THE DANGER OF A BELIEVER’S BEING SOULISH
When believers have not reached or are not willing to reach what God wants them to reach, they are inevitably in danger. Since God’s goal is for the believers to live in the spirit, not in the soul, neither in the body, if they do not live in the spirit, they will suffer loss. There are at least three kinds of danger:
A. The Danger of Being Suppressed in Spirit
All works of the Holy Spirit are done in the spirit of man. The order of God’s working is first to have the Holy Spirit moving in the human spirit, then to shine as light in the mind (soul), and then to have His work being carried out by the body. This order is very important.
Since a believer is born of the Spirit, he should walk by the Spirit. Only in this way will he then be able to understand God’s will, work with the Holy Spirit, and overcome all the schemes of the enemy. The spirit of a believer should be very living. Believers should know how to follow the activity of the spirit and not quench its action, thus letting the Holy Spirit carry out His work through the spirit. The Holy Spirit needs the cooperation of the human spirit so that He can make the believers victorious in their ordinary everyday living, always ready, able to work on command. (Before long, we will talk about the problem of the spirit.)
However, many believers do not understand the work of the spirit and cannot distinguish between what is spiritual and what is soulish. Sometimes they even misinterpret what is spiritual as soulish, and soulish as spiritual. Consequently, they greatly utilize much soulish ability to live and work, and even suppress the life of the spirit. They actually walk according to the soul, but they think that they walk according to the spirit. This kind of foolishness causes one’s spirit to be unable to work together with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this stops the work of the Holy Spirit on him.
When a believer lives in the soul, he always walks according to the thoughts, imaginations, plans, and visions of his mind. He seeks after all the happy feelings and walks according to those feelings. The end result is that if he often has the experience of these feelings, he will be happy. If he does not, then he will feel weighted down as if he can not even crawl. Therefore, this causes him to not live in his spiritual life but to live in his feelings, changing his living according to feelings. This is to say that a believer no longer acts and behaves according to the central point, the spirit within him, but is attracted to live in the feelings of his outward soul and body. Thus, the spiritual consciousness is overcome by the soul and body. This causes a believer to become very dull to the consciousness of the spirit. As a result, all the consciousness he has is that of the soul or of the body, thus causing him to lose the true consciousness of the spirit toward God. In this way, the cooperation of the spirit and God will be lost. The growth of the spiritual life will be suppressed and impeded. The spirit will be unable to work to make the believer obtain ability and guidance to fight the battle and to worship. If the spirit does not have the complete freedom to rule within a man, if a man does not draw out the power of the spirit and live a life in this world which lets the Spirit be the master of everything, he cannot grow into maturity. Since the consciousness of the spirit is very fine and delicate, unless a man learns how to follow and discern this sense, how will he be able to detect it, especially when there is an additional outside disturbance of the feelings of his soul-life, which are rough and tough? Not only will the feeling of the soul confuse the consciousness of the spirit, but it will also suppress it.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)