Each of us perceives life in certain ways, we have a certain stance on life, a way of viewing things, a life perspective. We are optimistic, pessimistic, see ourselves as powerful or helpless, as victims or change agents, etc. We also have ways of explaining reality to ourselves – our explanatory style. Our explanations about reality later form our beliefs -so how we explain the world to ourselves is of vital importance.
Our experiences form our beliefs. When an experience happens to us we explain it to ourselves a certain way. That explanation of our experience then becomes part of our inner world. It then generates our beliefs about reality. We can explain a fever as being due to: a witchcraft, a poison, a virus or the food we ate. The explanation then forms/reinforces beliefs in witches, plots, viruses or the bad cooking respectively. This “explanation forming” is a continuous and progressive process. Developing incorrect explanations of reality in childhood can cause deep misunderstandings later in life e.g. “Bad things must always happen to me because I am a bad person.”
We tend to explain things that happen to us as: Permanent OR Temporary Out of Our Control OR Within our Control Pervasive OR Specific Personal OR External
Optimists and people of faith tend to view negative events as temporary, specific and external - and often within their control. Pessimists tend to view negative events as permanent, pervasive, personal (their fault) - and often outside of their control.
A pessimist gets a traffic ticket: “How could I be so stupid” –Personal “The police are everywhere” – Pervasive “I’ll never stop getting fined…” – Permanent “I can’t help it and I will lose my license..” – Low Locus of Control
Faith Is Functional
Optimistic people are happier, healthier and live longer. (Martin Seligmann) Optimistic people are more attractive socially. But pessimistic people are more accurate on details. The pessimist are “correct” but the optimists are the winners! People of faith are optimists because they know about the goodness of God.
Changing Explanatory Styles
Personal, Pervasive and Permanent explanatory styles produce self-defeating beliefs and a negative outlook. The negative outlook is reflected in negative self-talk. The self-defeating beliefs we have formed can be reasoned with and our thoughts (negative self-talk) can be disputed with or distracted. Marshalling evidence against self-defeating beliefs and attacking them logically can slowly but surely lead to a more optimistic outlook. Sometimes you can “externalize” the belief by writing the thought down on paper or talking it over with a friend.
Reasoning With Yourself
1. Find a recent incident that caused you some emotional discomfort.
2. Look at the feeling - name and write down the feeling.
3. Try to find the underlying thought that produced that feeling e.g. "I am always stupid".
4. Dispute the thought with facts, Scripture, logic and common sense until you come up with a more functional perspective on the event.
5. Write down the new feeling that comes with the new explanation.
There is more to us that just the “mind” – we also have a soul. The soul is the place of life and joy and personhood and subjective judgments and valuations. Our soul quickened by the spirit and makes us a living being. The soul is also a place of unruly and temporary emotions of daily frustrations, of falling in love, of the joy of a good meal or a wonderful sunset, the smile at a catchy tune, the sentiments at a movie. It can be a place of tempestuous emotional storms that need to be stilled. The soul can be up one minute and down the next. In contrast the spirit is a place of grand and timeless emotions, of great joys and piercing sorrows.
Bringing the stormy world of the soul under control is one of the great tasks of the Christian life and results in what the Bible calls peace. Peace is when the soul is in the state that God wants it to be in. Peace can be brought to the soul, which is subjective, through things such as a sunset or music of which William Congreve said “Music has charms to sooth the savage breast” . Music seemed to work for King Saul. However such methods are morally neutral and do not form character or do anything much for us in the long run. We need something better. Pure logic does not quite work with the soul to the extent that it does with the mind. “For the heart has reasons that the mind never knows”.
The Law Of Likeness
The law of the soul is the law of likeness . Our souls become like the souls of people we love, admire or emulate or people we respect, see as authoritative, and obey. That is why children become like parents, disciples like their masters and dogs like their owners. Adoration and authority mold the soul. We become like Jesus through loving and obeying Jesus. Thus I have found four methods to work in bringing peace to the soul and giving it a dose of perspective restorer: Christo-Centric Worship, Self-Exhortation, Positive Confession Of Scripture (in its proper context) - and Scripture Memory
Christo-Centric Worship – worship that is focussed on Jesus Christ and the cross. Self-Exhortation – speaking to your soul and commanding it “be still my soul..” “be lifted up O my soul..” “why are you downcast O my soul…” Positive Confession Of Scripture – confessing the relevant promises of God aloud. Scripture Memory – memorizing Scriptures that will change your life perspective.
