So many books have been written about how to live the Christian life.
I’m not opposed to the offering of knowledge, understanding, or personal experiences.
Yet, over the years, I have been very selective only because there is this thing about me – not wanting to jump on bandwagons – expecially when it’s a book everyone is reading.
I’m cautious about trendy things. I think about this scripture found in 2 Timothy:
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear.
If we’re honest, it’s human nature to gravitate to an easier way. Sometimes I think many contemporary Christian books do this unknowingly through appealing to our soul (intellect, will, emotions) first which will then hopefully affect our spirit second. This isn’t necessarily bad but I wonder if authors can appeal to our spirit first?
Many Christians understand the “natural” or “carnal” man which is our soul. They know being a Christian means to “crucify the flesh” with all it’s worldly desires which are in direct opposition to the scripture. I think many are weary of what they have defined as a continual battle.
Instead of thinking about winning a battle, how about focusing on strengthening the spirit?
We don’t have to live a life of suffering in order to mature as a Christian. There are times of suffering but there is also this truth found in Proverbs:
The blessing of the LORD enriches, and He adds no sorrow to it.
I’m saying the Christian faith requires some serious thought. It challenges us. It confronts us. And the soul (intellect, will, emotions) may feel some suffering to turn away from sin and choose God’s ways.
The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee, written 92 years ago, explains the three components of every human being: spirit, soul, and body.
According to Nee, our soul (intellect, will, emotions) joins the spirit and body. The soul makes it possible for the spirit and the body to communicate and cooperate.
Spirit: The spirit part of us is awakened when it connects through being reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. The spirit part can also connect with Satan wherein we find witchcraft, et al.
Soul: The soul is our intellect, will, and emotions. We use these everyday. Nee says, “ … he [man] is still powerless to uncover the Word of life by his much thinking and theorizing. How untrustworthy are human reasonings! … without the guidance of the Holy Spirit intellect not only is undependable but also extremely dangerous because it often confuses the issue of right and wrong.”
Body: Our actions seen by everyone communicated through either our spirit or our soul (intellect, will, emotions).
Which one dictates the most in our daily lives? Is our soul determining more than it should and is it what causes our continual daily struggles? Always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth?
I have learned about our spirit, soul, and body in a church setting. One sermon might deal with our emotions or another about being led by the spirit and not the flesh. I don’t remember learning about all three together in the way Nee presents it.
Learning, and most importantly, wanting to yield to the spirit instead of the soul is life changing. Christians understand “obeying God” or “submitting to God” but too many of us have viewed it as a life long struggle. We view it as the old cartoons with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder. Everyday we are presented with choices (gossip, lying, gluttony, etc.) and we should listen to the angel, right? But if we listen to the devil, well, God loves us and forgives.
Yes, He does forgive. But we are delaying the work in our spirit maturing us.
God wants us to be free from everything that entangles us. Instead of living with daily battles of the soul, we learn to draw from our spirit. As our spirit matures, the stronger we become as we face life with all its challenges. We experience peace, joy, contentment, and more.
It becomes a lifestyle of abiding in the vine.
We may soon forget what we read in the newest book, but when we allow God to mature our spirit through yielding our intellect, will and emotions, we will have all we need on this side of eternity.