Where Psychology Fails
Many who read this will be familiar with the position of psychology, and it is just here that we find that point which makes all the difference between the natural, which keeps God out, and the spiritual, which gives Him His full place. For here we find that the scriptural description of man runs entirely counter to the conclusions of 'scientific' psychology. We have observed that the psychologist will not allow the threefold description of man as spirit, soul and body, but only soul - or mind - and body. But still, the psychologist has to confess to the existence of a third element. He recognizes it, finds his chief interest and occupation with it, builds up a whole system of experimentation around it, and often borders on calling it by its right name. But to do so would be to give too much away; and satan, who has the mind of the natural man will on leash, see to it that in this, as in other matters, just the 'word' is not used. The psychologist, therefore, recoils and calls the extra factor 'the subconscious mind,' or 'the subjective mind,' or 'the subliminal self,' or 'the secondary personality,' etc. Listen to some of the things which indicate the length to which such teachers go: "The soul consists of two parts, the one being addicted to the truth, and loving honesty and reason; the other brutish, deceitful, sensuous." Or again: "There is a schism in the soul." "The existence of a schism in the soul is not a mere dogma of theology, but a fact of science." "Man is endowed with two minds, each of which is capable of independent action, and they are capable of simultaneous action; but, in the main, they possess independent powers and perform independent functions. The distinctive faculties of one pertain to this life: those of the other are especially adapted to a higher plane of existence. I distinguish them by designating one as the objective mind, and the other as the subjective mind."
When we read things like this, two things press for exclamation: first, Oh, why not call it by its right name! The other: What a tragedy that pagan philosophers should have been their sphere of research and that the Bible should have been set aside! It may be thought that it does not matter much what you call it if you get hold of the thing itself. But we hold that it is vital to read that we are dealing with two things which are absolutely distinct and separate, and not with two sides of one thing. It is error to speak of soul-union or soul-communion with God, for there is no such thing. "Divine union" is with spirit. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17), and however highly developed the soul-life is, there is no "Divine union" until the spirit has been brought back to its right place and condition.
This opens a further big question:
What Is It That is Born Again?
This experience is said by Christ to be imperative (John 3:3, 5; etc.)
Nicodemus stumbled over the physical question, but was soon told that "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Firstly, then, and obviously, it is not the body that is born anew. But neither is it the soul! "The sinful body of the flesh was destroyed" (Romans 6:6), and "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Galatians 5:24). The passages similar to these are too many to quote, but look up "flesh," "old man," "natural man," etc. The answer to the question is emphatically that new birth is the requickening of the human by the Spirit of God, an imparting to it of Divine life, and thus a reuniting of man with God by one life in the inward man. This, of course, is solely on the ground of Christ's resurrection, and is the believer's union with Him therein; implying that all the meaning of His death as atoning, substitutionary and representative, has been accepted by faith, although perhaps not understood. From that time it is "in newness of the spirit" (Romans 7:6). The soul may still be capable of its erstwhile fears, doubts, questionings, feelings, etc., showing that it is not a new soul: but there is something deeper than all this, and God is greater than our souls. That which is the truest thing about the new-born is often deeper than consciousness, and although the soul, and even the body, may derive good and enjoy the blessing, God will seek to wean us as babes from the sensations to the fact and to Himself. Such as must have, and demand, in the senses continuous evidence of their new life will not grow up spiritually, but will remain babes. More on this later. Seeing that we have seemed to give the soul such a completely secondary place, we must hasten to the third question.
What Is The Place of The Soul?
What have we said and inferred as to the soul? We have indicated that it was with his soul that Adam sinned. The result of this was that it is with the soul that the evil powers have become allied. Further, a consequences is that man has become preeminently a soulical being as against a spiritual; that is, soul dominates. Thus man is in a disrupted state and represents an upsetting of a Divine order. This is only one part of a much wider derangement through Adam's sin. In the new creation in Christ the principles of the true Divine order are reestablished. The spirit quickened, raised, indwelt and united with Christ is set to be the organ of Divine government over the rest of man, soul and body. In a truly spiritual or born-anew person, the soul and body will not have a place of preeminence, but in their right place will be very fruitful and useful servants and instruments. By his soul, man functions in two directions - from within to without, and from without to within. The soul is the plane and organ of human life and communication. Even Divine things, which cannot in the first instance be grasped or known by the soul, if they are to become practical in human life, must have an organ constituted to interpret, translate and make intelligible to humans. Thus, what is received by the spirit alone with its peculiar faculties is translated for practical purposes, firstly to the recipient himself, and then to other humans, by means of the soul. This may be by an enlightened mind for truth (reason); a filled heart, with joy or love etc., for comfort and uplift (emotion); or energized will for action or execution (volition). But it must ever be born in mind that to really serve Divine ends and to be of eternal value this does not come to the first instance from our own souls, but from God to, and through, our spirits. It must be truth by revelation (Ephesians 1:17, 18) not firstly of our own reasoning; joy and love by the Holy Spirit, not our own emotion; energy and strength in Christ, not our own drive and force of will. When these latter obtain, then again the Divine order is upset, a false position exists, and the fruit will perish although it may seem very good for the time being.
(continued with # 7)