The Soul and Deception
What we have said has been mainly on the positive side. The soul can be passive; but this is only another form of soulishness. There is the weak passivity of soul which makes it easy for satan to just play with those concerned; or which means that, being altogether negative, they count for nothing, and it may be that, sooner or later, he will crush them out of simple trust by producing an inferiority complex. On the other hand, there is that more positive passivity - if we may put those two words together. This is that deliberate rendering of the mind and will negative, so that a mediumistc state is produced. It is not necessary to say what the results of this are in the direction of deception.
When all has been said about the peril of soul-life as such, we have to recognize that the end is death. Injury is done in the mind, in the nerves, in the spiritual life, in the work of God. How necessary, then, it is that the Cross should have done its work in relation to ourselves as well as our past sins! How tremendous a principle is embodied in Paul's words, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I .." (Galatians 2:20)!
Strong-mindedness may be thought to be a praiseworthy or excellent thing, but let it be recognized as an infinitely dangerous thing if the one who has it is not a crushed man or woman so far as self is concerned. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt" (Jeremiah 17:9).
Many movements have swept over this earth with the name of Christ attached to them. They claim to be for Him, and multitudes are swept into their nets. There are 'conversions' and experiences. There are supernatural features connected with them. But they are psychical in their foundation. Physical persons with psychical experiences and powers, abnormal and uncanny personal influence, are behind them; and a cult is developed by certain methods being standardized. These methods or soul-tactics are employed to draw out soul-expression in certain forms. It may be a religious form of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, and it has remarkable effects upon those who respond to it.
The infallible test of all such things is as to what place they give to that fundamental aspect of the Cross of Christ which sets man by nature wholly aside and gives him no place at all - that is, the death of the man, not only the remission of his sins. Try this truth in such movements and they will collapse, and be popular no longer.
It is a matter of great importance to be able to discriminate between what we have just mentioned and spiritual understanding.
Paul prayed for saints that they might "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9).
Understanding implies a sense or apprehension of the fuller meaning of what is known, with the ability to apply that knowledge to adequate value. It is a matter of intuitive recognition or perception of the hidden nature and trend of things, and differs from the merely outward impression made upon the senses which calls for thought and reasoning. There may be something of this, as we have seen, in people of good and quick intelligence naturally, but spiritual understanding is something more. It is that faculty of the renewed spirit - an insight, perception, sense, appreciation in relation to Divine matters - which is the work of the of the Holy Spirit. It is the faculty which makes its possessor assured in an inward way of what is of God and what is not so, when very fine questions are at issue and when things are not by any means obvious. This 'discernment' or 'judgment' cannot always at first be explained or given a reason; it is just there, and very real to those who have it. Spiritual understanding is one of the most important things in the equipment of any Christian for responsibility. To put anyone into a position of responsibility in the things of God, or for anyone to take such a position, without this qualification will be to jeopardize the work of God and to put all related thereto into a false and dangerous situation. Something much more than just good 'common sense' and natural judgment is required in things eternal and spiritual. The one preeminent object and goal of this spiritual faculty is the knowledge of God, and it does not matter how great and complete may be a man's knowledge otherwise, the one indispensable requirement for responsibility in spiritual work is that he knows God in a measure beyond all natural capability or possibility. No efficiency can substitute for spiritual understanding!
It must be possible for all who are affected by what is said and done to find in the one who speaks and works a personal, living and true knowledge of God, a deep spiritual understanding. It is significant how much people themselves are brought into the limelight by some forms of Christian work; but it is not the Christianity of Romans 6!
Any movement which would make for self-consciousness is missing the way. Self-consciousness, whether it be bad self or good self, big self or little self, is weakness and evil. While all that we write here is necessary, we believe, to enlighten as to a great fact, it is not to turn people in on themselves for self-analysis, introspective occupation. This would be fatal! Christ is our only safe and healthy occupation; and He is the deliverer from ourselves. A basic and crisic thing must have taken place, so that we know by an established law and an inward government when we cross the line from Christ to self in our own souls. A simple, humble and selfless way is safe; so let us not refrain from stepping out on the Lord in conscious weakness, for fear of moving in the soul and not in the spirit.
(continued with # 20 - "World Domination or Dominion?")