"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 9: The Volition and Spirit of Man.
It is now necessary to see from the Scriptures the true way in which God works in the believer, in contradistinction to the way of Satan and his wicked spirits; for the principle of co-operation with God,note 1 and not passive control by Him, must be fully understood, not only as the basis of deliverance from deception and possession, but also as the basis for the warfare which will be dealt with in our next chapter.
Briefly, it may be said that the Holy Spirit dwelling in the regenerate human spirit, energizes and works through the faculties of the soul and the members of the body, only in and with, the active co-operation of the WILL Of the believer, i.e., God in the spirit of man, does not use the man's hand apart from the "I will use my hand" of the man himself.note 2
CO-OPERATION WITH GOD DOES NOT MEAN AUTOMATIC WORKING
When Paul said, "His working, which worketh in me mightily" (Col. 1: 29), he first said, "I labour according to" His working. The "I labour" did not mean that hands and feet and mind worked automatically in response to a Divine energizing, as the engine works in response to the steam, but at the back of the "I labour" was the full action of Paul's will, saying "I choose to labour," and "as I labour, God's power and energy energizes me in the acting," so that it is "I who live and move and work," and "yet not I, but Christ--the 'Spirit of Christ' in me." (See Gal. 2: 20; Phil. 1: 19).
It was so in the Greater than Paul, Who said, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me," "The Son can do nothing of Himself," and yet He said also, "My Father worketh hitherto and I work." "The works that I do shall ye do also!" He had a separate will, but He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father, and He was doing the Father's will when He said to the one who sought His healing power, "I WILL, be thou clean!"
Thus it should be in the life of the believer. Granted the essential union of his will with the will of God, and the energizing power of the Holy Spirit, by his own deliberate choice of harmony with that Holy Will, the believer is actively to use his will in ruling himself in spirit, soul and body. God dwelling in his spirit co-working with him through his exercised volition.note 3
GOD GOVERNS THE RENEWED MAN BY HIS CO-ACTING WILL
For deliverance from the power of sin and protection from deceiving spirits in their workings, it is important to have a clear apprehension of God's purpose in redemption. God created man, with dominion over himself. This dominion was exercised by his act of will, even as it was by his Creator. But man fell, and, in his fall, yielded his will to the rule of Satan, who from that time by the agency of his evil spirits has ruled the world, through the enslaved will of fallen man. Christ the Second Adam came, and taking the place of man, chose obedience to the Father's will, and never for one moment diverged from His perfect co-operation with that will. In the wilderness He refused to exercise the Divine power at the will of Satan, and in Gethsemane in suffering His will never wavered in the choice of the Father's will. As Man He willed the will of God right through, becoming obedient even unto death, thus regaining for regenerated man, not only reconciliation with God, but liberty from Satan's thraldom, and the restoration of man's renewed and sanctified will to its place of free action,note 4 deliberately and intelligently exercised in harmony with the will of God.
Christ wrought out for man upon Calvary's Cross salvation of spirit, soul, and body, from the dominion of sin and Satan; but that full salvation is wrought out in the believer through the central action of the will, as he deliberately chooses the will of God for each department of his tripartite nature.
The will of the man united to the will of God--and thus having the energizing power of God working with his volition--is to rule his (1) "own spirit" (see Prov. 25: 28; 1 Cor. 14: 32); (2) thoughts or mind (Col. 3: 2) inclusive of all the soul-powers; and (3) body (1 Cor. 9: 27), and when, by the appropriation of God's freeing power from slavery to sin and Satan, the believer regains free action of his will so that he gladly and spontaneously wills the will of God, and as a renewed man re-takes dominion over spirit, soul and body, he reigns in life "through . . Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5: 17).
But the natural man does not reach this stage of renewal and liberation of his will, without first knowing the regeneration of his own human spirit. God is not in fallen man until the moment of his new birth (Ephes. 2: 12; 3: 16; John 3: 5-8). He must be "begotten of God;" the very fact of such a begetting being necessary, declares the non-existence of Divine life in him previously. After such a begetting, it is also necessary to understand that the regenerated man does not, as a rule, immediately become a spiritual man, i.e., a man wholly dominated by, and walking after the spirit.
