(16) The Spiritual Man SECTION FOUR
THE SPIRITUAL MAN
A regenerated believer, with his spirit enlivened and the Holy Spirit indwelling him, can still remain a carnal or fleshly believer, with his spirit still oppressed by his soul or body. There is a specific path that a regenerated believer should specifically take in order to succeed in becoming spiritual.
Briefly, there can be at least two great changes in the life of a human being—changing from a perishing sinner into a saved believer and changing from a fleshly believer into a spiritual one. Just as a sinner can, in fact, become a believer, a fleshly believer can, in fact, become a spiritual one. God can cause a sinner to become a believer and have His life; God can also cause a fleshly believer to become a spiritual believer and have His life more abundantly. Once a man believes in Christ, he becomes a regenerated believer; once he obeys the Holy Spirit, he becomes a spiritual believer. When a man has a normal relationship with Christ, he becomes a Christian; and when a man has a normal relationship with the Holy Spirit, he becomes a spiritual man.
Only the Holy Spirit can make a believer spiritual. The work of the Holy Spirit is to make a man spiritual. In the arrangement of God's way of redemption, on the negative side, the cross carries out a destructive work, destroying everything that is from Adam. The Holy Spirit, on the positive side, carries out a constructive work, building up everything that is from Christ. The cross makes it possible for the believers to be spiritual, and the Holy Spirit makes believers spiritual. Being spiritual means belonging to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit strengthens the human spirit so that He may rule over the whole person. Therefore, if we pursue being spiritual, we should not forget the Holy Spirit and not put the cross aside, because the cross and the Holy Spirit work as the left and right hands. Neither can be spared and neither of these two work independently. The cross always guides man to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit always guides man to the cross. A spiritual believer must have experiences in his spirit with the Holy Spirit. If he wants to become a spiritual man, he must have several steps of experience. Paying attention to these steps does not necessarily mean proceeding from step one to step two and from step two to step three. For the sake of writing, however, they have to be written in sequence, although in actual experience they often occur simultaneously.
Although there are many things we want to mention about how believers progress to become spiritual men, believers should not forget previous teachings (Section Two, Chapters Four and Five). Believers should know that what hinders a man from being spiritual is the flesh. Therefore, if a believer can assume the final attitude that he should have toward the flesh, then he will progress easily. It is marvelous that the more a man is spiritual, the more he knows the flesh and discovers about the flesh. If a man does not know the flesh, he is not spiritual. All of the things previously mentioned about the flesh (Section Two, Chapter Five) are the foundations for one to pursue being spiritual and cannot be neglected by anyone. If we do not pay attention to the flesh, no matter what kind of progress there may be, it will all be vain, superficial, and unreal. Actually, when a believer knows how to deny the flesh and its activities, abilities, and opinions in all things, we can say that this man is spiritual. But, we would again like to mention something positive which is directly related to the spirit.
THE DIVIDING OF THE SPIRIT AND SOUL
The main point in Hebrews 4:12 is whether we are living according to the guidance of the intuition in the spirit or under the influence of our (soulish) natural likes and dislikes. God's word will judge us on such matters, showing us what belongs to the spirit and what belongs to the soul. Only God's sharp sword can clearly discern the source of our living. Just as man's knife can divide bone and marrow, God's sword can divide the most closely knit spirit and soul. This dividing is only knowledge in the beginning and must become experience later. Actually, believers can only know by experience how the spirit and soul are divided. The believer must experience allowing the Lord to divide his soul and spirit. Not only should he desire, pursue, consecrate himself, pray, and allow the Holy Spirit and the cross to work in him, he must also gain and possess this kind of experience. The spirit of a believer must be freed in reality from the embrace of the soul. The soul and the spirit must be clearly divided, like the Lord Jesus whose spirit and soul are not mixed at all. The spirit of intuition should be entirely free to be the sole dwelling place and office of the Holy Spirit and not allow the soul (that is, the mind and emotion) to have the slightest influence. The spirit must be freed from every entanglement of the soul.
The work of the cross on the soul-life must be very real, and the restriction imposed by the cross on the soul-life very definite. The soul-life must suffer loss in experience. The faculty of the soul must maintain a position under the rule of the spirit.
