Where Psychology Fails
Then, as to the opposite direction. The soul can recognize, appreciate, register and apprehend everything of this world in the measure of its capacity, natural or acquired. All this can stop there and be exhausted upon itself, or it can be brought on to the higher ground and regulated so as to be transmuted into spiritual value (which is eternal), made completely subservient in life, or rejected. The spirit will thus, by its touch with God, dictate as to what is good or evil, or only seemingly good. The soul does not know this of itself. It must have a spiritual organ with spiritual intelligence, conveying Divine standards.
Why is it that so many of the most artistic, poetic and soulish people have been and are so morally defective, degenerate, lustful, jealous and vainglorious? Why is it that dictators whose ego is so all-else-obscuring, are so godless and God-defiant? Why is it that so many great intellectuals are so proud, arrogant and often infidel? Well, the answer is obvious. All this is "soul." They know nothing of a balancing, adjudicating spirit-union with God, and therefore their own souls are the last word in every matter. It is not that they all dismiss God from the universe, for they sometimes refer to Him. But there is no correspondence between Him and them, and He exists to no practical moral purpose where they are concerned. We leave this just for the present.
We have sought to show that the soul as a servant - not a master - can, and should, be very fruitful and useful in relation to a superior organ. And thus, when we speak of people being "soulish," we only mean that soul predominates, not that soul is wrong or necessarily evil. Divine order is always a law of Divine fullness.
At the same time, we would be careful to point out that the soul is a very responsible servant. Indeed, the human ego - the "I" - as a conscious and rational self-life, has to answer to God for its submission or vaunting of itself; its 'laying down its own life,' or its exalting and asserting of itself beyond its measure and province. Hence, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4) was God dictum, and still is. Altogether apart from a renewed spirit by new birth, there is a responsibility for God's Word.
In this connection, certain things must be made clear, as clear as possible. While it may not be possible for an unregenerate person to do the revealed will of God, because for this the enablement of the Holy Spirit is essential, yet to such and all others that revealed will makes an appeal and a demand. This may only be to the extent of taking an attitude to be made willing and able. But, as morally responsible creatures, that obligation rests upon us whenever the word of God is presented.
Then with regard to those who are the Lord's people, there is no such thing as an extra spirituality or revelation, which sets God's Word on one side or transcends it. If God says a thing in the Scriptures, that thing stands, and we stand or fall by it. By spiritual illumination we may come into much fuller meaning of the Scriptures and see God's thoughts and intents behind them. But that does not suspend their practical obligation, provided that we are in the dispensation to which they apply practically. We have met a certain type of Christian who, claiming to be acting according to the spirit in relation to the will of God, has been guilty of the most flagrant contradiction of the mot obvious and elementary obligations of honesty, righteousness, good faith, trustworthiness and humility.
Sometimes a subtle mental evasion is betrayed by the attempted justification of a course contrary to the Word of God in "Yes, but the devil can quote Scripture." It seems incredible; had we not been met by this sort of thing we would feel it too unbelievable to mention. It is, however, something which touches our very subject. Let us ask, How often does satan try to turn an unregenerate person away from Christ by using Scripture? Have you ever heard of his doing so? It must be the most remote case if you have. No; it is those who are truly God's children with whom He employs the method of using the Word of God. Why is this? It is because he has something very much deeper in view. Let us get at it by taking Christ's own case.
When satan assailed Christ, our Lord met him with "It is written." In effect, satan said (within himself): 'Oh, that is your ground, is it? Very well, then - "It is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee," etc. He at once sought to defeat Christ on His own ground. What was his real point of attack? The Lord Jesus had definitely and deliberately taken up the position that He would have and do nothing for or of Himself, but that all should be held in relation to the Father and therefore only by the Father's permission; yes, all things utterly and only for God, and self-interest, soul-gratification, utterly set aside. The thing most likely to move Him from such a position of abandonment to God would be to support any proposed movement or course by the very Word of God itself. It would be useless to say to the Son of God, the last Adam: "Yea, hath God said?" But to say "God hath said" is much more subtle. It is the question of spirit (in union with God) or soul (in self-direction) that is ever the point of satan's efforts. If satan quotes Scripture, it is to destroy inward union with God. But the Word of God itself never leads to that; and no one would ever defend a course contrary to the clear Word of God with the rejoinder that 'the devil can quote Scripture,' or even have such a thing in their minds, unless they were in themselves wanting to go a certain way. How our soul-life will defend and save itself! But how necessary it is for our own deliverance from our deceitful heart that we are so subject to God that we are alive to the nature and implication of the snare. We have here touched the key to the whole question of the place of the soul. Two things have got to happen to it. Firstly, it has got to be smitten a fatal blow by the death of Christ as to its self-strength and government. As with Jacob's thigh or the sinew thereof after God had touched it and he went to the end of his life with a limp; so for ever there has to be registered in the soul the fact that it cannot and it must not: God has broken its power. Then, as an instrument, it has to be "won," mastered and ruled in relation to the higher and different ways of God. It is spoken of so frequently in the Scriptures as being some thing over which we have to gain and exercise an authority.
(continued with # 8)