THE NATURAL" VERSUS THE "SPIRITUAL" MAN
At first the regenerated man is but a "babe in Christ, manifesting many of the characteristics of the natural man in jealousy, strife,note 5 etc., until he apprehends the need of a fuller reception of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the regenerated spirit as His sanctuary.
The unregenerate man is wholly dominated by soul and body. The regenerate man has his spirit (I) quickened, and (2) indwelt by the Holy Spirit, yet may he governed by soul and body because his spirit is compressed and bound. The spiritual man has his spirit liberated from bondage to the soul (Heb. 4: 12) to be the organ of the Holy Spirit in mind and body.
It is then that, by the Holy Spirit's power, his volition is brought into harmony with God in all His laws and purposes, and the whole outer man into self-control. Thus it is written "The fruit of the Spirit . . . is self-control" (Gal. 5: 23, m). It is not only love, joy, peace, long-suffering, and gentleness, manifested through the channel of the soul--the personality--but in a true dominion over the world of himself, (1) every thought brought into captivity, in the same obedience to the will of the Father as was manifested in Christ (2 Cor. 10: 5); (2) his spirit "ruled" also from the chamber of the will, so that he is of a "cool spirit" and can "'keep back" or utter at his will what is in his spirit as well as what is in his mind (Prov. 17: 27, m.), and (3) his body so obedient to the helm of the will, that it is a disciplined and alert instrument for God to energize and empower; that body an instrument to be handled intelligently as a vehicle for service, and not any longer master of the man, or the mere tool of Satan and unruly desires.
THE CALL TO DECISIVE ACTION OF THE WILL
All this is fully made clear in the New Testament Epistles. "Our old man was crucified with Him" is said of the work of Christ at Calvary, but on the part of the one who desires this potential fact made true in his life, he is called upon to declare his attitude of choice with decisive action, both in the negative and positive positions. The Apostle appeals again and again to the redeemed believer to act decisively with his will, as the following few passages show:--
|"Cast off the works of darkness."Rom. 13: 12.||"Put on the armour of light." Rom. 13: 12|
|"Put away the old man."Eph. 4: 22.||"Put on the new man." Eph. 4: 24|
|"Put off the old man with his doings."Col. 3: 9.||"Put on the new man." Col. 3: 10.|
|"Put to death your members." Col. 3: 5.||"Present your members unto God." Rom. 6: 13.|
|Put off the body of the flesh." Col. 2: 11.||"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh." Rom. 13: 14.|
|See also Ephes. 6: 13, 16 "Take up the whole amour..."||"Put on a heart of compassion." Col. 3:12|
|"Put on the whole armour of God." Eph. 6: 11|
All these passages describe a decisive act of the will, not toward exterior things, but toward things in an unseen, immaterial sphere, incidentally showing the effect in the spiritual sphere of a man's volitional action.note 6 They also emphasize the effect of the decisive use of the will of man, when it acts in harmony with the liberating power of Christ. Christ has done the work on Calvary's Cross, but that work is applied in fact through the action of the believer's own will, acting as if he himself had power to "cast off" the invisible works of darkness, and finding with this action of his will, the co- working of the Spirit of God making the casting off effectual.
In saving the man, God calls him into co-action with Himself, to "work out his own salvation,"note 7 for it is God Who works with and in him, to enable him to will and to do His pleasure.
GOD CALLS A MAN INTO CO-ACTION FOR HIS OWN SALVATION
In the hour of his regeneration God gives to man the decisive liberty of will to rule over himself, as he walks in fellowship with God. And by this restoration of a will free to act in choosing for God, SATAN LOSES HIS POWER. Satan is the god of this world, and he rules the world through the will of men enslaved by him, enslaved not only directly, but indirectly, by his inciting men to enslave one another, and to covet the power of "influence," whereas they should work with God to restore to every man the freedom of his own personal volition, and the power of choice to do right because it is right, obtained for them at Calvary.