A believer must have experiences of the soul and the spirit being divided to the point where the spirit is no longer surrounded by the soul. Only then can he become a spiritual believer. A spiritual believer differs from other people in that his entire being is ruled by his spirit. The rule of the spirit is not only the rule of Holy Spirit over the soul and body. A believer's own spirit rises up to be the head of his entire being by the Holy Spirit's working through the cross; instead of being ruled by the soul and the body, the spirit has the strength to fully control the soul and body.
The dividing of the soul and spirit is an indispensable work on the negative side in order for a believer to enter into spiritual life. This is a spiritual preparation. Without this, the believer will always be influenced by the soul, and the spirit and the soul will often be mixed in his living. Sometimes he has a spiritual living, but sometimes he is governed by the mind and emotion, or he may even live by the natural life. The expression of life is not pure. A mixture of the spirit and soul is the life principle of a believer who does not have a pure spiritual life. This keeps the believer in the position of being soulish. His own life will suffer loss, and God's Holy Spirit will be unable to use him to do important work.
If there is an actual dividing of the believer's spirit and soul, and he walks according to the spirit, not according to the soul, then whenever his soul reacts, he will sense it immediately, as if he is being defiled, and struggle to break the soul's power and influence. The natural life is truly defiled and can defile the spirit. After the dividing of the spirit and soul, the intuition of the spirit will be very sensitive. Whenever the soul acts, it immediately suffers pain and resists. Even when others act in their soul, it immediately feels unpleasant. Even when it is the object of the soulish love or emotion of others, it will be annoyed as if it cannot bear with them. Only when the dividing of the believer's spirit and soul becomes very real will he have clean feelings and intentions that are genuine. Only then will he have an actual understanding of the meaning of being "clean." Only then will he know that not only are sinful things defiling, but everything natural is defiling and should be rejected as well. He knows and feels in the intuition of the spirit that all contact with that which is of the soul—regardless of whether it is his own or others—is defiling and should be cleansed immediately.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF BEING JOINED UNTO THE LORD AS ONE SPIRIT
Paul said, "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17), not one soul. The resurrected Lord is the life-giving Spirit (15:45); therefore, His union with the believers is His union with the believers' spirit. The soul is only the personality of a man and is natural; it should only be used as a vessel to express the results of the union between the Lord and the spirit of the believer. In the believers' soul there is nothing that matches the nature of the Lord's life; only the spirit can have such union. Since the union is a union of the spirit, there is no place for the soul. If the soul and the spirit are still mixed, it will make the union impure. As long as our living has any trace of walking according to our thoughts, of having our own opinion in anything, or of having our emotion stirred in any way, it is enough to weaken this union in our experience. Only things of a similar nature may have a fitting union. Mixture will not do. Just as the Spirit of the Lord is pure and without a trace of mixture, our spirit should also be pure so there can be a real and actual union. If the believer is unwilling to let go of his own wonderful thoughts, unwilling to get rid of his own likings, and unwilling to lay aside his own ideas to obey God's will, it is impossible to express this union in experience. This is a union of the spirit; anything of the soul cannot be allowed to be mixed in.
Where does this union come from? It is from our death and resurrection with the Lord. "For if we have grown together with Him in the likeness of His death, indeed we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). This verse explains the meaning of our being joined to the Lord, which is to be joined to His death and resurrection. What does it mean to be joined to the Lord in death and resurrection? It simply means that we are completely one with the Lord. We accept His death as our death and the joining with Him in death as the beginning of our being joined to Him. Having died with Him, we also accept His resurrection as our resurrection. If we accept this way by faith, we will experientially stand together with Him in the position of resurrection. The Lord Jesus was resurrected according to the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4) and made alive in the spirit (1 Pet. 3:18). Therefore, when we are joined to Him in resurrection, we are joined to Him in His Spirit of resurrection. This is very clear. We die to all that belongs to ourselves and live to His Spirit. This is the meaning here. All these are accomplished through the exercise of our faith (see Section Three, Chapter One, "The Way to Be Delivered from Sin"). When we are joined to His death, having lost all that is sinful and natural, and joined to the Lord in resurrection life, then our spirit is joined to the Lord to be one spirit. Romans 7:4 and 6 say, "You also have been made dead to the law through the body of Christ so that you might be joined to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead...so that we serve in newness of spirit." We are joined to Christ by the death of Christ, and we are also joined to His resurrection life. The result of this kind of union is that we serve in newness of spirit, without any mixture.
