There is also a separation of "soul and spirit" required and carried out by the Word of God--the sword of the Spirit--made known in Heb. 4: 12, because through the Fall, the spirit in union with God which once ruled and dominated soul and body, fell from the predominant position into the vessel of the soulnote 14 and could no longer rule. In the "new birth" which the Lord told Nicodemus was necessary for every man, the regeneration of the fallen spirit takes place. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3: 6), "a new spirit will I put within you" (Ezek. 36: 26), and through the apprehension of the death of the old creation with Christ as set forth in Rom. 6: 6, is the new spirit liberated, divided from the soul, and joined to the Risen Lord. "Dead to the law . . . joined to Another . . having died . . . that we might serve in newness of the spirit" (Rom. 7: 4-6).
The believer's life is therefore to be a walk "after the spirit" minding "the things of the spirit" (Rom. 8: 4-5). In the R.V. the word "spirit" is not written with a capital "S" denoting the Spirit of God, but with a small "s" as referring to the spirit of man. But the believer can only thus walk "after the spirit," if the Spirit of God dwells in him (Rom. 8: 9), the Holy Spirit lifting his spirit to the place of rule over soul and body--"flesh," both ethically and physically--by joining it to the Risen Lord, and making it "one spirit" with Him (1 Cor. 6: 17).
That the believer retains volitional control over his own spirit is the important point to note, and through ignorance he can withdraw his spirit from co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and thus, so to speak, "walk" after the soul, or after the flesh unwittingly. A surrendered will to do the will of God, is therefore no guarantee that he is doing that will--he must understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5: 17) and for the doing of that will seek to be filled in spirit to the utmost of his capacity.
The knowledge that the Spirit of God has come to indwell the shrine of the spirit, is not enough to guarantee that the believer will continue to walk in the spirit, and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5: 16). If he "lives" by the Spirit he must learn how to walk by the Spirit, and for this understand how to "combine" and "compare" spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. 2: 13, R.V. margin), so as to interpret truly the things of the Spirit of God, exercising the spirit faculty by which he is able to examine all things, and discern the mind of the Lord.
Such a believer should know how to walk after the spirit, so that he does not quench its action, movements or monitions as it is moved or exercised by the Spirit of God, cultivating its strength by use, so that he becomes "strong in spirit" (Luke 1: 80), and a truly spiritual man of "full age" in the Church of God (1 Cor. 2: 6; Heb. 6: 1).
Many believers are not intelligently conscious that they have a "spirit" or else they imagine that every experience which takes place in the realm of their senses is spirit or "spiritual."note 15 If they seek a Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and become conscious of His indwelling, believers sometimes think that then He alone acts in them, and they are infallibly, or specially guided by Him, with the result that everything which takes place in their inner life is necessarily His working.
In these three cases the man's own spirit is left out of account. In the first instance, the believer's religious life is, if we may say so "spiritually mental," that is the mind is illuminated and enjoys spiritual truth, but what "spirit" means he does not clearly know; in the second the believer is really "soul-ish" although he thinks he is spiritual; and in the case where the believer thinks that the Holy Spirit's indwelling means every movement to be of Him, he becomes specially open to the deception of evil spirits counterfeiting the Holy Spirit, because without discrimination he attributes all inner "movements" or experiences to Him.
In this case the man's spirit comes into action, and into his cognizance through the reception of the Holy Spirit, but believers need then to understand that the Holy Spirit does not act through them as a passive channel, but requires them to know how to co-work with Him in spirit, otherwise their "own spirit"--the human spirit--can act apart from Him whilst they may think He alone is the source of action.
Walking "after the spirit," and "minding the spirit," does not only mean mind and body subservient to the spirit, but the man's own spirit co-working with the Holy Spirit in the daily life, and all the occasions of life. To do this, the believer needs to know the laws of the spirit, not only the conditions necessary for the Holy Spirit's working, but the laws governing his own spirit, so that it may be kept open to the Spirit of God.
