The Working of Soul and Spirit–Temptation and Sin
Part 6 of the Teacher/Trainer Outline
Why doesn’t life work? We are perfect vessels, joined to a perfect Christ, and yet we still find ourselves plagued by feelings of inadequacy, lust, laziness, jealousy, etc. Rather than being delivered from our besetting sins, we find ourselves in more guilt and condemnation than ever over our inability to overcome them. We can identify with Paul when he says, "For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7; 15). What is the problem?
We’ve already established that there is no such thing as a self operating self and that Satan is the producer of sin (John 8:44). So how is it that he can still produce it by us? The answer begins in understanding the makeup of a man: that he is body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The body is the physical house for the soul and spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
The soul is where emotions and reasoning take place — where we feel and think (Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 26:38–39). Our spirit, like God’s, has three faculties: desire–where we love (Luke 6:27); will–where we choose (Matthew 26:39); and the mind– where we know things (1 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Timothy 1:7). The difference is that our three spirit faculties are capacities that depend for their functioning on the spirit we are joined to, resulting in the expression of either Satan’s self–forself nature (Ephesians 2:1–3) or Christ’s perfect other–love (Ephesians 2:10).
Because we focus so much on our body and soul, they appear to be our problem. In fact, however, they are only filters for information coming from the outside world and the way we express our spirit choices to that world. Our thoughts and feelings, whether weak or strong, are morally neutral and going nowhere on their own (2 Corinthians 4:8–9, 6:4–10). Like a car in neutral, the motor may be running,
even racing, but the car cannot move until the spirit shifts the gear. The power to operate is in the spirit, so this is where our focus should be in looking for the source of the problem.
The rest of the answer lies in understanding that Satan, though no longer in us, tempts us from the outside through our thoughts and feelings, with the aim of diverting our focus from our true spirit oneness with Christ (Matthew 4:3; Revelation 12:10). Under the age–old deception that he himself is a self–operating self (or independent self), Satan tempts us to believe the same lie about ourselves.
Take, for example, the statement, "I feel jealous." His temptation is to make me believe that just because I feel jealous, that makes me a jealous person and that the feeling is the problem. It is Satan’s right to tempt me (Job 1:12), and I need to understand that feelings are not sin and temptation not sin (Matthew 4:1), but that sin is produced in me when my will consents to believe the lie of "independent self" (James 1:15). When I believe that I am jealous, Satan takes opportunity in my members to live out that jealousy (Romans 7:23).
The truth is, however, that my human spirit is joined to the Spirit of Christ and is thus what we call a "Christ–I," This Christ–I, wrapped in a body/soul, may feel jealous, but in reality is perfect for–others love. I walk this out by standing firm in faith (Galatians 5:1,16) that my human spirit’s own desiring, willing and knowing flow out of Christ’s spirit. When I know who I really am, no matter how I may continue to feel, Christ’s life is lived out by me (Romans 8:35–37).
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