The Human Soul:
Understanding the Mystery of Man
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 22 June 2002
Continued from Part 1
We continue our final study of the human soul today and in particular the seven powers that are associated with it. Our purpose is to understand how we work and learn how to walk the godly way. These seven principle may be summarised in three categories as follows:
(2) Stretching Beyond Self
(5) Sensual or Spiritual Stirring
(6) Speaking the Ruach's (Spirit's) Thoughts
(7) Total Sum in Unity - Echad
Each of these seven powers is mediated by one of the Seven Spirits of Yahweh (Rev.1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6). Comprehending and mastering righteously each of these powers is to understand the Seven Pillars of Wisdom/Hochmah (Prov.9:1), the Ruachim haQodesh (Holy Spirits). And though we are rarely conscious of the mutliple nature of these seven powers within us, the Ruach (Spirit) is silently working within us, directing us in the way we are supposed to be going.
We ended last week by considering what it is to be Ruach (Spirit)-penetrated. This is to be distinguished from being Ruach (Spirit)-bathed. To change our very nature and spirit, Yahweh has to penetrate us thoroughly, so that we become a new man or woman. The goal of sanctification is to make us Christ-like, so that we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet.1:4). But in order to possess such divine attributes, we must be penetrated by the Ruach (Spirit).
5. Sensual or Spiritual Stirring
A soul that is empowered is a soul that is a aflame. I am sure you know what it is like to feel a sudden surge or power within. You want to spring to your feet and release it somehow. But to be penetrated by the Ruach (Spirit) does not mean we have reached omega-salvation: when we are suddenly hit by a new idea or truth - when we are struck by some revelation that penetrates our darkness and ignorance - we are not suddenly sanctified. Once penetration has taken place, that truth must yet permeate into every nook and cranny of our souls. Knowing that something is right is one thing: absorbing it spiritually and doing it may be entirely another.
Once we have been penetrated by God, a great stirring takes place within us. However, we can still go in one of two diametrically opposite directions as these two scriptures illustrate:
"You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Ex.23:9, NKJV).
"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11, NKJV).
The first scripture from Exodus is a magnificent passage: it is intensely and movingly practical in every detail, and here the power of the human soul is clearly recognisable. It connects with the second power we discussed last week, which is the power we have to deceive everybody else, to do cunning things, to defraud, to use other people for our own ends. And the warning that Yahweh gives us is: Be careful! Be careful not to be stirred in your soul by the wrong spirit. Choose what is right! If the soul can be stirred by its own cunning - the cunning of a man's own inner nature - then it can also be stirred up by vileness and abominable sensuality through the senses, as the apostle Peter reminds us. You see, we really do have power to choose good or evil. We are able to choose each and every minute. We can choose to be led by the Ruach (Spirit) or by fleshly lusts which war against us.
Now you can always tell when this power is operating in a spiritually regenerated soul. The evidence is not hard to discern. A soul that is in Christ is in opposition to worldly bondage. You will find in your own experience, and in all the recorded experiences of men and women, that when your life is in harmony with God's will, that Yahweh puts the fear of you on those who are on the outside because of the way you scorn worldly bondages. The Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in you will not allow you to bow your neck to any yoke except the yoke of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus). When you stand on this platform of Yahweh's grace, you see instantly that the bondage is in the world. The etiquette, standards, and political correctness of the world are an absolute bondage, and those who live in them are abject slaves; and yet the extraordinary thing is that when a worldly person sees anyone emancipated and under the yoke of Yah'shua (Jesus), he says they are in bondage, whereas exactly the opposite is true!
True liberty exists only when the soul has this holy scorn in it: "I will bow my neck to no yoke but the yoke of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)". Our Lord was meek to all that His Father did, but intolerant to all the devil did. He would not suffer compromise with the devil in any shape or form. This power of the soul, then, when the soul is being born again, manifests itself in opposition to all worldly bondage -- not neutrality or indifference to it, but open opposition. And until you take sides and come off the fence, you will never be empowered by the fifth Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). There your spiritual progress will stop, for in truth there are no neutrals in heaven - you are either for worldly bondage and the world system, or you are against it. You must choose.
