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Save the Soulish Christian Created 11 August 2014

Some may be offended by what I write here. The intention is not to do so, but instead to honor my conscience. Notwithstanding, for some this article may serve as some sort of a ‘benchmark’ to determine where they are at in terms of their walk with Christ.

Introduction

A soulish Christian is one who is convinced of Jesus as the Christ. It is a believer who perhaps follows His teachings. But it is also one who moves from the area of the soul - not the spirit, as is required - to determine his/her understanding of things. In this article I reference 1 Corinthians 2. In it Paul makes the claim that the "natural man" cannot understand the things of God because the things of God are to be understood by such a one who is "spiritual". Thus, he contrasts the "natural man" with the "spiritual man" in terms of understanding the things of God.

Of course Paul is not saying that the "spiritual man" does not need a natural body or that everytrhing in life is to be understood spiritually. Only that the spiritual man is directed primarily by his (regenerated) spirit (which is in touch with the Holy Spirit) whilst the natural, non-spiritual man is directed by 'worldly-mindedness' (inclusive of social trends, political ideologies, personal preferences and which is not in touch with the Holy Spirit). So, Paul contrasts the spiritual Christian with the non-spiritual person. These non-spiritual persons may in fact call themselves Christians and also appear 100% Christian. Yet, they are non-spiritual believers. If that sounds complicated please read on.

Of course, humans consist out of three parts; spirit, soul and body[13]. Thus, the natural (non-spiritual) man, like the spiritual man, thinks and evaluates things but does so giving precedence to worldly priorities (including cultures, social trends, political ideologies, etc.) as opposed to spiritual priorities. Of this type of people some are confessing unbelievers (atheists) and some are confessing believers (Christians), and some others are not sure (agnostics). So, the distinction is not made on the basis of a belief that Jesus is the Son of God, but on that faculty which primarily drives understanding and action - the spirit or the soul? For a closer look at the differences between these different faculties (spirit and soul, mind and heart) please click here. Further down the page we'll get into the Greek and the English translation of the passage referenced here (1 Cor. 2).

The common view about the nature of a person is this: "The word “spirit” refers only to the immaterial facet of humanity. Human beings have a spirit, but we are not spirits. ... a human being has a spirit, ... a human being is a soul" (read here for a view contrary to mine). In this article I do not subscribe to this type of thinking.

Personally, I take the view that Man is primarily spirit. We know that Genesis 2:7 tells us that the soul of a person is the fusion of the body and the spirit. Without a spirit there can be no soul. So, whenever the body dies there is no body and there is thus no soul. Luke 23:44-46 tells us that Jesus hung on the cross, committed His spirit into the waiting hands of the Father and gave up His breath (Greek: ekpnéō). What God received was Jesus' spirit, not His soul. I believe the same applies to us. After Jesus was resurrected He appeared in a physical body, yet it had no blood. The Bible tells us that the soul ("life") is in the blood[14]. Yet, Jesus' resurrected body had no blood[15]. Thus, there was no soul. His spirit directed His transformed (eternal) body.

We see from the Bible that the human spirit has been corrupted to that end that it 'died' (it was seperated from God). It can be sadened. It can be uplifted. It can understand, know and discern[22]. Humans are primarily spirit (eternal) and, while on earth, they have souls (temporal).

Rebon Christians (spiritual Christians) who regress in their spiritual journey end up being either soulish Christians or cultural/carnal Christians. These latter categories inhibit godliness. The majority of soulish and cultural/carnal Christians are not reborn. Thus, I use the term "Christian" loosely as pertaining to these.

Spiritual Christian vs. Soulish Christian

The soul is described as that faculty of the human being that houses a person's mind (thinking), will and emotions (feeling). Soulish Christians - even those who are born again - 'filter' the (sometimes harsh) reality of God's truth through their feelings, their personal sentiments or through philosophy (man-made doctrines). The result is not godly. James calls it decidedly ungodly. In fact, he groups it with the demonic[16]. Of these the ages have literally delivered millions upon millions of people, I believe.

