We are tripartite beings as sons of God. In this piece I hope to bring some light to the benefits of learning to differentiate between the three power sources operating in the Regenerated Christian.
Three Power Sources
There are three power sources in us – one is the limited soul-battery, the other is the unlimited supply of the Spirit – like a nuclear reactor or solar farm that is always supplying power. And then there is our human body, our physical, kinetic power source. God created us into one harmonious union yet comprising three distinct parts in the very image of the Trinity who created us. Electricity is possible due to three equal elements at work simultaneously, we have the green earth wire representing the ‘earthly body’, we have the blue wire representing the heavenly or spiritual and we have the red live wire representing the soul. The three stranded cord is not easily broken and full, safe power transmission happens when all three wires help carry the current from the source to the destination.
“In worldly business all a worker needs by way of equipment is will and talent, but human zeal and natural gift are no equipment for spiritual service.”Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Church Life
“We bless others naturally through our strengths. But we bless others supernaturally through our weaknesses … and Scripture makes this clear: God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”Leonard Sweet, I am a Follower
In these two profound quotes some light is shed on the mystery of the purpose of our dual natures operating in our body. We operate in three realms simultaneously, we are trilocated – our spirit is seated in heavenly places, we have consciousness in the soul realm while we walk on the dust of the earth in our bodies. We use our natural bodies to breathe the atmosphere of earth, we use our soul to communicate in the language of this earth realm in earth languages, while we operate through our spiritman in the heavenly places (Eph1).
We use our natural strengths to bless people in the natural. We use our spiritual strengths (viz our weaknesses) to help people in the spiritual. They say your mess becomes your ministry for spiritual service. Highly skilled and trained people in the natural will get to stand before kings (Prov 22:29 ). So we see we are tripartite beings – the man of dust, the spiritual man and the soul man. And we must divide them in order to understand ourselves better.
Our natural powers operates in the natural. We are body, soul and spirit yet we are one. We are paradoxical in our composition as saints and are able to operate in three realms simultaneously. We are trinitarian to the core and operate in three realms.
Learning to distinguish what is natural strength and what is spirit strength is crucial in effective service as kings and priests. Each have their role and place, one is not more important than the other. There is co-equality in body, soul and spirit, just as their is co-equality between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, the natural body, our walking-dust-selves will be transformed into a glorious spiritual body as the Lord’s after His resurrection.
Power means the ability to change things. There is soul power, given by God and then there is spiritual power, also given by God. Then there is body power, also given by God (Heb 4:12).It is a very important distinction to make because we should clearly understand from which power source we operate from and in what realm … so we may accomplish the whole will of God, in the natural sphere and the spiritual sphere.
Saints as Kings in the Natural Sphere
We are both priests and kings, in the Order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7). In kingly related matters i.e. the world of secular business, we trust our strengths and natural abilities or talents. The word secular carries the meaning of ‘not sacred or spiritual’ … As a king we focus on what is strong in you, not what is weak in you. In our kingly role as Christian’s we can rely on our God-given talents. As kings we operate in our natural strengths in the domain of the natural and secular.
Saints as Priests in the Spiritual Sphere
In the heavenly sphere we boast in our weaknesses i.e. we are keenly aware of our limitations (Heb 5:2) as priests and deal gently with our own sins and the sins of others. In our priestly role as Christians, we rely entirely on His redemptive work as our High Priest and trust and boast in our weakness. As priests, we minister through our weakness and vulnerability. Weakness and surrender are the great allies in our spiritual walk.
This may sound like a dichotomy and being schizophrenic, however we will see the benefit of our natural latent abilities in the natural and how our ‘natural weakness’ is instrumental in spiritual service. This is a sublime paradox but admittedly, it can be confusing to separate out these three closely associated bone and marrow Sources of Power operating in us.
Three Types of Skills
Exercising the Soul
Through training and a good work ethic we can equip our soul strengths – our natural latent abilities can be honed and we can become competent, knowledgeable and skillful in natural abilities. This all leads to us potentially becoming very effective and impactful, in the natural. We can train our bodies too.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;Proverbs 3:5-6
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
This verse use to confuse me because in the very next chapter the scripture says three times over in verses 3,5 and 7 the value of getting understanding!? And the very same Hebrew word ‘binah’ is used. So what understanding must we NOT lean on in Proverbs 3 and what understanding MUST we lean on in Proverbs 4?
I believe dividing understanding into soul understanding and spirit understanding will be a helpful distinction. I do lean on my soul understanding that has undergone training at university to understand the atomic weight of a chemical. I lean on the understanding that comes with a spiritual mind to grasp the things of the Spirit, which the natural mind cannot discern (Romans 8:6).
Exercising the Spirit
Our abilities in our priestly role are developed in a very different way. Character and competence will get you over the hill but only the anointing breaks the yoke. You cannot earn the anointing. Growing in power in the spirit is an entirely different, distinct way. The path to the anointing is by the crushing of your Gethsemane, the surrender of the cross, secret prayer, dying to self, confession of sin and other such formative ‘trainings’ in the spirit. Now you can have impeccable character and competence but be weak in the Spirit. Competence is not everything. Character is not everything. Spiritual power alone is not everything. Christ needs to be incarnated in this world, we are His body, we make the invisible, visible. What value is having powerful spiritual gifts but you are a poor example in conduct and character. If I power to raise the dead but have not love, I am nothing. We need character and competence and spiritual power. We need all three.
