What to do when your life resembles Alphabet Soup! One Woman’s Answer
….continuation from part 1, printed in May/June 1992 issue.
Confusion Between Soul and Spirit
You are not just spirit and body. Your "Bugaboos" and your problems and difficulties in life come mainly from the third part of you: your soul. Let me hastily add here, though, that not only do your problems stem from your soul, but also your joys and exhilarations spring from your soul. Your very experience of life on this earth is because you have a soul that operates in full capacity. But until you understand it, the negative capacity of your soul messes up your life so badly that you don’t know how to enjoy the positive capacity of your soul. This is because you are jerked around and tossed here and there, not by your soul, but by what the enemy tells you about your soul.
Your soul has two capacities. This is vital to know. One capacity of the soul is emotion; the other is reason. You will notice in the word chart that follows that I have written the word feel under emotion; and under reason, I have written the word think. This is what the soul can do: it can feel and it can think.
The spirit has three capacities. One of these is desire, through which we express real love (the Greek agape, the love of God). Our human spirit is also where, even apart sometimes from mental reasoning and understanding, we know. The remaining capacity of the spirit is will, which has its fruition in choice. Free choice originates in God, and we, made in His image, are endowed by our Creator with like freedom of choice.
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 comes 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 this 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 your 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 tying 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 parenthesis? 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 nor 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. Feelings cannot accomplish this.
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 that 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.
This revelation hinges on the lie that Lucifer, as a created being, fell for, which turned him into Satan. His thought that he could be an independent self is what I can easily describe as original sin. I also believe this wrong believing is the root of every sin known to mankind. I call it the "lie of independent self."
The Real Problem: Satan’s Lie
If you have been seeing yourself as an "independent" person and acted from that belief, realize that you have gone for Satan’s lie about the believer. You have gone for Satan’s lie about yourself. God only sees union with Himself; Satan sees and sponsors this divided outlook. This is the sin of unbelief-unbelief about who God says you really are.
God has said that He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17). He has also said that He is the vine and believers are the branches. He is their owner, and believers are His bondslaves. He is the deity placed in the temple. We, the believers, are the temple to manifest and display Him. He is the husband, furnishing the seed to the productive wife. Believers are the wife, wedded to this One. He is the treasure, and we, the believers, are the vessels that contain Him.
The branch, the vessel, the temple, the wife…all are dependent. The branch is dependent upon the vine, the vessel upon the contents, the temple upon the deity, and the wife upon the husband.
The analogy of the owner and the slave shows that the master is the one who owns the slave, and as in Romans 6:17, the slave is never his own owner or his own operator.
So, if you are a believer, to even "see" yourself as an "alone-I" who has the ability to operate himself-even that seeing is sin. The Scripture says when we find sin present with us, to confess it. So the remedy is just to confess it. Call it sin and confess it. By confession I don’t mean "sackcloth and ashes." Confession is no more than agreeing with God. It’s as if God says, "Look what you have been doing. You have let the enemy get you confused and mixed up. See it. Confess it." It’s as simple as that.
The worst sin you will ever find out you have committed is the sin of wrong believing about yourself. And in doing that, you have allowed Satan to misuse you. That is what is wrong with every non-redeemed person, and with every born-again person who commits sins, minor or major-small ones that just "mess up" your life or blatant Biblical sins. Serious sins like theft, murder and adultery always stem from wrong seeing about ourselves as believers.
The result of living like this is not a life of sin-consciousness, but a life of true liberation. Bondage lies in wrong believing…to not see yourself as who you really are, one with Him. Wrong believing about yourself will immobilize you.
Wrong believing about yourself can cause conflict in a marriage, in the work place, with your children and in other situations. Satan, in your "independent self" believing, manages to get his hooks into your "members." The Bible talks of believers in these terms: "sin in my members" (Rom 7:23). "Members" means your soul and body (your "flesh") and not your spirit. Satan gets his hook in there and he is the confusion. He is the cause of the confusion. I’m not talking about the feeling of confusion I discussed earlier, but the confusion that results from the conflicts caused by wrong believing.
