the Flesh
( Rom. 7:14,17-18 ; Rom. 6:6,11,14 ; Rom. 7:14,17-18 ) ‘Sin’ here is the power of sin and the ‘me’ here is acknowledged as the ‘self’ – the soul. Our old self was crucified with Christ. Man is not required to do anything. He only need consider this an accomplished fact. He reaps the effectiveness of the death of Jesus in being wholly delivered from the ‘power of sin’. However, the self remains and we are to take up the cross for denying self – the residuals of the old life that still remain in the mind, memory, emotion and will. To wholly conquer sin the believer needs to deny the self ( Rom. 6:11 ), not for just a moment, but for an entire lifetime. Only on the cross did Jesus bear our sins; yet, throughout His life the Lord ‘denied’ Himself (the appeal to self preservation). The same must be true of us.
( Gal. 5:17-24 ) Verse 17 stresses the ‘self’ (sinful nature) of the flesh while verse 24 stresses the ‘sin’ of the flesh. Thus, the cross of Christ deals with sin and the Holy Spirit through the cross treats of self. The self of the flesh – the life of feelings, of senses – seeks self-centered purposes and fulfillment: the tree of good and evil.
This is the issue, the battle zone, man was placed on earth not to meet his own needs but to serve and accomplish God’s purposes: the tree of life. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the power in man to overcome the pull of the senses, the memories and emotions that tempt, in order to say ‘no’ to the old way, and to say ‘yes’ to God, the new way. He is enabled do what God’s word says to do regardless of any feelings to the contrary. Thus, sin is dealt with once and forever at the cross. Our job is not to deal with sin directly but with the inordinate sensuality and corrupted imaging that usually follows. This is the battle: to keep our thoughts, our memories, our reasonings, and our imaginations pure and holy. Here we “fight the good fight of faith”. Accordingly, be aware that reason knows by the faculty of the imagination; that affection feels by the faculty of sensuality. Both faculties are to be monitored and bounded: to be subject to constant vigilance, to insure that they are tempered and exercised in moderation in order to be kept pure and holy.
( Luke 9:23-24 ; Rom. 8:5-8 ) Christ delivers the believer completely from the power of sin through the cross, so that sin may not reign again. By the Holy Spirit Who dwells in the believer, Christ enables him to overcome self daily and obey Him perfectly. Liberation from sin is an accomplished fact; denial of self is to be a daily experience.
( Acts 9:17-18 ; Rom. 7:15-24 ; 1 Cor. 3:1-3 ; James 1:2-4 ; 1 Pet. 4:12-13 ) Biblical regeneration is a birth by which the innermost part of man’s being, the deeply hidden spirit, is renewed and indwelt by the Spirit of God. We need to progress from mental knowledge of God’s truth to its being revealed in our inner man by the Holy Spirit: the realization that all believers will be filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of belief and baptism. It takes time for the power of this new life to reach the outside, from the center of our being to the circumference. New believers still walk in the realm of inordinate sensuality and vain imaginations. It takes tests and trials to bring about and reveal, and identify the carnal aspects of these faculties. All of this is to be refined by fire in order to bring man into the spiritual realm.
( Rom. 6:7 ; Gal. 5:17-24 ) We become flesh by being born of it. The only way to get rid of it is for the flesh to die. The flesh is not to be conquered, it is to die. The flesh, the root of the tree, must be put to death. In Christ, the believer is delivered from the rule of the flesh. By the cross, he can walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Therefore, do not look at your experiences, your sin patterns and sinful reactions which continue, but the word says you “have been crucified with Christ”. Do not listen to or look at your experiences, but listen to what God says to you. Act upon this truth and you shall see that the flesh is dead, indeed, in time.
( Gal. 2:20 ; Rom. 6:6 ) At the moment Christ was crucified, our flesh also was crucified. And it was the Lord Jesus Christ Who took us to the Cross at His Crucifixion. Therefore, we are not to walk according to our experiences, feelings and sight but according to faith in the word of God.
Note: ( Rom. 8:4-9 ; Eph. 2:2 ; Phil. 2:12-16 ) There are two selves: the false self and the true self. The ‘false self’ is that of the flesh and its bodily appetites, stimulated by externals and circumstances of life, the feelings thereof of which you are no longer to live by or permit to direct your life. The’ true self’ is the regenerated human spirit now in union with the Holy Spirit which lives and exist by the word and will of God. You must choose to live by one or the other. By your choice, you determine who energizes your life: the Holy Spirit or the devil.