When the Holy Spirit takes the spirit of man as His sanctuary, evil spirits attack the spirit to get it out of co-working with God. They first get access to mind or body, their object being to close the outlet of the Spirit of God dwelling at the centre; or when the man is "spiritual," and the mind and body are subservient to the spirit, the spiritual forces of Satan can come into DIRECT CONTACT with the spirit, and then follows the "wrestling" referred to by Paul (Eph. 6:12).note 16
If the man becomes "spiritual"note 17 through the Baptism of the Spirit, and yet is ignorant of the laws of the spirit, especially the tactics of Satan, he is liable to yield to an onslaught of deceiving spirits by which they (1) force his spirit into strained ecstasy, or elation, or (2) press it down, as it were into a vice. In the former he is given "visions" and revelations which appear to be divine,note 18 but afterwards are proved to have been of the enemy, by their passing away with no results; in the latter the man sinks into darkness and deadness as if he had lost all knowledge of God.note 19
When the believer understands these direct onslaughts of wicked spirits, he becomes able to discern the condition of his spirit, and to retain control over it, refusing all forced elation and strain, and resisting all weights and pressure to drive it below the normal poise, in which it is capable of co- operation with the Spirit of God.
The danger of the human spirit acting out of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and becoming driven or influenced by deceiving spirits is a very serious one, and can be increasingly detected by those who walk softly and humbly with God, e.g., a man is liable to think his own masterful spirit is an evidence of the power of God, because in other directions he sees the Holy Spirit using him in winning souls; another may have a flood of indignation inserted into his spirit, which he pours out thinking it is all of God, whilst others shrink and are conscious of a harsh note which is clearly not of God.
This influence on the human spirit by evil spirits counterfeiting the Divine workings, or even the workings of the man himself, because he is out of co- working with the Holy Spirit, needs to be understood and detected by the believer who seeks to walk with God. He needs to know that because he is spiritual his "spirit" is open to two forces of the spirit realm,note 20 and if he thinks that only the Holy Spirit can influence him in the spiritual sphere, he is sure to be misled. If it were so, he would become infallible, but he needs to watch and pray, and seek to have the eyes of his understanding enlightened to know the true workings of God.
Some of the laws governing the spirit life may be summarized briefly as follows--(1) The believer must know what is spirit, and how to give heed to the demands of the spirit, and not quench it, e.g., a weight comes on his spirit, but he goes on with his work, putting up with the
pressure; he finds the work hard, but he has no time to investigate the cause, until at last the weight becomes unendurable, and he is forced to stop and see what is the matter, whereas he should have given heed to the claims of the spirit at the first, and in a brief prayer taken the "weight" to God, refusing all pressure from the foe.
(2) He should be able to read his spirit, and know at once when it is out of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, quickly refusing all attacks which are drawing his spirit out of the poise of fellowship with God.
(3) He should know when his spirit is touched by the poison of the spirits of evil;note 21 by the injection, for instance, of sadness, soreness, complaint, grumbling, fault-finding, touchiness, bitterness, feeling hurt, jealousy, etc.-- all direct from the enemy to the spirit. He should resist all sadness, gloom, and grumbling injected into his spirit, for the victory life of a freed spirit means joyfulness (Gal. 5: 22). Believers think that sadness has to do with their disposition, and yield to it without a thought of resistance or reasoning out the cause. If they are asked if a man with a strong disposition to steal should yield to it, they would at once answer "no," yet they yield to other "dispositions" less manifestly wrong, without question.
In the stress of conflict, when the believer finds that the enemy succeeds in reaching his spirit with any of these "fiery darts," he should know how to pray immediately against the attack asking God to destroy the causes of it. It should be noted that this touching of the spirit by the various things just named is not the manifestation of the "works of the flesh," when the believer is one who knows the life after the spirit; although they will quickly reach the sphere of the flesh if not recognized, and dealt with in sharp refusal and resistance.
(4) He should know when his spirit is in the right position of dominance over soul and body, and yet not driven beyond due measure by the exigencies of conflictnote 22 or environment. There are three conditions of the spirit which the believer should be able to discern and deal with, i.e.:--
(1) The spirit depressed, i.e., crushed or "down."