Christianity has given the world some of the most beutiful contructions, some of the most beutiful customs and traditions and some of the world's most precious gifts.

But Christianity as I see it today is run mostly by soulish Christians. Whilst well-intended these leaders do not give true spiritual leadership. Instead they provide only what appears to be spiritual. The visible church is an institution capable of quenching the Spirit of God in the lives of people.

Church building

Soulish Christians - not all - may in fact have received a regenerated spirit through sincere repentance and genuine faith (they may have been born again). But they have never moved from being directed by their soul (their mind, will and emotions) to being directed by their reborn spirit, if indeed they have been born again. Spiritual Christians, on the other hand, despite the distinct contrast between the word of God and their personal sentiments, feelings and thoughts, accept the sometimes harsh reality of it above their own sentiments, feelings and thoughts. They allow it (God's word) to wash them so that their thinking and their behavior changes over time. The Word sanctifies them[17]. The Word saves them[18].

A soulish Christian looks at the word of God through the filter of his/her personal emotions and thoughts and then finds reasons (some in the Bible) to over-emphasise some passages at the expense of others. They discount what God says in terms of what is right and what is not right, what is good and what is not good so that they may satisfy their own feelings or thoughts (read philosophies).

Question: Why do committed Christians discount as 'not so important' things that are expressly prohibited in the Bible? Things such as: homosexuality, laziness, lack of compassion, not unconditionally respecting/honoring a husband, not unconditionally loving a wife, not unconditionally honoring parents, insubordination in the workplace, disobedience?

Answer: They are directed by the feelings and/or thoughts and sentiments of their soul, and not by the reborn spirit within them - if indeed they have been born again. In short, they are soulish Christians.

What you'll hear is this: "I don't believe a loving God will send people to eternal damnation". In truth they are quite correct. They do not believe. But that does not mean God will not do it[20]. Their unbelief is on account of what is acceptable to their soul (feelings, thoughts, sentiments). These argue: 'If it makes you feel uncomfortable then surely it is not God's will'. Thus, soulish Christians do not go by what is written. They go by what feels right to them. In a way they create their own version of truth.

Soulish people - those who prize personal sentiment, personal feelings or personal thoughts (perhaps in the interest of others) above the eternal word of God - even those who are 'extremely learned' and those who are "very committed" display a wisdom which is not of God. The Holy Spirit, through James, refers to soulish 'wisdom' as a wisdom that is grouped with that which is in fact demonic. Yes, soulish (Christian) decisions, soulish (Christian) books, soulish (Christian) DVD's, soulish (Christian) songs, soulish (Christian) sermons - particularly when executed by soulish Christians - serve Satan rather that God. Because soulish wisdom is as good as demonic wisdom.

Such people may appear to be godly - they may have convinced themselves of it. But they end up promoting or allowing doctrines, church practices and beliefs that happily leave people in bondage, enslave them and does not honor either God or His word. The truth of God always liberates. It never enslaves[19]. Typically a soulish Christian will vehemently defend the most haeneous sinner on account of what they may term 'godly compassion'. Such a defense, despite their claims to be 'godly compassion', may in fact be demonically inspired, being in direct violation of the will and the Word of God. We know that Paul, in an act of genuine compassion, once had a believer handed over to Satan "for the destruction of his flesh" so that his soul may be saved (1 Cor. 5). That is true compassion. Not the type which soulish Christians promote.

They may think that they're 'doing God a favour' by 'setting an example of compassion'. But in actual fact, they are not honouring the Word of God in the interest of their own feelings. Of these there are many in the church. As I have said before, if you have a problem to 'put away' a sexually immoral person from among you, then take it up with God. It is He who says we should do so. True compassion helps a person in the error of their way. False compassion perpetuates their bondage.

Why is this important?

Paul says the Christian who is primarily directed by his/her soul will not understand the deep things of God. It is impossible, he says. So, regardless of their true intention to bring God's truth a soulish Christian (or a soulish priest, elder, author or pastor) is unable to convey the deep things of God because these things are to be known spiritually. Soulish Christians are not spiritual. Forgive me if that statement offends some. That is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2.

