Thanks be to God for a fantastic VBS week. The kids were great and our teachers and workers were even greater. The Lord has blessed us with some wonderfully gifted and talented people. A huge “thank you” to all who, once again, made VBS one of the highlights of the year.
And now I want to share a “treat” with you. Al Baker’s latest article is very helpful and meets us precisely where we live. Please take a moment to read his “two-souled man” piece. It will scratch where you itch unless your level of sanctification is far better than us mere mortals. Enjoy and be blessed.
FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS, volume 9, number 24, June 17, 2010 by Rev. Al Baker
. . . being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, James 1:8.
Are You a Two-Souled Man?
By no means are sincere, fervent Christians immune from spiritual, emotional, and psychological instability.1 There are, of course, a myriad of reasons for these things. Sometimes the issue is sin and consequent guilt and shame. At times the sin takes the form of not dealing with issues in a timely fashion, and one becomes overwhelmed and incapacitated. At other times the trauma of life becomes too much for sensitive souls. Then, especially in the case of Charles Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century British preacher, there are physiological issues which take their toll spiritually and emotionally. It may be that some middle age men and women simply need more exercise, more sleep, and a better diet to bring a measure of stability to their lives. And some, reared in totally dysfunctional families, though now believers in the Lord Jesus who seek to honor Him, nonetheless, battle the “demons” of their past. Some men don’t know what a godly father and husband looks like, and are at a loss on how to function in these roles. Some who were abused as children don’t know what normal sexual intimacy is, making the marriage bed problematic. Perhaps one who had a lazy father does not know what hard work looks like.
Whatever our past and present circumstances, all of us, at times, exhibit the characteristics of a two-souled man. What does this mean? What is a two-souled man, and what should we do about it? James uses this term in the above cited verse (the word in the Greek text literally means two-souled). Paul refers to something similar in Philippians 4:6 when he commands that we “be anxious for nothing.” Here he combines two Greek words into one—merimnate (merim, divided and nous, mind)— to give the concept of a divided mind. A two-souled man, in the context of James 1:2-8, is one who is undecided2, knowing he ought to consider all things joy, no matter what happens, who knows he ought to persevere in faith, who knows he is to pursue perfect holiness, perfect prayer, and perfect faith, but who allows the circumstances of his life to overwhelm him. He knows he should trust God, but he cannot get past “square one.” A man with a divided mind, on the one hand, trusts God, rejoices in Christ, and believes he can move forward in faithfulness at the beginning of the day. However by the time he retires for bed that evening, he has again failed miserably. He has given into unbelief, fear, anger, lust. A two-souled and divided mind man is one who doubts what God says. At the base of anxiety and double-mindedness is a failure to take God at His word; and this always results in varying levels of instability—being a double-minded man, unstable or vacillating3 in all his ways.
So, what is the remedy for the two-souled man? In Romans 7:14-25 Paul addresses the issue in the context of the inner and outer man.4 He (inner man) does not understand what he (outer man) is doing for he is not practicing what he would like to do, but is doing the very thing he hates. He realizes he no longer is the one doing these things, but sin which indwells him. He confesses that nothing good dwells in his flesh for the good he wishes to do he does not do, but practices the very evil he does not wish to do. He acknowledges the problem is indwelling sin. He is a new creation. He has a new heart that loves God and hates sin, but the battle rages inwardly. He finally cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He very quickly, without hesitation, answers his own question, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Consider this practical example. A man who loves his wife finds himself emotionally and sexually attracted to another woman. He knows this is sin. He alternates between hating himself for it, being terribly alarmed and fearful about it; and delighting in the thought of being with the other woman. He is acting in a two-souled manner. What must he do? He must do what Paul does. He cries out in desperation—who will deliver me from this body of death? The answer is—the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the man ran to Jesus for his salvation, his justification, having his sins forgiven; so he must run daily, many times per day, to Jesus for His holiness or sanctification. Dear friend, you have no holiness in yourself! Even your desire to obey God out of gratitude for His grace to you is not enough to quench the fleshly fires of double-mindedness. You cannot rectify your two-souledness. You need the holiness of Jesus! It is within this context that Paul says there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Why not? Because you have been set free from the law of sin and death! God condemned sin in the flesh through the death of Jesus. The true believer, one in whom the Holy Spirit has given the heart of Jesus in regeneration, also has the righteousness and holiness of Jesus. Not even the conflict of the flesh and the Spirit can condemn you! So, every moment of the day you must run to Jesus. You are like a bucket with holes in it. You take in the word of God through personal and corporate worship. You feed on Christ but you very quickly, in the fires of daily living, immediately forget what you know and just experienced. You bring your hole-filled bucket out of the water of the Holy Spirit and it immediately pours onto the ground. What, then, must you do? Go to Jesus all the time, abiding in Him by faith, running to Him, asking Him for His holiness. Keep your bucket submerged under the water of sanctifying grace, always abiding in Jesus. When you do He will flood your soul with His peace, power, and purity. You will sin again and you will need again to run to Jesus for cleansing, renewal, and empowerment. But this is the way to walk in holiness. This is the way to be a one-souled man.
1 Three great, well known Christians, used powerfully of God, come immediately to mind in this regard—William Cowper, David Brainerd, and Charles Spurgeon. Concerning Cowper, see John Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God. For Brainerd see Jonathan Edwards’ The Life of David Brainerd. And for Spurgeon see C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography, volume 2: The Full Harvest.
2The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Kenneth Wuest, page 539