We all can think of things we’ve read without any contemplation or understanding. I think for many, a prime example for this from the Bible are verses which mention things pertaining to “spirit.” For years, read about “spirit” and without much thought just took it as a vague concept that concerned God or people a lot more holy than I. While I still don’t have full understanding, I do realize that the spiritual realm is the realm of God Himself and that to know God requires one to be able to relate to him there.
I’ve written about this before, but the spiritual realm is deeper than the oh-so familiar realm of the soul – the realm of human feelings, will, and thought. For most people, including highly religious people, their entire sphere of life and awareness is in the realm of the soul. This is worthless in God’s eyes. Religion often mislabels as spiritual things that are in reality just “good” things of the soul, such as unusual or profound feelings, deep or new doctrines, or various other experiences. These things are all sourced in the human soul. This is why after the experiences are over and the novelty is worn off, there is no lasting change. The soul in and of itself is unstable and ever-changing.
I want to look at one idea that is fairly common in the Christian sphere; the notion of “walking in the spirit.” Galatians 5:16 says: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Many of us have read that, but I’d guess much fewer of us have taken the time to genuinely meditate, study, and seek God for what that truly means. Without understanding, which is given by the spirit of God, information is useless.
I want to look more specifically at Galatians 5:25, which states: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Paul is saying that living and walking by the spirit are connected; if we are to do the first, we must do the second also. I believe this verse literally means: “If we are to live in the realm of the spirit, we must follow and conform to the spirit’s direction moment by moment.” Our comfort-loving flesh wants things to be automatic and easy. But nothing in the Kingdom of God is automatic. We must daily fight and struggle to follow and conform to the leading of the spirit, if we are to be those who live in the spirit, as Jesus did. He set us that example for us to follow.
What must we fight and struggle against? Christianity would have us believe it’s our bad behavior, our “sins” that make us unspiritual and that we must fight. But that has nothing to do with it. Primarily, our struggle is against our own soul, which is influenced by our flesh and our various religious indoctrinations. These are the things that oppose the walk in the spirit which is our inheritance.
How does our soul oppose the spirit? To be able to follow the spirit, it’s obvious we have to be sensitive to and aware of the spiritual realm. But the spiritual realm is deeper and very different from the soulical. It often doesn’t make sense to our soul, which is based on reason and logic. To access the spiritual realm, we must be willing to learn to quench the dominance of our soul by silencing the chatter of our minds, stilling or choosing to ignore the raging of our own thoughts, reasonings and feelings. When the human soul is subdued, we can begin to be aware of what the Spirit of God is revealing to us, Spirit-to-spirit. If we don’t, then the human soul’s various doctrines, gathered over the years from unspiritual men, and the cacophony of our own thoughts and feelings will dominate our awareness, and we’ll remain carnal and soulish – little different from the world other than being better-behaved.
Quenching our soul is somewhat akin to turning down a loud stereo in order to hear and focus on the underlying voice of a loved one, which is quieter but more important. Food for thought, I hope. God bless you.