All over the world, when you look around, you will see that everyone is following something. We can follow motivational speakers, our favorite musicians, superstars or movie actors; we can follow after our heart, dreams, or passions. We can follow the traditions of man, routines, religion, or philosophies. Regardless of what road we choose to follow, know that it will always lead somewhere; whether we know what’s on the end of that road or not, God gave us all the free will to decide.
The real question is: what do you follow?
When we were babies, it was in our nature to become the best learners. Our brains were like sponges absorbing the world around us. We watched patterns, facial expressions, and functionalities – glued to the actions of our parents who were our teachers. We followed our parents around, taking after them and learning from them. In the same way, when we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we must take on the characteristics of Christ through understanding the depth of His Word.
The word ‘follow,” in the Greek speaks of “becoming a disciple” according to the Thayer Bible dictionary. If you are a disciple of something, you are disciplined in the way you think. A disciple is someone who is submitted to learning from another. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our counselor (rf Jn 14:26). We truly follow Christ when our souls are submitted to learn from the Spirit of God.
“Let us consider whether the following makes sense: Just as it is good for the soul to follow the spirit, which happens when the spirit conquers the flesh, so too does it seems to be bad for it to follow the “flesh which struggles against the spirit” (cf. Gal 5:17) and wants to bring the soul under its influence.” Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 229-230, 587
In the beginning, God said it was not good for man to be alone (rf Gen 2:18). Adam and Eve paint the picture of the Spirit and the soul. In Hebrew thought, the Spirit is masculine and the soul is feminine. Our souls were designed to reunite with the Spirit of God. Eve lusted against the Spirit, just as the flesh lusts against Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (rf Gal 5:17, Mat 26:41, Gen 3:6).
According to Solomon, it isn’t good for our souls to be without knowledge (rf Pro 19:2). This, of course, is not the persuasive words of human wisdom (1 Co 2:4), but the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ, the WORD (rf Eph 3:1-5, Jn 1:14). It is good for our souls to follow after the Spirit, that being said, we would assume, as Origen states, that it is bad when the flesh “wants to bring the soul under its influence,” or is it?
“Yet, it might still turn out to be more helpful in the long run for the soul to be dominated by the flesh than to remain in the control of its own will. For while it is in that condition, it is said to be “neither hot nor cold” (Rev 3:15) but to be stuck in a kind of tepid middle state in which it could find conversion to be a slow and quite difficult process. But if it clings to the flesh, then from the very evils which its suffers from its carnal vices it sometimes becomes as it were so surfeited and satiated and wearied by the awful burdens of luxury and lust that it can more easily and quickly be converted from material filth to spiritual grace and a desire for heavenly things.” Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 229-230, 587
Understanding the knowledge of God is to understand the mysteries of His heart. The more we understand the way God works, the more we know Him. All over scripture, the Lord does things that, with our carnal minds, we could never understand unless we truly knew the patterns and the way He operates (rf Isa 55:8-9). Some of the toughest lessons are learned the hard way.
Sometimes the Lord will allow the flesh to overtake us in order to try our hearts, so that our true desires would be revealed and brought into the light. David knew this when He cried out to the Lord to show him his own heart, asking to reveal if there were any impurities or vain desires in him (rf Psalm 139:23).
The Lord allows us to battle against the flesh and leaves it up to our free will to decide. Will we choose to submit ourselves to Truth, and let Him unveil to us the carnal vices of our soul? Or will we stay in the same place, running in circles, and complacent with the state of our soul?
The Lord is just, and has a reason for everything He does (rf Pro 16:4). Even the things that do not serve us, like the vices in our soul, He will use them in order to get through to us (rf Rom 8:28). God is faithful to give us the desires of our heart, even if those desires lead us into self destruction (rf Psalm 37:4). Regardless, when we are ready, and when we have learned, God makes Himself known when we are truly willing to submit ourselves to Him.
“Just as with physical light which enables those with healthy eyes to see both the light itself and other sensible objects, so too does God come with a certain power to the mind of each one. As long as those to whom he comes are not all closed off and their ability to see clearly not impeded by their passions, God makes himself known and leads those illuminated by him to a knowledge of other spiritual things.” Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 230-231, 596
What keeps our souls from submitting to the Spirit? The cares of the world.
John tells us it is all that is in the world: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (rf 1 Jn 2:16). We are symbolic of the earth, so the cares of the world are things inside of us; they can be anything from attitudes, mindsets, passions, or desires. We are all tabernacles of God (rf 1 Co 3:16). That being said, we all have veils inside of us, which are symbolic of flesh (rf Heb 10:20). The flesh or the veil is meant to be removed so we can see what is being concealed from our understanding.
In the time of Jesus, and all throughout the Bible, one message was preached – the people have eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear, nor hearts that understand; because the heart, or mind, has flesh (veil) over it (rf Isaiah 6:10, Mat 13:15). What keeps us from understanding clearly is the flesh over our hearts.
“A “hard heart” (cf. Rom 2:5) seems to be spoken of in scripture when the human mind, like wax, hardened by the ice of iniquity, no longer accepts the seal of the divine image.” Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 230, 588
The veil keeps us from understanding who God is; and it separates us from the Father. Let us all have the ears to hear Him, the eyes to see Him, and the heart to understand what the Spirit is showing us.
- Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 229-230, 587
- Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 229-230, 587
- Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 230-231, 596
- Origen, Spirit and Fire; page 230, 588