How wonderful! The cross is the foundation of all things. The goal and result of the work of the cross is that a believer's spirit would be joined to the resurrected Lord as one spirit. The cross must work deeply on the negative, destructive side to make the believer lose everything sinful and natural. Only then can the believer be joined to the Lord's positive, resurrected life as one spirit. The believer's spirit must cause all that the believer has to pass through death, so that everything natural and temporal will be lost in death, allowing the spirit, in the freshness of resurrection, to be joined to the Lord to be one spirit in a pure way, without any mixture. The believer's spirit is joined to the Spirit of the Lord, and the two spirits being joined are one spirit. The result of this union is the capacity to serve the Lord in "newness of the spirit." There is nothing of the natural self or any natural liveliness mixed in with the living and work. From this time on, the soul and the body are used only to express the Lord's own life and work. In this way the life of the spirit will manifest its own nature in everything, and there will be frequent experiences of "flowing out" the Lord's Spirit.
This is the ascension life. The believer is joined to the Lord who is at the right hand of God. The Spirit of the Lord on the throne flows to the believer's spirit that is in the world, but not of the world, and the life on the throne is lived out on the earth. The Head and the Body have the same flowing life. After the believer is joined to the resurrected Lord, the believer must daily keep "reckoning" and "yielding." The Lord can then pour out His life-giving power through the believer's spirit. Just as a water hose connected to a fountain flows out living water, the believer's spirit, which is joined to the Spirit of the Lord, also gushes out life. This is because the Lord is not only the Spirit but the "life-giving Spirit." There is nothing that can hinder such a believer. His spirit is full of life and nothing can limit this life because his spirit is closely joined to the life-giving Spirit. We need life in our spirit so that we may always have victory in our daily life. We can gain all the victory of the Lord Jesus by such union. We can know all of His will and mind by such a union. Such a union causes the believer to gain the Lord's life and nature and builds up the Lord's new creation in him. By death and resurrection, a believer's spirit will ascend, just as the Lord ascended; he will be in the "heavenlies" in experience, crushing everything worldly under his feet. By joining to the Lord as one spirit, the believer's spirit is no longer hindered by anything, and it can no longer be disturbed by anything. Instead, it soars toward the heavens above the clouds, always free and always fresh. It has a clear, heavenly view of all things. This is so different from temporal, emotional feelings; it is the heavenly life lived out on the earth. Such a living always has the heavenly nature inside it, and it is spiritual.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT'S INDWELLING
The Holy Spirit is inside a believer; but the believer either does not know it or he fails to obey Him. Therefore, he must know the Holy Spirit who indwells him and completely obey Him. The believer must know that God's Holy Spirit, being a person, indwells him to teach, guide, and give the "reality," the truth, in Christ to the believer. This work of the Holy Spirit can be done only after the believer acknowledges how ignorant and dull his soul is, and he decides that, even though he is foolish, he is willing to be taught. The believer must be willing to let the Holy Spirit take hold of everything and reveal the truth. When the believer knows that God's Holy Spirit dwells in the deepest part of his being, in his spirit, and waits for His teaching, then the Holy Spirit can work. When we do not pursue on our own and are completely willing to be taught, the Holy Spirit can teach us the truth in a way that our mind is able to digest. Otherwise, there is danger. When we know that within us there is a spirit, God's Holiest of all, which is deeper than mind and emotion and is able to fellowship with the Holy Spirit and when we wait for God's Holy Spirit, then we know that He truly indwells us. When we confess Him and honor Him, He will manifest His power and work from that hidden place inside us and will allow the life of our soul and consciousness to have His life.