It is important to know whether or not you are being taught by a soulish Christian or by a spiritual Christian, whether it be by virtue of radio programs, Christian books, non-Christian books, DVD's, church services and Christian conferences. Even this article.

Generally speaking, Christian books are not a bad thing. That is if they are not written by Carnal, Cultural or Soulish Christians. Because, as we'll see below, these Christians, whilst well intended, cannot possibly understand the deep things of God.
Image of Christian books

Many preachers rely heavily on 'the next best thing' in Christian circles, which came to them through books and DVD's. It is a recipe for disaster as we generally know little about who is shaping the understanding of these favorite authors or preachers. So, whilst we may think we hear our favorite guy (or girl) speak, on account of his/her pursuit of other teachers' writings, whom we know nothing of, we may very well be taught - albeit indirectly - by another teacher altogether; one whom we may not approve of but, as such, who has a bearing on our faith notwithstanding. Preachers who rely heavily on commentaries of others are not worth the risk. If they cannot hear from God what they should teach then they are not teachers of the Word. They are orators of other people's thinking. Only the Bible can be understood to be inspired. Extra-biblical authors can not.

The understanding of a spiritual Christian will be quite different at times to the understanding of a soulish Christian. While the spiritual Christian will be able to understand the soulish Christian, the soulish Christian in turn will not be able to fully understand the spiritual Christian: Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others (v. 15). Do you see the contrast there between a soulish Christian and a spiritual Christian? Debate between such people is a waste of time.

It seems to me that several ancient and contemporary church teachings and doctrines have been developed and instituted by soulish Christians. These well-meaning people just could not see the things the way God sees them and thus came to conclusions - some backed up by Scripture - that are not in agreement with His Spirit. For a closer look at why (I think) God allows deception please click here for a related article.

"But, aren't Christians simply Christians? Aren't all people who believe in Christ real Christians?" Thus, you might say that Christians are defined by their faith and nothing else; "... does not the Bible say that a person is justified by their faith?"

What type of faith?

Even the demons believe, says James[1]. So clearly God, speaking through James, is not referring to faith in the regular sense when He says you are justified by faith[2] . The type of faith He is looking for is the kind of faith that distinguishes a believer from a demon.

So, what is that distinction? Obedience. Or, doing what He says by being in agreement with Him (compare 1 John 2:3).

Thus, not doing what He says or not being in agreement with Him makes you an unbeliever, like a demon, even if you believe that God exists. People like this know that there is a God. They even believe that His Son was resurrected from the dead on our behalf. But they do not give themselves over completely to do what He says. That makes them people without the type of faith which justifies – no different to someone who does not acknowledge that He exists. It is the same kind of 'faith' that demons have; mere conviction, no action. Real faith has evidence to present (compare Heb. 11:1). No faith has no evidence.

Therefore, there are only two categories of people on this earth; true Christians and true non-Christians. There really is no third category. It truly is a for Him vs. against Him situation[3]. You and I each get to choose where we want to be. It is that simple.

As noted, I use the term "Christian" loosely here. So, even for ‘Christians’ there are categories. Discounting the confessing unbelievers and those who pursue other systems of faith (including Multi-faith), there are, I believe, three types of 'Christians':

1) Cultural/Carnal Christians,

2) Spiritual Christians, and

3) Soulish Christians.

The latter is my main concern here. There may be genuinely born again Christians in each of these categories. Yet, some are spiritual and some are not. The state of a non-spiritual reborn Christian is as a result of regression not progression. In a way it is a person who has backslided. Nevertheless, perhaps the majority of non-spiritual 'Christians' are likely not born again at all. As such, they are in actual fact not Christian at all [21]. No disrespect to these intended. I report what I see in Scripture.

Note: Although I believe that non-spiritual reborn Christians exist, for the sake of simplicity, from here on onwards I will assume the idea that non-spiritual 'Christians' are in fact not born again.

