During my morning search to see what’s new on the world scene, I ran into an interesting YouTube video which had little to do with current events, but as most of us have experienced, one video will lead to another. In a short time I ran into one video by an evangelist who happens to be one that I struggle watching or listening to for reasons which have no importance to the comments I would like to share in this writing. I had been praying about a number of things off and on this morning and when I ran across this video, I had some things drop into my thoughts that I really couldn’t ignore. I will attempt to share at least a little of what came to mind.
Many people use the words soul and spirit synonymously and are not aware that there is a difference between them. They are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not the same. Because it is important for the subject matter in this article, I would like to point out some of the difference. The Bible teaches us that human beings are a three-fold being; spirit, soul, and body. The animal kingdom only has a physical body, but seems to have at least some characteristics that are usually associated with “soul”, due to individual personality traits, etc.
In short, this is the difference. The spirit is the part of us that was created by our Creator to facilitate our communion with Him. In using the word “communion”, I am not referring to the bread and grape juice taken by Christian people in remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which the Apostle Paul taught about to the early church in the first book of Corinthians. The communion I am referring to has to do with the intimate communication that has been made available to us by GOD Himself. This is a unique communication with God one-on-one. The human spirit is the only part of us that really can have this connection, and this connection is impossible without humbling ourselves before Him first; accepting His free gift of forgiveness; asking for this very same forgiveness due to the lost condition of the human race, and then inviting Him to become LORD.
All of us have a body that is going to live forever, and death of the human body is only a temporary state until all things have been completed in God’s ultimate plan. The body will be resurrected to either enjoy the everlasting inheritance that God created us for, or to suffer the loss of everything, including an eternity in the Presence and provision of God for those who choose to follow Him. The choice that decides between the two could not be more crucial.
Our spirit, as mentioned, comes alive at the point we join the family of God, when we allow Him to be our LORD. I won’t go into the difference between those that make an original commitment to the LORD without ever progressing from that point, and those that actually let Him be sovereign in their lives. There is a world of difference, and it is worth searching out.
A soul simply consists of the mind, personality, and emotion s, and much of its makeup is genetic, but not all. This is of course oversimplified, but will serve my purpose for the moment. Just for clarity, the mind and the brain are not the same. The brain is a physical organ of the physical body. The mind is a whole lot more. The soul, at least the way I see it, determines much of the difference between individuals. Just like there is no snowflake like another, no soul is a duplicate of another. We are all different, sometimes drastically so. The soul is the part of us that is formed by our upbringing, culture, environment, experiences in life—positive or negative, and how this has affected us psychologically. This is really a great simplification, but will need to suffice for now.
Each of us has a world-view which affects our opinions of things and how we deal with them. This is formed by what we read, what we have been taught, people that have influence with us, culture, religion, and many other things. This can be applied politically, socially, educationally, financially, and spiritually—which is what I want to touch on briefly.
I can think back to many of the experiences I had in working with different churches over the many years. The LORD gave me the privilege of being in places and experiencing things with people and places that I wouldn’t trade for all the gold in the world. The experiences were a source of growth in me, and they helped me to form a definition for myself of what it meant to “minister” to people. I am a loner by nature but really am a people lover. If that were not the case, I could not have done the things I’ve done nor accomplished the things that God asked of me. Much of what I did, if not most, did not provide the recognition that many receive, but this was not important.
I remember thinking that I would love to have taught a class in college called “Ministry where the rubber meets the road.” The LORD showed me that there was a lot of pride and arrogance just under the skin of the “spiritual” coat of paint I gave my attitudes. Who was I that I would think that I had anything special? I had committed myself to a lifetime of following God’s leading in my life, and He lead me where He chose. I made more than my share of mistakes, but I had followed Him at every major fork in the road of my life of “ministry”. God reminded me that He was the One that gave the orders and He was the One that provided specific direction when needed, He was the One that granted His blessings, He was the One that empowered; He was the One that provided protection so many times; in fact He literally spared my life more times than I can count. Fact is–He was the One that did everything! My part was to trust and obey, and that was about it. I did do that, often at considerable cost.
So, if that was the case, who was I to think that I was anything special at all? I wonder how often we get detoured in our journey of service to our KING, due to our “soul” being more in control of our mindset and actions than our spirit that should be communing with the Holy Spirit.
I remember being a bit prideful because I saw myself as a bit of a rebel to the spiritually institutional way of fulfilling the Great Commission in Mark 16. I used to talk about having been spit out of a “preacher factory”. I didn’t see how derogatory this sometimes was. I saw it as something that put me a notch or two above many others! How prideful! How foolish! I remember also thinking I was such a “deep” person! My head would swell anytime I overheard someone from my congregation or any of my radio program listeners compliment any of the things I was doing. I remember overhearing one lady asking another how she rated to be able to attend a special class I was teaching. I think I grew 4” in height and my hat size grew two sizes!
Fortunately, God was right there and spoke into my heart right away and said, “Don’t you be a fool and fall for that!” I listened. I even remember a couple ladies claiming that they saw a halo around my head while I was teaching in church! So now I was the haloed man of God!! Many others have had these things happen, often with total disaster down the road.
I could go on, but I have used my own life as enough of an example. I hope it is clear that I don’t think these things of myself today. Now the older I get, the more I don’t really know! It is clear however that the enemy of our souls plays a very dirty game, especially with those that are in a place of influence over people. Ministries are falling everywhere. Ministers are falling from their pinnacles all over the world as well. God will not share His glory with any man or church organization, no matter how seemingly successful.
