THE STAFF AND SWORD MINISTRY
MANIFESTING A CLOSER WALK WITH JESUS
KEEPING OUR SOUL by Nancy-TONI Youngbrandi Throughout history there has been one main struggle within the Church as a whole, that was there in Paul's time to the present, and that is the struggle and disagreement between those who believe in an outward, externally-based walk as opposed to those who choose an interior, relationship-based walk in Christ. One is ultimately legalistic and based on what you do and don't do, while the other is based on love and grace through Jesus Christ. In these articles we are addressing the latter: those who want and are seeking a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus through abiding in Him. In this article in particular, I have the leading to address the soul and the importance of possessing it, training it up and giving it direction in prayer so it may be brought into conformity to Christ by the Spirit of God. So. let's get right to it.
WHAT IS THE SOUL? Biblically, the soul has different definitions or applications depending on its use, as are many terms in the Bible. To help clarify the meaning I went to the Holman Bible Dictionary. The parts I found interesting and of help in this discussion started with the initial definition of the soul as: "The vital existence of a human being. The Hebrew word nephesh is
a key Old Testament term (755 times) referring to human beings. In the New Testament, the term psyche retreats behind the ideas of body, flesh, spirit to characterize human existence. In the Bible, a person is a unity. Body and soul or spirit are not opposite terms which supplement
one another to describe aspects of the inseparable whole person." After reading further, it was explained that basically the Old Testament desi gnation of the soul refers to the physical life. This has been used in more modern times to show the number of people (physical bodies) involved in something. For example, when a tragic accident happens to a ship, it is often reported that there were, say, 40 souls lost, or that there were 1,500 souls on board â€” that sort of thing.
MANIFESTING CHRIST — KEEPING OUR SOUL
WHAT IS THE SOUL? continued However, there are also two other designations explained in the Dictionary, and it is these two that 1 would direct your attention to. The first of these two is that the:
"Soul designates the feelings, the wishes, and the will of humans." These feelings and desires can be strongly negative and destructive, or they can be positive emotions. In this, our will plays quite a roll in giving our soul direction and instruction. The second definition of these two is that the:
"Soul designates the essential life. Physical life is given and maintained by God (Matt. 6:25-34). Meaningful and fulfilled life comes only when it is free to give itself to God as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Life is the highest good when it is lived according to God's intentions and not used up in search for material and cultural goods (Mark 8:34-37). This life is stronger than death and cannot be destroyed by human beings (Matt, 10: 28)." To me, the first of these t wo designations helps us to identify our soul and how we can tell when we're operating in it. This is important because one of the most common difficulties Christians face in knowing the difference of when God, Jesus or the Spirit of God is speaking to them, and when it is their own soul or spirit speaking. Often the difference is a subtle one; one that takes years and a lot of trial and error to discover. However, in the end, it is well worth the journey as the individual has the opportunity to enter into that life according to God intentions, where the soul finds a meaningful and fulfilled life in Christ Jesus. It's like finding the ultimate `home' for our soul — the place it was meant to be, with God the Father.
WHAT IS OUR SOUL'S PLACE? In Hebrews 4:12 we can see that there is a difference between our soul and our spirit, and that the word of God can serve to show that divide. It says there:
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and • intents of the heart." My experience has been that it is easier to discern the soul than the spirit (our spirit) because the soul tends to have a strength and force of its own that is often different from our spirit. Within our soul we have strong emotions, strong thoughts and desires and a powerfuI will — all of which can get us into trouble and create problems in our lives if not yielded to Christ and the Spirit of God.
