Part 3 | Chapter 3: The Dangers of Soulish Life

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Note: These are the notes I wrote down as I read through this book. Sometimes the notes are a word-for-word transcription from the book. Other times it’s my paraphrase of what was written. These notes are not intended to fully explain what Watchman Nee wrote. If something is confusing or requires more clarity, you can reference this book for more information.

Only after we have been delivered from both sin and self can we ever be accounted spiritual.

Here’s four aspects of soul life:

  1. Natural strength and gifting.
  2. Pride that can’t submit to God.
  3. Human wisdom with many opinions and plans.
  4. Emotional sensation sought in spiritual experiences.

Self is the life of the soul, leading to natural strength, giftings, talent, and creativity.

Soulish living differs from person to person. Some lean toward the mind while others to the emotions or will.

Soulish Mind

Mental search, acceptance, and propagation of truth.

Cultivating the mind is the highest spiritual experience.

Goal is to gratify the mind.

Depend more on their thoughts than God’s revelation.

Spend more time in calculating than in praying.

Soulish Emotion

Crave sensations.

Desire to sense the presence of God in their hearts and souls.

Can only serve the Lord if they feel these sensations.

Willful Christians

The power of self-assertion.

Believers who live in the soul make self the center of every thought, word, and action.

They want to know for their satisfaction; feed on knowledge for their enjoyment; and labor by their plans.

Self is at the center and the aim is to glorify self.

“Soul” can mean “living creature” or “animal life.”

The soulish are characterized by much planning, numerous activities, confused thinking, and mixed emotions. The soulish are characterized by perpetual movement, both physical and mental.

In summary, the soulish walk by natural power, serve God with their strength, act on their ideas, crave sensations to know the Lord or experience His presence, and to have intellectual understanding of the Word in their minds.

Unless a Christian has received a God-given revelation of his natural self, he will serve God in the energy of his created life.

The Folly of Believers

The soulish try their best to do good and to inspire their inborn virtue.

The soulish think, “Since God has bestowed gifts and talents in abundance why can’t we work with them?”

The soulish do good deeds by their own efforts for their own glory.

The soulish don’t seek God’s will in their exertions nor do they undertake every matter by His guidance and strength.

The soulish labor to elevate self as the center. They wish to enjoy themselves.

We need continual revelations so that we will deny our self-life.

The Dangers of Being Soulish

1. A suppressed spirit

The way God works is to move in the human spirit, then for the spirit to enlighten the mind, and finally to execute through the body.

We are meant to live from and by our spirit.

Our spirit should be alive and aware of the Spirit’s movement and activity, so we can follow Him and not quench Him.

God’s Spirit needs the cooperation of the human spirit to lead them to victory and good works appointed by God.

Many can’t discern between spiritual and soulical.

As long as we dwell in our soul, we move according to our thoughts, imaginations, plans, and visions of our minds.

We covet joyful sensations and are mastered by our feelings.

When the soul and body lead, our spirits become dull and suppressed. We lose the spiritual sense.

If we deny our spirits ascendency over our being or fail to draw upon its power to live, we will never mature.

Spiritual sense is most delicate, even for those who have learned to know and follow it.

Soulical sensation can easily confuse and suppress our spiritual senses.

2. Retreating into the body realm.

In Galatians 5, Paul described the works of the flesh. Some of these are lusts of the human body. Others are activities of the soul.

Selfishness, dissension, and a party spirit flow from man’s self or personality.

Galatians 5 and the sins of the flesh herein described should remind us of how intertwined are the soul and the body.

These two are inseparable because our body is a “soulical body.” The natural body is the soulical body—belonging to the soul.

The soulical body is empowered by the soul life—the self-life. If we don’t conquer the self-life, our sin nature will act in the lusts of our body.

The cross is where God handles the old creation. The old creation is meant to be crucified experientially in totality.

Should the old creation’s life in the soul be allowed to continue, the self-life in the soul will be reunited with the sin nature in the body.

Bryan Kessler