(19) The Spiritual Man SECTION FIVE
ANALYSIS OF THE SPIRIT, INTUITION, FELLOWSHIP, AND CONSCIENCE
If we want to understand more clearly about spiritual life, we have to analyze the spirit thoroughly and understand all of its laws. Only after we have understood every function of the spirit can we comprehend the laws by which the spirit operates. Once we know the laws of the spirit, we will learn how to follow the spirit, that is, to walk by the laws of the spirit. These are vital to our spiritual life. We are not afraid of having too much knowledge concerning the spirit; our only concern is that we pursue it too strenuously with our mind.
The gospel of God tells people that fallen man can receive regeneration and that fleshly man can obtain a new spirit. The new spirit is the foundation of his new life. The spiritual life we normally speak about is just a life in which one lives by the spirit he received at regeneration. It is very regrettable that most believers know very little about the functions of the spirit and the things related to it. They may know in terminology the relationship between man and his spirit, yet they still cannot identify this spirit in their experience. As we mentioned before, either they do not know where their spirit is, or they reckon their own feelings and thoughts as the functions of the spirit. Therefore, an analysis of the functions of the spirit is needed because only then will believers know how to follow the spirit.
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SPIRIT
We have mentioned before that the functions of the spirit can be categorized into three parts: intuition, fellowship, and conscience. Although these three are distinguishable, they are closely knitted together. It would be very difficult for us to talk about one without mentioning the other two. For example, when we talk about intuition, spontaneously we also include fellowship and conscience. Therefore, even though we are analyzing the spirit, we still need to make a close study of its tripartite functions. We have already seen how the spirit is categorized into intuition, fellowship, and conscience, and we will not repeat it here. However, we have to consider further what the intuition, fellowship (or worship), and conscience are, and what functions they have, in order to know how to walk according to our spirit. Since the spirit encompasses the work of intuition, fellowship, and conscience, we can say that walking according to the spirit is just walking according to one's intuition, fellowship, and conscience.
Intuition, fellowship, and conscience are just three functions of the spirit. We are not saying that the spirit includes only these three, neither are we saying that the spirit is just one of these three. According to the Bible, these are simply the three major functions of the spirit. The spirit is still the spirit; it is substantial, personal, and invisible. It is impossible for us to apprehend the inner essence of the spirit today. We can only realize what it is by the functions it manifests. We are not here to learn the wonderful mysteries of the future but to pursue a spiritual living. As long as we know the functions of the spirit and how to walk according to the spirit, it will be sufficient. Our spirit is not material, yet it can exist independently in our body as the human spirit. Therefore, although our spirit is not physical, it must possess its own "spiritual substance." Otherwise, it would be impossible for it to exist independently. This spiritual substance contains various functions which execute all the requirements that God has towards man. Therefore, we will only try to learn the functions of the spirit, not the substance of the spirit.
Man is like the holy temple, and our spirit is like the Holy of Holies. Going one step further, we can compare the intuition, fellowship, and conscience to the ark in the Holy of Holies. (1) God's law was in the ark to instruct the Israelites in what they should do. God revealed Himself and His will through the law. Similarly, God is making Himself and His will known to the believers through their intuition so that they can follow accordingly. (2) Upon the ark was the propitiatory cover with the blood sprinkled on its cover. This was the place where God manifested His glory and received man's worship. Similarly, every one who has been redeemed by the precious blood has his spirit regenerated. In this spirit he worships God and fellowships with Him. God could only fellowship with the Israelites over the propitiatory cover of the ark. Similarly, He can only fellowship with the believers in their blood-cleansed spirit. (3) According to the original language, the ark is the "ark of testimony," and the Ten Commandments within it served as the testimony of God to the Israelites. If they did well, the two tablets in the ark would approve them. If they did things improperly, the Ten Commandments would accuse them silently from within the ark. Similarly, the Holy Spirit has written God's law in our conscience so that it bears witness to our conduct. It bears witness to those things that are according to God's will and condemns those things that are not according to God's will. "My conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 9:1)
Look how the children of Israel honored the ark! When they crossed the Jordan River, they had no other guidance except the ark. They simply followed the ark without any doubt. When they fought against Jericho, they did nothing other than follow the ark. When they could not stand against the Philistines, they tried to utilize the ark according to their own will. Was not Uzzah immediately killed when he tried to hold the ark with his fleshly hands? How they rejoiced after they had prepared a place for the ark! (Psa. 132). These things ought to teach believers how to deal with the ark, which is the intuition, fellowship, and conscience in our spirit. There is life and peace when we follow these functions, and there will be nothing but complete failure if we try to interfere with them according to our fleshly will. Victory did not depend on what the Israelites thought but on where the ark was leading. Any spiritual usefulness depends not on our thought but on the teaching of the intuition, fellowship, and conscience.