In this direction we can see the working of the world-rulers of darkness in the realm which they govern, directly in atmospheric influence, and indirectly through men, in (1) hypnotic suggestion,note 8 (2) thought reading, (3) will controlling, and other forms of invisible force, sometimes employed for the supposed good of others.
The danger of all forms of healing by "suggestion," and all kindred methods of seeking to benefit men in physical or mental ways, lies in their bringing about a passivity of the will,note 9 and mental powers, which lays them open to Satanic influences later on.
THE BELIEVER'S RIGHT OF DECISION OF WILL
The liberation of the will from its passive condition, and control by the prince of this world, takes place when the believer sees his right of choice, and begins to deliberately place his will on God's side, and thus choose the will of God. Until the will is fully liberated for action, it is helpful for the believer to assert his decision frequently by saying, "I choose the will of God, and I refuse the will of Satan." The soul may not even be able to distinguish which is which,note 10 but the declaration is having effect in the unseen world, i.e., God works by His Spirit in the man as he chooses His will, energizing him through his volition to continually refuse the claims of sin and Satan; and Satan is thereby rendered more and more powerless, whilst the man is stepping out into the salvation obtained potentially for him at Calvary, and God is gaining once more a loyal subject in a rebellious world.
On the part of the believer the action of the will is governed by the understanding of the mind, i.e., the mind sees what to do, the will chooses to do it, and then from the spirit comes the power to fulfil the choice of the will, and the knowledge of the mind. For example, the man (1) sees that he should speak, (2) he chooses or wills to speak, (3) he draws upon the power in his spirit to carry out his decisions. This means knowledge of how to use the spirit, and the necessity of knowing the laws of the spirit, so as to fully co-operate with the Holy Ghost.
THE SPIRIT ENERGIZED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AT THE BACK OF THE WILL
But the believer thus co-operating with God in the use of his volition, must understand that the choice of the will is not sufficient alone, as we see by Paul's words in Rom. 7: 18. "To will is present with me, but to do . . .is not." Through the spirit, and by the strengthening of the Holy Spirit in the "inward man" (the regenerate human spiritnote 11--Eph. 3: 16), is the liberated will desirous and determined to do God's will, empowered to carry out its choice. "It is God which worketh in you . . to will," i.e., to enable the believer to decide or choose. Then it is "God which worketh in you . . to do His pleasure" (Phil. 2: 13), i.e., energizes the believer with power to carry out the choice.
That is, God gives the power to do, from the spirit where He dwells, and by the believer understanding the using of his spirit, as clearly as he understands the use (1) of his will, (2) of is mind, or (3) of his body. He must know how to discern the sense of his spirit, so as to understand the will of God, before he can do it.
THE DISTINCT ORGANISM OF THE SPIRIT
That the human spirit is a distinct organism,note 12 as separate from the soul and body, is very clearly recognized in the Scriptures, as these few verses show.
- "The spirit of man." 1 Cor. 2: 11.
- "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit." Rom. 8: 16.
- "My spirit prayeth." 1 Cor. 14: 14.
- ". . .my spirit. . ." 1 Cor. 5:4.
- "Relief in my spirit."note 13 2 Cor. 2: 13.
There is also a separation of "soul and spirit" required and carried out by the Word of God--the sword of the Spirit--made known in Heb. 4: 12, because through the Fall, the spirit in union with God which once ruled and dominated soul and body, fell from the predominant position into the vessel of the soulnote 14 and could no longer rule. In the "new birth" which the Lord told Nicodemus was necessary for every man, the regeneration of the fallen spirit takes place. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3: 6), "a new spirit will I put within you" (Ezek. 36: 26), and through the apprehension of the death of the old creation with Christ as set forth in Rom. 6: 6, is the new spirit liberated, divided from the soul, and joined to the Risen Lord. "Dead to the law . . . joined to Another . . having died . . . that we might serve in newness of the spirit" (Rom. 7: 4-6).
