Here is an excerpt from Page Prewitt’s wonderfully practical booklet Alphabet Soup which is pertinent to our topic for this issue.
Most people—I could all but say 99% of God’s humanity have spirit and soul mixed up. Have you ever eaten alphabet soup? It has all those little ABCs in it, but you can’t look into that soup and read a single word. It’s just a “mix-up.” And the ABCs are mixed up with the corn, tomatoes, peas and butterbeans; so if you want something to read and figure out, you won’t get much helpful material from alphabet soup.
Most people who look down into themselves to figure out life and to figure out themselves, look down and find alphabet soup! A mess: a total mess. And it is so messed up that even if a word does appear, the meaning to it is not clear!
When people today start trying to “clean up and sort out” their own lives, they have difficulty discerning between the spirit and soul meaning of words. For example, notice that I have placed desire in the spirit part of you. Unless you have been schooled in what I am writing about, you would probably think of desire as something that goes on in your emotions or reason.
Let me illustrate this with three very simple sentences:
“I am confused.”
“I am jealous.”
“I am afraid.”
Why do people make these statements? They make them because they have strong feelings of confusion, jealousy or fear; or perhaps all three are coexisting. The snag come from the enemy, Mr. Satan himself, who does not want you to have an answer. he wants you to stay “mulled up.” He even wants you to keep on trying to work it out, for his object is to keep you under his control, and this is how he operates to accomplish that aim.
As you try to work through these feelings, think them through or even talk to someone about them (me, for example), what you want to talk about, think about and work through, is the confusion. If in talking to me, I say to you, “But that is not the point,” then to your confusion and frustration, anger is added and you then say to me, “You are not listening! You are not hearing me!” What you want to do is tell me just one more time how confused you are, and you even want to elaborate on your confusion.
Let me tell you something from my own experience. Some years back I was involved in a group under the direction of a trained clinical psychologist who was also a believer, with a Ph.D in his field. I had an identical encounter to the one I have imagined between you and me. When I said to the group, “You are not hearing me,” the doctor made this point. He said, “Page, they are hearing you. And you have to ‘tell it just one more time.’ What is happening is that they are not agreeing with you.”
Now you may think that if you can tell it just one more time, I will not only understand you, but also agree with you. So when you are talking to me or to anyone in actual life encounters, and you think we are not listening, and you confusion then leads to frustration and anger, know this: we hear you; we understand; we just don’t agree.
The enemy wants to keep your focus on the confusion, the frustration and the anger. Satan wants to keep you working on that and “build his case” around that. Why? Because as long as you work on the confusion (or the fear, jealousy or what have you), you will never get the solution to the problem. You will be just trying the knot tighter.
The enemy knows that once you see the root of the problem, he will have one less place where he can tempt you, or even go beyond tempting you and get you to fall for the temptation and finally sin. He does not want you to see the answer to this dilemma.
This is the problem. When you keep telling me about your confusion, what you are really talking about is “you alone” being a confused person. The enemy steps right up, picks up your feeling of confusion and says, “Look at you! See what you feel. You are confused.” If you are not keen and are not experienced in this, you just repeat to him what he says. You say in agreement, “I am confused.” The simple solution to the problem is this: you take your personal pronoun I and correct it to read Christ-I, for as a Christian, that is who you really are (Gal. 2:20).
Notice how I have altered the sentence below:
“Christ-I feels confused.”
Can you remember in grade school how pupils filled in the blanks of their grammar workbooks from a choice of words that were in a parentheses? They would complete the sentence with the correct word. That is just like what we are doing here. You add before the I the word Christ, and form the new pronoun Christ-I. That pronoun now becomes the subject of your sentence. Not an “alone-I” as you had before, not a “just you,” and also not a “just Christ.”
Now see how I have written, “Christ-I feels confused.” It is true that “Christ-alone” does not feel confused. But He has pleased Himself to take up residence in and indwell me, and as many confirming passages in the book of Hebrews point out, He is pleased to undergo our temptations with us. Therefore, though He himself alone neither is confused nore feels confused, He willingly subjects Himself to “re-feel” those feelings in you—yes, as you.
What you feel is a part of your soul and not a part of your spirit. It is all right to feel anything you feel. You are supposed to feel anything you feel—the “good” list, the “bad” list, the “indifferent” list.
What you feel does not touch your spirit because the spirit part of you is the part that never changes. Spirit is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is a separate, distinct thing and never becomes anything that you express in and through your soul.
Therefore, I can legitimately say from a “Christ-I consciousness” that I feel confused. Or afraid, or tired, or out-of-sorts. I can even say, “I feel like I hate her.”
Feelings Are Neutral
Many people think good feelings come from God and bad feelings come from Satan. If they feel good, they rejoice. If they feel bad, they think Satan has climbed over the wall, so to speak, taken their “members” captive (Rom. 7:5, 23), and that something “bad” is going on. But that is not true.
Interpreting feelings like that can immobilize a believer, for feelings are a neutral part of our humanity. God does not have feelings. People sometimes don’t like to hear that, but God is the same all the time. His love and His actions are not dependent on fluctuating feelings.
When your feelings rise up out of your humanity, they are neutral. In a sense, feelings are independent. This independence (though we may deny it) signifies the inability to act, to go into action. This, feelings cannot accomplish.
Feelings are merely impulse receivers. Years ago in Florida I had a high school chemistry lab, and on the professor’s desk one day was a dead chicken leg. We took an electrode and touched the muscle of that dead chicken. Guess what happened? It jumped! Now do you think anybody in that class in their wildest imagination expected that chicken leg to walk off that guy’s desk from the impulse? The answer is no—NO!
So now when feelings, thoughts and ideas rise up in you, see the neutrality of them and the inability of those feelings to go anywhere or do anything. Even though the chicken leg received a shock and reacted, it wasn’t going anywhere.
There is nothing wrong, when you have come to the knowledge of the truth, in expressing how you feel and what you think. Feelings and thoughts register in our souls, not in our spirits. But we experience these feelings and reasonings as integrated persons.
I mentioned before how even after it was established in my mind that I truly was a re-expression of Jesus Christ, there was still a missing link. It was still a puzzle to me about how to operate this life that I knew I had. The key was in discovering exactly how the soul, body and spirit function. When I found the distinction between soul and spirit, and when I made the discovery that I had never functioned and never would function as an “independent” person, I had the key that opened this heretofore closed door.