The Corinthian believers were fleshly. When Paul persuaded them to leave their fleshly situation, he exhorted them more than once that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit was indwelling them. Knowing that the Holy Spirit indwells a believer is a help in getting out of the fleshly situation. The believer must know by faith, know entirely, know clearly, and know constantly that the Holy Spirit indeed indwells him. The believer should not only know the doctrines in the Bible that speak about the Holy Spirit; he should know the Holy Spirit Himself. With this kind of knowledge, the believer should commit himself unreservedly to the Holy Spirit to be renewed and willingly submit the various parts of his soul and body to Him, allowing Him to guide and correct.
The apostle asked the Corinthian believers saying, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). He seemed to be astonished at their lack of awareness of such a sure thing. He considered the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be the very first result of salvation, yet they did not know this! It does not matter what the believers' level is, even a level as low as the Corinthian believers. What a pity it is that many believers may not be higher than them! They should clearly know this fact. Without knowing this, a believer will be fleshly and unable to be spiritual. If you have never experienced His indwelling, have you ever known in faith that He indwells you?
When we consider how the Holy Spirit is God, how He is one of the Triune God, how He is the life of the Father and the Son, and then further consider His honor and how He indwells us, who are fleshly, we will surely fear, honor, and praise Him. The Lord Jesus took the likeness of sinful flesh, and the Holy Spirit dwells inside the likeness of sinful flesh. What grace this is!
THE STRENGTHENING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The strengthening of the Holy Spirit is needed for the spirit of man to control the soul and body of man and to be the channel of the Holy Spirit flowing out life to the multitudes. Ephesians 3:16 says, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man." These are the words which the apostle prayed for the believers. If it were not so important, the apostle surely would not have prayed in this manner. He asked God to strengthen the believer's inner man through His Spirit. The "inner man" is the believer's new man, which the believer has only after believing in the Lord. Therefore, this is the spirit of the believer, the regenerated spirit. The prayer of the apostle is for the spirit of the believer to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that it can become strong.
This verse tells us that some believers have weak spirits, while others have strong spirits. Whether a believer's spirit is strong depends on whether or not he has specially been given power by the Holy Spirit. The believers at Ephesus had long been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Therefore, what the apostle prayed for on their behalf surely must have been a gift other than the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The meaning of the apostle's prayer is that they would not only receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in their spirit, but they would also have the special power of the Holy Spirit poured into their spirit to enable their inner man to become strong. A believer may have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his spirit and still have a weak spirit.
A believer must realize the weakness of his own spirit. Then he will pray for the Holy Spirit to fill his spirit with power; being filled with power in the spirit is the need of the believer. Many times the body of a believer is in excellent condition, but he feels a little lazy. At such times, working for the Lord seems unbearable, and his heart is most unwilling. This shows that his spirit is weak and unable to control the emotion. Sometimes the believer may feel very excited, but his body is a little lazy. At such times, laboring for the Lord also seems impossible. In the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples indeed had this kind of experience. What was the reason for this? It was because "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). To be willing in the spirit is not enough; the spirit must also be strong. When the spirit is strong, it can overcome the weakness of the flesh. Sometimes when a believer is preaching and working on someone, it seems as though he is unable to do anything and has no way to manage him. This is because of the lack of power in the believer's spirit. If the situation were the opposite, when the believer could not save him, it would not be due to a lack of power but because that person did not want to be saved. This is also the case in regards to the environment. Due to outside confusion, the believer may also feel that he is affected. If the spirit is strong, then he can manage the most confused situations in a calm and composed manner. Prayer is the greatest test of the spirit's strength. Those whose spirits are strong can pray much and will not quit before the prayer is answered. Those whose spirits are weak will find it difficult to petition God for several years or several decades without being tired and discouraged. This is the case in all matters. Only those with a strong spirit have the energy to go forward continuously without regard to the environment or feelings. Otherwise, they soon feel that they cannot bear it any longer. In regard to fighting with Satan, there is even more need of power in the spirit. Only those who really have power in the spirit will know how to exercise the power of the spirit to resist and attack the enemy. Without power, all the fighting is just a dramatic struggle. If it is not from the mind's imagination, then it is from the excitement of feelings, and sometimes it may even be the natural strength of the flesh.