(2) The spirit in its right position, in poise and calm control.
(3) The spirit drawn out beyond "poise," when it is in strain, or driven, or in "flight."
When the man walks after the spirit, and discerns it to be in either of these conditions, he knows how to "lift" it when it is depressed; and how to check the over-action by a quiet act of his volition, when it is drawn out of poise by over-eagerness, or drive of spiritual foes.
In "guidance," the believer should understand that when there is no action in his spirit, he should use his mind. If in everything there must be the "Amen" in the spirit, there is no use for the brain at all, but the SPIRIT DOES NOT ALWAYS SPEAK. There are times when it should be left in abeyance. In all guidance the mind decides the course of action, not only from the feeling in the spirit, but by the light in the mind.
In coming to a decision, the deciding is an act of mind and will, based upon, either mental process of reasoning, or sense of the spirit, or both, i.e.:--
(1) Decision by mental process, reasoning, or
(2) Decision by sense of the spirit: i.e., movement, impelling; drawing or restraint; spirit as if "dead"--no response. Contraction of spirit; openness of spirit; fulness of spirit; compression of spirit; burden on spirit; wrestling in spirit; resisting in spirit.note 23
God has three ways of communicating His will to men. By (1) vision to the mind, which is very rare, and can be given only to very matured spiritual men, such as Moses; (2) understanding by the mind; and (3) consciousness to the spirit, that is, by light to the mind, and consciousness in spirit. In true guidance,note 24 spirit and mind are of one accord, and the intelligence is not in rebellion against the leading in the spirit, as it is so often in counterfeit guidance by evil spirits, when the man is COMPELLED TO ACT, in obedience to what he thinks is of God, supernaturally given, and fears to disobey.note 25
This all refers to guidance from the subjective standpoint, but it must be emphasized in addition, that ALL TRUE GUIDANCE FROM GOD IS IN HARMONY WITH THE SCRIPTURES. The "understanding" of the will of God by the mind, depends upon the mind being saturated with the knowledge of the written Word. and true "consciousness in the spirit" depends upon its union with Christ through the indwelling Spirit of God.
The mind should never be dropped into abeyance.note 26 The human spirit can be influenced by the mind, therefore, the believer should keep his mind in purity, and unbiased; as well as an unbiased volition. Passivity can be produced by seeking for a "leading" in the spirit all day, when there may be no action in the spirit to go by. When there is no movement, or "draw," or "leading" in the spirit, then the mind should be used in reliance upon the promise of God, "the meek will He guide in judgment." (Ps. 25: 9). An example of this use of the mind, when Paul had no consciousness in his spirit of any special guidance from God, is clearly given by him when he wrote to the Corinthians that in one matter he had commandment (1 Cor. 7: 10), but in another he said, "I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my judgment" (1 Cor. 7:25); in the one case he had the guidance through his spirit; in the other he used his mind, and clearly said so--see verse 40--"after my judgment."
Through ignorance a large majority of believers walk "after the soul," i.e., their mind and emotions, and think they are "walking after the spirit." The Satanic forces know this right well, and use all their wiles to draw the believer to live in his soul or body, sometimes flashing visions to the mind or giving exquisite sensations of joy, buoyancy of life, etc., to the body, and the believer "walks after the soul," and "after the body" as he follows these things, believing that he is following the Spirit of God.note 27
Depending upon supernatural things given from outside, or spiritual experiences in the sense realm, checks the inward spiritual life through the spirit. By the experiences of the senses, instead of living in the true sphere of the spirit, the believer is drawn out to live in the outer man of his body; and ceasing to act from his centre, he is caught by the outer workings of the supernatural in his circumference, and loses the inner co-operation with God. The devil's scheme is therefore to make the believer cease walking after the spirit, and to draw him out into the realm of soul or body. Then the spirit, which is the organ of the Holy Spirit in conflict against a spiritual foe, drops into abeyance and is ignored, because the believer is occupied with the sense- experience. It is then practically out of action, either for guidance, power in service, or conflict.note 28
Evil spirits then seek to create a counterfeit of the spirit, and they do this by getting a footing in the person so as to produce other feelings than those of the spirit, then when these get a hold they become strong enough to silence or overpower the true spirit-action, or spiritual feelings.note 29If the believer is ignorant of the tactics of the enemy in this way, he lets go the true spirit-action--or allows it to sink into disuse--and follows the counterfeit spiritual feelings, thinking he is walking after the spirit all the time.