The body has its senses, and the spirit also has its senses. The spirit dwells in the body and has a very close relationship with the body; nevertheless, it is completely different from the body. The body has various senses, but a spiritual man can detect that which is beyond his physical senses. There is another sense in the innermost part of his being which can rejoice, grieve, fear, approve, condemn, determine, and discern. These are the senses of the spirit which are distinct from the senses of the soul expressed through the body.
The senses and functions of the spirit can be seen from the following verses:
Now we can see how keen the sense of man's spirit is and how numerous its functions are. The Bible does not say man's heart senses and functions in this way, but his spirit does sense or function in this way. We must read the above verses very carefully to realize that the human spirit possesses all these functions. After thoroughly reading them, we will see that the functions and senses of the human spirit are as inclusive as those of the soul. Whether it is thoughts, decisions, or feelings, as long as it is something that the soul has, the spirit has it also. This shows us how important it is to learn to distinguish the spiritual from the soulish. As a believer passes through the deep work of the cross and Holy Spirit, he gradually becomes experienced and knows what is of the soul and what is of the spirit.
After a believer has embarked on a spiritual life, his spirit's senses and functions grow and fully develop. Before a believer's spirit is separated from the soul and joined to the Lord as one spirit, it is hard for him to notice the senses in his spirit. But once the power of the Holy Spirit is poured into his spirit and his inner man is strengthened, his spirit will possess the senses and functions of a full-grown man. Only then will he be able to understand the various senses of his spirit.
This sense of the spirit is called the intuition because it comes without any cause or reason. It comes "intuitively" without passing through any means. Our ordinary senses are aroused by specific means, which may be people, things, or events. These things give rise to certain feelings. If there is something to rejoice about, we rejoice. If there is something to be sorrowful about, we feel sorrow. All these senses are aroused by something; therefore, they cannot be called intuition. The sense of the spirit does not come from any means but comes directly from our inner being.
The soul and the spirit are quite similar. Believers should not follow their soul, which means that they should not follow their thoughts, feelings, or preferences. These are all from the soul. God's way for the believers is to walk according to the spirit. All other ways belong to the old creation and have no spiritual value at all. How, then, can we walk according to the spirit? Walking according to the spirit is walking according to the intuition in the spirit; this is because the intuition of the spirit expresses the thought of the spirit and of God.
Many times we intend to do certain things, and we may have plenty of reasons for doing them. Our heart may desire certain things, and this desire may be very good. Furthermore, our will may decide to carry out the intentions of our mind and desire. However, in the deepest part of our being, there is something unspeakable, silent, heavy, pressing, and lurking which fights against our mind's thoughts, our emotion's desires, and our will's determinations. This complex feeling in our heart seems to tell us that we should not do these things. On other occasions this experience may be different. It may start with our innermost being having the same unspeakable, silent, heavy, pressing, and lurking feeling as we had before, which urges, presses, moves, or encourages us to do certain things. These things seem to us to be unreasonable and irrational and are contrary to our ordinary thoughts. These things are opposite to what we ordinarily desire, favor, prefer, love, and hold dear, and our will has no desire to perform them.