Christo-Centric Worship In Psalm 73 the Psalmist is in deep emotional pain and losing perspective. The Psalm reflects a time of instability and spiritual crisis. The Psalmist says "my feet had almost slipped", "it was too painful for me", "my heart was grieved", "I was like a brute beast before you'. He had lost his spiritual perspective, he was in deep emotional pain, he was envying the wealth and success of the wicked and he thought it was futile to be righteous. He was on the verge of giving up.
The Temple… So the Psalmist goes into the Temple and worships God and his perspective changes. By worshipping God, his own perception of reality was changed in three areas. He changed his perceptions about the world, himself and God. Instead of perceiving the wicked as prospering he now saw them as on the brink of destruction. Instead of seeing his behavior as rational and justified he now saw it as wrong and foolish. Instead of seeing God as not rewarding him he turns and says “surely it is good to draw near to God”. True worship restored the Psalmist to a right perspective on his faith.
The process for changing your perspective by biblically-based self-exhortation is:
1. Awareness: Become aware of the state of your soul "why are you downcast".
2. Questioning: Decide whether it is godly and functional. If it is not godly or functional then don't accept it. Decide it must be firmly corrected and brought into alignment with the Kingdom..
3. Go Upstairs: Take your soul before the throne of God either directly or in prayer and worship.
4. Firmly Command The Change: Command your soul to change to a more biblical perspective within the background of God's will and covenant purposes. For speaking to your own soul see: Judges 5:21, Psalm 25:1, 42:4-6, 62:5, 77:2, 103:1,2; Luke 12:19
Bible Based Positive Confession
Acknowledge the problem. Search the Bible and find appropriate and in context Scriptures. Repeat them out loud declaring them to be true.
Scripture Memory Memorize
Scriptures that are positive and faith-filled and which will help you to change your perspective on life. The Scriptures bring us encouragement and hope. Memorizing makes them part of your inner world and available in any situation. Navigators has Scripture memory cards.
Remember Jesus saw things with His Spirit. He perceived life spiritually. His perceptions and explanations were from His Spirit. The spirit is the place of intuition, dreams, visions and revelation and of the deepest intimacy and the most direct kind of knowledge. It is the deepest part of our humanity and it is the place where we "know that we know..". The primary functions of the spirit are wisdom and perception and knowledge.
Our Spiritual Perception
Our human spirit is the deepest part of us. It is in relationship with the Holy Spirit but separate from Him. The spirit sets the rest of the personality in balance. The person’s spirit contains their inner wisdom as a person and forms their basic outlook on life. The spirit also gives strength and power to the personality. Faith, hope and love bring strength to the spirit. The humans spirit can be full of light and wisdom or dark and embittered. The spirit can be strengthened in the inner man or broken and weak.
Before and After
Prior to conversion the human spirit is described as : dead, in darkness, under a veil, ignorant, blind and unable to understand spiritual things. ( 1 Corinthians 2:13, 3:13-16 Ephesians 2:1-4, 4:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3,4) After conversion Christians: “have the mind of Christ” “an anointing” of the Holy Spiritthe law written on their heartsthere is abundant revelation even to “men-servants and maidservants”. (1 John 2:20,27, 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, Acts 2:16-18, Hebrews 8:10-12, 1 Corinthians 14:31)
Sensing Spiritual Realities
This is truly a vast transition in our nature. We go from being spiritually blind and without understanding, to being able to sense spiritual realities and both understand and enjoy them. We may even sense them so keenly that we are able to edify the Church. A whole new way of seeing things is opened up. This is variously called "being quickened in spirit", "having the eyes of your heart enlightened." or having one's spiritual eyes and ears “opened” to spiritual reality. This work of the Holy Spirit that is quite independent of human intellect (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-4 ). Some very intelligent people are spiritually blind while some simple folk grasp the things of the Kingdom. Jesus rejoiced in seeing simple people grasping great spiritual realities by faith alone and being obviously taught by God.
Blessed Are You… (Matthew 11:25 NKJV) At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. (Matthew 16:17 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Praying For Spiritual Perception
Ephesians 1:18 NKJV) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (Philippians 1:9 NKJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, (Colossians 1:9 NKJV) For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 2:2 NKJV) that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ.