The believer's life is therefore to be a walk "after the spirit" minding "the things of the spirit" (Rom. 8: 4-5). In the R.V. the word "spirit" is not written with a capital "S" denoting the Spirit of God, but with a small "s" as referring to the spirit of man. But the believer can only thus walk "after the spirit," if the Spirit of God dwells in him (Rom. 8: 9), the Holy Spirit lifting his spirit to the place of rule over soul and body--"flesh," both ethically and physically--by joining it to the Risen Lord, and making it "one spirit" with Him (1 Cor. 6: 17).
That the believer retains volitional control over his own spirit is the important point to note, and through ignorance he can withdraw his spirit from co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and thus, so to speak, "walk" after the soul, or after the flesh unwittingly. A surrendered will to do the will of God, is therefore no guarantee that he is doing that will--he must understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5: 17) and for the doing of that will seek to be filled in spirit to the utmost of his capacity.
The knowledge that the Spirit of God has come to indwell the shrine of the spirit, is not enough to guarantee that the believer will continue to walk in the spirit, and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5: 16). If he "lives" by the Spirit he must learn how to walk by the Spirit, and for this understand how to "combine" and "compare" spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. 2: 13, R.V. margin), so as to interpret truly the things of the Spirit of God, exercising the spirit faculty by which he is able to examine all things, and discern the mind of the Lord.
Such a believer should know how to walk after the spirit, so that he does not quench its action, movements or monitions as it is moved or exercised by the Spirit of God, cultivating its strength by use, so that he becomes "strong in spirit" (Luke 1: 80), and a truly spiritual man of "full age" in the Church of God (1 Cor. 2: 6; Heb. 6: 1).
HOW BELIEVERS IGNORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Many believers are not intelligently conscious that they have a "spirit" or else they imagine that every experience which takes place in the realm of their senses is spirit or "spiritual."note 15 If they seek a Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and become conscious of His indwelling, believers sometimes think that then He alone acts in them, and they are infallibly, or specially guided by Him, with the result that everything which takes place in their inner life is necessarily His working.
In these three cases the man's own spirit is left out of account. In the first instance, the believer's religious life is, if we may say so "spiritually mental," that is the mind is illuminated and enjoys spiritual truth, but what "spirit" means he does not clearly know; in the second the believer is really "soul-ish" although he thinks he is spiritual; and in the case where the believer thinks that the Holy Spirit's indwelling means every movement to be of Him, he becomes specially open to the deception of evil spirits counterfeiting the Holy Spirit, because without discrimination he attributes all inner "movements" or experiences to Him.
In this case the man's spirit comes into action, and into his cognizance through the reception of the Holy Spirit, but believers need then to understand that the Holy Spirit does not act through them as a passive channel, but requires them to know how to co-work with Him in spirit, otherwise their "own spirit"--the human spirit--can act apart from Him whilst they may think He alone is the source of action.
THE HUMAN SPIRIT CO-WORKING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Walking "after the spirit," and "minding the spirit," does not only mean mind and body subservient to the spirit, but the man's own spirit co-working with the Holy Spirit in the daily life, and all the occasions of life. To do this, the believer needs to know the laws of the spirit, not only the conditions necessary for the Holy Spirit's working, but the laws governing his own spirit, so that it may be kept open to the Spirit of God.
