One teaching that was very prevalent in my early years in the Lord was on knowing the difference between what is of your flesh (self) and then what is truly of the Holy Spirit.
The Three Realms of Who We Are
When approaching this subject we are dealing with the spirit, soul and body as well as the Holy Spirit. For me, it was very helpful to learn about these things in my early years because I wanted to know what was really God and what was just my own self. The emphasis on the differences between actions initiated by the soul and spirit was very helpful in learning the discern the difference.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12
“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
We are spiritual beings. When we are born of the Spirit then our spirit that was dead apart from God is awakened. In Christ we have become alive to God through the spirit man. (Gal. 6:12) Our spirit is where the Holy Spirit communes with us. (2 Cor. 13:14) He connects with the spirit because it is created in the image and likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
For those who have experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:14), the language of the spirit within us is released – a heavenly language that is not comprehendible to the natural mind or faculties.
The soul is our mind, will and emotions. The soul is, in a sense, caught in between the spirit (inner man/new creation) and the flesh. It is the decision center where we make our choices. Our soul and our thinking need trained in the Word of God (detergent) and the Holy Spirit (pure water) about the truth that is in Jesus to be conformed into His image.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Where the spirit is already created in His image the soul is in need of transformation. As it is yielded to life in the Holy Spirit and the truth it goes through spiritual renovation. The flesh, which is very much a part of who we are and not being evil, is the part of us that is world conscious – being alive to the physical aspects of life. You may be familiar with this line of thought:
- Our spirit is God-conscious
- Our soul is self-conscious
- Our body is world-conscious (i.e. the material world)
Transformation From the Inside-Out
This fleshly body does fight against the spirit. At the same time it is not innately evil but many times will be in direct contradiction to what God is attempting to work in us or His purposes. Our bodies are to be offered as living sacrifices to God – Therefore we can glorify God with our bodies.
“Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but yield yourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your bodies to God as instruments of righteousness.”
The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. (Rom. 8:14) What that tells us is that we need to live by the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that brings truth and revelation to the inner man, the spirit man or new creation in Christ that we are. It is in our spirit that God comes alive, not our soul. Our soul is affected as we are spiritually attuned – being yielded and alive to the Holy Spirit.
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
This divine progression of transformation is from the inside-out. For someone who lives by their natural appetites the progression is outside in, where the flesh is dictating all the actions – even training the soul to live after the flesh. Understanding this, we see the need to live from the inside-out where the Holy Spirit (God inside of us or Christ in us – the Anointed One) works His life from interior to the exterior. This way of living works spirit to soul to body, even enabling us to glorify God through our physical body.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith will never come from your flesh or your soul. Faith comes from the new creation – your spirit being ignited in relationship to God, His Words coming alive on the inside. In the inner courts of your being you have been made alive to God. As we learn to be sensitive to the Spirit we discover a life of faith that does not lean on the natural mind. The life that God calls us to is faith-filled where the reality of the Holy Spirit is common place to us.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
When we are awakened to this realm of living there is unlimited potential in how God can flow through us. Because we have been born of the Spirit the nature of God is there to be accessed on the inside. We are not trying to get God to come down because He already did that. He awakened our spirit, gave us His Holy Spirit and trains our mind with His promises that we may partake of His divine nature.
2 Peter 1:4
“…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
God can work a miracle through someone who just got saved as much as someone who has been saved for decades – because it is about the new creation. You are either alive or dead to God. If you are alive then there us no limit to what He can do through you. The difference between someone new in the Lord and another with years of faithfulness to God is that later has gone through (in almost all cases) much more transformation. Obviously the pace of change and transformation lies in the choices of each individual. The degree of the yielded life determines the measure of growth. Someone can have a great anointing on their life but have the disposition of a 4 year old – because they have withheld some areas of their lives from God. There can be anointing mixed in with all kinds of self-defense, foolishness and immaturity. Don’t be easily enamored just because someone can work a miracle. God anoints vessels to help others – not for the person ministering.
Representing the King
We want to display the Kingdom of God and represent the Kingdom of God in a way where we are not attempting to gain attention to ourselves or do things for our own benefit. Some may display the Kingdom but not represent it well. Some may represent it well but could possibly have more demonstration of the Kingdom. Ideally we have both with the heart motive to glorify God in all things. Jesus’ passion was to give the Father glory. It was not about Himself but that the Father’s will would be done. In discerning what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit know that when self-preservation and self-defense are the continual theme there is most likely a rotten egg. Like in the old Willie Wonka film, the little girl Veruca Salt who wanted a golden egg for herself, although it was not allowed she insisted – it was all about her. She was dumped down the garbage bin because she was a “rotten egg”.
When it all becomes about the person there is something wrong. The multitudes came to make Jesus king and He walked away. When God is at the center of our lives everything revolves around Him and that is the way we want it.