What is this thing which acts contrary to our mind, emotion, and will? It is the intuition of the spirit. The spirit expresses its thought through the intuition. Now we can see the difference between the intuition and the feelings of our emotion. Frequently, what we feel to do is just the opposite of the warning of this inward, silent intuition. This intuition is also completely different from our mind. Our mind comes from our head and is rational. However, the intuition is not located in our head and quite frequently is irrational. The Holy Spirit reveals His own thoughts through the intuition of the spirit. The "prompting" of the Holy Spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit in our spirit which causes our intuition to understand His will. Now we can distinguish between what is from the Holy Spirit and what is from the self and Satan. The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is in our spirit, and our spirit is the center of our whole being. Hence, when the Holy Spirit reveals His will through our intuition, He does it through the innermost part of our being. The believers' own will, however, lies in the outer part of his being. Our thoughts come from the outside, and our feelings also lie in our outward parts. Once we see that our opinions come from our mind or emotion—our outward man—we will know that they are just our own thoughts and not the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The prompting of the Holy Spirit always comes from the deepest part of our being. The same distinction can be said for things from Satan (except those who are demon possessed). Satan does not dwell in the believer's spirit. His dwelling place is in the world. "Greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Satan can only invade the believers from the outside. He either works through the cravings and sensations of our body or through our mind and emotion, because the body and soul both belong to the outward man. Therefore, the believers should be very careful to discern whether or not their feelings come from the innermost part of their being or from their outward man.
The intuition is the place where God's anointing teaches us. "And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know...The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you; but as His anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is not a lie, and even as it has taught you, abide in Him" (1 John 2:20, 27). This passage of Scripture very clearly indicates how the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us.
Before we consider this passage of Scripture, let us first differentiate between the meaning of "know" and "understand." The spirit "knows," while the mind "understands." A believer "knows" a thing by the intuition of his spirit. The mind can only "understand." Strictly speaking, the mind cannot "know." (Naturally, all this refers to the relationship between us and God.) Believers are so confused about the matter of seeking the thought of the Holy Spirit, because they do not know the difference between "knowing" and "understanding." According to the common usage of the words, there is not much difference between knowing and understanding. But in spiritual matters, knowing and understanding are as far apart as the heavens are from the earth. To know is the work of the intuition; to understand is the work of the mind. The Holy Spirit enables our spirit to know, and our spirit makes our mind understand. It is hard to distinguish between these two words, but in experience they are as different as wheat and tares.
Is it not true that many times we have an indescribable feeling in our inner being as mentioned above? This feeling enables us to know whether or not to do a certain thing. It is true that in our spirit we may know the thought of the Holy Spirit. However, in many cases, we know in our intuition what we ought to do, but our mind may still fall short of understanding the meaning and reason of it. In spiritual matters, it is quite possible for us to know but still not understand. Is it not true that many times our thoughts reach a dead end, but our spirit receives teaching from the Holy Spirit; at these times we cry, "I know it!" Many times when we deny the thoughts and reasonings in our mind and obey the thought of the Holy Spirit expressed in the intuition, we must wait for a long time before our mind is enlightened and before we understand the reason the Holy Spirit led us in a particular way. Only then are we able to cry out, "Now I understand!" These experiences tell us that we "know" the thought of the Holy Spirit in the intuition of our spirit, but we "understand" the leading of the Holy Spirit in the mind of our soul.