When the Holy Spirit takes the spirit of man as His sanctuary, evil spirits attack the spirit to get it out of co-working with God. They first get access to mind or body, their object being to close the outlet of the Spirit of God dwelling at the centre; or when the man is "spiritual," and the mind and body are subservient to the spirit, the spiritual forces of Satan can come into DIRECT CONTACT with the spirit, and then follows the "wrestling" referred to by Paul (Eph. 6:12).note 16
If the man becomes "spiritual"note 17 through the Baptism of the Spirit, and yet is ignorant of the laws of the spirit, especially the tactics of Satan, he is liable to yield to an onslaught of deceiving spirits by which they (1) force his spirit into strained ecstasy, or elation, or (2) press it down, as it were into a vice. In the former he is given "visions" and revelations which appear to be divine,note 18 but afterwards are proved to have been of the enemy, by their passing away with no results; in the latter the man sinks into darkness and deadness as if he had lost all knowledge of God.note 19
THE BELIEVER'S CONTROL OVER HIS SPIRIT
When the believer understands these direct onslaughts of wicked spirits, he becomes able to discern the condition of his spirit, and to retain control over it, refusing all forced elation and strain, and resisting all weights and pressure to drive it below the normal poise, in which it is capable of co- operation with the Spirit of God.
The danger of the human spirit acting out of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and becoming driven or influenced by deceiving spirits is a very serious one, and can be increasingly detected by those who walk softly and humbly with God, e.g., a man is liable to think his own masterful spirit is an evidence of the power of God, because in other directions he sees the Holy Spirit using him in winning souls; another may have a flood of indignation inserted into his spirit, which he pours out thinking it is all of God, whilst others shrink and are conscious of a harsh note which is clearly not of God.
This influence on the human spirit by evil spirits counterfeiting the Divine workings, or even the workings of the man himself, because he is out of co- working with the Holy Spirit, needs to be understood and detected by the believer who seeks to walk with God. He needs to know that because he is spiritual his "spirit" is open to two forces of the spirit realm,note 20 and if he thinks that only the Holy Spirit can influence him in the spiritual sphere, he is sure to be misled. If it were so, he would become infallible, but he needs to watch and pray, and seek to have the eyes of his understanding enlightened to know the true workings of God.
SOME LAWS GOVERNING THE TRUE SPIRIT LIFE
Some of the laws governing the spirit life may be summarized briefly as follows--(1) The believer must know what is spirit, and how to give heed to the demands of the spirit, and not quench it, e.g., a weight comes on his spirit, but he goes on with his work, putting up with the
pressure; he finds the work hard, but he has no time to investigate the cause, until at last the weight becomes unendurable, and he is forced to stop and see what is the matter, whereas he should have given heed to the claims of the spirit at the first, and in a brief prayer taken the "weight" to God, refusing all pressure from the foe.
(2) He should be able to read his spirit, and know at once when it is out of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, quickly refusing all attacks which are drawing his spirit out of the poise of fellowship with God.
(3) He should know when his spirit is touched by the poison of the spirits of evil;note 21 by the injection, for instance, of sadness, soreness, complaint, grumbling, fault-finding, touchiness, bitterness, feeling hurt, jealousy, etc.-- all direct from the enemy to the spirit. He should resist all sadness, gloom, and grumbling injected into his spirit, for the victory life of a freed spirit means joyfulness (Gal. 5: 22). Believers think that sadness has to do with their disposition, and yield to it without a thought of resistance or reasoning out the cause. If they are asked if a man with a strong disposition to steal should yield to it, they would at once answer "no," yet they yield to other "dispositions" less manifestly wrong, without question.
In the stress of conflict, when the believer finds that the enemy succeeds in reaching his spirit with any of these "fiery darts," he should know how to pray immediately against the attack asking God to destroy the causes of it. It should be noted that this touching of the spirit by the various things just named is not the manifestation of the "works of the flesh," when the believer is one who knows the life after the spirit; although they will quickly reach the sphere of the flesh if not recognized, and dealt with in sharp refusal and resistance.
(4) He should know when his spirit is in the right position of dominance over soul and body, and yet not driven beyond due measure by the exigencies of conflictnote 22 or environment. There are three conditions of the spirit which the believer should be able to discern and deal with, i.e.:--
- The spirit depressed, i.e., crushed or "down."
- The spirit in its right position, in poise and calm control.
- The spirit drawn out beyond "poise," when it is in strain, or driven, or in "flight."