Therefore, in order for the believer to receive this power of the Holy Spirit, some works must be accomplished on his side. He must have a specific surrender; he must get rid of all the dubious things and actions in his life; he must be willing to fully obey the will of God; he must believe that God will pour the power of the Holy Spirit into his spirit; and he must pray for this matter. If there is no obstacle on the side of the believer, God will immediately accomplish what he hopes for. The believer does not need to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and fill him, because the Holy Spirit has descended long ago. The believer only has to wait for the cross to work deeply enough within him to fulfill the necessary condition for the Holy Spirit's filling. If the believer is faithful, obedient, and believing, then in a very short time the power of the Holy Spirit will be poured into his spirit, making him strong and providing the strength to live and work. For some believers, just one instance of surrendering to the Lord may enable them to immediately receive this filling without any delay, because they have fulfilled the necessary condition for the Holy Spirit's filling.
The pouring of the Holy Spirit's power into the believer—it may also be called the believer's being filled by the Holy Spirit—is a matter which occurs in the spirit, the inner man. The Holy Spirit does not fill man's feeling or body, rather He fills the spirit of man. The "inner man" is aroused and becomes strong with energy from the Holy Spirit, not the outward man. This is most important, because it will keep us from seeking for physical feelings, such as shakings, spasms, and falling down, when we seek the filling of the Holy Spirit, rather than simply applying faith (Gal. 3:14). However, a believer must be careful never to regard his faith as an excuse for not needing the inward strengthening of the Holy Spirit. The conditions must be fulfilled, and the attitude must be firm. God will accomplish His promise.
If we read what the apostle said in the subsequent passage concerning how to apprehend, know, and be filled, then we will realize that the strengthening in the spirit causes the consciousness of our spirit to become very clearly manifest. The spirit, like the body, has its functions and consciousness. When the believer has not yet had the power of the Holy Spirit poured abundantly into his spirit, it is very difficult for him to perceive the intuition of his spirit. Once he has had the new experience of being strengthened in the spirit, his spirit's intuition becomes clearly manifest. Consequently, many believers will more easily know the intuition of their own spirit because their inner man has become strong. When this happens, they will be more able to feel the slight movements of their spirit.
A spirit that is full of the power of the Holy Spirit can control the soul and body and make them completely submissive. Regardless of whether it is thought, desire, feeling, or intention, everything must be controlled by the spirit. This will keep the soul from acting independently; rather, the soul will be the steward of the spirit. This will also enable the Holy Spirit to flow out the life of God through the spirit of the believer so that He may water and revive those who are dried up and dead. This is different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This strengthening emphasizes life or living (it also affects the work); however, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is particularly for the purpose of the work.
WALKING ACCORDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
We have already seen how a soulish believer becomes a spiritual believer. This does not mean, however, that he will no longer walk according to the flesh. On the contrary, he is always in danger of falling into being fleshly. Satan is always on the watch. Whenever he has a chance, he will cause the believer to lose his high position and be brought down to a low living. Therefore, it is very important for a believer to always be watchful and walk according to the spirit; then he can always be spiritual.
Romans 8 clearly speaks about the importance of walking according to the spirit. Verses 4 through 6 say, "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit"; "those who are according to the spirit, [mind] the things of the Spirit"; "the mind set on the spirit is life and peace." Walking according to the spirit is in contrast to walking according to the flesh. If a believer does not walk according to the spirit, he walks according to the flesh. Sometimes he may walk according to the spirit and sometimes according to the flesh. But he should only walk according to the spirit. A believer must learn to walk only according to the spirit, only according to the intuition of the spirit, without walking for a moment according to the soul or body. A person who walks according to the spirit will consequently be "spiritually minded." Being spiritually minded like this makes his whole being "life and peace." Therefore, the result of walking according to the spirit is life and peace.
Living according to the spirit means walking according to the intuition (see Section Five, Chapter One). Living according to the spirit is to live, work, and act in the spirit. It is also using the strength of the spirit and being governed by the spirit. Thus, life and peace will always be maintained. If a believer does not walk according to the spirit, he cannot maintain his spirituality. Therefore, he should know the various functions of the spirit and its law, so that he will know how to walk.