Exercising the Body
Having a strong body is useful too, as Paul says it is of ‘little profit’ but it is of value nonetheless. But just experience tooth pain for an hour and we realize just how we need out bodies to be in good working order.
Three Types of Blessing
The blessing of the natural man is not the same as the blessing of the spiritual man. We are one person but we manifest blessing through natural and supernatural channels. Not unsimilar to God who is one, yet each person of the Godhead manifests mercy and truth differently. We can bless people through prayer, through counsel and through carrying their bags. Three types of blessings from one person, yet from three different batteries, each with the own way of charging! God help us to see this. We need three different charging stations to ensure we are powered up! We need prayer and fasting to power up our spiritman, cleansing by the word of God to shape our soulman and we need physical exercise to grow our muscleman! Perhaps a very good Christian retreat will be made up of our Prayer Hut, Study Hut and a Pizza Hut with a Gym!
There is a time to use the strength of the body to rescue a drowning man and there is the reality of learning to live the ascended resurrected life where we move and have our being in Christ, in the Spirit. There is a time to shed tears from the emotions of the soul.
No Dichotomy between Natural and Spiritual
I do not believe there is a dichotomy or separation between soul based work being ‘unspiritual’ and church planting/ preaching/ teaching type work being ‘spiritual’. Too long has the church made that mistake. When Joseph served Pharaoh – was the secular work he done unspiritual?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”1 Cor 10:31
Everything is worship yet there is a difference in the source of power in what we do in what sphere. There is a visible natural earthly sphere and there is an invisible spiritual sphere. Studying the scriptures is good but so is chopping wood if your a lumberjack providing for his family. Both are good but we rely on different power sources for both types of activities.
Danger of not Dividing between Soul and Spirit
We should not blur the boundaries, cross over the boundaries between soul and spirit, this is the source of all kinds of problems. There exists a grave error that gets often repeated … when saints use their priestly and heavenly authority in the realm of Kings and conversely … Kings use their kingly natural authority in the realm of the spirit.
The power sources are not in conflict, each has its sphere, however when we transgress with soulish prayers in the realm of the spirit we enter unlawful territory – this is witchcraft and is supremely damaging. We need to know how to distinguish soul from spirit and constant practice does make perfect.
Just look at Church History and the crimes perpetrated by the Roman Catholic popes while wearing the triple crown. A pope was crowned with these words, “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art father of princes and kings, ruler of the world, vicar on earth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever”. Yes, all authority is given to Christ in Heaven and on Earth but how is that expressed through the church?
Paul did tentmaking. In his training under Gamaliel as a priest he was taught to make prayer shawls or ‘tents’, hence his tentmaking business. There is conjecture about this, he may have made tents for the Roman army too. Either way he was likely exceptionally good at this and did ‘kingly’ work in line with his natural latent abilities. But in Paul’s priestly role you see he trusts nothing in the flesh and boasts in his weaknesses and relies on the finished work of Christ alone.
Hazard Warning to the Mighty (1 Cor 1:26)
There is paradoxically an occupational hazard of being a naturally highly talented person. Quite similarly, for rich people .. entering the kingdom seems to be relatively more difficult. Being rich in natural talents is akin to being rich. God given natural talents that have been well stewarded and trained gives such people great soul power – thinking skills, knowledge skills, leadership skills. They have a good dose of natural power.
Such great ability has the potential to do the equivalent of wonders … hello the Wonderwomen and Wondermen of the church. Immature, fleshly saints are are often wowed by such brothers. Their plans, processes and procedures and skills can build a tower to Heaven itself or a golden calf or two. They can move people organizationally and psychologically, without God. This is a grave danger!
The source of the power that is on display in a Christian is paramount. Is it soul power or Spirit power? Just because it works does not mean it is from God. The temptation to be seduced into pragmatism and ‘what works’ to accomplish the will of God is greater in these brothers than the one talent brother. This happens to often, especially when God tarries on the fulfillment of a promise. We become like Abraham’s looking for Hagar’s to get God’s job done for Him! Just because we can does not mean we should. God gives us wisdom to differentiate soul from spirit. God created the three divisions of man for a purpose, we need to learn to know what is soulish what is spiritual and we should be careful to observe the ‘mighty among us’
The rising dominionist faction in the church are prone to the problem of relying on and seeking out the ‘powerful among men’. They want to rule and reign, now in this life, over believer and non-believer. The Kingdom of God means to them, being the cherry on top of the cake. They begin to rely on the abundant human energy, effort, ingenuity and human strength, in the name of Jesus to accomplish their goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. We need to learn to discern this soul power and warn and avoid the error of this way.
As a King, trust your strengths; as Priest, trust your weakness. This is a great paradox and mystery … who can know it?