When the man walks after the spirit, and discerns it to be in either of these conditions, he knows how to "lift" it when it is depressed; and how to check the over-action by a quiet act of his volition, when it is drawn out of poise by over-eagerness, or drive of spiritual foes.
SOME LIGHT ON TRUE GUIDANCE AFTER THE SPIRIT
In "guidance," the believer should understand that when there is no action in his spirit, he should use his mind. If in everything there must be the "Amen" in the spirit, there is no use for the brain at all, but the SPIRIT DOES NOT ALWAYS SPEAK. There are times when it should be left in abeyance. In all guidance the mind decides the course of action, not only from the feeling in the spirit, but by the light in the mind.
In coming to a decision, the deciding is an act of mind and will, based upon, either mental process of reasoning, or sense of the spirit, or both, i.e.:--
(1) Decision by mental process, reasoning, or
(2) Decision by sense of the spirit: i.e., movement, impelling; drawing or restraint; spirit as if "dead"--no response. Contraction of spirit; openness of spirit; fulness of spirit; compression of spirit; burden on spirit; wrestling in spirit; resisting in spirit.note 23
God has three ways of communicating His will to men.
- vision to the mind, which is very rare, and can be given only to very matured spiritual men, such as Moses;
- understanding by the mind; and
- consciousness to the spirit, that is, by light to the mind, and consciousness in spirit. In true guidance,note 24 spirit and mind are of one accord, and the intelligence is not in rebellion against the leading in the spirit, as it is so often in counterfeit guidance by evil spirits, when the man is COMPELLED TO ACT, in obedience to what he thinks is of God, supernaturally given, and fears to disobey.note 25
This all refers to guidance from the subjective standpoint, but it must be emphasized in addition, that ALL TRUE GUIDANCE FROM GOD IS IN HARMONY WITH THE SCRIPTURES. The "understanding" of the will of God by the mind, depends upon the mind being saturated with the knowledge of the written Word. and true "consciousness in the spirit" depends upon its union with Christ through the indwelling Spirit of God.
The mind should never be dropped into abeyance.note 26 The human spirit can be influenced by the mind, therefore, the believer should keep his mind in purity, and unbiased; as well as an unbiased volition. Passivity can be produced by seeking for a "leading" in the spirit all day, when there may be no action in the spirit to go by. When there is no movement, or "draw," or "leading" in the spirit, then the mind should be used in reliance upon the promise of God, "the meek will He guide in judgment." (Ps. 25: 9). An example of this use of the mind, when Paul had no consciousness in his spirit of any special guidance from God, is clearly given by him when he wrote to the Corinthians that in one matter he had commandment (1 Cor. 7: 10), but in another he said, "I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my judgment" (1 Cor. 7:25); in the one case he had the guidance through his spirit; in the other he used his mind, and clearly said so--see verse 40--"after my judgment."
Through ignorance a large majority of believers walk "after the soul," i.e., their mind and emotions, and think they are "walking after the spirit." The Satanic forces know this right well, and use all their wiles to draw the believer to live in his soul or body, sometimes flashing visions to the mind or giving exquisite sensations of joy, buoyancy of life, etc., to the body, and the believer "walks after the soul," and "after the body" as he follows these things, believing that he is following the Spirit of God.note 27
Depending upon supernatural things given from outside, or spiritual experiences in the sense realm, checks the inward spiritual life through the spirit. By the experiences of the senses, instead of living in the true sphere of the spirit, the believer is drawn out to live in the outer man of his body; and ceasing to act from his centre, he is caught by the outer workings of the supernatural in his circumference, and loses the inner co-operation with God. The devil's scheme is therefore to make the believer cease walking after the spirit, and to draw him out into the realm of soul or body. Then the spirit, which is the organ of the Holy Spirit in conflict against a spiritual foe, drops into abeyance and is ignored, because the believer is occupied with the sense- experience. It is then practically out of action, either for guidance, power in service, or conflict.note 28
THE COUNTERFEIT OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Evil spirits then seek to create a counterfeit of the spirit, and they do this by getting a footing in the person so as to produce other feelings than those of the spirit, then when these get a hold they become strong enough to silence or overpower the true spirit-action, or spiritual feelings.note 29If the believer is ignorant of the tactics of the enemy in this way, he lets go the true spirit-action--or allows it to sink into disuse--and follows the counterfeit spiritual feelings, thinking he is walking after the spirit all the time.