Walking after the spirit is a daily task for believers which must not be forsaken. We should know that while we live on this earth, we do not live according to our good feelings, doing whatever we feel we should do. Neither should we live according to the good thoughts in our mind, either suddenly or constantly, doing whatever we think. We should act and behave according to the guidance in the intuition of the spirit. The small consciousness of the spirit is where the Holy Spirit expresses His thought. The Holy Spirit does not work directly on our mind to make us suddenly think of something. The work of the Holy Spirit is always done in our spirit. Therefore, if we want to understand the mind of the Holy Spirit, we should walk according to the intuition in our spirit. Sometimes our spirit has consciousness but we do not know what it means, what it demands, and what it expresses. Then we must spend much time in prayer so that our mind may understand the meaning of the intuition. After understanding it, we must walk accordingly. The mind may suddenly understand what the intuition means. However, if there is no intuition, the sudden thought from our own mind should not be followed. The teaching of the intuition is the thought of the Holy Spirit. We should follow only this.
This kind of walking according to the spirit requires dependence and faith. We have already seen that all of the good behavior of the flesh is independent of God, rather than dependent on God. The nature of the soul is independence. If a believer wants to walk according to his own thoughts, feelings, and desires, he does not need to spend time waiting on God, praying to God, and depending on God to guide him. "Doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts," (Eph. 2:3) does not need dependence. Only when a believer wants to seek God's will, knowing that he is useless, unreliable, and weak beyond repair, does he have a heart to depend on God. If he wants God to guide him in his spirit, he must wait for God in his spirit and not arbitrarily take his own feelings and thoughts as his guide. The believer must remember that whatever is done and can be done without depending on, waiting on, and trusting and seeking God is walking according to the flesh. Only trusting in a trembling manner for God to guide in the spirit is walking according to the spirit.
Walking also needs faith. Faith is in contrast to seeing and feeling. The feeling of the soul is always to demand, grasp, and desire everything that can be seen and felt as a guarantee in order to act and behave. If a believer walks according to the spirit, he does not walk according to the soul. In other words, he walks by faith and not by sight. Therefore, one who walks according to the spirit, on the one hand, will not feel disheartened if there is no help from man, and on the other hand, will also not be moved when there is opposition from man. Because of faith, he can believe God in darkness and not depend on his own resources; he can trust in the unseen power more than his own visible power.
Walking according to the spirit has two parts: one is to begin working and the other is to do this work with power. Many times, the believer lacks the revelation to do certain things in the intuition of the spirit, but he asks God to give him spiritual power to do this work. This is impossible, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Sometimes, what the believer does is based on the knowledge of God's will through revelation in the spirit, but then he uses his own power to do this work (see Section Two, Chapter Four). This is also impossible, because what has begun in the spirit cannot be perfected by the flesh. For a man to follow the Lord, he must be broken by the Lord to the extent that he has absolutely no self-confidence; he must realize that no good thought can originate from him; and he cannot have any power to complete the work started by the Holy Spirit. He must forsake all thoughts, cleverness, knowledge, capabilities, and gifts; he must completely depend on the Lord. The world worships and superstitiously trusts those things. But moment by moment, we should confess that we are undone, worthless, incapable, and useless. We dare not do anything before God does command; even in something that God does command, we dare not have the slightest amount of self-reliance.
If we want to walk according to the spirit in this way, we should follow the small consciousness in the intuition in the spirit to begin to work, and we should depend on the power of the spirit to do the work revealed by the intuition. Not walking according to thoughts, ideas, feelings, and tendencies, but only according to the intuition, will cause us to begin well. Not depending on our own talents, power, and abilities, but only on the power of the spirit, will cause us to continue to be perfected. We must remember that as soon as we cease walking according to the spirit, we immediately begin walking according to the flesh and minding the things of the flesh, allowing death to operate in our spirit. Only when we do not walk according to the flesh can we walk according to the spirit. "For those who are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh...for the mind set on the flesh is death" (Rom. 8:5-6).
