Thursday, 1 September 2016
Brian Coatney on the truth about our Will
Is the Will in the Soul or the Spirit?
by Brian Coatney
The question of where the will resides popped up freshly in a recent discussion at the Hopkinsville mini-conference. In my early Christian years, the idea of the will being in the soul did not satisfy. There in the soul, along with emotions and mental reason, the will seemed out of place and the spirit too vague with its definition of being a more intuitive and conscience oriented entity.
But let’s think about what it means to be person. Whatever it means, a seeker of truth needs to penetrate to the core. Either a human is a spirit person or not. If to be a person is to be a spirit, then the key has to be there. How can the decision-making faculty that determines life and death reside in a part of you that is not your core?
Another matter that has to be decided is whether love is of the will or of the emotion. Fallen humanity revels in love being of the emotions and body, both of which God created, but neither of which makes a good governor of one’s person-hood. William Law put the Bible’s concept of love well when he said that love is willed action for others. Love is not self-for-self and this makes emotion, or mental reasoning, or hormones a poor place into which to tuck the most essential of all human capacities – the will.
Thus it made much more sense when I read Norman Grubb to see that he identifies a person-hood as the capacity to desire, to will, and to know. This in fact is the image of God and what gives us the spirit to Spirit connection with him that we are created to cultivate.
Consider too that as right as soul and body are as the outer means of God’s expression on the earth, they are not spirit and therefore need a governor. Jesus told the woman at the will, “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Life is inner but expressed through the outer.
Frankly, it sounds animalistic to place the will of a person in the outer casing of the person–among the functions that Hebrews says must be divided from spirit. Hebrews chapter four says that the mature let the Spirit of God divide for them soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It would take a spirit to see as a spirit sees, and thus the spirit of a person gets illuminated and sees the difference between soul and spirit when the Holy Spirit does that dividing and reveals it to the spirit of a person.
Because of the fall, order and priority got reversed. Adam was meant to live in this world but not of it. He craved to be of it and fell. He craved to be as an animal, and the only reversal to the fall is for one who is lost to move back into the heavenly realm inside by letting the will be drawn back into subjection to God’s will and nature. Then, the outer man will take its proper place and not be the center of interest.
Fallen humanity is in love in a self-centered way with evolution and progress because they inflame the false hope that to be human is to be a self-indulgent animal that thinks only for today and its flesh instead of eternity and life in the Spirit of God. It’s the fall that keeps hope alive that will resides in the soul, whereas a spirit will is free in Christ to live above the soul and body. It is not too good to live in a soul and body and does not despise them, but it does not make them central either.
God put the will in the spirit, right where it belongs and according to the image of God.
from Facebook, passed on through Roel Velema