6. Speaking the Ruach's Thoughts
We come now to the sixth power which is governed by the sixth Ruach (Spirit) which is speaking the Ruach's (Spirit's) thoughts. And to illustrate this principle, I would like to share a very interesting passage with you where Pharaoh said to his newly appointed Prime Minister Joseph:
"You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Gen.41:40, NKJV).
We are now dealing with rotation, the restlessness of becoming. That is how all these powers are going to manifest themselves in a fully matured soul. Genesis 41:40 is a picture of a soul right with Yahweh. But remember there is a corresponding picture. A man in whom all the powers of the soul are developing will come to a place where he shows literally, not only with his mouth, but with his eyes and the very power of his body, who is on the throne in his life. If it is the prince of this world, then that man is prime minister of his own body under the devil. If it is Yahweh-Elohim, the Most High, then that man is prime minister of his own body under God. When the full powers of the soul are developed, then I am obliged to carry out the orders of the ruling monarch. And that is quite a frightening thought if you have rationalised the truth away and allowed yourself to be led by a chain hooked to a ring in your nose by the principles of this world. If any passion of your soul is in anything worldly, your lord and master is the devil.
How does this sixth power show itself when a soul is born again of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)? Simply, it shows itself in obstinate opposition to worldly thoughts and customs. "Only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." Take Pharaoh as a picture of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus). The soul that is born again and is walking with our Father Yahweh, who has been identified with Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) in practical sanctification, and has the full powers of the soul developed and manifested -- that soul is prime minister of his own body under Yah'shua's (Jesus') dominion. That is the ideal, and it is not an ideal only, but an ideal which Yah'shua (Jesus) expects us to carry out ... all the powers of the soul working through the body in an expressive personality, revealing the Ruler to be Yahweh.
What do your deeds consist of? What are you using your body for? They will tell you who your Master is. Are you using your body for self-gratification without thought of what you can do for others? Are you seeking to realise your own personal ambitions rather than the Kingdom of our God? If you are, then whose master do the powers of your soul reveal you to be serving? The question may be uncomfortable to the point of even making us ashamed. But if this is what you are feeling, why not turn that power around by repenting and instead serve Yahweh in the building of His Kingdom?
7. Sum Total in Unity: Echad
The seventh power, which is the power of the Seventh Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and the final Pillar of Hochmah (Wisdom), may be summarised in one word: Echad. This Hebrew word means "oneness" or "unity", and it is the word used in the Shema to describe Yahweh Himself: He is echad, or Unity (Dt.6:4; Zec.14:9; Mk.12:29). King Zedekiah said to Yahweh's prophet Jeremiah:
"As Yahweh lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life" (Jer.38:16, NKJV).
Now a soul, you will remember, is the sum total of what we are: spirit + body, and all the powers and processes associated with them. It is the full maturity of the powers manifested in the bodily life. This is the description of a full-grown man or woman, whether he is a bad person or a good person. The sum of our total - our echad - is a perfect unity of badness or a perfect unity of goodness. When a soul gets into full maturity of expression, the chances are that he will never alter. Note that well! In the passage from Jeremiah I have just read, soul is mentioned in this way. This is not the soul in its beginnings -- in its chaotic state -- but the soul absolutely mastered by the ruling spirit and expressing itself through the body. This is one reason why Yahweh tells us to never procrastinate or delay the day of our repentance and salvation, because the later you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to change the nature of that soul. Repent, believe and obey while you are yet young! It will save you so much anguish later. For it does get harder to change the older you become, unless you are a very humble and contrite soul who is willing be abased and changed. It's more dislodge old habits when you are older too, so it takes more courage to repent. Nevertheless it can be done, and must be done if that soul discovers that its master is, in fact, the devil! It may strike a blow at our pride if we think we are basically a good person when we turn out to have a dark master, but being struck down in our spirit while we are alive is infinitely better than being struck down in death to find that the day of repentance has passed and we must spend eternity in the kingdom of the master who rules us.
