“Religion is when the soul tries to imitate the spirit.” This little gem was dropped on me last night by my partner in crime Wesley. Let me elaborate.
There is clear difference between the soul and the spirit. Hebrews 4:12 states “the word of god is living and active, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”
The working definition I have for the soul is that it comprises one’s mind, will, and emotions. The spirit on the other hand, is that part of ourselves that died in the Garden. We were originally created to be led by our Spirits all the time (as that was the part of us that was one with the Godhead), and when we disobeyed, our Spirits died and the connection was lost. Ever since then, humanity has lived out of the two remaining parts of our being: body and soul. Virtually every sin I can think of is rooted in one of these two parts of ourselves.
When we give our lives to Christ, he resurrects our Spirit and makes us fully alive. This is what Paul refers to when he says that we are a new creation.
More could be said, but thats not the point of this post (leave comments if you want some elaboration).
I think the best way to explain Wesley’s meaning is with an example.
Sarah is a believer in The Lord and aims to truly live for Him. So she prays about how to grow and thinks she is meant to go to a summer Bible Study. So she obeys and The Lord uses the group to reveal aspects of Him. As summer concludes, that particular group ends and Sarah -without seeking His guidance- decides to join another one because of how well the first one went. This is where legalism/religion starts. She used her soul instead of her spirit. In her MIND, she logically deduced that what worked in the past must also work in the future, and therefore “it is God’s will for me to do it[her thinking].” Not realizing that it was God in the bible study and not the bible study itself.
When our spirits guide us to follow Him, sometimes he will lead us in new ways, and sometimes in old ways. The key is to not let our mind, will, and/or emotions dominate what our spirits are saying.