LEARNING TO DISCERN OUR SPIRIT FROM OUR SOUL
We have to learn to discern our spirit from our soul. Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God is living and operative as a sharp two-edged sword piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit. Just as we illustrated before, our mind as a part of our soul may doubt that we are a child of God, but our spirit still has the assurance that we are a child of God. Our mind is doubting, but our spirit is praising.
When we consider a certain brother in our mind, we may be unhappy with him, but deep within us, in the spirit, we would say that he is a good brother. Thus, we can see the difference between the soul and the spirit. The question is always, "Would we go along with our soul or with our spirit?" Many times we go along with the soul. We do not care for our spirit. When we go along with our spirit, we are one with all the brothers.
When a sister goes shopping, she may feel good in her soul about buying something, but there is a "no" deep within her spirit. Many times we are clear about the difference between our soul and our spirit, but we are short of grace. We would not go along with the sense in our spirit. Instead, we go along with our soul, and we are deadened by our unwillingness to follow the spirit.
Many times in our soul we like to talk and tell others certain things, but deep within our spirit we have the sense not to say much. At this time do we go along with our soul or with our spirit? Many times we go along with our soul to talk, and the more we talk, the more we are deadened. This again shows us the difference between the soul and the spirit.
Doctrinally, it is hard to discern the difference between the soul and the spirit, but practically, it is somewhat easy. We need to look to the Lord for His mercy that we could have the grace to go along with our spirit. The best way to take grace at such a juncture is to say, "O Lord." When we are in the department store, there might be a struggle between our soul and our spirit. If we call, "O Lord" repeatedly, this will bring us the grace to make us strong in the spirit. The grace will strengthen us to go along with the spirit. If we exercise our spirit in this way, a habit will be built up in us. Whenever there is a struggle between our soul and our spirit, we should always say, "O Lord, O Lord." When we say, "O Lord," we are in the spirit. When we open up our mouth to call on the name of the Lord, Satan will be chased away. This is the simple way to turn ourselves to the spirit.
(The Fulfillment of God's Purpose by the Growth of Christ in Us, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)