Before reading this article, please be sure to read my previous article on this subject, which is found here.
As I previously mentioned, I believe that man is a triune creature: body, soul and spirit. As also previously mentioned, there is a difference between soul and spirit, though the two things at times seem to be indistinguishable.
I have a great concern for the Body of Christ which I have carried with me for many years, and which I continue to carry into the present day. There seems to be a terrible lack of discernment between soul and spirit, and yet this is vitally important in regards to having a healthy Christian life.
Here is an example of the confusion between soul and spirit.
I once received an invitation to a Christian dramatic presentation. Besides all the necessary information about time and place, the flyer also included this bit of soulish bait. It said,”You’ll laugh! You’ll cry!” The flyer was assuring me that if I attended, my emotions would be touched and my soul would be stirred. There is certainly nothing wrong with laughing or crying; both are created by God and can provide tremendous relief, but don’t miss my point: They were seeking to appeal to my soulish desires to get me to attend a spiritual event.
Some may say that I am splitting hairs and making a big deal out of this…and I would agree with them…it is a big deal, though it seems so small. Hebrews 4:12 makes this distinction, and so it is a God ordained distinction that many seem to overlook or dismiss. I wouldn’t doubt but that some people attended that event, hoping for a good cry or a good laugh, but what if God intended to work in that person’s life in such a way that produced neither tears nor laughter?
What is the outcome of such a scenario? A person is drawn to the event by soulish promises, whereas God wants to do a spiritual work. The two experiences are not the same. Laughing and crying can be good, but they aren’t necessarily the result of the Spirit of God touching a life.
What then has been produced? What has happened? The invited guest was promised a soulish experience, and they got one. They laughed and they cried. They experienced a soulish release. The tensions and problems of life were temporarily forgotten. They had fun. They were emotionally moved, and it all felt very good.
The “spiritual” event produced a “soulish” release, and now they want more. Their soul was massaged, stirred and excited, and all without the use of sexual images, violence, and cursing. Their soul was touched at a physical location that talks about Jesus, and now they have a new safe place to go to be moved in their soul.
The church notices that this event drew many to attend, and so in their “wisdom”, they realize that they must duplicate the event. They must be deliberate to make the people laugh and cry.
Now both the church and those attending have cast a die. They have established a pattern and an expectation. The church can draw people in and touch their souls without necessarily having to be spiritual.
It is religious pragmatism at its finest. If it gets the people in the doors, we will do it. The church becomes an expert of touching soulish pleasures, and the church congregants become their consumers. Supply has met demand. It works, and it dare not be criticized or changed.
This creates an extremely dangerous but seemingly innocuous situation. The things of the spirit have been minimized or set aside in place of things of the soul. Sometimes it is simply a matter of somewhat minimizing the spiritual and replacing it with the soulish. But the point is this: Soulish experiences, even when they experienced in the name of Jesus, do not guarantee that one has experienced Jesus. Sadly, some Christians cannot distinguish between the two experiences. Sadly, some church leaders are in the same predicament.
What then is the remedy?
I could write a book on what the exact remedies ought to be, but I would be soulish in doing it. It is not my job to tell anyone what their convictions should be. We need to wrestle with these issues in our own hearts. I will not try to convince anyone about how they should or shouldn’t advertise their church, present their worship, craft their sermons, reach their communities, or teach their children.
But every Christian has to ask themselves the question: Is what I am doing soulish or spiritual? Am I trying to accomplish spiritual goals through soulish methods? Am I doing things that produces soulish results, and are pragmatic for getting people in the door, or is my focus on walking after the leading of the Spirit, and leaving the results up to God?
Philippians 2:12 tells us…Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…
My goal is to point out the fact that the Bible tells us that soul and spirit are very close. To the unseasoned and undiscerning Christian, they are indistunguishable, and yet the Bible says they are amazingly close, but different.
1. Recognize the difference between soulish and spiritual. Pray to discern that.
2. Choose to walk in the Spirit, and let God produce His results.