God makes it clear that we are to live a life of humility before Him. He also instructs us not to judge others; in the process lifting our own status up. We’re quite good at camouflaging our attitudes by a phony attitude of godly humility, but God is not fooled, nor are most people. I think of a news commentator on a cable news channel that way too often claims to be a “simple man”, yet everyone knows it is a phony line! We do this spiritually as well. I am reminded of what it says in Ephesians 5:1, where it says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
We can read that verse and think we actually have this attitude and yet even be fooled ourselves. The devil is no fool and knows exactly how to play us! And… we fall for it! I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to someone teach about one subject or another from the Bible and say that all their peers have missed the boat, and only THEY seem to see the real truth! This is a real turn off! I find it very hard to hear anything else they have to say after making such a statement—even if they have some real wisdom to share. The attitude is not a Christ-like attitude, and is full of self-centered pride.
Does this mean that we can’t take an opposite stand on issues? Hardly! But, it is important that our own personal pride and soulish attitude does not conflict with the true love of God, which evidences itself with a whole lot more grace on our behalf than most of us will afford others. We easily forget that God loves others just as much as He does us.
Considering the crucial days we live in today, I believe it is absolutely critical that we live more carefully than ever. Jesus said that anyone who truly loves Him will obey His commands. Do we? We cannot afford to obey those commands that are convenient yet ignore those that challenge our carnal tendencies. We think that God’s grace covers everything. His forgiveness is complete, no doubt and it will cover the absolute worst that man can do. The Apostle Paul was a good example of this very thing. Yet, how many of us claim to walk with the Gifts of the Spirit working in our lives, as described in I Corinthians 12, yet do not live the life of Godly love as described in chapter 13? How about the “fruit of the spirit” detailed in Galatians 5? How about the Christ-likeness described in II Peter 1? These are not accessory items! This is one of the reasons the Bible says we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Sometimes we are too quick to tell someone they are a “man of God”, and their life shows no evidence of it whatsoever. I understand that it is done in “faith”—and I believe in using our faith. Yet, almost in the same breath, we criticize those of our brethren who really are trying to do the LORD’s will, although flawed (just like us), and we won’t have anything to do with them because they don’t meet up to the standards we have set for God’s followers? It makes no sense. Our God is not a God of confusion. I am convinced that GOD is working in more ways than our limited minds are aware of. He is GOD! Here is a verse of Scripture that covers both sides of this issue. It is a scripture we MUST live by.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the LORD’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
The bottom line is that we need to make sure we are not following the flawed attitudes that come from the soulish part of us. We have most all been skewed by past experiences. Instead of growing through them we often become bitter and don’t even know it. If not bitter, we become prideful in our own “deeper” knowledge of how things in God’s Church should be. I have learned that the only person I can really judge is myself, and God expects me to do just that. I have to live up to God’s standards myself. God will take care of His other kids. He is well able. We can do more by allowing God to use us to help correct errors than by standing at a distance and criticizing. Usually people end up in a rut that is no better than the rut or error we see in others. If that is the case, then we have been sidelined—often for years.
Below are four things that I have found God urging His people to live up to in this hour. Many people all around our globe who really do hear God have brought these very same things up. God is warning us that we are at the end of the age. We can’t afford to miss getting His message. I submit these four things to you for your own prayer and meditation. Check it out with God’s Word and see what He says to you.
This is not just a one-time event. I believe we need to see to it that we actually LIVE a life of repentance. Most do not live a life of closeness with God as they should. It has nothing to do with being legalistic. It is a love-life with the Bridegroom. The stealing of the Bride by the Bridegroom is imminent, and we must be prepared. Jesus made this quite clear in the parable of the ten virgins, as well as numerous other parables.
This is also not a matter of being legalistic and following a bunch of rules. It has to do with keeping the commandments of God because we love Him. It has to do with “right-living”. The world around us does not see enough of it, and it is becoming less all the time.
The Bible says that without “holiness” no one will see God. It is foolish to think that I can live any way I please because God’s grace is sufficient to cover it anyway. Many will assume all is well; many will even recount to the LORD how they have done so much in His Name, yet Jesus will say that He does not know them! I want to make sure that I hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant, welcome into the rest of your LORD.” Holiness is not being a “holier than thou”. It goes along with right-living, but adds an element of realizing Who it is that we serve. A holy “fear” of God is rare in our day. It is not just a respect. It is an accurate recognition that He is the Almighty, and we must reflect the knowledge of this in our attitude and approach to His requirements.
4. A COMPLETE SURRENDER TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST:
I’m afraid that many think they are totally surrendered, but how much of our life is still lived as a life of reaction to events—either of the past or things happening in our current situation. Do we make our decisions according to what God would say is the right thing to do? Do we let our own nature of “control” trump the control of the Spirit of God? Do we make our judgments for Him? Do we follow His way of doing the things we do? Do we react and arbitrarily decide what needs to be done before even taking the time to ask Him? Even when we do ask Him, we have already decided for God what God should say in answer to our query. That’s really not surrender. We expect Him to surrender to our way of seeing things or our way of handling things. Is He God? Then we should treat Him as such. Bottom line; too many of us rule our own lives and God has limited say. It is too often the same with how churches or organizations rule—instead of letting God do so, and do it HIS way. We must let God be God!
I do hope that there is something worth gleaning from these thoughts. Much of this came to me in random fashion, and it was not at all what I had intended to write about today. I suspect however, that God knows what He is doing and has His own purpose in it. It was He that changed my direction. I humbly submit it as food for thought and hopefully, prayer. Thanks for reading…