When the true spirit-action ceases, the evil spirits suggest that God now guides through the "renewed mind," which is an attempt to hide their workings, and the man's disuse of his spirit. On the cessation of the spirit co-operation with the Holy Spirit,note 30 and counterfeit "spirit" feelings taking place in the body, counterfeit light to the mind, reasoning, judging, etc., follows,note 31 the man thus walking after mind and body, and not after the spirit, with the true illumination of the mind which comes from full operation of the Holy Spirit.
To further interfere with the true spirit life, the deceiving spirits seek to counterfeit the action of the spirit in burden and anguish. This they do by first giving a fictitious "Divine love" to the person, the faculty receiving it being the affections. When these affections are grasped fully by the deceivers, the sense of love passes away, and the man thinks he has lost God and all communion with God. Then follow feelings of constraint and restraint, which will develop into acute suffering, which the believer thinks is in the spirit, and of God. Now he goes by these feelings, calling them "anguish in the spirit," "groaning in the spirit," etc., whilst the deceiving spirits, through the sufferings given by them in the affections, compel the man to do their will.
All physical consciousness of supernatural things, and even undue consciousness of natural things, should be refused, as this diverts the mind from walking after the spirit, and sets it upon the bodily sensations. Physical consciousness is also an obstacle to the continuous concentration of the mind, and in a spiritual believer an "attack" of physical "consciousness" made use of by the enemy, may break concentration of the mind, and bring a cloud upon the spirit.note 32 The body should be kept calm, and under full control; excessive laughter should be avoided, and all "rushing" which rouses the physical life to the extent of dominating mind and spirit. Believers who desire to be "spiritual" and of "full age" in the life in God, should avoid excess, extravagance, and extremes in all things (See 1 Cor. 9: 257).
Because of the domination of the physical part of the man, and the emphasis placed upon supernatural experiences in the body, the body is made to do the work of the spirit, and is forced into a prominence, which hides the true spirit life. It feels the pressure, feels the conflict, and THUS BECOMES THE SENSE INSTEAD OF THE SPIRIT.note 33 Believers do not perceive where they feel. If they are questioned as to where they "feel," they cannot answer. They should learn to discriminate, and know how to discern the feelings of the spirit, which are neither emotional (soulish), or physical. (See for example Mark 8: 12; John 13: 21; Acts 18: 5 A.V.).
SOME DESCRIPTIONS OF THE SPIRIT
The spirit may be likened to the electric light. If the man's spirit is in contact with the Spirit of God it is full of light, apart from Him it is darkness. Indwelt by Him "the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Prov. 20: 27). The spirit may also be likened to elastic; when it is bound, or pressed, or weighted, it ceases to act, or to be the source of power and "spring" so to speak, in the life. If a man feels weighted, he should find out what the weight is. If he is asked, "Is it your body?" he would probably say "No," but that he "feels bound inside." Then what is it that is "bound" or "weighted?" Is it not the spirit? The spirit can be compressed or expanded, up or down, in or out of place, bound or free. The possibilities and potentialities of the human spirit are only known when the spirit is joined to Christ, and united to Him is made strong to stand against the powers of darkness.
The great need of the Church is to know and understand the laws of the spirit, so as to co-work with the Spirit of God in fulfilling the purpose of God through His people. But the lack of knowledge of the spirit life has given the deceiving spirits of Satan the opportunity for the deceptions, of which we have spoken in the previous pages of this book.
Note—That the children of God may more readily discern the true workings of God from the counterfeits of Satan. A summary of some of these is given in concise form in "Supplementary Notes."