A Practical Example
Let me give you an example of how something seemingly small and insignificant in your life can be completely immobilizing to you. This past summer when my husband and I were in North Carolina, his car needed washing. Being in a very small resort center, there was no automatic wash place like I am used to back home. The place I took the car to was one of those where you plug the money and squirt off your own car. The coin slot was one of those flat things you lay quarters in and then slide in, where some mechanism picks up the change and then deposits it, and then you have access to the hoses and water.
I put in the required three quarters and the machine only took two of them; the others were left in the slot. Of course it would not operate without the full amount, and I did not have another quarter. The way the machine is made, there is a small hole beneath the quarters. So I decided to reach in and just pop my quarter out. Well, I got my quarter, but my finger got stuck. It was the same kind of situation as when you’re having trouble getting a ring off.
I said to myself, "This will come out in just a second." But then I realized my finger was not coming out. It was stuck! You know sometimes you can get a stick caught underneath your automobile, and if you pull hard, you can just jerk it out? So I thought, "Just jerk it out. It doesn’t matter if it hurts a little." Then I re-thought: "That is your human finger! You can’t just jerk it out!"
I could not go anywhere to get help. Nothing but the tip of my finger was caught and yet I could go nowhere. I was immobilized. All kinds of redeeming thoughts went through my mind: "If only I had some soap; there’s a restaurant nearby-I can scream and maybe they’ll hear; maybe someone else will come in for a car wash."
Finally, I said very meaningfully, "God you have got to get my finger out." I gave a soft jerk, and out it came. Later that week I realized what a great illustration this was of how one little sin thing in my life can completely immobilize me.
So In Conclusion
If you are a believer, the Spirit in you is going on all the time-knowing, loving and willing. What you are thinking and feeling is also going on simultaneously in your soul. Make the distinction between these two. And never deny your feelings; that will make you psychologically sick. But realize that you are not your soul. You, at your center, are spirit-one with the Lord and Creator of the universe.
Yes there are times when I look around-at others amid perplexing situations , or even within myself-and all I see for a moment is "alphabet soup." But, this does not occur often. When it does, I retrace my steps to see where unbelief entered.
Sometimes this takes only a moment or two. Once in my experience, it took several months, and I spent those days in what I know call my "black hole" of unbelief.
But on that occasion and on less serious ones now, I check myself by claiming that I am Christ in my form, that I am an expression of the Living Savior. I acknowledge to myself that I today live, not as the illusory "independent Page," but as "Christ-Page." I step out of unbelief into faith.
And, as by His grace, through my faith I was originally saved, I continue to walk out this Christian life in the same way. I will not be like those "foolish Galatians," who resisted the truth of what Paul wrote to them. Instead, I acknowledge that I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I (Page-alone) but Christ lives in me (Christ-Page), and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So my life is no longer a confused bowl of "alphabet soup!" Just the opposite-my life has meaning, purpose and joy.
BODY- House for soul and spirit
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within you? (I Cor. 6:19)
SOUL- Emotions and Reason
A. Where I feel things: hate, fear, jealously, lust shame, etc.
B. Love: phileo- brotherly love; eros- sexual love.
B. Where I reason or think things out
SPIRIT- Desire, will and mind
1. Desire: God’s agape love. "For God so hoed the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16) "Love your enemies" (Luke 6:27)
2. Will: Choices made here. Sin has its roots here. "Not as I will but as Thou wilt" (Mt. 26:39)
3. Mind: My spirit knowing. "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him?" (1 Cor 2:11)
Page is a Teacher-sharer and lives in Boone, NC with her husband, Tom, a trial lawyer.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 9 No 1
- The Missing Truth
- From Faith to Substance (Thought, Word, Deed)
- What to do when your life resembles Alphabet Soup! One Woman’s Answer
- What Makes God A Person?
- Fall Conference in England
- THE MAILBOX A Mask Ripped Off
- Daring To Believe
- Learning Acceptance
- Offering Support
- The Deep Things of God
- Encouragement From Afar
- Powerless Over Alcohol & Life: Steps 4 and 5
- Update From Boone
- From Bondage to Freedom: A Journey Into the Light
- Moments with Meryl
- Editor’s Note