When the true spirit-action ceases, the evil spirits suggest that God now guides through the "renewed mind," which is an attempt to hide their workings, and the man's disuse of his spirit. On the cessation of the spirit co-operation with the Holy Spirit,note 30 and counterfeit "spirit" feelings taking place in the body, counterfeit light to the mind, reasoning, judging, etc., follows,note 31 the man thus walking after mind and body, and not after the spirit, with the true illumination of the mind which comes from full operation of the Holy Spirit.
To further interfere with the true spirit life, the deceiving spirits seek to counterfeit the action of the spirit in burden and anguish. This they do by first giving a fictitious "Divine love" to the person, the faculty receiving it being the affections. When these affections are grasped fully by the deceivers, the sense of love passes away, and the man thinks he has lost God and all communion with God. Then follow feelings of constraint and restraint, which will develop into acute suffering, which the believer thinks is in the spirit, and of God. Now he goes by these feelings, calling them "anguish in the spirit," "groaning in the spirit," etc., whilst the deceiving spirits, through the sufferings given by them in the affections, compel the man to do their will.
All physical consciousness of supernatural things, and even undue consciousness of natural things, should be refused, as this diverts the mind from walking after the spirit, and sets it upon the bodily sensations. Physical consciousness is also an obstacle to the continuous concentration of the mind, and in a spiritual believer an "attack" of physical "consciousness" made use of by the enemy, may break concentration of the mind, and bring a cloud upon the spirit.note 32 The body should be kept calm, and under full control; excessive laughter should be avoided, and all "rushing" which rouses the physical life to the extent of dominating mind and spirit. Believers who desire to be "spiritual" and of "full age" in the life in God, should avoid excess, extravagance, and extremes in all things (See 1 Cor. 9: 25-27).
Because of the domination of the physical part of the man, and the emphasis placed upon supernatural experiences in the body, the body is made to do the work of the spirit, and is forced into a prominence, which hides the true spirit life. It feels the pressure, feels the conflict, and THUS BECOMES THE SENSE INSTEAD OF THE SPIRIT.note 33 Believers do not perceive where they feel. If they are questioned as to where they "feel," they cannot answer. They should learn to discriminate, and know how to discern the feelings of the spirit, which are neither emotional (soulish), or physical. (See for example Mark 8: 12; John 13: 21; Acts 18: 5 A.V.).
The spirit may be likened to the electric light. If the man's spirit is in contact with the Spirit of God it is full of light, apart from Him it is darkness. Indwelt by Him "the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Prov. 20: 27). The spirit may also be likened to elastic; when it is bound, or pressed, or weighted, it ceases to act, or to be the source of power and "spring" so to speak, in the life. If a man feels weighted, he should find out what the weight is. If he is asked, "Is it your body?" he would probably say "No," but that he "feels bound inside." Then what is it that is "bound" or "weighted?" Is it not the spirit? The spirit can be compressed or expanded, up or down, in or out of place, bound or free. The possibilities and potentialities of the human spirit are only known when the spirit is joined to Christ, and united to Him is made strong to stand against the powers of darkness.
The great need of the Church is to know and understand the laws of the spirit, so as to co-work with the Spirit of God in fulfilling the purpose of God through His people. But the lack of knowledge of the spirit life has given the deceiving spirits of Satan the opportunity for the deceptions, of which we have spoken in the previous pages of this book.
Note—That the children of God may more readily discern the true workings of God from the counterfeits of Satan. A summary of some of these is given in concise form in "Supplementary Notes."