1. Cultural/Carnal Christians

These are Christians who believe they qualify as believers because they've grown up in a Christian environment, got married in a church, read the Bible, or have had their prayers answered. They certainly look the part, sound like Christians and even quote verses from the Bible. The idea that they do things the Christian way fools them into thinking that they are truly Christian. Teachings in church, radio and television that suggest that a Christian is defined by the way he/she accepts Christian traditions, values and rituals help create such an illusion. Traditions, values and rituals for the most part are good, but they have never defined a person’s faith. Christian values, norms and traditions in even the most diligent families have in truth never made any person a Christian. Again, such thinking may be reinforced by Christian schools, Christian lobby groups and organizations, Christian music and even Christian books.

Fortunately, for the most part, even a child can understand the difference between heart’s faith and head faith. Yet, thinking, considering and appraising the genuineness of their own faith is what very, very few people get to do. Instead, it is much easier to just assume all is good between them and God.

Cardinal George Pell photo

Cardinal George Pell - at the time the most senior Roman Catholic in Australia - declared that "faith is not required to be justified before God" (read article here). Refer Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. As far as I know cardinal Pell has never retracted that statement.

One aspect of Carnal/Cultural Christians that stands out is their attitude towards Scripture. Typically you will find them argue about the reasons why things that are plainly written in the Bible should not be taken at face value. Yes, they may cite complex literary techniques and linguistic methodologies to pardon their non-adherence to parts of the Bible. They may even preach sermons and write books. In some cases they may make great video presentations. But in the end they simply do not believe the Word of God, despite their credentials. The number of these, by comparison, is growing. That's perhaps a good thing. At least you can pick them on the basis of their unbelief, whether it be unbelief concerning the resurrection of Jesus, Hell, Him being God, or unbelief concerning Him having given us His Helper - the Holy Spirit - to teach and to guide us.

The writer of Hebrews makes it clear; unbelief is evil[4]. So, we have 'Christians' who define Christianity mostly according to something tangible, a ritual or a tradition or even a Geo-political/Geo-social system such as an 'equal rights system' or a 'those who will not work will not eat' system. Each will define it as 'the Christian way'. Thus, they rely mostly on their senses. Or, they rely mostly on a 'church system' (let's call it a brand of church). Some of these may once have belonged to one of the categories below, but they no longer do. They may be seen as 'Carnal Christians', predominantly seeking that which is material or tangible or political to remind them of their 'faith'.

Many of these unbelievers simply fail to see that they sit in this category. Their unbelief blinds their unbelief.

2. Born again Christians

This group will have first repented and then believed in the resurrected Christ. Their human spirits will have been regenerated. Their souls will be in the process of being cleansed (read "sanctified"). And they will be in the process of delivering more and more spiritual fruit.

TIP: no increase in spiritual fruit over time, no confidence that they are born again.

For some of these there is a lot of cleansing that needs to take place. So, they may in fact not appear Christian or even sound Christian, especially to start off with. This is as opposed to Cultural Christians who almost inevitably sound and look Christian but in reality do not follow Christ in faith.

So, the 'trend line' of born again Christians is the thing to look out for. They display delivering greater and greater degrees of spiritual fruit (if you are unconvinced that spiritual fruit is neccessary, read here and here, to mention but two passages). Cultural Christians and others may look at such a much-to-be-cleansed-reborn-Christian and conclude that the person in question really is not saved but that they (the observers) are indeed saved because they ‘keep the traditions’ or because they are champions of Christian values. There are many well-meaning, well-behaving, Christian-valued unbelievers who simply are oblivious to the idea that their faith is in fact not in Jesus. I know, I used to be one for almost 30 years.

Similarly, there are many true believers who have a long way in being cleansed from the filth of this world. Nevertheless, the born again category of believers have had their spirits regenerated. Their souls are being saved[5] (read cleansed or sanctified) and they are delivering greater degrees of spiritual fruit almost every year. Even so, some in this category seemingly never get to the point of being led daily by the Holy Spirit - the thing that makes them sons of God[6] . Still, as Adam received a brand new spirit[7] directly from God, so have these [8] . Their spirits have been born again. Their souls are being saved. Narrow is the gate[9]. Few are these.