( Rom. 8:13 ; Gal. 5:16 ; Rom. 6:12-13 ) When wicked lusts are aroused or any sins of the flesh are stimulated, it is the power of the Holy Spirit Who administers the death of the cross to whatever needs to die. In view of the fact that the believer’s flesh was crucified with Christ on the cross, he does not need today to be crucified once again. Thus, by appropriating the cross the babe in Christ will be liberated from the power of the flesh and will be united with the Lord in resurrection life.
( Rom. 7:15-24 ; Rom. 8:23 ; 1 Cor. 15:22-23 ; 1 Cor. 15:42-44 ) No matter how much our inner mind may serve God’s law, one’s flesh always serves sin’s law. As long as we live in the body, we must be alert daily lest the flesh break forth with its wicked deeds. You cannot take life for granted. Accordingly, examine yourself continuously: for you are either walking in the spirit or in the flesh, there is no gray area.
Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)
BSAF on selected verses from above.
Review Col. 3:4-17 , list your failures, and on the basis of principles listed herein, work through these failures by your will. In the power of the Holy Spirit, put-on Christ’s clothing, and see self being conformed unto His Image as you become a blessing in this dark world which needs to see your light ( Eph. 6:10-17 ; Phil. 1:28 ; Rev. 16:15 ). Review Section 11.9, “Union with God” for more insights.
8.3. Dividing of Spirit and Soul
( Heb. 4:12 ; 2 Tim. 1:7 ; Matt. 10:38-39 ) The call of the Cross of the Lord Jesus is to beckon us to hate our natural life, to seek to lose it and not keep it. Our Lord wants us to sacrifice self and be yielded wholly to the working of the Holy Spirit. If we are to experience afresh His true life in the power guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must be willing to present to death every opinion, labor and thought of the old soul life.
( Ps. 25:20-21 ; Isa. 53:12 ; Luke 23:46 ; 1 Pet. 4:19 ) Self-pity, self-love, fear of suffering, withdrawal from the cross are manifestations of the old soul life: for its prime need and motivation is self preservation. When we choose to commit our souls to His keeping and not follow our desires, God will fulfill His purposes in and through us to establish His Kingdom on earth. Jesus poured out His soul to death and gave His Spirit to the Father. We are to do the same by putting our trust in His promises and to wait on God to fulfill us.
( Heb. 4:12-16 ; Luke 2:35 ; Matt. 10:38-39 ) By His word and the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Christian is enabled to differentiate in experience the operation and expression of the spirit as distinct from those of the soul. The High-Priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus in this case fulfills His work as High Priest with respect to our spirit and soul, splitting apart the soul and spirit by the word of God which is the sword of the Spirit.
The sword pierced Mary’s soul for she was required to let go of Him ‘Her Son’, to relinquish all her authority and demands upon Him. Mary must deny her natural affections, and so do we. As Jesus poured out His soul to death but committed His Spirit to God, we must do the same. Then we shall know the power of His resurrection and shall enjoy a perfect spiritual way in the glory of resurrection ( Phil. 3:10 ).
( Ps. 25:20-21 ; Rom. 6:11-12 ; 1 Pet. 1:22 ; Luke 9:23-24 ; Gal. 5:16-17 ) We must know the necessity of having the spirit and soul divided. We are to ask God to do His work, the separation of our spirit from our soul. Our responsibility is to yield daily to specific situations as we stand on Rom. 6:11 daily bearing the cross and living according to the Spirit.
( Rom. 12:1-2 ) To lie on the altar is what we must do. Everything that belongs to emotions, sensations, mind and natural energy would be separated one after another from the spirit so as to leave no trace of fusion.
( Mark 15:38 ) Curtain that remains is our soulish, natural life. We are to commit our soul life to death in order that the Lord Who dwells in the Holiest may finish His work. As the work of the cross works thoroughly enough in us the Lord shall indeed integrate the Holiest and the Holy within us just as He did centuries ago: renting the curtain by His might so that the Holy Spirit might flow out from His Glorious body, filling our soul completely with His Presence.
( 2 Chron. 7:1-2 ; Heb. 10:39 ; 1 Pet. 1:9 ; Eph. 6:6 ; Matt. 6:25 ; 1 Pet. 4:19 ; Luke 1:46 ; Matt. 6:33 ) Our mind, emotion, memory, imagination, and will shall be filled by Him. What we know by faith, we shall know and experience in the soul. The cross works toward the surrender of the soul’s independence so that it may be reconciled completely to the spirit. We obtain the life of the word from the word of life. Though the organs of the soul still remain, these organs no longer function through its own power; rather, they operate by the power of God’s word. A soul under the rule of the Holy Spirit never fears, never worries because self-consciousness and self-centeredness are eliminated as believers lose their self in God. Instead of suffering anxiety we can restfully seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness. We know if we care for God’s cares that God will take care of our cares.
Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)
Heb. 4:12 ; Phil. 3:10
BSAF on selected verses from above.
Review Rom. 5:1-5 ; Rom. 12:9-21 ; Col. 3:5-17 ; 2 Pet. 1:3-11 . Make a list of your sins and failures to live by God’s standards. Set a plan of action to live by God’s word. Prepare Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” or Section A.8, “Freedom From Anxiety” to accomplish God’s goals for your life.
8.4. Union with Christ
( John 3:16 ; Rom. 8:14 ; 1 Cor. 6:17 ; 1 Cor. 15:45 ; Titus 2:5 ) Faith in Christ makes one a regenerated believer; obedience to the Holy Spirit makes one a spiritual believer. The risen Lord is the life-giving Spirit. His union with the believer is a union with the believer’s spirit. The soul, the seat of man’s personality, belongs to the natural. All it can and is to be is a vessel for expressing the fruit of the union between the Lord and the believer’s inner man. Nothing in man’s soul partakes of the Lord’s life; it is solely in the spirit that such union is effected.
( Rom. 6:5 ; Rom. 1:4 ; 1 Pet. 3:18 ; Rom. 7:4,6 ) Because the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead according to the Spirit of Holiness and was made alive in the Spirit, we too, are alive when united with Him in resurrection, and alive and united with Him in His resurrected Spirit. Henceforth, we are dead to everything pertaining to ourselves and alive to His Spirit alone. This requires faith being identified with His death: we lose the sinful and natural in us once we identify with His resurrection. We are united with His resurrected life, so that we serve now in the new life of the Spirit.
( Col. 3:1-3 ; Eph. 1:2-4 ) The Lord is the life-giving Spirit. Being joined to him, we are filled with life and nothing can limit that life. Dwelling upon God’s word gives us the knowledge of God’s will and mind: continuing to meditate on this provides a rich inflow of the Lord’s vitality and nature. No longer swayed by emotion, we put under foot all that is earthly enabling us to discern everything with the transparent sight of heaven.
( John 16:13 ; 1 Cor. 3:16 ; Eph. 1:13-14 ; Eph. 3:16 ; James 4:5-8 ) God’s indwelling Presence teaches, guides and communicates the reality of Christ in the human spirit. The human spirit is strengthened by acting on God’s word when confronted with daily tests and temptations, yielding to the Lord and forsaking any doubt: willing to believe with prayer that He will flood their spirit with His power. Thus, the strengthened spirit gains dominion over the soul and body, and thus, serves as a channel for the life of the Spirit to be transmitted to others.
( Rom. 8:4-6 ; Gal. 3:14 ) To live by the spirit means to walk according to intuition. It is to have all one’s life service and action in the spirit, ever being governed and empowered by it: this is the Christian’s daily task. Such a walk by the spirit requires reliance and faith. Working in our innermost depth, the Holy Spirit expresses Himself through our spirit’s delicate sensibilities.
( Gal. 5:16-18 ) Walking after the spirit involves both the initiation of a work by revelation and execution of it through the Lord’s strength. If we follow intuition instead of thought, opinion, feeling or tendency, we will end well: as we rely on the Spirit’s power and not on our talent, strength or ability.
( 1 Thess. 5:23 ; Rom. 8:9-14 ) Paul describes the authentic condition of the spiritual man…
1. He has God dwelling in the spirit, sanctifying him totally.
2. Man does not live by soul life. His every thought, imagination, feeling, idea, affection, desires and opinion is renewed and purified by the Spirit and brought into subjection to his own spirit. He no longer operates independently.
3. He still possesses his body; yet, physical numbness, pain, and demand do not impel the spirit to topple from its ascended position. Every member of the body becomes an instrument of righteousness.
In conclusion, a spiritual man is one who belongs to the Spirit: the whole man is governed by the inner man; all the organs of his being are subject completely to it.
Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)
BSAF on 1 Cor. 2 .
In prayer, ask the Lord to reveal to you areas where you are controlled and conditioned by your soul life, that is, thoughts, speech, and actions that are not based on godly principles. To help in this, read Rom. 12:9-21 ; Eph. 4:22-32 ; Col. 3:5-16 . Review Section 5.2, “Transforming the Natural Self” for more insights