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
WHAT IS OUR SOUL'S PLACE? continued In Luke 21:19 Jesus tells us, "In your patience possess ye your souls. "in this, He is telling us to be patient with ourselves and in that patience possess our souls. In other words, instead of it running our lives, we are to take responsibilit y for our soul, and what is going into and coming out of our soul. In this respect our soul is much like a child, a spoiled child, that must be brought under control for it to grow and mature as it should. It is interesting that Scripture also reflects on this as well. Two such are examples are:
Proverbs 22:5 -6
"Thorns and snares (traps) are in the way of the froward
(perverse): he that doth keep his soul shall be , far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. " Psalm 131:2 "Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned
of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." I find it interesting that in Proverbs in one verse it says that he that keeps his soul shall be far from the thorns and snares of life, and then in the very next verse to train up the child in a way he should go so that when he is old lie will not depart from that way. The same could be said of the soul in both cases: train up your soul in the way it should go and when the soul is mature, it will not depart from the path. If you think about it, raising a child is raising a young soul. To be parent is to provide guidance, rules, boundaries and limitations for a child so it can grow and mature to become a functioning member of society. When we are young, our soul is very much in the forefront and in control. The challenge is in tempering, restraining and guiding that young soul to maturity. Then when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are then yielding and submitting to a new parent, a spiritual parent, which is Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. In a lot of ways, our soul is continuing on its education and growth in this life in a new and deeper way â€” one in which it may fuss at and resist to some degree since its used to being in control up to that point. However, the interesting thing about raising a child is that while it may fuss and resist rules, boundaries and limitations placed on it by a parent, it is ultimately more happy and content with once it knows its place in the family and society. Some modern-day thinking says to treat children like little adults, giving them the same choices and decisions that an adult may have even though they are not equipped to really make those decisions. The results are usually bad for the child. A more realistic child behavior expert will admit that it creates more problems with the child and the child is actually unhappy as a result. I watched a show once where a couple had a problem with their child â€” she was a tenor around the house, crying and throwing fits even at bedtime. Everything they did to try to appease her behavior only made her behavior worse. The solution? Give the girl some chores, thus making her feel like part of the family. They had her help set the table, clear the table, make her bed and other activities. The parents feared
MANIFESTING CI IRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
WHAT IS OUR SOUL'S PLACE? continued the worse, expecting more tantrums and screaming to get her to participate. What happened? Just the opposite. The girl dove right into the chores, loving that she was actively participating with the family. She felt she belonged and settled right into family life from then on. Why do I share this? Because our soul is often like a spoiled child, that if left without direction is likely to act in the most un-Christ-like ways. When our soul is constantly fed and given into, it becomes lord of our lives, instead of Jesus being the Lord of our lives in its place. The soul itself is not evil but it can behave in sinful, unchristian ways that need to changed and transformed by the Spirit of God and under the Blood of Jesus Christ.
ANOTHER SCRIPTURAL ANALOGY Another way to understand the soul's place is to explore the Holy Spirit insight that the word "woman" in Scripture is often another word for the soul, and that "man" is another word for our spirit. This is often difficult to understand because this means that the terms "male" and "female", and "man" and "woman", have different meanings scripturally. It therefore means that every male (physical) has a man/spirit and a woman/soul; and every, female (physical) has a man/spirit and a woman/soul. To confirm this, Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free, there is neither- male nor female: . for ve are all one in Christ. " So, spiritually we are one in Christ, there is no preference of one over the other but rather we are co-equals in Christ. So then why does Paul say things like this: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not perm itted them to speak;
but the)) are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. " I Corinthians 14:34
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. " I Timothy 2:11-12
He says this because he is speaking of those who are being led by their soul, rather than by the Spirit of God â€” and that can be either a male or a female. The other main point here is that Paul is talking about the soul's place in a Church body setting. When the Body of Christ gathers, whether in a Church building or a home Bible study, the soul's place is to be silent
and in submission to the Spirit of God. This is not to say that no one can speak or have a conversion but rather that each person should exercise some restraint on their soul,
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
ANOTHER SCRIPTURAL ANALOGY continued submitting and yielding it to Jesus at the outset so that all that takes place is to the glory of God. It's like when a child enters a classroom, it too must learn to quiet itself and submit to the teacher for the child to learn and gain the benefit of what is being taught. The same goes for a Christian gathering: that is a time for the soul to quiet itself and receive of the Spirit of God at work in that meeting. For a specific breakdown of the order God has established within us, I Corinthians 1 1:312 is quite clear. I won't go into all of those verses but rather focus on the main one where
it says this: But I would have you know, that the head of every man (spirit) is Christ, and the head of the woman (soul) is the man (spirit), and the head of Christ is God." (Verse 3) So, God is the head of Christ; Christ is to be the head of the man/spirit; and the man, in submission to Christ, is the head of the woman/soul. The rest of the verses go on to explain the importance that the man and the woman be covered. This covering speaks of being in submission to, and under the cover and protection of Christ: the woman/soul being in submission to and covered the man/spirit, who is in submission to and covered by Christ, who is in submission and covered by God. It is when our spirit and/or our soul acts apart from God and Christ that shame, sin and trouble can come upon us and we say or do things we regret and need to repent of. As in nature, God established all things and we do best when are in harmony with the way He created things to be. It is when we are in harmony with God and His creation that we find true peace, contentment and , j oy. Being who He created us to be is what its all about, in my book. So, to better arrive at that place harmony, let's take a closer look at Proverbs 22:5 where it says, "... he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them (the thorns and