The apostle John tells us that the anointing of the Lord abides in us and teaches us so that we know everything and do not need any man to teach us. This refers to the functions of the intuition. The Lord gives the Holy Spirit to all believers; He abides in our spirit and leads us into all truth. How does He lead? He leads through the intuition of the spirit. In the spirit He expresses His thoughts. The intuition possesses an ability to know the meaning of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Just as the mind enables man to apprehend the things of the world, the intuition enables man to apprehend the things of the spiritual realm. The anointing originally referred to the application of the ointment. The way that the Holy Spirit teaches, works, and speaks to us is in the human spirit. He does not speak from heaven with a loud voice and a flaming fire, or cast the believers to the ground with His power. Rather, He works silently in our spirit to make us sense something in our intuition. Just as an ointment gives the body a certain sensation when it is applied, the anointing of the Holy Spirit gives the believers' spirit a certain feeling when it is applied. When the intuition becomes aware of this feeling, it knows what the Holy Spirit is speaking.
If a believer wants to follow God's will, he does not need to ask others or even himself. All he has to do is to walk according to the direction of the intuition. The anointing will teach the believer "concerning all things." He will not leave him or allow him to make his own choice. Everyone who wants to walk according to the spirit must realize this. Our responsibility is nothing else but to be taught. We do not need to decide on our own way; actually, we cannot decide anyway. Anything apart from the leading of the anointing is just our own action. The work of the anointing is independent; it does not require man's help. It does not require the mind's searching or the emotion's stirring; the anointing expresses the Spirit's own thought independently. He works independently in the spirit and causes men to know His will in their intuition. After this, He causes men to carry out His instructions.
If we read the context of this portion of the Scriptures, we will see that the apostle spoke about many false teachings and antichrists. He was saying that since the believers have received the anointing from the Holy One, who abides in them, this anointing will spontaneously teach them what is the truth, what is a lie, who is for Christ, and who is antichrist. There is no need for man to teach or speak anything; the anointing that abides within will teach spontaneously. This spiritual discernment is greatly needed today. We do not need to reference many theological books, reason, compare, research, observe, and think with our intellect before we can understand what is a lie and what is the truth. If we have to do this, no one except knowledgeable and intellectual believers would be able to save themselves from deceptions. God has no respect for man's old creation. Besides the spirit of the new creation, everything is dead in His eyes and should be done away with. Can the mental capacity, which God insists on abolishing, help man distinguish between right and wrong? No, absolutely not. Rather, God puts His Spirit in the spirit of every believer, regardless of how ignorant or foolish he may be, in order to teach him what is and is not of Him. Therefore, even though there are many times when we cannot find a reason to oppose a certain teaching, there is a sense of disapproving in the deepest part of our being. We do not know the reason, but our inner sense tells us that this is wrong. Sometimes we hear a teaching that is completely different from what we usually hold and which we do not wish to follow; yet within us there is a small voice persistently telling us that this is the right way and that we should walk in it. Although we may have many reasons to oppose it, and although our reasoning may win, this small voice of the intuition within is always speaking to us and always telling us that we are wrong.
These experiences show us that our intuition—the organ where the Holy Spirit works—is able to distinguish between right and wrong. It does not need any assistance from the observation and study of the mind. Regardless of a believer's natural upbringing, he can always be taught by the anointing as long as he is sincere, desirous, and faithful to follow the Lord. In spiritual matters the most educated doctor and most unlearned villager are equally foolish. Many times the educated one makes more mistakes than the unlearned one. Today false teachings are quite prevalent. Many people use guileful words to disguise their lies as truths. Hence, there is the need of discernment in the spirit concerning what is right and wrong. The best teachings, the most clever mind, and the most experienced advisors are all unreliable; only those who follow the teaching of the Holy Spirit in the intuition will be saved from being deceived by today's theological confusions and the many heresies, miracles, and wonders. We should continually ask the Lord to make our spirit more active and pure; we should also follow the small voice that comes from our intuition. We should not neglect its warning because some others have greater knowledge. Otherwise, we will either be trapped into heresy or become fanatical. If we do not calmly follow the teaching of the anointing which comes from this small voice, we will be distracted by a confused emotion and clamorous mind.
DEALING WITH OTHERS
This anointing also teaches us to deal with people.
