Spiritual or Soulish: Deception in the Ranks

Ready to slaughter some sacred cows?

For some time now, I’ve been observing how many of today’s “christians” have willingly swallowed the deception that is rampant in today’s world.

And, for the most part, the church has been the first to belly up to the trough. There are exceptions, of course, but they’re getting harder and harder to find.

I’m going to admit that this particular subject is one that I’ve really been avoiding and just didn’t want to address. Things just finally got to the point where I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

The only way I can describe it is to call it a “restless and troubled” nagging in my spirit.

This particular post will be the first in a series dealing with deception in the lives of today’s believers, deception in the church and the disobedience of the church.

So, without further ado, let’s start killing off a few sacred cows.

A Little Background

I recently re-read Derek Prince’s teaching sheet titled “Spiritual or Soulish,” and that’s when things finally started to come together. In this installment, I’ll be borrowing from his most excellent treatment of this subject so that we can have some common understanding.

In the original pattern of creation, there was a descending relationship. God moved upon man’s spirit; his spirit moved upon his soul; and his soul directed his body. The spirit of man comes directly from God and relates directly to God.

Through man’s rebellion, however, his spirit was set aside and his soul took over control. As a result, unregenerate man is controlled by the three functions of his soul: the will, the intellect and the emotions.

When God reconciles man to Himself, His purpose is to restore the original order, by which He once again relates directly to man’s spirit; man’s spirit in turn moves upon his soul; and man’s soul moves upon his body.

This explains the words of David in Psalm 103:1: Bless the Lord, O my soul. Through faith, David’s spirit had been reunited with God and was eager to worship Him. So his spirit stirred up his soul to move upon his vocal organs to utter the appropriate words of worship.

So long as man remains in submission to God and his soul remains in submission to his spirit, man functions in harmony with God and with himself. But whenever man reasserts his rebellion against God, his soul is no longer in submission to his spirit and the harmony is broken.

The Greek of the New Testament has a special adjective, formed directly from the word for soul, psuche, which describes action initiated by the soul. The adjective is psuchikos. In English, the natural way to render this would be soulish. Unforunately, there is no English for such a word.

As a result, different English translation of the New Testament have used a variety of different words and phrases to describe this word: natural, sensual, worldly, unspiritual, worldly-minded, without the spirit, and “to follow their natural instinct.” All of these translate into one and the same Greek word.

For our purposes, we’ll use the word soulish.

So What Does All This Mean to Us?

For understanding spiritual things, the soul is dependent upon the spirit. If it is out of harmony with the spirit, the realm of spiritual truth is closed to it. In order for the truth to be revealed to us, it is important that we approach spiritual things with the correct attitude – our soul submitted to our spirit and our spirit submitted to and in union with God.

Whenever the soul of a Christian is not submitted through his spirit to God, he becomes a channel through which every kind of carnality (earthly, sensual, worldly, and unspiritual) and division can infiltrate his life and infiltrate the church.

A Serious Warning

In James 3:15, the apostle speaks about a form of wisdom which does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual (soulish), demonic.

James has given us a clear depiction of a downward slide in three successive stages:

from the earthly to the soulish to the demonic.

In the first stage, christians become earthly and lose the true vision of eternity. Unable to see beyond the things of this life (success, pleasure, wealth, health), they are only interested in what their faith can do for them in this life.

Paul has a message for such people. 1 Corinthians 15:19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Christians that are like that often consider themselves prosperous and successful – God considers them pitiable.

From earthly, the next stage is soulish. To be soulish is to be ego-centric, self-centered. For such people, the Christian faith is a way to get what they want out of life. They suppose that godliness is a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:5).

The soulish opens the way for the demonic. This is one of the main ways in which demons infiltrate the church and man.

A really common question I hear asked a lot is: “Do Christians ever need deliverance from demons?”

James has given us a clear answer to that one.

This downward progression from the earthly to the soulish to the demonic exposes both the individual believer and whole congregations to the activities of demons.

In many instances today, the church is an ungodly mixture. No clear line is drawn between the spiritual and the soulish. As a result, there is no barrier whatsoever to the demonic.

Genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit are interlaced with manifestations that are clearly demonic.

Lies, half-truths and outright deception are interwoven and wrapped up and packaged in messages and entertainment that are supposedly presented in the name of Jesus Christ.

All too often, we just swallow these half-truthful exercises in claptrap by the (earthly, soulish)  justification that we “got some good” from the message

We conveniently forget (or, perhaps, we choose to forget) Jesus’ admonition that a little leaven corrupts the whole lump.

If we were to practice some real discernment, we would realize that we are placing ourselves in danger of participation in the fulfilling of one of the most terrible warnings in scripture:

2Thessalonians 2:11-12:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, so that all those who do not believe the truth, but delight in unrighteousness, might be condemned.

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe that’s a pretty scary scripture.

Should God choose to send strong delusion, you’d best believe that it’s going to happen.

In the next installment – a few of today’s sacred cows that need the same treatment Elijah gave to the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings, Chapter 18).

Some of you may not be too pleased.


  1. Randy Calaway says:

    Very good post.

    We have made so little of the “santification” process that Christ has for us.
    There is a suffering that must take place in the flesh, a discipline towards Christ, to be Holy even as He is Holy.

    The problem is quite simple. We still “today” want to build our tower of Babylon to God- Thus invoking only the fruit of self effort, lending to pride. The result is the confusion of languages, even those confined within Christianity, and the end result is a lack of unity, religious confusion, and no vision for the one church, the body of Christ.

    1. In that santification has been reduced to conformity issues at the local church-giving no thought to the universal church or cleansing process-that of answering to Christ. (Or the modern religious term, accountability.) If our accountability is before men and not Christ-then men we serve.

    2. Suffering has been reduced to working extra hours and projects at the local church- Not the suffering that comes from deep prayer, intercession, and longing for Christ, which will always result in rejection from the world and religious leaders. We then repond in obedience to Christ, not to the motivation of pleasing church leaders.

    3. Discipline has been reduced to “memorizing all the quirks” of the local church and defending the church building, not Christ in particular. In the discipline of Christ, through a dedicated love to Him, we are changed, challenged, broken. In this process, our soul is deeply affected, deep emotional change, a discipline to love Christ, a hungrer towards purity, drastically aware of our failure and sin, drinking deeply and freely of His mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

    We learn and KNOW all things are possible in Christ and nothing is good of our own merit. I would call this the footprint of faith.

    • Randy, those are excellent and very perceptive points you’ve made. Far too many of today’s churches have so grieved the Holy Spirit that he has left their midst.

      The fruits of this departure are being manifest in the earthly & soulish definitions of sanctification and discipleship that are all too commonplace. And it hurts to see how much territory we’ve surrendered to the enemy.

  2. Christopher says:

    Excellent article. There are too many soulish church leaders, and theologians. We need those who are truly led of the Spirit.

    • Christopher, I couldn’t agree more with your observation. And for those that do claim to be spirit-led, I would ask – “Yes – but which spirit?”

  3. anish k joy says:

    dear brother,
    your observation is true.the church needs a radical prophetic voice like elijha the prophet or a w tozer to draw the line and declaring to the church,that all things which lies outside of christ belongs to either man or satan and it is what the bible calls babylon the great.so we should pray to god to raise radical prophetic voices and not the money loving baalams who is playing with spiritual gifts.

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