3. Soulish Christians

This is the most difficult category to discern because many of these are in fact ‘committed Christians’. Having come to realise that I needed to give my life to the Lord some years ago I did so on three seperate occassions over a period of months. Still, I found the Bible to be 'hard work' and soon lapsed back into sinful living. In truth I had become a soulish Christian; one who had a soul's commitment to Christ but whose spirit had not been regenerated. The reason: I had not genuinely repented before I tried to have faith in Christ.

The third category of Christians covers the largest portion of those who recognize Jesus as the Son of God. These are believers. But they have not been born again[10]. Their thoughts and actions are dictated by their minds and hearts. Their spirits have not been regenerated, so they are not actually in direct contact with the Spirit of God. Yes, that is entirely possible as we will see hereunder. It is the case, I believe, for millions upon millions of church goers[11] . The vast majority of Christian writers, perhaps, fall in this category. The vast majority of Christian musicians too.

So, the third category of people have a soul's commitment to Jesus. They are committed to studying the Bible. They pray sincerely, and they perhaps do God's work amongst the needy. Some may teach, preach and pastor. Soulish Christians may be chaplains, elders, choir or band members, or they may simply be the granny down the road. Their intention is to genuinely serve God. They care about the church. They care about the Bible. They care about their fellow man. But their soul is still directed by a 'dead, unregenerated human spirit' - one that has not been birthed afresh by the Holy Spirit. One that does not genuinely understand the things of God.

The Soulish Christian in the Bible

We're considering 1 Corinthians 2 and verse 14 in particular. We are looking at the use of a particular Greek word found there, which is only found in one other place in the Bible (James 3:15). The word is "psuchikos", which is derived from the word for "soul" (Greek: psuche). Whilst psuchikos is derived directly from psuche (soul) it is translated as "natural" (1 Cor. 2:14) and "sensual" (Js 3:15). But these word translations do not sufficiently convey the message in either 1 Corinthians 12 or James 3. As such, from the original Greek, a better description of the words "natural" and "sensual" respectively is "soulish" - a person who is directed by his/her soul (thus, they are directed by their mind, will and emotions) even when it comes to things that are to be understood spiritually.

One might argue that this is 'perfectly natural' to understand things from the soul. Yes, in a sense it is. However, Paul makes it clear that the psuchikos person (read soulish Christian) cannot possibly understand the things of God. As such, they cannot possibly convey God's truth about a particular matter that is only to be discerned and understood spiritually. That is the issue here. It is a big deal.

Note: Bible translators differ over the correct interpretation of this passage (1 Cor. 12). I side with the KJV, ASV, AKJV translators on this particular passage while the NKJV, NIV, ESV, NET and other translators take a different view. The difference is most distinct in v. 12 where the KJV translates the Greek word pneuma into "spirit" (as in human spirit) whilst the others translates it into Spirit (as in Holy Spirit). The difference is significant.

I interpret this passage to mean that God, through His Holy Spirit, gives true believers a new human spirit, which is filled by the Holy Spirit and is thus capable of communicating directly with God. Thus, a newly birthed spirit in a person is capable of understanding what God says because it is in contact with the Holy Spirit and it is uncorrupted. In contrast hereto, an unregenerated spirit - such as that of a person who is not born again - cannot understand the deep things of God. To them it is foolishness. I believe this interpretation makes logical sense and it is consistent with the rest of Scripture.

To understand this more fully we turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 2 (ASV): 10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God.13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words.14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (‭vv.‭10-16‬)

So, those who have received the Holy Spirit can understand the things of God. The "natural man" cannot.

But who is this "natural man"? As noted, this is any person who has not been born again, including church goers. Consult with any Greek scholar on this and he'll note that the term "natural man" used here is an approximate translation. The English language does not have a corresponding word for the Greek "psuchikos" so it is translated either "natural" or "sensual" in other translations. The word stems from the Greek word for soul ("psuche"). So, the best translation is "soulish", which is not a proper English word and is thus not used in official translations. But the impact which psuchikos has in this passage is absolutely profound. It indicates someone who predominately operates in the area of their mind or emotions, and also - predominantly - in the area of their own will.