We should not criticize a person, but we should definitely know him in order to learn how to associate with him or help him. The common way to accomplish this is to examine a person by observing and studying him. But even this can often lead us the wrong way. We do not say that this is absolutely useless, but it is only secondary. A pure spirit usually brings the right discernment. Some of us can remember that as children, we could often make very accurate assertions about people we saw. A long time has passed, and our knowledge, experience, and power of observation have all increased, yet our ability to know people does not seem any better than before. At that time we did not know why we made those assertions; something seemed to be in our heart, but we could not utter it with our mouth. Time has passed, and everything has changed. Now the facts have proven that our "feeling" was correct. We did not make those assertions through drawn out investigations and inquiries; nor could we even give any evidence or reason for our assertions. This is the work of a pure intuition even though it is still natural. Nevertheless, the Lord wants us to regard the things of God in the same way. Our spirit should be converted, and we must become as little children. Only then will we have the clear knowledge from God.
Let us look at the life of the Lord Jesus. "And immediately Jesus, knowing fully in His spirit that they were reasoning this way within themselves, said to them..." (Mark 2:8). This verse shows us the operation of intuition. It does not say that the Lord Jesus had a thought or feeling in His heart, nor does it say that the Holy Spirit told Him so. The faculty of His spirit demonstrated its perfect ability. The sense of the spirit in the man Jesus Christ was very pure, sharp, and exalted; He knew in His spirit the reasonings of the surrounding people. He then spoke to them according to what He had perceived in His intuition. This should be the normal spiritual life of every spiritual person. The Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit; He enables our spirit to be fully operative and full of the power of knowledge. In this way, He regulates our whole being. Just as the human spirit of the Lord Jesus was working when He was on the earth, our spirit should be working through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.
The knowledge of things through the intuition is what the Bible calls revelation. Revelation means nothing less than the Holy Spirit revealing the reality of a matter in a believer's spirit and causing him to know such a matter. There is only one kind of knowledge, concerning either the Bible or God, that is worthwhile: it is the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit in our spirit. God does not explain what He is to man's intellect all at once, neither can man know God all at once through his intellect. No matter how wise a man's intellect is, and no matter how much he understands about God, his understanding is always veiled. He can only make inferences with his intellect about the things behind the veil; he does not see the actual things behind the veil. He has not yet "seen," so he can only "understand" and not "know." If Christianity is not a revelation—a personal revelation—it is worth nothing at all. Everyone who believes in God must receive His revelation in his spirit; otherwise, he will believe in nothing more than human wisdom, ideals, and words, and not in God Himself. This kind of faith will not stand in times of temptation.
Revelation is not a vision, a voice from heaven, a dream, or an external power which shakes one's body. All these may happen to a person without him receiving any revelation. Revelation is something in the intuition; it is quiet, neither slow nor quick; it appears to be a voice and yet not a voice. Many people call themselves Christians, yet what they believe in is just human philosophies, ethics, articles of truth, or some supernatural occurrences. Believing these things will not bring about a new birth; it will not give a person a new spirit. Although these kind of "Christians" are very numerous today, their spiritual usefulness is altogether nil. God gives grace to all those who have accepted Christ and causes them to see in their spirit the reality of the spiritual realm as if a veil has been removed from before them. Subsequently, what they know is far deeper than what they understood in their mind. The things they understood and perceived in the past seem to have a new meaning. Everything is transparent and known for certain because they have "seen" it in the spirit. "We speak that which we know and testify of that which we have seen" (John 3:11). This is Christianity. Intellectual pursuit will never save people; only revelation in the spirit will grant men genuine knowledge of God.
