The Spirit-Controlled Soul
The mind is the most active part of the soul. It used to be like a wild horse, but now being restrained by the will and the will is in cooperation with the spirit.
The way to the spirit-controlled soul comes about as follows: At the moment the mind begins to think of questionable things and to wander, the first step of control is to discern, that is, to see the condition of the mind in the light of God. The second step is to drive or cast aside such unhealthy thoughts. And the third step is to return to quietness in God’s presence. Then, begin to prove --- under the light received what are the permissible, even the acceptable, thoughts of God.
Emotion is the lowest, most unreasonable part of the soul; yet it exerts the greatest power in swaying the will. Whatever emotion is attached to, the will usually agree. For emotion acts like a favored child that always gets what he wants with a few cries before his mother. It almost seems like the entire life of a person is controlled by emotion: by what it likes and seeks after. Indeed, it’s like or dislike is rather irrational. However, if it comes under the control of the spirit, it cannot act so independently as it wishes. It has to yield to God’s approval or permission, though it will always strive against God’s wish. This is the striving between the spirit and the flesh. It causes the greatest pain to the soul. For the soul is not able to like what emotion naturally likes of a person, thing or affair. There in the very depth of man is something that desires after God. But emotion longs after things, and the mind frequently rationalizes and supports emotion. Thus the man is unable to live peacefully. If he were able to disregard his emotion and lay down his like, he will have peace. This does not mean God will not let us like any person, thing or affair. What He seeks to do is get rid of the natural source of such like or dislike --- that is, to eliminate such independent choice.
It will be right if there be no independent preference but rather there be delight in what God loves, in what person, thing or affair God takes pleasure in. Such is the spirit-controlled emotion. For the spirit lays hold of the man’s emotion by exercising his will. Emotion is an irrational force; yet also is the Holy Spirit a powerful force above reason. When emotion fails to be satisfied it becomes uncomfortable and unhappy. So also will the Holy Spirit be grieved when His demand is neglected, thus causing the loss of the man joy and peace. Unless a person obeys the spirit and lets emotion suffer, he will not regain peace and joy.
Will is the highest faculty of the soul, yet it occupies only a small portion of the soul. For our life is habitually controlled by emotion and mind. The will seems to permit whatever emotion delights in. And when the mind seems to so logically argue, the will will likewise go along. As soon as the will decides, action immediately follows suit. Hence, sinning is an act of the will. What God and Satan contend over is the will of man. Accordingly, the will is the center or the crux of a man. What the will inclines toward is what the man moves forward about. We cannot be complacent about this.
A spirit-controlled will inclines towards God’s will. It unites with God’s will, seeks after Him, and is able to rise above one’s own emotions and reasoning. A submissive will pleases God immensely, for He can use it to hold sway over the whole man.
Notes from a message given on March 28, 1949.