How then does this perfection of the soul life show itself in a born again man or woman who is living the life God wants him to live? It shows itself in opposition to all other powers, and manifests itself in its bodily life in "the wisdom that is from above" (Jas.3:17). It is literally the uncrushable loveliness of a soul's attitude when all its powers are under the control of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). All the 'corners' have been chipped away. All the extreme swinging of the pendulum has been regulated. All the chaotic turmoil has become ordered, and the life is now 'manifesting the life of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) in its mortal flesh'.
Summary of the Seven Powers
Let us summarise all that we have discussed: we find that these seven powers of the soul show themselves in every one of us more or less. For instance, we would never think of judging a boy or girl by the same standard of judgement we would pass on them when they are mature, because a boy or a girl is not in full grip of a character (a crystallised ego). But when once a soul is matured, the character which is manifested meets with severe judgement. There is no excuse to be made for it now: all its powers are consolidated and the wrong it does is not the wrong of an impulse, it is the wrong of a dead set. When the soul is consolidated and is right with Yahweh, the whole character manifests something which bears a strong family likeness to Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). There is, however, a chaotic period in Christian experience. Read the apostle Paul's earnest, almost motherlike solicitation, over his young converts. He almost seems to 'croon'1 over them, to use an old Scottish word, to agonise in heart over them, because of the chaotic state of their souls. Yah'shua (Jesus) commissioned Peter and the other apostles to "feed my lambs" (Jn.21:15), and that is what we, in our turn, must do, as we get the powers of the soul properly orientated in Christ. Sadly, there are too many chaotic souls in teaching ministries these days, who are propagating their chaos and turning out churches that are as chaotic as they are, reminding us of the chaos of the first Corinthian saints. That is why we train our Elders and Deacons carefully, making sure that they understand what the sevenfold Ruach (Spirit) is.
I want to end today by offering you some practical advice on how to get to work in changing your behaviour. Changing any behaviour is a process that involves eight distinct stages. We may find that we are able to move quickly through the stages regardless of some behaviours, while others require a lifetime commitment. We may move quickly from stage to stage, or in some cases become hung up at a particular stage for months or even years. This overview of the changing of a behaviour can help us see the whole process and where we may be hung up. Changing a behaviour is like ascending a cliff, working against the gravity of our sinful nature. If we can see where the next foothold or handhold is, we may be able to reach for that successfully, even if we can't get the vision of completely being transformed and overcoming the sinful stronghold.
(1) You are completely unaware that you are doing it, being deceived by your old nature ("... your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires" - Eph.4:22. "For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet'" - Rom.7:7).
(2) You are aware of the behaviour but you either do not think it is wrong, or do not think it is destructive or harmful enough to motivate you to change; instead you rationalise it and makes excuses ("Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" - Jas.4:17).
(3) You are aware of the behaviour and know it is wrong, but you continue in it anyway. You feel shame and remorse, but keep your feelings to yourself. You do not account to others for your behaviour nor connect with how they feel about you doing it ("I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do" - Rom.7:15).
(4) You are aware that your behaviour is wrong and admit it after the fact, sharing your feelings of shame and remorse with others, and particularly accounting to those whom you have hurt ("Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" - Jas.5:16).
(5) You are aware that it is wrong, and are open about it with others, but out of impulse or habitual response you do it anyway. But you stop yourself, even in the middle of the act, apologise and account to those you hurt (if others are affected), and choose to act out the right behaviour in a "second response."
(6) You think about doing, or have an impulse to do, the wrong behaviour, but catch yourself before you act it out and follow up with the right behaviour, establishing a new habit.
(7) You deliberately think about doing the right behaviour before a situation arises and then act it out in the moment as opportunity arises.
(8) You do the right behaviour without even having to think about it. At this point, you have fully educated your conscience and do the right thing spontaneously. The transformation process is now complete, and you are a new person. Biblically, the number 8 means 'a new beginning', and you are now fully allowing the 'new man' to manifest himself in your life ("to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" - Eph.4:23-24) (Mark Graeser, The Sower, Vol.3, Issue 1, Jan-Feb 2001, p.8).
As should be obvious, we don't change by sitting back and doing nothing. We have to make an effort. And this is what Christian discipleship is all about. May you become aware of the seven powers in man and share it with others, to help them along the Way, is my prayer in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen.
1. Oswald Chambers, Biblical Psychology (London, 1981)
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Last updated on 21 June 2002
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