We are more than a body that lives for a while and then dies. We are created souls with a spirit that lives forever. To understand the purpose of our life and how to live it, we must understand how our body, soul, and spirit work together…or against each other. Without this, we experience the same dilemma as Paul:
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-25, condensed)
Like Paul we can be in two places at the same time: desiring to walk by faith but actually walking by sight. This ‘wretched’ place stems from the dilemma of thinking we can get closer to God by continually striving to be better. It’s like our spiritual goal is the old Avis Car Rental motto: “We try harder.”
Hebrews 4:9-13 tells us there is a solution our dilemma: Rest in God. His Word divides soul, spirit and body, revealing our thoughts and intentions. Nothing is hidden; all is laid bare before God. Those who stray from Him “will never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:11) but “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” (Hebrews 4:11)
Dan Stone’s illustration of ‘The Swing’ helps explain both our dilemma and our solution. If you still have it, take out the illustration of The Line. It’s a horizontal line reaching left to right across the page. Above the line is our eternal life where the believer’s spirit is united now and forever with God’s Spirit. Below the line in our temporary life on earth, our soul is seated in our body on a swing suspended from the line separating the unseen from the seen. Like Paul, we intend to follow God but our thoughts, feelings, and actions are contrary to this. Our swing constantly moves left to right, from ‘bad’ to ‘good.’
If we don’t understand God’s rest, we try to control the swing by our own power. We try to ‘nail’ the swing to the God’s ‘good’ side by trying harder. But like Paul, we end up doing what we don’t want, and not doing what we do! We try to live the ‘good’ Christian life in our below the line experiences, but the life flowing-power of God only comes from above the line where our spirit is united with His. Our spirit, guided by God, speaks to our soul. But our noisy soul also listens to our body which tells it what it sees and feels on the ever-moving swing. We’ll either be frustrated by living by sight (below the line) or empowered by living by faith where we are already one with Christ (above the line). When the starting point our dilemmas is seen from our point of reference, the swing will always present a problem for us to solve, trying to be good when we think and act opposed to it. Choosing to look at life from our union with God, the problems of the swing become a matter for Him to resolve as He works in us. We simply respond to Him – by faith, believing we already are who He says we are, thinking and behaving that way.
Our soul says, “This is how I FEEL.” Like Elijah, our fearful soul experiences the earthquake, wind, and fire around us. We need to listen to our spirit who communicates God’s still small voice who says, “This is who I AM in you.”
Live in His presence, where your spirit meets His Spirit and speaks peace to your soul and your body. Listen for His still small voice and find His rest and peace.