The Attributes of the Human Spirit
Having already spoken of worship in spirit and in truth, we can pass on to see the function of spirit by intuition. Here the difference between soul and spirit is very clear and definite. The spirit is the organ of spiritual knowledge, and spiritual knowledge is very different from natural or soul knowledge. How does God know things, and by what means does God come to His conclusions, decisions? On what basis of knowledge does He run the universe? Is it by reasoning inductively, deductively, philosophically, logically, comparatively? Surely all this laboriousness of brain is unknown to God. His knowledge and conclusions are intuitive. Intuition is that faculty of spiritual intelligence by which all spiritual beings work. Angels serve the will of God by intuitive discernment of that will, not by argued and reasoned conviction. The difference between these two is witnessed to by the whole monument of spiritual achievement. If human reasoning, the natural judgment and 'common sense' had been the ruling law, most, if not all, of the giant pieces of work inspired by God would never have been undertaken. Men who had a close walk with God and a living spirit-fellowship with Him, received intuitively a leading to such purposes, and their vindication came, not by the approval of natural reason, but usually with all such reason in opposition. 'Madness was usually the verdict of this world's wisdom.' Whenever they, like Abraham, allowed the natural mind to take precedence over the spiritual mind, they became bewildered, paralyzed, and looked around for some 'Egypt' way of the senses, along which to go for help. In all this we are "justified in the spirit," not in the flesh. The spirit and the soul act independently, and until the spiritual mind has established complete ascendency over the natural mind, they are constantly in conflict and contradiction. In all the things which are out from God and therefore spiritual, "the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6). This, then, is the nature of spiritual knowledge.
The only knowledge of God which is of spiritual value for ourselves, or for others by our ministry, is that which we have be revelation of the Holy Spirit within our own spirits. God never - in the first instance - explains Himself to man's reason, and man can never know God - in the first instance - by reason. Christianity is a revelation or it is nothing, and it has to be that in the case of every new child of God; otherwise faith will be resting upon a foundation which will not stand in the day of the ordeal.
'The Christian Faith' embraced as a religion, a philosophy, or as a system of truth, a moral or ethical doctrine, may carry the temporary stimulus of a great ideal; but this will not result in the regeneration of the life, or the new birth of the spirit. There are multitudes of such 'Christians' in the world today, but their spiritual effectiveness is nil.
The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the secret of everything in his life and service was the fact that he received his gospel "by revelation." We may even know the Bible perfectly as a book, and yet be spiritually dead and ineffective. When the Scriptures say so much bout the knowledge of God and of the truth as the basis of eternal life, resulting in being set free, doing exploits, etc., they also affirm that man cannot be searching find out God, and they make it abundantly clear that it is knowledge in the spirit, not in the natural mind.
Thus, a rich knowledge of the Scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of men's natural wisdom or ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men, and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, 'emotioned,' willed, enthused, impassioned, into the kingdom of the heavens; they can only be born; and that is by spiritual quickening. The new birth brings with it new capacities of every kind; and among these, the most vital is a new and different faculty of Divine knowledge, understanding and apprehension. As we have said earlier, the human brain is not ruled out, but is secondary, not primary. The function of the human intellect is to give spiritual things intelligent form for ourselves and for others.
Paul's intellectual power was not that which gave him his knowledge of truth; but it was taken up by the spirit for passing that truth on to others. He may have used his intellect well, as he certainly did, to study and acquire knowledge of the Scriptures; but his spiritual understanding did not come that way. It was the extra thing, apart from which even his Bible (Old Testament) knowledge had not kept him from a most mistaken course. The spirit of man is that by which he reaches out into the eternal and unseen. Intuition, then, is the mental organ of the spirit. It is in this sense - that is, the deadness of the spirit in the matter of Divine union and the going on with religion in its manifold forms of expression merely from the natural mind - that God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways" (Isaiah 55:8); and the measure of the difference is as the height of the heavens from the earth, of the heavenly from the earthly.
One of the chief lessons that we have to learn, and which God takes pains to teach us, is that spiritual ends demand spiritual means. The breaking down of the natural life, its mind, its energies, so far as the things of God are concerned, in the bitterness of disappointment through futility, failure ineffectiveness and deadlock in real spiritual fruitfulness, is a life work: but the truth mentioned above is the explanation and key to the matter.
How important it is that every fresh undertaking in work for God should come by revelation to those chosen for it. Because God has so spoken and given revelation to some chosen instrument and a truly spiritual work has been done, others have taken it as a model and have sought to imitate it in other places. The result has been, and is, that they are called upon to take responsibility for it - find the resources of workers, funds and general support. This, in turn, issues in many sad and pathetic, if not evil and worldly,methods and means being employed, and those concerned find themselves in a false position. Conception, not imitation, is the Divine law of reproduction. Anointing, not human selection, is the Divine law of succession. The fact is, that the work of God has become a sphere for so many natural elements to find expression and gratification. Man must do something, see something, have something. Ambition, acquisition, achievement, etc., have found their way over to Christian enterprise, and so, very often (let us be quite frank) things have become 'ours' - 'our work,' 'our mission,' 'our field,' 'our clientele'; and jealousies, rivalries, bitterness and many other things of the flesh abound.
It is a very difficult thing, a crucifixion indeed, for the natural man to do nothing and have nothing, and especially to know nothing. But in the case of His most greatly used instruments, God has made this a very real part of their training and preparation. The utter emptying of all self-resource is the only way to have "all things of (out from) God" (2 Corinthians 5;18). On this basis, even Christ elected to live. We need not remind you of Moses' "I am not eloquent", and Jeremiah's "I am a child", and Paul's "that we should not trust in ourselves". These were of a school in which the great lesson of the difference between natural and spiritual was taught experimentally.
(continued with # 15 - "God's Special Concern")