After counseling for 25 years, some of the most asked questions in therapy are: “Why do I let my emotions rule my day?” and “I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted, I’ve had others pray, and I try and try, but I don’t seem to have any breakthrough! How do I get free?” And this one, “I’ve done so much therapy and prayer. Will this work?”Many are not alone in this feeling. Many people have tried therapy, exercise, prayer but to no avail. It leaves one with the feeling that they may never get free from their emotions ruling.
One lady came into my office with a dejected and defeated face. She slumped down into the couch and looked at me with desperate eyes. In a slow, low tone she said, “I hope this works because I have tried everything, and nothing seems to work! My emotions and my mind just won’t allow me to have a joy-filled, Spirit-led life.”
I myself have been at this place many times in my life. An issue comes up and we try to fix it, our friends try to fix it, the pastor tries to fix it, and well-meaning small group friends try to fix it; but it either doesn’t work, or it is only short-lived. I find myself and so many, asking these same questions and thinking that maybe God doesn’t want to heal the problem, or we are just so broken we cannot be fixed.
In this “dark nights of the soul,” that I call it, we find ourselves in a horrible, dark place where we are numb, dejected, in despair, feel alone, and truly believe no one understands nor can they find a ladder long enough to get us out of our pit. While this feeling is very real, it isn’t our reality in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the Scriptures:
Let us, therefore, be diligent to enter that rest lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:11-13
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin. He condemned sin in the flesh, that righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according got the Spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. If you live according to the flesh you will die, but Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
So those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Therefore brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh; you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the “spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:1-14
So how do these Scriptures apply to handling emotions and truly living free in Christ? Let’s start with explaining the three parts which make up how we are made and what we function out of.
The One God is three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We were made in His image, so we have three parts. The body is the Flesh, the seat of need and want. The soul is comprised of the Will, the Intellect, the Mind, and the Emotions. The spirit is where the Holy Spirit dwells.
Everyone has a spirit, it is just dead or alive to Christ. In this space, neither the enemy nor ourselves can dwell. It is the seal of our relationship in Christ and is the evidence of our salvation.
In Hebrews, God tells us the Word of God is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit. So first we need to know that the soul and spirit and two different areas of our life.
Have you ever said to yourself, “Part of me knows I should do this, but part of me doesn’t want to?” Welcome to what all Christians say inside and maybe even out loud.
The soul is always trying to pull us out of the Spirit-led life. The word for separate in Greek is “merismos” and it means “dividing asunder.” It is meant to give us the distinctions of the body, soul, and spirit.
The full meaning of merismos means “a separation or distinction made between separate parts.” In a walk with the Lord, we must remain in the Spirit. So why is this so important that God used several Scriptures to reveal this knowledge to us?
Jesus died so that we could have victory over sin and darkness. He Himself was fully God, but also, fully man. He faced the same temptations we face today, He felt every feeling we have felt, and He lived around other people and had the same frustrations, the same pain, and rejection that we have faced or ever will, yet He sinned not.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, but He was God” — I have thought that, too. However, He died so that we could have freedom, that our joy may be fulfilled, that we might have freedom in every part of us when we are fearful, when we are alone, in pain, rejected, suffering or hurting; and it is ours through His work on the cross. So, while perfection may not be a choice away, we can obtain healing and wholeness because of Christ.
Many people believe that it is the devil who makes us make bad choices. We live in the reality that we are “helplessly and hopelessly” at the mercy of Satan. But this is far from the truth. The enemy on many occasions does not have to do much.
Much of our battle comes from within ourselves. Let me explain by showing you the diagram of the three parts but now describing each part in terms which all of us can relate to.
The body and the soul should be used under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but in our Christian walk, this is not always the everyday experience we have. We tend to have more of this experience. The child part of us or the body, wants what it wants when it wants it.
So, let’s say we want to buy a new car but currently we know we don’t really have our finances in line to do so. So, the child says, “Why can’t I have it now? I know I need to be saving more, but I really deserve this! Besides, if I can’t afford it, I’ll just sell it.”
