The Nuts and Bolts of Living
This section of the outline is where the rubber meets the road. The ability to have Christ live your life, to walk as He walked, all hinges on your ability and willingness to discern between your soul and spirit.
We print a little booklet called "Alphabet Soup" by Page Prewitt. This is the definitive work on discerning soul from spirit. I cannot recommend this booklet enough.
As Norman Grubb says, we are spirit people. The Apostle Paul says "walk by the spirit" (Gal. 5:16). Jesus said God desires people to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). We have already learned that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our acceptance of that fact for ourselves, Satan has been put out of our spirit and our spirits have been joined to the spirit of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:17).
However, we are more than human spirits joined to Christ. We also have souls and a body. Mary, the mother of Christ, on learning she was to bear the Messiah, said "My soul praises the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46,47). So our souls reflect outwardly what our inward spirit choices are. Our soul is the vehicle by which either Christ or Satan expresses himself.
Our soul is where we are all different. In our spirits we as Christians are all one and undifferentiated. In our souls we are like the snowflakes, each one of us is individual and unique.
Our soul consists of two things: thoughts and feelings. It is through our souls that data from the world enters us. Our souls’ thoughts and feelings vary constantly. We may be saved but feel damned. We may think we hate someone one minute and think or feel we love them the next. Our thoughts and feelings are independent in the sense, as Page Prewitt says in "Alphabet Soup," that they have the inability to act. Because I feel like I hate someone has no bearing on how I treat that person. How I treat the person depends on my spirit choice. Of course, in a situation like the above, our spirit choice is not to independently try to love the person, but to believe that we are not our feelings and are perfect love towards that person because of the One we are joined to.
Our spirit has three capacities: desire, will and knowledge. The key thing about our spirit is that it only has the "capacity" to desire, will and know. Our spirit only reflects the quality of the spirit it is joined to. Our knowing is God’s knowing, our willing is God’s willing and our desiring is God’s desiring. In our unsaved days our desiring, willing and knowing were Satan’s work by us. When we are Christians our desiring, willing and knowing is really Christ through us.
Our souls’ feelings and thoughts, no matter how intense or bizarre, have no effect on our spirit, which is unchanging. At our spirit center, we are in an unbroken eternal union with Jesus Christ.
Our problems commence when we have a feeling or thought that we identify ourselves with. We are not our feelings and our thoughts. We are Christ in our particular John, Gary, Lisa or Patricia form. Satan’s trick is to tempt us to make the choice to believe that we are our feelings.
Let us say we wake up feeling depressed or frightened. Our temptation is to say "I’m depressed" or "I’m frightened." Now we can say, "I’m Christ in my form and I feel depressed." That is a true statement. It reflects the truth of our unbroken union with Jesus Christ and allows us to freely express our feelings of fear. (See Page Prewitt’s "Alphabet Soup" pp. 2934.)
So again, I wake up and feel depressed. What do I do? Do I give in and go into a funk or do I freely admit my feelings of depression but affirm who I am in the face of that feeling and move on?
As Christ in our forms, we can feel depressed all the day and still have Christ actually living our lives because Spirit is not affected by soul feelings and thoughts. Our soul is going no where; depressed feelings do not mean depressed actions. Those feelings are only feelings and do not affect who we really are at our spirit center.
Satan’s job is to convince us we are "just us" –and, therefore, are our feelings. When I agree with him that "I" am depressed, or "I" am afraid, I am seeing myself independently. I am seeing myself as just myself instead of as Christ as me who is having lots of different feelings.
Once I have bitten the hook and said "I" am depressed (you pick your own adjective), rather than "I" feel depressed but I am Christ going on, I have fallen into unbelief and Satan has a hook in me to operate me in that area of unbelief. Satan is free to live out sloth, resentment and irresponsibility through my soul/ body.
On the other hand, I can fully experience the feeling, accept it, but know at my spirit center I am eternally joined to Christ and that I have a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).
I have a friend who knew he was Christ in his form, who went through a severe period of depression following the death of his mother. His funk lasted several months and he grew more and more nonfunctional. He kept waiting for God to lift the feelings so he could be OK, but his feelings remained the same. Finally his agony grew unbearable. He decided he would believe he was Christ in his form even if he felt depressed the rest of his life. The interesting part is that he does not remember when he came out of his depression, but only that he did. He remembers it did not matter amy more to him how he felt. He just shifted his focus from his soul feelings to his true spirit reality.
This is how we walk in the spirit. It is not waiting for our feelings to change. It is living as Christ despite our feelings. Do we think Christ woke up the day before his crucifixion (when he still had the opportunity to flee) and said "Oh what a great day to be crucified; that must mean it’s God’s will for me. I think I’ll joyfully wait in the garden until Judas and the soldiers come."
No! He woke up that day depressed and frightened. He absolutely did not feel like he wanted to be crucified. In fact he felt terrified and wanted to escape. Remember how he knelt in the garden, sweating great drops of blood, asking God to let him not die (Luke 22:41–43)?
However, he had made a Spirit choice to be crucified and save the world. This choice stood (thankfully) despite his soul feelings to the contrary.
The other interesting thing is that despite his suffering, he was able to be interested in another person’s salvation in the midst of his own crucifixion. Remember he converted the good thief as they both were dying on the cross. This is proof of our ability to be otherlove when we are in physical or emotional pain (Luke 23:42,43).
I have been a feeling addict most of my life. My goal has been to change feelings I don’t like, and I used my addiction to anesthetize my unwanted feelings. Even from a young age I used my drug of choice to change my feelings. This worked. However, you reap what you sow, and years of doing this left me unable to deal with life head–on on life’s terms.
As a middle–aged adult, I have had to day–by–day face into feelings long ago buried. I have had to make a hard spirit choice about who I am in the midst of the feeling. Sometimes my feelings change; sometimes they don’t. I have no control over the feelings. The great joy I have found is that no matter what the feelings or thoughts, they cannot affect my spirit center.
Remember, you can not taste, see, touch or feel spirit. It has been a hard thing for me to accept by naked faith that I am Christ going on while all my feelings and thoughts scream the opposite.
The real joy in life is knowing that nothing, neither height nor depth nor length nor breadth can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, which is really my spirit union with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:38,39).
So we are body, soul and spirit. The secret to life is knowing we are joined to the Lord at our spirit center and differentiating between our everchanging soul feelings and thoughts and our unchanging spirit union with Jesus Christ.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 1
- Romans Six to Eight, Part Three
- Editor’s Note
- Autumn England Conference
- Our Mission and Identity
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- A Look at a Book
- Questions & Answers
- The Working of Soul and Spirit–Temptation and Sin
- The Nuts and Bolts of Living
- My Story
- To Think About
- Powerless Over Alcohol and Life: Step 12
- The Mailbox
- The Real Thing
- Words to Live By