The balance between our spirit, our soul, and our flesh can be a huge barrier to allowing His divinity to shine through our humanity. How often do we hear the call to walk in the Spirit? Jesus did it and encouraged it. The first apostles did it and encouraged it. Paul did it, taught it, and encouraged it. Today we talk about it, but do we do it?
We have come to the place where we are convinced a person either walks in the Spirit or they walk in the flesh. That causes us to believe that as long as we are not pursuing and constantly gratifying our flesh then we must be walking in the Spirit. But is that true? How much of what we call walking in the Spirit is really walking in our souls? How much is driven by the soulish side of us – that which makes up our feelings, our will, and our emotions?
We may be free of providing for our flesh and the lusts thereof, but what about our selfish desires and our emotionally driven will? We can easily become tied to our soul nature, where every circumstance of life establishes our spiritual condition. Yet we call that walking in the Spirit. We tell ourselves to break through in prayer, but the feelings and drive of our soul may become strong enough that we superimpose our own will into our prayer and what we hear from God. We find ourselves basing God’s leading on our own false pretense, and we allow our desire to become our word from God.
The answer to this challenge is found in God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews says it this way:
For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power (making it active, operative, energizing, and effective); it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and (the immortal) spirit, and of joints and marrow (of the deepest parts of our nature), exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (Amplified Bible)
The Word of God divides the soul and the spirit. It brings us to a place of reckoning. It causes us to have our minds renewed. It transforms our lives to a place that is beyond us and our natural ability. It brings us in line with God’s will, as that is always found in His Word. God’s Word possesses the power to move us away from our soulish, selfish desires and into alignment and agreement with His purpose for our lives. We often find ourselves operating in the soul nature of life because we have not learned to be content as the person Christ has made us to be. We must allow His light and divinity to shine through our humanity. This comes from our striving to be something we assume we need to be. As we talked about at the end of the chapter on Honor, God simply wants us to be faithful to Him, and to allow Him to work in and through our lives. He does so with our humanity as we submit it to Him, moving ourselves beyond the flesh and the soul.
How does a person know if he is walking according to the soul? Here are some common characteristics I have observed in those who are walking more according their soul than after the Spirit of God.
1. A person walking according to the soul will have a roller coaster life with high peaks and low valleys. The peaks and valleys will often happen rather closely together. This person will struggle with living on an even plane.
2. A person walking according to the soul will quickly neglect sound biblical truth that does not align with their will, desires or feelings.
3. A person walking according to the soul will pull away from or distance themselves from anyone who speaks truth that is opposed to their stance.
4. A person walking according to the soul will attract others by appearing strong, spiritual, and authoritative. In their opinion others need what they have.
5. A person walking according to the soul will assume their desires and wishes are the voice of God in their life as they have superimposed their will into their prayers.
6. A person walking according to the soul will navigate to and return to whatever gives them the highest peaks on their roller coaster ride of life. It is similar to a junkie looking for his next hit.
Again, the key is the Word of God, where we find the sword which divides the soul and spirit. We can choose to crucify or deny our flesh, but only God’s Word can bring that separation from our soul. That is a huge step in recognizing, embracing, and effectively serving God in our humanity. I do not want to stop short in my soulish approach and miss what is available to me by walking in the Spirit. When I walk in the Spirit I realize and find greater freedom, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. It does not mean I become any less human, but I learn to focus my attention on God’s power instead of my own.
(This entry is taken from my book, Sustaining God’s Presence, Chapter 5 – Humanity)