Powerful Passages, Pt. 8
Study Guide, November 13, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
Isn’t it just like our Triune God to create a world filled with trinities? Like what for instance? Like Time: Time is past, present, and future; and of course the Egg: An Egg is shell and egg white and yolk; and like Water: Water is solid, liquid, and gas; and the Sun: The Sun is made up of mass, light, and heat. And even in mathematics you have 1x1x1 equals 1. And how about Space: Space is height, and width, and depth. Or we could even say; height is space, width is space, and depth is space.1
And then we even have ourselves. The Apostle Paul identifies a Christian as ‘spirit, soul, and body’.
1 Thess. 5:23- “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” NASU
And it’s right here that it gets really amazing, because even the ‘soul’ is a triune entity, or even the soul is made up of three parts: mind, will, and emotion. And Christians and non-Christians alike have a soul. But when it comes to the spirit, something is different between them, of course, for the Christian is one whose spirit has been raised from the dead to new life in union with Christ’s Spirit, whereas, the non-Christian is one whose spirit is still dead in trespasses and sin. And for Christians, this new spirit, or newly alive spirit, is now intended to oversee the soul, or is to act like a New Manager, overseeing the workings of the mind, will, and emotions. And the Apostle Paul calls this new spirit, the ‘New Man’, and he calls the old spirit that still resides in us, the ‘old man’. But how about for purposes of our study today, we call them the ‘New Manager’ and the ‘old manager’. And the reason we are calling them that is to help us to really get a grasp of what our responsibilities are now in how we are to handle these three parts that make up our soul; our mind, our will, and our emotions. For Christians, these things are supposed to be under new Management. Yes, they are now under new Ownership; under the Ownership of God, but God has assigned us, as His stewards or managers, to be the New Managers of our mind, will, and emotions.
How about if we go to one very powerful passage and look at these managerial responsibilities that God has given to us? Eph 4:22-24- “…in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” NASU
One interesting thing about the construction of this passage is that this counsel here is not given to us in terms of imperatives or instructions or commands, but more in terms of assumptions or expectations. God expects that we now realize that this is simply what Christians do. It’s like that Geico commercial, “It’s what you do”, right? It’s like Paul saying, “In light of the fact that you now belong to God, you aren’t under the management of your old corrupted nature, but you are now under the management of your new nature, right?” And the only right answer is: “Right”!
But the expectation is the same. It’s like when God created Adam and Eve. His intention was that they would now act as godly stewards or as godly managers over all of God’s creation. Instead we know that they acted in ungodliness and disobedience at first and thus sin corrupted their natures, as well as their world. They, too, had to be redeemed so that they could again go about managing the rest of their lives and their world according to God’s instructions.
When God redeemed and then resurrected our dead spirit to new life, He intended that we also now use the rest of our life to manage our lives according to His instructions. But that meant that first we were going to have to take back dominion over ourselves, or over our soul; or over our mind, will, and emotions. Our mind, and will, and emotions are no longer to be under the influence and management of our old corrupt nature, or our old self, but are now to be under the influence and management of our new nature, or our new self. A Christian is one that has a New Manager in the house, or in his or her life. And that Manager is the new spirit, the new spiritual nature, the new man or new woman; the new self. We are under New Ownership and therefore we are to live under New Management. And God has assigned us to be the New Manager over our mind, will, and emotions. And hopefully, this concept of the ‘New Manager’ will help you to better understand this intention that God that has for you and for me to now take dominion or to take charge over our soul; our mind, will, and emotions. Okay…how so? Let’s break it down.
First, we could start by calling the ‘new self’ the ‘New Manager’ since we understand that a manager’s duty is to see that things are done in a certain way, and that way is the way that the Owner has prescribed. Remember, before Christ came into our lives, we did things the way that we thought they ought to be done. That was ‘old manager’ thinking. Again, there’s a ‘New Manager’ in town, or in your life and my life. It’s the new spirit that God has placed within us.
Okay…back to the ‘New Manager’. We are to act as the New Manager over these three aspects of our lives or of our soul; our mind, our will, and our emotions. And the way we do that is through; practicing discernment in our thinking, practicing direction in our will, and practicing discipline in our emotions. And that last part, of practicing discipline in our emotions, is one that is not given very much attention, right? So we’ll start with that one.
We are to manage our emotions by practicing discipline in our emotions. Now, our emotions have been given to us by God. God is an emotional being, and He created us in His image, as emotional beings. So we know that God wants us to enjoy this gift of emotions. But we are also to remember that our emotions, like our minds, are still influenced greatly by the fall of mankind into sin. And therefore, one thing we are to realize about our emotions is that our emotions don’t determine truth. In fact, sometimes our emotions can be completely false, and based upon false assumptions about people or things or events. Our emotions can deceive us and distort reality. One study found that for some people, losing their cell phone creates an emotional attack similar to a near death experience. Really?