As I have noted a number of times herein, a person who has not handed over their own will in repentance to God (before they try to believe in faith) cannot possibly be birthed afresh by the Holy Spirit. The psuchikos believer (read soulish believer) is such a person - he/she is not born again and has thus not received a new human spirit, and they have not received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Such a person cannot understand the deep things of God no-matter how intelligent they are and no-matter how qualified they are in Greek and Hebrew and every other technique in the interpretation of Scripture man can think up.

Ever wondered why there are so many interpretations of the Word of God? Well, I have just noted one reason: soulish believers writing commentaries and books about what God meant and what He did not mean.

To be clear: the Greek psuchikos (Greek) refers to any person - 'Christian' included - whose understanding of Scripture is filtered by their own emotions, sentiments and personal thoughts concerning any one issue. They expend the Word of God in favour of their own preferences.

So, whilst the Bible is unambiguos regarding certain life issues, soulish Christians self-deceivingly blame those who uphold the biblical standard as being "intolerant", "judging" or even "hateful". Thus, they 'kill the messenger'. As someone once mentioned, these people do not have a problem with the 'messengers' (those who uphold the biblical standard), they in fact have a problem with the Message-giver - God.

I am a straight Christian and I support gay rights T-shirt

From 1 Corinthians 2, Paul is saying that the believer who primarily operates in the area of the soul (that is, their mind, will and emotions as opposed to their regenerated human spirit) cannot at all understand the things of the Holy Spirit because these things are to be discerned by a regenerated spirit only. Moreover, he is saying that the soulish believer will find it impossible to understand the spiritual believer: But the NATURAL MAN (psuchikos, soulish person) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. Do not be mistaken to think that what is translated "natural man" here relates to a non-Christian. It relates to a person (a church goer or not) who is directed by their soul and not prompted by a regenerated spirit.

As noted, the difference between what Paul calls a "spiritual" believer and a "soulish" believer is immense: the soulish person ('Christian' or non-Christian) cannot accurately understand the things of God, nor can he accurately understand the people who have been regenerated by Him. The soulish believer cannot "rightly" (read accurately and completely) understand born again believers. That is the reality of the Gospel. In fact, their actions may come across as illogical, unscriptural and even 'un-Christian'.

How do Soulish Christian come to be?

How can a person be totally devoted to Christ and yet be a 'soulish (sensual, non-spiritual) Christian', thus not having been born again?

One explanation, as I have pointed out here, may be that such a person, because of the conditioning of family tradition or even erroneous teaching, will have tried to fully believe in Christ before they sought to renounce their lordship over their own lives. They will have tried to pick up a new glass without letting go of the old glass. They will have tried to ‘join a new team’ without ‘resigning from the old team’. An impossible feat, though one might be fooled into thinking that it has been achieved, it is wholly impossible to have total faith in Christ without renouncing one’s faith in oneself. It is wholly impossible to have Jesus Lord of your life without willfully and consciously renouncing your own will for your life. It does not happen automatically because you have grown up in a Christian family. You must do it willfully and consciously.

Therein lies a an extremely important distinction. All the soulish Christians I have met have considered the question of the order of repentance and faith a moot point; something ‘unnecessarily technical’. In fact, there is nothing ‘technical’ about it. Jesus said “repent and believe” (in that order) and Paul said it too (in that order) (read a related article here).

In the interest of making this point sufficiently clear, I will repeat it once more; you cannot completely take a hold of Christ (believe in Him) before you have completely and totally let go of your own will (read lordship) over your life. This is what repentance does. It is that action on your part whereby you have sincere sorrow for having done things your way since childhood (thus, despite, perhaps, having ‘followed the rules’ in conformity, you have remained the champion of your own will), then to renounce that 'own will' over your life and then to believe while totally trusting in the resurrected Christ and His will for your life. This means to listen out to what He says and to go where He tells you to go. No argument.