Today many people speak about eternal life through faith. But what is the eternal life which we receive? While it refers to blessings in the future, what does eternal life mean for today? "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). Eternal life in this age is the ability to know God and the Lord Jesus. This is very real. Saying that everyone who believes in the Lord receives eternal life means that he receives an intuitive knowledge of God which he did not have before. "Eternal life through faith" is not a slogan. Rather, it is something that can be proven in this age. Those who do not have this life—the eternal life—may infer things concerning God, but they do not have a personal knowledge of God. Only after one obtains this new life and has been regenerated, can he truly know God through his intuition. He may understand the Bible, yet his spirit still remains dead. He can familiarize himself with theology, yet he is not regenerated in his spirit. He may enthusiastically serve "in the name of the Lord;" however, there is no regeneration of a new life in his spirit. The Bible tells us that man cannot find out God by searching (Job 11:7). Everything done through the mind cannot bring us to the knowledge of God. Apart from man's spirit, man cannot know God; he cannot know God with his mentality. In the Bible we see only one kind of knowledge: the intuition in the spirit.
Not only should believers receive their initial knowledge through the spirit, they should continue in this way all the time. In the Christian life, other than the revelation one receives in his intuition, nothing else has any spiritual significance because none of the other things are of the spirit. Since they are not of the spirit, they are not the will of God; God only reveals the things concerning His will to us in our spirit. Anything that we think, prefer, and decide, apart from the revelation of the spirit, is dead in God's eyes. A believer may act according to sudden thoughts, ideas that come after a prayer, a so-called burning in the heart, natural inclinations, strong reasons, or his logical judgments. These are all just the activities of the old man. God's will is not known through such thoughts, feelings, or preferences. God only reveals His will in man's spirit. Anything not revealed through the spirit is self-activity.
God never reveals His will to man's mind. Revelation is of the Holy Spirit and in man's spirit. Man's spirit knows and receives God's will through the intuition. After this, it transmits the will of God to the mind for its understanding. The mind is where we can understand God's will, yet it can never be the source of God's will. God's will originates from God and is revealed to man's spirit by the Holy Spirit. The spirit, in turn, causes the outward man to understand through the mind what the inward man already knows. In this way, the outward man knows how to carry out God's will. If a believer does not seek after God's will in his spirit, but exercises his mind all the time, he will be lost all the time and not know what to follow. Our minds continually fluctuate. Those who walk according to their mind cannot, even for a moment, say from their heart, "I know with certainty that this is God's will." Only those who receive revelation in their spirit will have a deep confidence; only they will know and be fully assured of what they are doing.
God's revelation in our spirit can be of two kinds: one is direct and the other is through searching. Direct revelation happens when God Himself has a will, and He charges the believers to carry it out. In this case, He comes into the believers' spirit and reveals His will to them. When the believers receive this revelation in their intuition, they carry it out accordingly. Revelation that comes through searching occurs when a believer has a need and does not know what to do; he comes before God and waits and seeks for His will. In answering the believer's searching, God operates in his spirit and reveals whether he should continue or stop. When a believer is young in his spiritual life, the revelation he receives is mostly of the searching kind. When he is more mature, he will have more direct revelations. However, this is not absolute; I only mean that searching is more typical than direct revelation at first. Nevertheless, this is where most young believers confront difficulties. Time is needed for them to wait before the Lord and eliminate their self-thought, self-preferences, and self-opinions; nevertheless, they often forsake waiting for God's revelation and substitute their own will instead. As a result, they are often accused by their conscience. Even when they truly desire to follow God's will, they foolishly walk according to the thoughts in their mind because of a lack of spiritual knowledge. Anything done without revelation will unavoidably lead to mistakes.
Now we can see what spiritual knowledge really is. Only that which is apprehended in the spirit is spiritual knowledge. Anything other than this is mere mental knowledge. How does God know things? By what means does He judge? What knowledge does He use to manage the universe? Does He reason with His mind like men do? Does He need to ponder things over before He can understand? Does He know things by logic, arguments, or comparison? Does He need to investigate and consider before He comes to a conclusion? Does the omniscient One also need to use His brain? Certainly not! God does not need to search in this way before He knows. All of God's knowledge and judgment is intuitive. Intuition is the faculty of every spiritual man or being. Angels follow God's will by knowing it intuitively. They do not ascertain it by the way of argument, reason, or thought. The difference between understanding God's will by the way of the mind and the way of the intuition is immeasurable. Spiritual success or failure is surprisingly dependent upon this distinction. If believers' conduct and work were based on their rationale, reason, and common sense, no one would dare to attempt the great spiritual works that have been done in the past and even presently. All the spiritual works are beyond human reasonings. Who would have dared to risk them if they had not known the will of God in their intuition?
