RETRAINING YOUR SOUL: CHAPTER 5
“Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” (Mat 7:24)
Jesus taught that we must do what He said, not just hear it and believe it. Some Christians, however, believe that if God wants them to change he will simply have to do it. And so they continue on passively, never changing, never advancing in the Christian life. Other believers might say that for us to do anything about our spiritual life is to engage in “works” — and of course God is interested in “grace.”
What these Christians fail to consider is that grace is provided so that we can do those tasks which are given us. Some of those tasks involve resisting the efforts of the soul or Satan or the world to lead us around by our emotions, mind or will.
The responsibility for changing is clearly and completely ours. Or to make it more personal — the responsibility is yours! Not the pastor’s, not the brother or sister in the church who constantly offends you, not your parents who made all those “mistakes” in raising you, nor your spouse who “doesn’t understand” you.
CHANGE COMES FROM INSIDE
Too many Christians expect their lives to be changed from the 24 outside in, by regularly attending a church and hearing good sermons. The Word can have a tremendous effect on us, but only when mixed with faith and acted upon persistently and obediently.
When you as a believer commit to such action, you are divinely-empowered to finally take control of your emotions and tell them how to feel, not the other way around. It means you’re able to instruct your intellect in what it will and will not believe. It means submitting your sometimes stubborn will to the will and purpose of God. Every area of your soul is to be brought under the authority of your spirit, which in turn is under the authority of the Word and Spirit of God.
It is in the Word that we find instruction for changing the soul. It is by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that we have the power necessary to make the changes.
The highest attitude of reverence and submission to the Word of God must be adopted by the believer who will take on the task of soul-training. Without such an attitude, there will be no soul training and no resulting abundance of life. Actively applying the principles of God’s Word is the basis for soul training. In fact, to break soul training down to its most basic tenet is to say that training your soul is simply believing, confessing and acting on the truth of God’s Word. This is always the Holy Spirit’s urging.
Many believers have said, “Oh, I believe the Bible from cover to cover; Genesis to Revelation. Yes, I believe everything it says.” But if you look closely into their lives, it’s evident they don’t lead godly or abundant lives at all. There are so many well-intentioned religious people who “believe” all the right doctrines — except the one that insists on obeying the Word.
To obey the Word, we must know it. To know it, we must read it. The reading of the Bible by the serious Christian must be a daily endeavor. The Bible should be read straight through and then begun again. For many Christians, reading the Bible means to read a few verses here, then tomorrow a few verses there without ever taking the time to get the scope of what the Bible is about; only reading the Bible through will accomplish that.
As you read the Bible, don’t think of it as a textbook or a set of 25 rules. Instead, think of it as God, the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit speaking to you personally. Read it as if you were sitting at the feet of your Heavenly Father. Ask Him questions. Carry on a conversation with Him and you’ll find Him answering you through His Word. These times of reading will become His personal teaching to you.
MEDITATE ON THE WORD
Reading the Word, however, is just the first step in becoming intimate with God through the Bible. The next step is meditation on God’s Word. By meditation I don’t mean sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed in some kind of trance. True biblical meditation means allowing those Words to become a part of your spirit; strengthening it, allowing it to grow and assume rightful leadership over your soul and body. It’s sort of a spiritual chewing of the Word, ruminating on it as you go about your daily life. As you meditate on Scripture in your mind, you’ll find that it will soon drop deep into your spirit where it can take root.
One of the best places to start with meditation is in the Psalms — and the very first psalm is especially meaningful as it exhorts us in this very subject of meditation. “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…”
We’ve been doing that for far too long! Our soul has been trained by years of “walking in the counsel of the ungodly.” “ …nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night.”
Day and night, the godly person meditates. And what is the result of this constant devotion to the Word of God? Continuing in Psalm 1, we read, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the
rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.”
We also find in the Bible that Joshua was a man who knew how to meditate. God, in fact, spoke directly to Joshua, assuring him of a life of prosperity with these Words, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day 26 and night, that you might observe to do all that is written therein: for then shall you make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”
Note that Joshua’s meditation on the Word was to result in “doing all that is written therein.” One of the critical changes that occur in the meditating believer is the power to do that which God requires.
How does this happen? One step is by so saturating ourselves with the Word, we learn to think God’s thoughts. We learn to will God’s will, and do what God would have us to do, just as naturally as we now follow the whims of the strong soul-life we’ve been immersed in for all these long years.
Another benefit of knowing the Word, internally, is that it will help us learn how to instruct our souls in the ways of God. How do we so instruct our souls? Just as we instruct anyone else — we talk to the student, in this case, our soul.
– FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION –
- Discuss the difference between trying to change your life from the “outside in” and trying to make changes from the “inside out.”
- Explain ways in which the Bible has produced change in you.
- Describe and discuss what it means to meditate upon the Word.
- Why is meditation on the Word important to spiritual growth and prosperity?