PSYCHOLOGY IN RELIGION
The Greek word PSUCHE, answering to our word PSYCHE,
means SOUL. It is the sensation resulting from the combination of
an organic body with breath of spirit. The soul is declared in the
scriptures to the soul of the flesh, and is in the blood. See Lev.
17:14, where the word "life" is used in the King James
Version, when the original says "soul".
The soul is not the spirit. It is not the
flesh. But it is the soul OF the flesh, and is in the blood, which is in
the flesh. It manifests itself in bodily and mental pleasure or
suffering. It is much more closely allied to the flesh than to the
spirit, and therefore the whole person is sometimes referred to as a
Psychology is a science relating to the soul.
While much in so-called psychological propaganda is "bunk",
pity of it is, it is too often taken for spirituality.
That the soul manifests itself in pleasurable
sensation, is proven by the passage in Luke 12:18,19, where we are told
of the successful farmer who said to his soul, "Soul, thou hast
much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and
be merry." Mentally enjoying prosperity, and eating, drinking
and resting, is soul-joy. That mental and bodily suffering is
soul-suffering, is proven by Mat.22:38, where Christ said, "My soul
is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death". Christ had a
soul, as well as we. That the soul is the seat of the sensations
of bodily and mental joy is proven by the words of Christ in
Matt.6:25. "Be not anxious about your soul, what we shall
eat, or what ye shall drink". When we enjoy food or drink it
"He who is finding his soul shall be destroying
it, but he who destroys his soul on my account shall be finding it.-"Matt.
10:39. This was said to Jews, in view of the coming kingdom, which
shall be a kingdom of soul-enjoyment, rather than spiritual
delight. The Jew who refused to suffer for the sake of Christ was
finding his soul, and he was told that he would destroy it-not be
permitted to enter into the future kingdom. He who destroyed his soul by
suffering for the sake of Christ should find it-enter into the kingdom
when it is set up. This, however, is not said to us.
It is interesting to know what Paul the apostle to
the gentiles, said of the soul. Prisca and Aquilla had jeopardized
their necks for the sake of Paul's soul. (Rom. 16:4) For his
bodily and mental comfort they had risked their necks. Slaves were
told to serve from the soul, and look to the Lord to requite them. (Eph.
6:5-8) Because they were slaves they had to suffer. They
were to endure the suffering, (this is serving from the soul), and go
ahead and render the service that was expected of them, Paul told the
Corinthian saints, (2 Cor. 12:15), that with the greatest relish he
would spend and be bankrupted for the sake of their souls. He
would spend all his money in serving them, rather than cause them to
suffer mentally or bodily, in supporting him.
"The soulish man is not receiving that which is
of the spirit of God, for it is stupidity to him, as he is not able to
know it, seeing that it is spiritually examined." (1
Cor.2:14). The soulish man is the one whose spirit is not touched
by the spirit of Christ. After this is done he has spiritual
understanding, and is supposed to respond to the spirit. But the
soul is not changed, any more than the body is. The spirit is
life, but the body is dead. The man whose spirit is thus changed
is supposed to be a spiritual man, but the body is dead. The man
whose spirit is thus changed is supposed to be a spiritual man, but the
body remains a soulish body, until the change in the resurrection.
See 1 Cor.15:14. While it is a soulish body, even though the
spirit is life, (having been touched by the spirit of Christ), the body
will respond to the soul hundreds of times more often than to the
spirit. But in the resurrection it will become a spiritual body,
and be entirely responsive to the spirit.
There are many soul-joys that are entirely
legitimate. Indeed, we must have them, in order to live. But
I propose to show that saints and sinners get the joys of the soul
alike. We are not to think we shall have soul-enjoyment as a
result of divine service.
I have already shown that eating is responding to the
soul. Paul shows that saints are to get their food by working for
it, just like sinners get theirs. Going to church and rendering
divine service is not the means of getting it. "If anyone is
not willing to work, neither let him eat", (2 Thess. 3:19), is said
of saints, as well as sinners. We need such things as food, drink,
money, homes, friends, social enjoyment, etc., but let us not imagine
that we shall have them simply because we serve the Lord. They are
soul-joys, and all must get them alike.
The only respect in which these soul blessings come
as a result of offering divine service is when the saints support the
minister who gives his time to and for them.
as it may seem, there is little in the divine service which we are
supposed to render that is conductive to soul-satisfaction. The
devotions that we owe to God, if rendered faithfully, results in the
opposite of the salvation of the soul. We are supposed to be
continually giving up the soul for the sake of Christ and the
Paul's first chapter, (1 Thess. 1), is a specimen of
all his writings. Note what we find here: Work, toil, endurance,
affliction, slaving, waiting, etc. See the next chapter:
Suffering, being outraged, a vast struggle, not pleasing men, not
seeking glory from men, refusing to be a burden, sharing the soul with
the saints working day and night, etc. Thus runs the course all
through his epistles.
