I think a lot about the tug-of-war between our spirit and our soul. The Bible helps us understand that we are made up of 3 major parts: body, soul, and spirit. Much like an egg that has a shell, a yolk, and egg white. All three make up who we are as a whole, but the spirit and soul are in a fight against each other for dominance.
And this is why I think about it. I’m not a passive person — I’m naturally a passionate person. This has good and bad qualities. I’m passionate about my work, my family, and what I believe. I’ll stand up and speak up, even when I shouldn’t. And that’s the bad part. Controlling my passion has been a lifelong thorn-in-my-flesh. And not that I want to use it as an excuse, but I’m thankful the scriptures at least identify this battle as a natural human problem. “For the flesh [soul] lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17).
Our soul is that part of us we were born with; what we call our personality and conscious. Specifically, our soul describes our thinker, chooser, and feeler (our mind, will, and emotions). Without these, we’d be quite boring! But when Christ makes our heart His home, our spirit is filled with His Spirit and the rules of the “house” change overnight (in our best interest)! “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
And here’s what I’ve learned:
- My spirit must take charge of my soul
- My mind, my will, and my emotions [soul] can be, should be, and must be ruled by my spirit
- When my soul is calling the shots, I’m falling behind or deviating from God’s best for me
In other words, if I’m always following the passion of my soul (what I think on my own without the temperance of God’s Word, what I want to do in the heat of the moment, or how I feel about any given situation), I’m always going to fall short of doing it God’s way– which is also God’s best for me.
I thought about calling this post: Your Spirit is Not Judgmental.
I realized that when I have a negative opinion about someone or something, that’s not my spirit. My soul is judgmental. My spirit (the part of me filled with the Spirit of God and fueled by a knowledge of His Word) may see what the soul sees, but it responds differently. “Love (God’s love in us) bears us under anything and everything that comes, [and] is ever ready to believe the best of every person…” (1 Corinthians 13:7, Amplified). This means when I’m talking or thinking negatively about a person or situation, that’s sure-fire proof my SOUL has taken charge.
But I’ve found something helpful: a simple crossover phrase — nevertheless.
I’ll give an example: In Luke 22:42, when Jesus was praying before He went to the cross, He said, “Take this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will [soul]…” Jesus experienced all the passions of our soul. His body, His mind, His will, and His emotions did NOT want to suffer the consequences of the cross. But HIS SPIRIT said, “Nevertheless…” In other words, He flipped the switch between His soul and His spirit (the will of His flesh versus the will of God).
When our soul (our mind, will, and emotions) try to rule, the crossover is a yielding to our spirit through the simple, yet very powerful reminder: NEVERTHELESS.
So when my soul has a negative opinion, whether I speak it out-loud or not, instead of fighting with myself, my spirit can defer by saying, “Nevertheless…” and remind me of what God has to say about that person or situation. Instead of arguing with myself over whether what I’m thinking or feeling is right or not, my spirit can win through this simple reminder of who’s in charge.
Here’s my prayer (I hope it helps you like it helps me):
Lord, help me clearly know when my spirit is ruling or when my soul is trying to call the shots. Make me very sensitive to my spirit and my choices (big or small). May they always glorify You and your way of doing things.