The Function of the Human Spirit
The all-governing fact is that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). Then certain things follow. "We are His offspring" (Acts 17:28, 29). He is "the Father of our spirits" (Hebrews 12:9).
If it is a fixed law that "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6), then it is only in his spirit that man is the offspring of God. Fatherhood presupposes offspring; and there is no fatherhood without offspring. God is Spirit. God is also Father. The fixed law of progeny demands a spirit ancestry for spiritual offspring. But as Father - differing from Creator - God is the Father of our spirits only!
God is not soul. This we shall see more fully when we deal with soul-function. Therefore, God is not the Father of our souls. God is not body; therefore our bodies were not begotten of God, but created. The Word of God is clear and emphatic that only spirit can know spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). That is why the disciples of Christ really did not know Him, in a living and true way, until something had happened in them, and the Holy Spirit had joined Himself with their spirits. It is ever so.
Only spirit can worship spirit (John 4:23, 24; Phil. 3:3). In this former Scripture, the words "true" and "truth" are very discriminating words. If the soul is -as the psychologists truly teach - the realm of the reason, will, and emotions, then surely the worship of Jews and Samaritans was not devoid of these. Would it be quite right to say that it was so mechanical and meaningless as to have not even an animal's feeling or sense in it? But granted all the feeling, reason and will possible, it would still be other than what Christ meant by "true," for soul is soul and spirit is spirit yet! Only spirit can serve spirit (Romans 1:9; 7:6; 7:11). Only spirit can receive revelation from God, Who is spirit (Revelation 1:10; 1 Corinthians 2:10). We shall return to this later. Let it be understood that God determined to have all His dealings with man, and to fulfill all His purpose through man, by means of that in man which was after His own likeness, that is, his spirit. But this spirit of man for all such Divine intentions must be kept in living union with Himself, and never for one moment infringe the laws of its Divine union by crossing over to take counsel with, or be influenced by, his own soul or self-conscious life - the reason, desire or will - as an independent thing.
This goes to the heart of our Lord's temptations, as it does to the temptation of Adam. When this happened in Adam's case, death entered; and the nature of death, in the scriptural meaning of the word, is severance in the union of the spirit with God. This does not mean that man no longer had a spirit, but that the ascendency of the spirit was surrendered to the soul. (This is born out by all the New Testament teaching on the spiritual man, with 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 as an example.)
The Nature of Adam's Temptation
Let us briefly state what was at the heart of the temptation. By his union with God in spirit, man was conditioned to have everything in relation to and by dependence upon God. His knowledge and his power were to be essentially spiritual, and the absolute lordship and headship of his life was to remain vested in God. A spiritual relationship and a spirit organ and function made this possible.
The temptation was to have everything in himself. This, it was suggested, was possible, and he could be a self-directing, self-possessing, self-sufficient, independent being. To gain this end, it would be futile to appeal to the spirit in man, for this would only mean that the matter would be referred to God. So the self-conscious organ must be approached. Thus reason, desire and will - the faculties of the soul - were assailed. Instead of allowing his spirit to bring God in, man acted independently, with several of the most terrible results of which it is possible to conceive.
Firstly, God was set aside in His absolute Headship and Lordship as to man, and satan was given His place, as one more to be hearkened to. This was what satan wanted above all things, i.e. to be "the god of this world."
Then the spirit of man, being so seriously violated, ceased to be the link between himself and God. Fellowship with God, which is always spiritual, was destroyed, and the spirit sank down into subjection to man's soul. So far as that man is concerned, he died to God. "Dead, through ... trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). So the soul came to dominate the spirit.
Then again - as though this were not bad enough - by an act of spiritual fornication, that bridal spirit which was to be wedded to God was used by man to let in satanic elements, which are extra to the soul but are - since the Fall - so much a part of it that God looks upon them as one in the unregenerate man. This is what is meant by the terms "fleshly" and "carnal" in the New Testament. Thus we can see that man has become an altogether other type or species than God intended. The main difference is that he is now a soul-man rather than a spirit-man preeminently.
(continued with # 2)