LIFE IN THE FLESH (SOUL)
One of the most important truths of the Christian life is the fact that God now dwells in us through the person of the Holy Spirit. The reason why it is so important for us to differentiate between the soul and the spirit is that God speaks to our spirit. How can we discern the voice and the will of God if we do not have this discernment? If you fail to connect with the Holy Spirit through your spirit, your life, and consequently your character will be seriously compromised.
The Word of God calls those who walk according to the soul “carnal”. A carnal person does not necessarily live in sin the way that many people think. Those that live in the practice of sin possibly haven’t even been born again because “those who are born of God don’t keep on sinning” (1 John 3:6). The carnal person sincerely tries to accomplish and know the will of God; however, he does it by exercising his soul. In this way, Christians who live according to the pattern and dictates of the soul tend to follow the function of the soul that is most peculiar to them. We may identify carnal believers through any one of these three functions:
Emotional people tend to use their emotions as the basis for their spiritual life: if they feel chills down their spine and strong emotions, they can do the work of God, but if those emotions go away, their excitement does so as well.
This type of carnal believer rejects the subjective feelings of the soul and lives according to the pattern of the mind and intellect. This type of believer often criticizes emotional people as carnal, but they do not realize that living according to the mind also comes from the soul. These believers tend to be extremely critical and naturally minded with respect to the work of God. Normally, they do not accept the supernatural and want to fit the Holy Spirit into their own mental patterns.
Such believers live according to the whims of their own will; they are moved during “good times”. They are initially excited to be part of any number of activities, but their fire soon burns out. They have no perseverance whatsoever. These Christians even argue out of sincerity: “If I don’t feel like it, I don’t need to pray or read the Bible since God doesn’t want sacrifice”.
Carnal Christians may sound pious, but they give fleshly excuses for not serving God. If you live according to the soul, you will eventually fall into one of these three points, or even all three of them.
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rm. 8:8).
TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOUL
Our spirit has already been recreated and regenerated. God has already completed all of His work in our spirit. Our spirit is like a lamp that was turned on inside of us, once lit it will never go out. The new birth happened in an instant, but our soul now needs to be transformed. The process of transforming the soul is something that will continue for the rest of our lives. The soul can be transformed in basically two ways.
By the renewing of the mind
Most of the attacks of the enemy are against our mind. All the knowledge that we have for discernment is contained in the mind. The mind is the primary function of the soul. If we change our mind, we change our life. The only way to change our mind is by conforming it to the Word of God.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
By contemplating the Lord
Another way to transform the soul is by contemplating the Lord (2Corinthians 3:18). We are changed from glory to glory when we contemplate the Lord in all prayer and fellowship with Him in the spirit.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Corinthians 3:18)
Our spirit was created to contain God, but our soul was created to reflect God. With respect to our spirit, we have to exercise it constantly in order to make contact with God; but with respect to the soul, we have to transform it by renewing our mind with the Word of God and contemplating the Lord.
The more we are filled with the Word of God and seek His face, the more we cooperate with the Holy Spirit towards our own transformation.