Anyone who walks intimately with God, having secret fellowship with God and spiritual union with Him, receives His revelation in the intuition and clearly knows what moves he should take. This behavior receives no sympathy from men, for others do not know what he personally knows. According to the world's wisdom, his moves are totally meaningless. Have not many spiritual believers been opposed because of this? Have not the wise ones regarded them as crazy? Not only do the worldly people say this, but even their fleshly brothers criticize them in the same way. This is because the life of the old creation, whether in worldly people or in believers, is equally ignorant of the work of God's Holy Spirit. The more intellectual believers often label the ones who act contrary to common sense as "foolishly zealous." To them, their acts are soulishly enthusiastic. But actually, many so-called foolish zealots are very spiritual. They behave "foolishly" because they have received revelation in their intuition.
We must be careful not to mix up intuition with emotion. The zeal of an emotional believer may appear to be something spiritual, but it may not actually be from the intuition. The judgment of a rational believer likewise may appear to be something spiritual, but it also may not be a revelation from the intuition. Just as the emotional believer is soulish, the rational believer is also soulish. The spirit does have zeal. In fact, its zeal far exceeds that of the emotion. All of the actions of spiritual believers are "justified in the Spirit" (1 Tim. 3:16). They are not condoned by fleshly emotion or the mind. If we fall from the position of the spirit and walk according to our fleshly feelings or rational thoughts, we will immediately be at a loss as to what to do and where to turn. When this happens, we will be like Abraham, who went down to Egypt where help could be obtained from things which could be seen and touched. The spirit and the soul work independently of each other. If the spirit has not ascended and is not totally in control, the soul will always war against it.
When a believer's spirit is renewed, strengthened, and educated by the Holy Spirit, his soul loses its place and submits to the spirit. Gradually, the soul becomes a servant to the spirit, and the body is conquered to become the soul's servant for the execution of the spirit's will. The spirit then knows God's revelation through the intuition. This progress is without an end. Some have more things to be cast aside than others because their spirits are not as pure as others. They are filled with mental and emotional knowledge. Many people cannot have an open spirit to receive God's truth because they are already filled with prejudice. Before the intuition can receive anything from God, all these things must be removed.
Now we should be clearer than before about the difference between the intuition and the mind or emotion. Once we understand the intuition, we will be more clear about the spirit which is usually more mysterious to us. Now we should realize the basic difference between spiritual experience and soulish experience. A spiritual experience is spiritual because it begins from God and is known in our spirit. A soulish experience, on the other hand, begins from man himself and has never passed through the spirit. Therefore, one can be full of Bible knowledge and have a specific, accurate comprehension of Christian doctrines. He may be zealous and apply all of his talents to the work. He may have amazing eloquence and give absorbing speeches on subjects and topics about the Bible; nevertheless, his being may still be living in the realm of the soul. He may not have stepped beyond the soul for even one single step; his spirit may still be dead. People will not be brought into the kingdom of God through our encouraging, exhorting, arguing, inciting, attracting, and urging. They can only come through regeneration, which is just the resurrection of the spirit. This new life will come with various abilities, among the most important is the intuition to understand God, know God, and acknowledge God.
