You reap what you sow. So what's wrong with this picture. We spend many hours and much money on training the mind and body, but have only token concern for training the spirit. Yet in Ephesians 2, Paul points out that following the desires of body and mind makes us children of wrath, enemies of God. Obviously man needs to be educated and changed, and the only way that really happens is when the recreated spirit is developed to lead the mind and body, yet little is mentioned and less done in the area of training the spirit.
True change comes from within. When a man is born again he receives a new spirit as a new creation. As this recreated spirit grows and becomes strong, our empowered inner-man is able, by the Spirit of God working through our spirit, to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). The spirit of the believer is to dominate the desires of the mind and body.
In similar manner to the way we received Christ Jesus, we are called to walk in Him. How do we learn to walk in Him? Rather than just be saved from sin and hell, we are called to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through renewing the mind (Romans 12:1-2; Romans 8:29). The spirit, knowing the truth and ways of God, directs the thinking of the mind, adjusts the emotions, and enables the will to choose the life-giving way of the Spirit. Jesus declared (John 6) that the word was spirit and life, so obviously the Word contains the principles and encouragement to accomplish the task. There is a need to having teaching and training to learn the ways of the Lord and to be corrected when we fall back into the old man ways.
What did God intend when He made man, and then after the fall, when He redeemed man?
Man was created by God in His own image and likeness, as a spirit that has a mind (soul) and lives in a body. Everyone knows that we are not our body, since it is possible to lose various body members and still be the same person inside. Understanding how the soul or mind relates to our central being is more difficult. Our soul, often broken down into our mind, will, and emotions, controls many of our actions. Our born-again spirit, where the Holy Spirit resides, is the inner man, the new man that is called upon to direct the soul (mind) and to controls the actions of the body. Notice David saying, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name."
Once the Spirit of God reveals to our spirit who God is, His nature, and His infinite love shown through Jesus' death and resurrection, then we can only fall on our knees and desire in responsive love to please Him. Love of God is stronger than duty, than the proverbial "I should do better." The Spirit then leads us into all truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, in a process of training our spirit until we become like Christ Jesus. 1 John 2:6 states we should "walk just as He walked."
Why are there so many immature Christians and why are there so many headlines of Christians who do ridiculous things that make us look bad? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:2 that some were not ready for meat, but needed the milk of first principles again. How long do we need to hear over and over that God loves us and forgives us our sins before we receive it and move on to being transformed? Very few Christians press in to let the Spirit complete the good work He has begun in us.
The world can only offer training for the mind and body. The major fallacy of public education is likewise, its inability to train the spirit and thus, produce real change. Even Christians are often deceived to think that the purpose of education is to achieve a worldly career and financial success. However, God's purpose for education is to train up a child in the way he should go, meaning the young person develops into one who knows God, thinks in the ways of God, and walks humbly in obedience to the Spirit of God. Those who are led of the Spirit are sons of God according to Romans 8:14. What value is mind education and worldly success if a person loses his soul, or fails to be the light and salt God intended them to be. Jesus says salt that has lost its flavor is to be trampled on as the dust on the path.
Now that we understand the need and the problem, the question is, how to train the spirit so that we become what God intended?
The next post will speak to this issue.