What joy is mentioned in the same two chapters is
spiritual joy, not soulish: Holy spirit and much assurance, with joy in
holy spirit, delight in sharing the gospel and his soul, with other
saints. This is a specimen of the joy of the saints. It is
not mental or bodily satisfaction, and, therefore, is not soulish.
Unpopularity, persecutions, sufferings, watchings,
waitings, anxitieties, fastings, hunger, cold, these were the
soul-experiences of the faithful saints in Paul's day. Christendom
has missed the point. What will make us popular? What does
the wisdom of men dictate? We must be disposed to things on
earth. The one who is not being persecuted is bound to be
right. We must be in high glee and not endure anxieties, colds,
hunger, etc. To do so is foolish; let us avoid
all these. So thinks the religious world, and so acts the
In 1 Cor. 1, Paul rebukes the saints for using their
religion to foster the enjoyment of the soul. They boasted of
belonging to parties. If let alone they probably would have formed
denominations, known as "Paulinians" "Appollonians",
and "Christians". None of these was the name God had selected
for His church. His name for it was "The church of God"
(see vs.2). Rejoicing in these names, the saints would soon have
been non-fellowshipers, but it would have been psychological, not
spiritual. As great joy as saints have ever experienced in life is
the joy of belonging to a sect. Not many are satisfied to not
"belong" Why? Because they are spiritual? No;
because they are soulish. "I am a Methodist", or
"I am a Baptist", or "I am a Primitive Baptist", has
been the boast of thousands. The very fact of belonging to a sect
gotten up by man as all denominations are, causes shouting, tears of
joy, ecstasy that is indescribable. Yet it is all
psychological. It cannot be spiritual joy, when it is something
God has not authorized. Any kind of "religion", no
matter whether heathen or "Christian", causes joy. It is
a thing that appeals to the tendency of man to belong to
something. The so-called "Holy Roller", when he loses
all reason and sense, in a wild ecstasy of joy over his
religion, is only going a little further along the same road that
all sectarian saints are traveling, when they find psychological joy in
belonging to sects. It is simple joy of soul, and not of
spirit. That they are honest in it, makes it the more
Since the soul is allied with the flesh rather than
the spirit, and since it is a recognized fact that ANY religion will
make people happy, then is it not wise to stop and consider whether our
joy is soulish or spiritual? It is a fact that much of the joy
that is obtained in revivals is psychological. Much of the good
feeling that is engendered by hearing preaching, without regard to
whether or not the truth is being rightly divided, is soul-feeling, not
What do you know of persecution? Have you ever been
unpopular with the masses? Do you hold the truth that caused Paul
to be persecuted? Do you know what anxieties are? Have you been
shut out of the synagogues? Are people warned to not hear
you? Are people watching your every step hoping to catch you in an
error? If so, you know what it is to serve God in the way that is
directly opposed to the soul. In such service there is spiritual
delight, but not such amount of it as to overbalance the soul
loss. You find the greatest delight in looking forward to the time
when you shall be with Christ in resurrection, and have fullness of
delight in His presence.
If you get enough satisfaction out of your religion
that you are satisfied with the present wicked eon, and the coming of
the Lord does not appeal to you, you may be sure that your religion is
psychological, and not spiritual.
If you insist on spiritual realities, and discount
psychology in devotions, you will find yourself very lonely. The
world wants a religion of hilarity, popularity, psychology,
sectarianism, earthly things, etc.
I have no objection to the proper amount of
soul-enjoyment. You need it, such as food, clothing,
companionship, etc.; but I do object to making these your object in
serving the Lord. In His service you are supposed to find joy in
Him, joy in seeing the spiritual growth of saints, joy in suffering for
the truth, and for others. But bear in mind, these things are such
joys as only the saint can have, and are, therefore, spiritual.
Nine tenths of the joys of religion are such as the unsaved can enjoy,
and do, enjoy, as well as the saints, because they appeal to the
soul. Such are soulish joys.
It you would be sure your joys are spiritual, compare
them with those of Paul, our apostle. He never found joy in the
following: Sectarianism, denominations, water baptisms, meeting houses,
associations, any kind of ritual, or any phase of divine religion that
was not intended for the saints of the body of Christ.
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