Our purpose is to be a spiritual man, not a spirit. This distinction will prevent our spiritual life from becoming one-sided. We are men, and will be men forever, but the highest attainment of being a man is to be a spiritual man. Angels are spirits, and not men. They have no body and no soul. Man has a soul and a body. We are to be spiritual men, not spirits. Therefore, we still have a soul and a body. A "spiritual man" is not a person who only has a spirit, with no soul and no body; in that case he would be a spirit and not a man. Being a "spiritual man" simply means man is subject to the rule of his spirit. The spirit is the highest part of the whole person. We should pay considerable attention to this point; otherwise, we will misunderstand. The functions and faculties of man's soul and body are not cancelled because a man is spiritual. A spiritual man still has a soul and a body.
A spiritual man still has the will, mind, and emotion of his soul. Even though these are various parts of the soul-life, these functions are the essentials of man being man. Therefore, although the spiritual man does not live by them, he does not destroy them. On the contrary, they have died, been renewed, and are resurrected. Therefore, they are now completely united with the spirit to be the instruments to express the spirit. The spiritual man does have an emotion, mind, and will, but they are completely subject to the guidance of the intuition of the spirit.
The spiritual man has an emotion, but his emotion does not act independently as it once did; it is completely under the control of the spirit. Now his emotion no longer has its own likes, its own love, and its own feelings which once impeded the spirit and opposed every move of the spirit. Now it only likes what the spirit likes, only loves what the spirit chooses, and only feels what the spirit allows. The spirit is its life, and it responds at once to the move of the spirit.
The spiritual man also has a mind, but his mind is not as loose as it once was; it co-works with the spirit. The mind does not oppose the revelation of the spirit by its reasons and arguments. It does not disturb the quietness in the spirit by confusing thoughts. It does not boast in its own wisdom and disobey the revelation of the spirit. It is of the same mind as the spirit and cooperates with the spirit to go forward in the spiritual journey. If the spirit has a revelation, it will think through its meaning. If the spirit is "depressed" because of fighting, it will support the spirit to fight. If the spirit wants to teach some truth, it will help the spirit to think and understand. The spirit has the power to stop the mind's thoughts and also has the power to make the mind think.
The spiritual man also has his will, but his will is not as self-centered as it once was; it is not independent toward God but rather obeys or refuses according to the yes or no of the spirit. It no longer has its own will nor disobeys God's will. It is no longer hard and unable to be softened. It is completely broken; it no longer resists God, no longer works against God, and no longer is wild and difficult to harness. As soon as it has the spirit's revelation and understands God's will, it will, on behalf of the spirit, decide to follow as if it is the spirit's minister, standing at the spirit's door and waiting for the spirit's order.
The spiritual man's body is also subject to the spirit. It does not, by its lusts, draw the soul to commit sins as it once did. Now it is cleansed by the precious blood, its lusts were dealt with by the cross, and it is entirely a servant of the soul which takes orders from the spirit. It responds quickly to complete authority to control it by the renewed will. It no longer oppresses the weak spirit. The spirit of the spiritual man has been strengthened, and the body is under its power.
The apostle mentioned the actual condition of a spiritual man in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: "And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete." This verse speaks of a spiritual man as follows:
(1)He has God dwelling in his spirit to sanctify him wholly. The life of the spirit, poured into his whole being, causes every faculty to live by the life of the spirit and walk by the power of the spirit.
(2)He does not live by the soul-life. His mind, imagination, feeling, ideals, love, and opinion have all been renewed and cleansed by the Holy Spirit. These are completely under the rule of the spirit and no longer act independently.
(3)Although he still has a body and is not a disembodied spirit, the tiredness, pain, and other demands of the body have absolutely no influence on the spirit to cause it to lose its ascended position. All the members of the body are instruments of righteousness.
Therefore, a spiritual man is a man who belongs to the spirit. His whole person is ruled by the spirit, and all the faculties of his person are completely under the spirit and regulated by it. His spirit is the characteristic of his life; everything comes from the spirit. He has absolute dependence: what he says and what he does are not freely done by himself. He always denies his own strength and draws strength from the spirit. A spiritual man is a man who lives by the spirit.