KEEPING OUR SOUL In the Webster's New World Dictionary the word "keep" opens up quite a realm of possibilities. There it defines "keep" as: 1. Fulfill; observe 2. Protect; take care of 3. Preserve 4. Retain (to keep in possession) 5. Continue 6. Hold and not let go 7. Refrain
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
KEEPING OUR SOUL continued Interesting... So now let's apply each of these definitions to our soul. 1. To fulfill or observe our soul: Too often we seek to fulfill our soul, with its desires, needs and wants, with worldly, earthly things and pursuits but, in the end, these things will never really fulfill us as God can. I-Ie created us and it is only in returning to Him, and observing His Hand in our lives that we begin to become that person He created us to be, and therefore do what He created us to do. In Christ is true fulfillment. ?. To protect and take care of our soul: In Scripture there is much comparison between human beings and those living things in nature. In Scripture we are often likened to trees, gardens, and vines. As with any garden or orchard, the plants need to be protected from predators that would eat away and destroy the plants. The soil within the garden or orchard is also important to tend to as it needs nutrients, water and weeding if it is to bear good fruit. People are much the same, as Jesus shares in the parable of the sower where the good ground of the heart' is taught. In that parable, Jesus warns us that if we don't take care to protect and keep our seed in the good ground of our heart, the enemy will try to take the seed from us, or when persecution comes, that seed will wither up and dry, or the cares and riches of this life can rise up like weeds and brush to choke out our seed from God. Then in Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus tells us to lay up our treasure in Heaven because if our treasure is on earth it can be gotten to. Treasures on earth can be eaten away as a moth eats away at your coat in the closet; rust can corrupt as sin surely taints all things of God if left there long enough; and the thief can break in and steal your earthly treasure just a surely as the devil and his minions will try to steal that which God has given you unless you put all you have in God's care and keeping, even your very soul. 3. To preserve our soul: This is pretty much what we've been writing about here. The main thing I would stress is that I have found that there are times when we need to be protective and careful about our soul and consider in prayer the effect certain actions, words and/or activities will have on it. It is one thing to be willing to endure all for Christ (which is good) and another to put ourselves in harm's way when God did not purpose it (not so good). Jesus made a point in His walk in this world to do nothing but what the Father showed Him. He deliberately worked to be sure that all He did was the Will of God and not of Himself. Likewise, we need to do the same in our daily lives. In the end, this will save us a whole bunch of hurt and disappointment, as well as other things that may wear on our soul. 4. To retain our soul and #6. To hold and not let P-o of our soul: These are basically the same thing â€” keeping possession of our soul. One could ask, can we lose our soul? Well, Jesus warned us in Mark 8:36, "For what slircl! it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" It is a sad reality but there have been Christians who have received revelation from Jesus that there are those who once professed to be Christians who
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
KEEPING OUR SOUL continued actually end up hell, thus losing their soul. In the cases I have read about, the revelation was that there were areas of unforgiveness and bitterness that the people wouldn't let go of and thus they gave up Christ's Salvation and ended up in hell. This is certainly a sobering thought and another to be careful what you keep in your soul and what you let go to Jesus, putting your sin under His shed blood. 5. To continue our soul: I see this as what the parable of the Ten Virgins is all about. The 5 wise virgins continued to keep watch for the bridegroom; they continued to trim their lamps, which in other words means that they kept their souls ready for the moment when the groom came, while the 5 foolish virgins did not. For the 5 foolish virgins, they ran out of oil which caused them to absent when the moment came for the groom to come for His bride. What does this mean in relation to the soul? In failing to take care of their soul and keep it for God, to keep faith and the Presence of the Spirit of God active and alive within it, the lamp/soul ran dark which caused them to turn away from their True Love, the bridegroom. To get the oil meant going elsewhere to pay the price to get back that faith and Presence of the Spirit of God which the Groom requires. They did not continue in the faith to keep their soul and had to start anew. Sc. you can see that we need to continue on our journey of faith, ever yielding and submitting our soul to God, His Will, His Son and His Spirit in our lives. As well as continuing our soul, we must also do #7 - refrain our soul from doing that which would draw us away from God. This can be done with a simple prayer in those times when you are in doubt about doing something, just stop and take moment to pray and seek Jesus and His Will for you so you can know if it is okay with God for you to do a thing or not, then go with what you believe is the right thing to do. Again, it will take some trial and error to learn what is of God and what is of yourself, so don't be too uptight about this, but the only way to learn is to start walking the Walk.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU'RE OPERATING IN YOUR SOUL? Lastly, the question could be raised, 'So how do I know when I'm operating in my soul apart from God?' My experience is that when our soul is running things, there is a strength and willfulness not found when the Spirit of God is present. Another way is to check the fruit. In Matthew 12:33,35 it says, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good,- orelse make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit... A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil m an out of the evil treasure br-ingeth . forth evil things.
MANIFESTING CHRIST â€” KEEPING OUR SOUL
HOW CAN YOU TELL ...? continued Then in Galatians 5:22-23 it says what the good fruit should be: But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsz ffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tem perance' against such there is no law." If instead you find yourself filled with anger, strife, bitterness, resentment, and any other kind of negative emotions, then it is time for the soul to be silenced and brought before God in repentance and submission â€” your soul is out of order. The key here is not getting rid of your soul, and certainly not beating it into submission, but rather taking possession if it, yielding is to the Holy Spirit and Christ Jesus, and letting the Spirit of God work out Christ's Salvation from deep within. This is greatest treasure an y one can obtain. God, ourHeavenly Father, gave us Jesus Christ, who then came and died for our sins that our soul might be saved. That was and is the greatest gift ever!! Jesus died so that all mankind could have life, and life abundantly. Let us not waste that special gift but rather seek to receive the fullness of that gift as God intends.