II. TO SET OUR MIND ON THE SPIRIT
After you fan your spirit into flame, learn to practice another thing. Always manage your mind. Do not let your mind be a "wild horse." The mind is the great part of the soul, and the soul is in between our outward flesh and our inward spirit. Romans 8:6 says, "The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace." After fanning our spirit into flame, we must learn to set our mind on the spirit. Our mind is very "talkative." The mind speaks to us everywhere at all times. If we do not control our mind, we can wander in our imagination all over the globe within a short time. We can dream in our mind even during the day. This is why we must direct our mind to the spirit. When we do this, we will sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, or speak forth the Lord.
It is easy for the husband and the wife to commit sins because when they are with each other, they do not set their mind on the spirit. Before other people, they will be restricted in what they say. But when they are together, they may feel free to gossip about others or speak negatively about the church. At that time they are in death because they are setting their mind upon the flesh. But we have to learn to fan our spirit into flame and to control our mind. Do not let the mind be set upon the flesh, but direct it to be set upon the spirit. This habit has to be built up in us. To set our mind on the flesh is death. To set our mind on the spirit is life and peace.
III. TO DISCERN OUR SPIRIT FROM OUR SOUL
In Hebrews 4:12 the word discern is used. It says that the word of God can divide our soul from our spirit and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Quite often our thoughts are deceiving. But if we exercise our spirit, there is a discernment that our thoughts are evil, because behind our thoughts there is an evil intention. To discern the thoughts and intents of the heart equals the dividing of the soul from the spirit. All the time you have to keep your spirit separate from your soul. The enemy’s strategy is always to mix our spirit up with our soul. In today’s world nearly everyone is in a mixed situation. They mix up their spirit with their soul. Whenever such mixing is there, the spirit loses and the soul wins.
Before a brother begins to talk to his wife about another brother, he has to consider, "Is this of my spirit or of my soul?" If it is of his soul, what he says will be either gossip or criticism. If it is of his spirit, what he says will be something led by the Lord. This shows that we have to discern our spirit from our soul. We, the ones who are seeking after Christ, must learn to fan our spirit into flame, to set our mind on the spirit, and also to discern our spirit from our soul.
Actually, our person, our being, is quite complicated. We are not so simple, because we have three parts. We have the flesh which is bad, the spirit which is good, and the soul which is in between. We should always follow our spirit and walk in all things according to our spirit. This is according to Romans 8:4. We should always be on the alert to discern anything that is not of the spirit but of the soul. Then we will remain in the spirit all the time. This is to exercise, to use, to employ, our spirit.
Our God-given spirit is our capital and our capacity. We have to use our spirit, to employ our spirit, and to exercise our spirit by fanning it into flame, by setting our mind upon it, and by discerning it from our soul. Of course, it is easy to know what is of the flesh and what is of the spirit; but quite often it is a very mixed-up situation between what is of the soul and what is of the spirit. This is why we have to discern.
When we get into these points, we can realize that our Christian walk is a very fine walk. If we are going to walk according to our spirit, we must learn not to do things too fast or to say things too quickly. It is safe to wait awhile. I have had this experience in writing answers to letters. Sometimes I will write a letter and then keep it for another day before I mail it. The next day a new thought might come to me to include in that letter or I may realize that I said something wrong. To wait in this way helps us to walk according to our spirit.
The battle in the Christian life is always there. Even within us there is a battle between the spirit and the flesh and even the more between the spirit and the soul. So we have to exercise our spirit, to use our spirit, that is, to fan our spirit into flame. Then we should learn how to control our mind by setting our mind upon our spirit. We should also always discern what is of the spirit and what is of the soul. If something is not of the spirit, we do not want to say it or do it. This is to use, to exercise, our spirit. I hope we will practice using our spirit until we build up a strong habit of exercising our spirit.
(The Spirit with Our Spirit, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)