1. Spiritual sensitivity opens our eyes to God’s love and thus allows us to be solidly grounded as persons. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
2. Spiritual perception gives us the right spiritual passions such as Jesus beholding Jerusalem and seeing it with his spirit ,and reacting with compassion. With right spiritual perception we see the lost, our church and our city and our nation through the eyes of Jesus Christ.
3. Spiritual sensitivity allows us to be grounded in faith and in the spiritual realm not on sight and human reason and sentiment alone. (For we walk by faith not by sight.) Moses was able be steadfast in the face of threats from a tyrannical Pharaoh because of his special spiritual perception.
4. Occasionally people of high spiritual sensitivity will be granted a revelation that turns the whole situation around and has an effect not just on their emotions but the emotions of all involved. For instance Paul's revelation from God during the storm at sea. (Acts 27:21-26)
Major Spiritual Errors
Inability To Perceive The Obvious: This is called " a spirit of stupor" or spirit of slumber. (Romans 11:8) Paying Attention To Deceptive Spirits (1 Timothy 4:1-4) Spiritual Inflation – being “puffed up” (Colossians 2:18, 1 Timothy 3:6) Being Spiritually Enslaved To Rules And Regulations: This is known as a spirit of bondage and slavery. (Romans 8:15) A Spirit That Lacks Courage And Assertiveness: Paul calls this is "spirit of fear“ (2 Timothy 1:7)
A Spirit of Jealousy: (Numbers 5:14 NKJV) A Hardened And Obstinate Spirit (Deuteronomy 2:30 NKJV) A Spirit Of Ill-Will: (Judges 9:23 NKJV) A Sorrowful Spirit: (1 Samuel 1:15 NKJV) A Distressing Spirit : (1 Samuel 16:14-16 NKJV) A Sullen Spirit: (1 Kings 21:5 NKJV) A Poisoned Spirit : (Job 6:4 NKJV) An Anguished Spirit: (Job 7:11 NKJV) A Spirit Turned Against God: (Job 15:13 NKJV) A Broken Spirit: (Job 17:1 NKJV) A Hasty And Compelling Spirit: (Job 32:18 NKJV)
An Unfaithful Spirit: (Psalms 78:8 NKJV) A Spirit That Is Overwhelmed By Troubles:(Psalms 142:3) A Failing Spirit: (Psalms 143:7 NKJV) A Haughty Spirit: (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV) An Uncontrolled Spirit: (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV) A Perverse Spirit: (Isaiah 19:14 NKJV) A Spirit Of Deep Sleep: (Isaiah 29:10 NKJV) An Errant Spirit: (Isaiah 29:24 NKJV) A Spirit of Heaviness: (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV) A Grieved Spirit: (Isaiah 65:14 NKJV) A Merely Human Spirit: (Ezekiel 13:3 NKJV)
The Spirit Of A Person
The human spirit has a vast emotional range. It is not a cool, analytical, emotionless part of the human person. In fact the spirit generates the deepest and most powerful emotions we know. A person's fundamental outlook on life flows from their spirit and when the spirit is affected this affects the actions of the whole person. The spirit is vulnerable and can be damaged. Traumatic life circumstances and intense suffering can break the spirit or cause it to be overwhelmed. The person has some degree of control over their spirit, and this is a good and desirable thing. A person who lacks control over their spirit has trouble with maintaining proper boundaries. (Proverbs 25:28) The human spiritual realm is subject to change. Moods seem to be linked to a temporary state of the human spirit. God can cause both positive and negative changes in the human spirit. In Isaiah from a spirit of heaviness is changed into a garment of praise. In the case of King Saul he moves from being anointed with the Holy Spirit to being tormented by a distressing spirit.
The Four Causes.. Problems with the human spirit have four main causes: Sin – requiring repentance Folly – requiring wisdom and discipline Trauma – requiring inner healing Spiritual Attack – requiring breaking of curses, spiritual warfare and prayer. May even require exorcism. See my ebook on spiritual warfare at http://www.aibi.ph/warfare/
Our perceptions, perspectives and explanatory style set the tone for our emotional life and lie behind many of our beliefs. Our mind, our soul and our human spirit all play a part in forming our life perspective. Our mind needs to be reasoned with and to operate with functional categories and explanations. Our soul operates by the law of likeness and authority and needs to love, to worship, and to be disciplined. Our spirit requires repentance, wisdom, healing and spiritual protection.