- SPIRIT (will, decision, character)
God must come first. He speaks, we do.
That’s where the spirit (will) comes in. We make the choice to follow God. We commit to following Him, will ourselves to do so. Think of it as signing a contract that cannot be broken. In Harry Potter context, this would be an Unbreakable Vow (except with grace and mercy and etc).
Thoughts come before feelings because thoughts control feelings, even though feelings influence our will more than thoughts do. So we must first align ourthoughts to our spirit, which is aligned to God, and then those rightly-aligned thoughts will help to influence our feelings and keep them in alignment.
The body comes last because it is carnal and must be made our slave (1 Cor 9:27). That’s why Jesus always fasted and told His disciples to do the same. Social can sort of be on the same level as body, I think. Basically, no matter what others say, we only take to heart the things that keep us in alignment with the rest (all the way back up to God).
If we aren’t given over to God, the order tends to look like this:
Yeah, basically the other way around. We get influenced by others, our body seeks pleasure, we rationalize all of that with our mind (thoughts and feelings), by then, our will is powerless… We aren’t free at all, but captives to others/our fleshly desires/our thoughts and feelings.
I think of this passage:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. – Romans 7:15-20
All of us who’ve struggled with following Jesus have struggled with this; I certainly have. I realize now that my will has been so weakened – simply because I’ve chosen to give other things the power to control it. I think I almost forgot that I had a will, this thing that is independent of thoughts, feelings, and fleshly impulses/desires. But I do; it exists. We live in an age where words don’t mean very much anymore. Promises are easily broken, commitments not followed through with. I am guilty of as much. The dangerous thing is that it seeps into the church and weakens our commitment to following Jesus, too. How many times have I promised God something and failed to follow through? It’d probably be easier to count the few, if any, promises I have actually fulfilled to Him.
Like Paul says, though, it’s just human nature. It is the human thing to let our bodies, our thoughts, and our feelings dominate our wills. It gets to the point, even, where we think our will is wrapped up in all of them. So we (subconsciously; always subconsciously) think that we have no power to go against our thoughts, feelings, and bodies. We respond to situations based on how we feel or what we think, based on instinct, rather than the commitment we have made to God.
Is that making sense? Do you see it? It should really be as simple as this:
- I have chosen to follow Jesus.
- A situation comes, and my thoughts and feelings are all over the place and I am inclined to do something other than what it would mean to follow Jesus.
- I return to #1, my commitment to follow Jesus. All else is voided. I follow Jesus.
1, 2, 3. We make it so complicated, sometimes. Somehow, simple faithfulness to commitments isn’t enough for us anymore. It is looked down upon as simple-minded. One is accused of not having taken enough things into consideration. But that’s all there is to it. If you have chosen to follow Jesus, then all you do must submit to that choice. I think there’s a reason that Jesus’ disciples were simple men.
I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back.