The mindset of the different categories of Christians (generalized)

Concerning

Spiritual Christian

Soulish Christian

Cultural/Carnal Christian

Attitude to the word of God

  • The reading and accepting of the Word is not affected by the believer's feelings, personal preferences or sentiments.
  • Perceived as vital to spiritual growth.
  • They read it because they genuinely love it – they cannot get enough of it.
  • The reading and accepting of the Word is in fact strongly influenced by the believer's feelings, personal preferences or sentiments.
  • Important to read and understand for everyday living.
  • Read it because it helps you understand things about God, Jesus and the Apostles which are helpful to apply in life.
  • The reading and accepting of the Word is in fact strongly influenced by the frame of reference or tradition of the group of believers he/she associates with.
  • It is wisdom that can help you in life and other people.
  • It can help you achieve success.
  • Read it because that’s what Christians do.

Sanctification / Delivering spiritual fruit

  • An automatic and increasing reorganization of life priorities to align with the word of God.
  • A natural outflow of what is in their heart.
  • A discipline that must be adhered to.
  • There are many books that can be read to help you with how to deliver spiritual fruit.
  • It is a duty which people like us fulfill.
  • As long as you are a Christian and you do your best for those around you, you are automatically delivering spiritual fruit.

Communication

  • Hears what the other person says
  • Hears how the other person says it
  • Hears when and where the other person says it

God

  • Holy Spirit conscious
  • Conscious of self relative to the world
  • Conscious of the world relative to self.

Inter-personal relationships

  • Doing what God says is the right thing to do is preferred above what the world says is good.
  • In applying Scripture, they honor God’s word above people’s feelings: they will represent God’s word even if people may be offended. Thus, they hear in real time from God what to say and what not to say and follow through without giving way to personal preference.
  • They will seek the praises of God above the praises of people.
  • Do what the world says is good above what God says is good.
  • In applying Scripture. honor people’s feelings above God’s word: they will not represent God’s word if people may be offended.
  • They will seek the praises of people without considering carefully that they may not enjoy the praises of God in a situation.

 

  • They will seek not to break with tradition, whether it be to “always preach” or “never preach” in order to accommodate the status quo. They will seek to never deviate from the tried and tested way of relating to others, even if the Bible says differently.
  • They will stick with what the tradition dictates as ‘best practice’.

Worship

  • Worship will be an attitude of reverence, humility and fear before it is a an action of speaking, singing or doing.
  • Worship will in reality be a feeling of peace or power brought about by singing, praying or simply being quiet.
  • Worship will be about ‘having a good time with God’.

Music

  • Plays a moderate role. Is neither the
  • Plays a major part as it speaks to feelings/emotions, a sense of ‘togetherness’ and/or a sense of excitement.
  • May play an important role. Depending on the tradition, it takes on a certain style, volume and instrument(s).

Love

  • Primarily agape love.
  • Love is self-sacrificial to the extent that even their personal reputation, social and economic standing will be sacrificed in the interest of the word and the purposes of God.
  • They prize love of God above everything else while emphasizing the first commandment (love God) above the second commandment (love thy neighbor). Love is a decision of the will.
  • Primarily phileo love (friendship). They prise inter-personal relationships almost above anything else while over-emphasizing the second command (love thy neighbor) above the first commandment (love God).
  • Love takes on mostly an emotional form: words of affirmation, quality time.
  • Eros love. There is a love of anything that may help them achieve their goals. Love takes on mostly a physical form; gifts, touch, deeds of service.

 

Conclusion

It is debatable whether or not Cultural/Carnal Christians really love God. Soulish Christians, on the other hand, do love God and want to please Him. But it is hard work because it is a function of their discipline and not a function of their renewed nature.

Paul writes to the Church and says the following on several occasions: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (Galatians 6, 2 Timothy 4, 1 Thessalonians 4, Philemon). The spirit of a person is the essence of a person. Without it being regenerated by the Holy Spirit there is no entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said so. I believe Him[12]. Still, by the grace of God even the soulish Christian's spirit may be regenerated. But first, despite all their years in ministry and their other credentials they must come to repentance, handing over their will entirely. It must be done first before there can be true faith. I know there are theologians who do not believe in repentance before faith - I have personally discussed the issue with at least two who actively teach unsuspecting Christians likewise. So, are there soulish Christians? Yes. In fact, some of them teach in theological colleges.