Does this mean that the human mind (brain) is completely useless? Of course not. Surely, there is use for the mind. However, we should remember that the intellect does not come first; it is secondary. We do not know God and the things of God by the intellect. If we did, eternal life would be useless. The eternal life (i.e., the new life) is nothing other than the spirit which is mentioned in John 3. We know God through our newly received eternal life and newly acquired spirit. The use of the mind lies in its ability to explain to our outward man what we see in our spirit and compose it into words for others to understand. We can see this in the example of Paul. In his Epistles, he emphatically pointed out that the gospel he preached is not of man; it does not come "wholesale" from man's mind, and it is not "sold in retail" to other minds. Instead, he received it through revelation. Though he may have had the best mental capability, his doctrine did not come from his thoughts, either suddenly or progressively. His mind was in union with his spirit, and it just communicated to others the revelation he received in his spirit. The mind (the soul) is never the organ for receiving spiritual knowledge; it is merely the organ for passing on spiritual knowledge.
Besides the spirit, there is no other place where God can communicate with us. There are no other ways for us to know God except in the intuition. Through the spirit, man enters into the eternal, divine, and invisible realm. We may say that the intuition is the "brain" of the spirit. When we say that man's spirit is dead, we are saying that his intuition has lost all feelings and is unable to know God and understand the things of God. When we say that the spirit is in charge of our whole being, we mean every part of the soul and every member of the body should completely follow God's will, which has been made known to us through the intuition. We have said previously that regeneration is absolutely necessary, but we will say it again emphatically. The human mind, emotion, and will cannot know God and substitute for the intuition. Unless man receives the life of God afresh, and unless his intuition is resurrected, he is forever separated from God. Regeneration is very real. It is not just a term or a moral change but a definite entrance of God's life into our spirit, resurrecting our spirit and intuition. It is an absolute impossibility for man to do good and please God by himself because these activities are in the realm of the soul; they are not done through an intuition that has come alive toward God. It would be very difficult for a man to be born again by himself because he has nothing that can produce any new life. If God would not beget him, he would not be able to beget himself. Furthermore, no matter how much we understand doctrines, and how much we put our trust in them, they are altogether useless. Nothing can save man except putting himself in God's hand and asking Him to work. A man's spirit will remain dead forever unless he acknowledges that everything of himself is useless, that he is standing with the Lord Jesus in the place of death, and that he is receiving His life.
Man's way is not to receive the Lord Jesus as Savior; it is not the way of resurrecting the intuition (spirit). Instead, it is the way of substituting the intuition with the mind. Man considers, ponders, and comes up with different philosophies, ethics, or religions. But God says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,/So are My ways higher than your ways,/And My thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9). No matter what thoughts man has, he is still of earth and not of the heavens. After our regeneration, God desires that we know His works and His will through our intuition so that we would walk according to them. But how easy it is for believers to forget what we learned at regeneration! How many believers walk according to their mind and emotion in their daily lives! When we serve, we still use our intellect, zeal, and ideas to move the mind, emotion, and will of others. God wants to teach us that neither our soul nor the souls of others have any spiritual usefulness and value. God wants to destroy our natural life together with its intellect, ability, and strength. Therefore, He allows us to fail, be disappointed, and become cold and useless in our spiritual work. This kind of lesson cannot be learned in one or two days. God will instruct us all of our lives and make us realize that other than walking according to the intuition, everything else is vanity.
Here lies the key issue: when the intuition proposes something totally different from what the soul proposes, which one will we follow? Now is the time to determine who will be in charge of our life and which way will we go. Now is the time for the decisive battle that decides who will be the head, our outward man or our inward man, the man of feeling or the man of the spirit. At the beginning of our Christian life, our spirit warred against our flesh. Today there is a war between our spirit and our natural life. Formerly we warred over the problem of sins; now it is not a matter of good or evil but of natural kindness or the goodness of God. Previously we were concerned about the nature of the things we did, but now, about the source of the good things. Today there is a war between the outward man and the inward man, a war between God's will and man's intention. Learning to walk according to the spirit is a lifetime job for the "new man." If one can fully walk according to the spirit, he will entirely overcome his flesh. Through the strengthening of the Holy Spirit into the spirit of the new man, he will entirely eliminate the mind of the flesh. A fleshly mind results in nothing but death in spiritual things, while a mind set on the spirit is life and peace.