The teenager (soul) says, “Besides, driving this old car is embarrassing. All my friends and people at work and church have newer models of cars, and they’re probably thinking I am not successful.”
Here’s another example of how our soul and body try to take over and serve us. Let’s say that I have had a bad day or am feeling sad. The body (child) says, “Oh, no! Rikki is upset. We must make her soul feel better. I know, let’s get her some ice-cream.
We can eat that whole carton and the soul will feel better. Or… we could go shopping! Or…we could go get some wine, or even better, tequila.” The soul (teenager) says, “Why not? Nobody will know or even care. I’m sure other Christians get drunk, or overeat, or spend too much and they’re ‘okay.’”There are ways that the Word of God deals with our soul man and removes from us the arrogance, haughtiness, opinions, pride, boastings, dominance, and pushiness; all the things that we think make us important, noticed, and in control.
Let’s look back at Romans which says, “Now those who live according to the flesh set their minds (soul) on the flesh but those who live according to the Spirit (adult), the things of the Spirit (adult). For to be carnally minded (soul) is death, but to be spiritually minded (adult) is life and peace (Romans 8:5-6, emphasis mine).
Romans 8:1-4 states this good news: “Therefore there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk an according to the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
In my life I have met the poor, the outcast, the rich, the servant, the celebrity and the unknown and one thing they all have in common; they are all looking, fighting, straining for one thing – freedom and the peace which goes with it.
The body (child) will always look to find peace for the soul (teenager). When our soul is struggling in any way it will look for peace. Sometimes that is in places which we were never made to look, and places which Christ came to free us from.
We tend to look for peace in relationships, in food, in drugs and alcohol, in spending, in being in authority over many and position, sleep, TV and entertainment, in New Age treatments, and to ourselves to no avail.
This is because the only real freedom we will find is in resting in the Spirit of God. When the Spirit (adult) is in control, then when my soul (teenager composed of mind, will intellect, emotions) rises in need or want, it can find rest in allowing the Spirit (the adult) to soothe it.
Then the body (child) is at rest and doesn’t need to take us to things or people which only bring death in the end because it is filling those wounds and hurts through worldly means.
Psalm 23 is one which is quoted often, but maybe you can hear it in a new way. It says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (child), He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul (teenager, mind, will, intellect, emotions); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23: 1-3).
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 states this: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at eth coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (emphasis mine).
Matthew 11:28-230, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light” (emphasis mine).
As you can see from these Scriptures, God is very interested in our souls. He made us to be three parts because He loves all these parts and when they are under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we can do God’s good and perfect will and we have peace.
Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” But with God, we can fully use its parts to glorify God. How do I know if my soul is at work?
Wherever there is self, self-will, self-righteousness, strife, doubt, lying, jealousy, misery, envying, rebellion, bitterness, anger, sorrow, hatred, unforgiveness, resentment, covetousness, depression, rejection, pain, suspicion, and idolatry.
But here is the good news. Jesus came so that we could overcome the soul and He did it in the garden Himself. It is said that He sweat drops of blood in the garden. The word for blood here is “psuche.”
It means “soul” in the Greek. Jesus bled drops of blood as He conquered His soul to be able to say, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” He conquered all the above short-comings for you and for me. He defeated self-preservation. We all must overcome this within ourselves.
So how do you and I live above this? We submit all of ourselves to God and then all our parts will be comforted by the Savior and we can live our life with peace ruling it. Do you ever grow weary in doing good for God or in your Christian walk?
Do you feel like you really try and try but still have doubt, want to people please, feelings of having to perform, anxiety, shame, and loathing? Then you will want to read the second part of this teaching where we will look at how to walk in this freedom and steps to living life in true freedom and peace.
If this article has stirred you to explore help with your soul and emotions, then please do not hesitate to call Spokane Christian Counseling. I am here to help you get hope and joy out of life!
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