In the end Christianity is very simple. All of us must be rebirthed by the Spirit of God in order to receive a new, regenerated human spirit. We must also be sanctified by the word of God from which we will without any doubt automatically deliver godly fruit. Godly fruit, amongst other deeds or works of faith, will also be an open display of the fruit of the Spirit.

The spiritual Christian may understand that. The soulish Christian may dispute that. The Cultural Christian may remain just a Cultural Christian.  

Footnotes:

[1] 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19 [back]

[2] 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28). As believers in Christ we are relieved from any obligation to pursue the Law of Moses. But, as James asserts, the Bible never suggests that Christians may be comfortable in leading lives of 'passive faith'. In truth, the Bible suggests that 'no action' = 'no faith': 14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14) [back]

[3] 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. (Matthew 12:30) [back]

[4] 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12) [back]

[5] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:--9) [back]

[6] 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) [back]

[7] 7 Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7, Amplified). [back]

[8] 6 What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6) [back]

[9] Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:14) [back]

[10] The key to understanding this truth is that when John noted the verse hereunder he was referring to the type of faith ("believe") which James spoke about and which Jesus spoke about (refer Mark 1:14-15): Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. (1 John 5:1) This type of faith brings rebirth. But faith without first having repented does not bring spiritual rebirth. It is impossible to 'rise with Christ if you have not first 'died to self' (refer Colossians 3:3). [back]

[11] You may say, "who are you to judge?" Actually I'm not judging at all. That is, judging in the "Thou shalt not judge" sense of the word. Because that kind of judging really incorporates sentencing - something I am uninterested in. It is not my job. I'm not qualified for it (handing out a sentence), and I don't want to be that judge either. Jesus - the Saviour - is the only qualified and appointed Judge. I shall not interfere with that. But I, like you, am appointed to point certain things out. To discern right from wrong, good from bad, truth from error. That is my attempt through this article.[back]

[12] There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [back]

[13] 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) [back]

[14] 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ (Leviticus 17:11) [back]

[15] 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27) [back]

[16] 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18) [back]

[17] 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17) [back]

[18] 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation (sōtēría) of your souls.10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. (1 Peter 1:7-11). The way I understand "salvation of your souls", from the Greek meaning of "salvation" (sōtēría), is that true faith in and therefore love for God means an obedience to His word (refer 1 John 2:3). Such obedience works to that end that the believer enjoys deliverance, preservation and the safety of his life (his soul). [back]

[19] 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6) [back]

[20] Hereis one example of a person who is subject to eternal condemnation: 28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter;  29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—  30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30) [back]

[21] The Boble says that Christians use communion. The Bible says that Christians assemble together as well. Yet, most will agree that having taken communion or having attended a church meeting does not make anyone a true Christian. There are other criteria to meet and before such criteria are met a person should not reckon him/herself a genuine reborn Christian. By the same token, the Bible says that those who have faith in the resurrected Christ are Christian. We should apply the same standard here, ... there are other criteria to meet as well. As such, the Bible says that a person must have laid down their life - they must have repented of their sin and renounced their own will - before they come to God in faith (trust and obedience). You cannot hold on to Christ in trust if you have not fully let go of holding on to your own will for your life and before you have not declared your guilt to God for having done so all your life. You need to first repent and then believe and then you must work out your salvation in fear and trembling of the Lord. It is simple although it takes courage to do so. [back]

[22] 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). At the very least, the human spirit can know, retain wisdom, compare one thing with another, discern good from bad and judge. The spirit of a human is simply not just a 'life giving force' without any sense of intelligence. On the contrary, the passage above suggests that it is capable of understanding the things of God. As such, it is the most intelligent faculty which Man possesses. [back]

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptural. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

Related Articles:

- Soul vs. Spirit vs. Heart vs. Mind

 

 

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