Emotions are powerful and they are real in themselves, but they are not always connected to reality itself. And that’s the problem. However, in managing our emotions by practicing discipline in them we are to connect them to realistic things, and to such things that God knew would produce holy emotions…happy emotions. That’s one of the reasons He taught us the Beatitudes, or the ‘Here’s How to Be Happy’ attitudes and actions. Remember them? Matt 5:3-9- “Happy are the poor in spirit: for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. (Speaking about being humble here) Happy are those who are sad: for they will be comforted. (Speaking about burdened over things God is burdened about) Happy are the gentle: for the earth will be their heritage. (Speaking about having emotional strength under the control of kindness) Happy are those whose heart’s desire is for righteousness: for they will have their desire. (Speaking of having a heart for the things that God has a heart for) Happy are those who have mercy: for they will be given mercy. (Speaking of having compassion towards others instead of a critical spirit) Happy are the clean in heart: for they will see God. (Speaking of pursuing godly moral habits) Happy are the peacemakers: for they will be named sons of God.” BBE (Speaking of seeking peace for others in their relationship with God and seeking peace above conflict in our relationship with others) So, in other words, right actions can create right emotions, happy emotions, when we practice discipline. So remember, even though all feelings are real, they may not be realistic or accurate or true or trustworthy. And that’s why we need to evaluate our emotions based upon something that is realistic and accurate and trustworthy, which is ‘Truth’.
And that takes us to managing our mind by practicing discernment in our thinking. ‘Discernment’ is a great word and concept. Discernment is the ability to understand and judge wisely and objectively. It’s related to that surprising instruction that Jesus gave us, that somehow, a lot of people seem to have no idea that Jesus ever said such a thing. We talked about it recently, but it’s from John 7:24. And we’d better go to the Amplified Version on this so that we can really get it precise. “Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.” AMP
How remarkable that God calls us to judge all things, but not to be judgmental about it. How do we do that? That’s where the New Manager comes into play and chooses to judge or evaluate the situation not through the lenses of his or her own personal reasoning or opinions, but through the lenses of God’s revelation and judgments. This is where we stop judging people or things based upon personal likes or dislikes or personal preferences and standards and such, and instead we evaluate people or things based upon God’s standards and principles for all of us. And so you see, that judgment starts with ourselves and then moves outward from ourselves to others. And then we pray about it and seek to be a help to others with the truths of God’s Word about us all.
That’s one of the beautiful things about God’s standards, about ‘Truth’ itself. Truth is never about an ‘us verses them’ mentality. ‘Truth’ is always about an ‘all of us verses sin’ mentality. Remember, sin is the thing that ruined the whole world. So the whole world should be working to root out as much sin as we can from our world. God wants us all to win over sin; to win over sin in our thinking and over sin in our actions and over sin in our emotions. And mark in down: Sin is anything that is contrary to the character and will of God. So to practice discernment in our thinking we have to evaluate if this thought or action or emotion is in keeping with the character and will or God or if it is in conflict with the character and will of God. As the New Manager of the new life we have in Christ we are expected to choose to think and act according to that which is in keeping with the character and will of God. Or, we are expected to seek to ‘win over sin’, because there is never any win in sin. Every sin is a loss of something; a loss to our mind, a loss to our will, a loss to our emotions…a loss to our soul.
And speaking of the will, each of us New Managers are to be practicing directing our will to be in harmony with God’s will. In fact, the best motto of any of us New Managers of our lives is, of course, Jesus’ motto (if we could call it a ‘motto’ for now): “Father, not My will, but Thy will be done.” You see the direction of the will here? It’s not downward toward our own will, nor is it outward toward the will of others around us; it’s upward toward the God over us. It’s like that great statement from Dr. Warren Wiersbe: “If you look to yourself you’ll be discouraged; if you look to others you’ll be distracted; but if you look to Christ you’ll be delighted.”
The ‘will’ in each of us is the ‘choosing’ part of us. The Bible calls us to ‘choose’ upward to God’s will and God’s ways over 140 times, in some versions. We are to choose whom we will serve; we are choose what is important over what is simply wanted; we are to choose wisely over choosing foolishly; we are to choose the blessing instead of the curse, and on and on. Every day, as managers of our mind, will, and emotions we are making choices about numerous things. And the first thing we have to make a choice about is which manager will make the choice: the New Manager or the old manager, or the new self or the old self, or the new nature in us that is united to the nature of God or the old nature still residing is us that is still under the corruption of sin?
Remember our passage…the Apostle Paul, writing by the direction of God the Holy Spirit, just assumed, just expected us to now be choosing to think, act, and feel by the direction of the new man, the New Manager. He expected us to be putting off the old man, the old manager, and then choosing to practice discernment in our thinking, choosing to practice direction in our will, and choosing to practice discipline in our emotions; to simply practice: “Father, not my will, but Thy will be done” as a daily way that we think and act and feel about all of the things in our lives.
Think like the New Manager over your soul, over your self, and watch the change it makes in how you think, and how you act, and how you feel about the things of this world and even about yourself. Choose to live according to the person God created you to be; His New Manager that is daily taking back dominion over yourself and then acting as His steward, His Manager over the other things God has for you to do. And in choosing to daily ‘put on the New Manager’ for directing you and then daily ‘putting off the old manager’ from controlling you, you will also be daily choosing the blessing instead of the curse. Just start your day with Jesus’ words of “Father, not my will, but Thy will be done” and you will not only be choosing the ‘holy life’, you will also be choosing the ‘happy life’.
And that’s about as wise as it gets. And as a Christian; “It’s what you do!” Right?
1. scotthong.wordpress.com, The Trinity: Examples in Real Life