“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.”
– Hebrews 4:12
We are beings at war with ourselves. The inner you and the outer you are constantly competing to determine who will move you. The inner you is based on spirit, connected to the Holy Spirit. The outer you is soul. Where the inner you connects to Christ, the outer you connects to the world. It takes its cues from external influences—is affected by emotion, your own will, all manner of provocation abroad in the world. Motivated by the soul, you can experience movement without ever truly going anywhere, because only motivated by spirit can we ever truly experience progress.
Your soul, the outer you, was created as a vehicle for the Spirit. It should have no motive force, no authority of its own, only obedience. Unfortunately, the carnal and the temptations of our own will—the world’s influence—can be overwhelming if there isn’t sufficient contact with the Spirit within your spirit. When we experience life from that perspective, we allow ourselves to be subject to all of the pressure that comes with it—the grief, hardship, stress and sadness that exist in the world are allowed free reign to affect us, to affect how we ourselves are. It’s a vicious circle, because that in turn means that we’re more vulnerable to the carnal, and so it goes on.
The soul must serve the spirit—and the Spirit—in order for there to be genuine progress. When our emphasis and our vision is focused within rather than without, we begin to limit the effect of the world upon us, and to remove our ongoing vulnerability to all the negative pressures of the outer us. We allow ourselves to be open to the nature of God, and we become open to the power of faith in our lives, and to His person within us. That’s infinitely preferable in the best possible way—it’s both healthier for us and it feels better for us. Imagine if living a healthy physical lifestyle was like that. The junk food industry would die out overnight.
There’s power in living a life within Christ and within our spirits. We’re more positive people that way—more peaceful, contented and simply delighted. It’s the way we were designed to be, so no wonder it feels more natural to us. What’s more, that newfound positivity doesn’t just mean warm, fuzzy feelings—it’s a true, genuine shift in perception that radiates out as much as it germinates within. Our own effect on others begins to radiate that positivity of spirit and of Spirit. Just as there’s an unhealthy accumulation of negativity spent in a life lived as the outer you, so there’s a healthy spiraling outward of positivity spent in a life lived as the inner you—the ‘you’ that you were always supposed to be. The outside doesn’t get in…the inside gets out.
But how do you effect that change of perspective? There’s a quote usually attributed to Socrates—“the unexamined life is not one worth living.” Take a long look at yourself, your attitudes and your ideas. Now examine them through the lens of the Spirit. Are they worthy of Christ? Do they come from within, or without—your inner self or your outer? Are they holdovers from a ‘you’ that hadn’t yet properly known God? Prejudices you’ve inherited from the world, and not from the Kingdom? Because we’re looking to exemplify the Kingdom to the world, not the world to the Kingdom.
Talk to people that you believe have wronged you—and then take the harder step of talking to people that believe that you have wronged them. It doesn’t matter who has the truth of that. What matters is the perspective you bring towards resolution of those problems. A perspective coming from your spirit, the inner you, will find resolution to be as natural as a perspective coming from your soul will find dissolution. Are practical considerations—work, money and possessions—becoming so much of a headache that you shy away from them rather than meet them head on? Look at them through the lens of the Spirit. How important are these things, really? How much simpler could your life be?
Take stock of yourself, and begin to see things differently. Come from within, and not from without.