ReVision

Restoring the Soul

God works for this, and so must we.

The Need for Restoration (4)

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Psalm 23.1-3

The primacy of the soul
In this series we have seen that the starting point for restoring the reconciled world is working out our own salvation in fear and trembling before the Lord (Phil. 2.12, 13). We focus on Jesus (Col. 3.1-3), and work daily to increase in Him (Phil. 2.12). We look to Jesus also for a vision of creation restored to its original goodness and glory (Heb. 2.5-9), and to grant us the skills and wisdom we need for restoring the reconciled world (Ps. 90.16, 17). In Jesus, we take up the work of restoration in every area of our lives as an act of worship and service, to honor, praise, declare, and glorify Him. Thus we become a kind of first fruits for the world; as we are restored, we become the means whereby Jesus restores the world He has reconciled to God (Jms. 1.18).

But for our lives to be restored, we need to acknowledge, recognize, and overthrow the law of sin which operates within us, in our soul. Sin has entered the world, and the tragedy of it affects even those who believe in Jesus and are committed to following and serving Him. We may earnestly desire to take the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us, but unless we replace the law of sin with the Law of God, all our wanting to do God’s work will come to naught (Rom. 7.13-23).

In ancient Israel, when a new king ascended the throne, his first duty was to write out a copy of the Law of God in his own hand, and submit it for review and approval to the high priest. Then he was to meditate and be refreshed in the Law every day, so that he could rule himself and the people wisely and well (cf. Deut. 17.18-20). Sadly, we have no evidence that any king of Israel ever did that.

But Jesus did. Or rather, is. Having received the Kingdom from His Father and given it to His saints, He has sent His Spirit to write the Law of God on the tablets of our hearts (Ezek. 36.26, 27). As we read and meditate in the Law of God day and night (Ps. 1), the Spirit rewrites what God has already written in us, so that we now have working within us the power whereby the Lord restores our soul (cf. Rom. 2.14, 15; 8.5-11).

Heart, mind, conscience
The Law of God – and all the Word of God, which grows from the soil of God’s Law – is the “necessary food” for the restoration of our souls (Job 23.12). As we delight in the Law and Word of God, and feed on it day by day, the Holy Spirit works within us to enable us to learn and obey the Law, making us willing and able to do that which is pleasing to God. And what is pleasing to God is that the redemption His Son has accomplished, and by which He has reconciled the world to His Father, should continue apace in and through us in the world.

So the Law of God gives us the mind of the Spirit and the mind of Christ. The mind is that component of the soul that receives, analyzes, associates, stores, and calls into service all kinds of information. It does this by learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, relating, and many more such cognitive practices. All who are being renewed in Jesus have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16); and the Spirit of God works with the Law and Word of God to bring that rich resource to ever-fuller realization in us, so that, in effect, we think with the mind of Jesus; we think like He does.

The Spirit also applies the Law of God to our heart – the seat of all our affections, desires, hopes, aspirations, and longings. The old law of sin bends all these to self-interest and self-love, thus wasting the best part of our soul on ourselves. The Spirit of God uses the Law and Word of God to teach us how to love God with all our soul and strength, our neighbors as ourselves, and one another as Jesus loved us (Matt. 22.34-40; Jn. 13.34, 35).

And the Spirit works to restore our conscience, so that it is good and not wicked, and thus reflects the way God made things originally, the way things are supposed to be (1 Tim. 1.5).

The Lord restores our soul in whole and in part as He writes His Law there, and on the foundation of His Law, everything else that Jesus teaches as well. We must not neglect the Law of God. The Law of God is the core curriculum of the Spirit’s teaching; it is the key to greatness in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5.17-19), and the way into holiness, righteousness, and truth (Rom. 7.12).

He restores our soul
David rejoiced in the knowledge that our Good Shepherd restores our soul. As He does, we know peace and abundance – like green pastures and still waters in our soul. The more He restores our soul – heart, mind, and conscience – the more we will be equipped from within to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

But let us not be so foolish as to suppose that we know better than God how the restoration of our souls should proceed. King Jesus insists on writing the Law of God on the tablets of our hearts, and He has appointed His Holy Spirit as Chief Scribe and Schoolmaster to accomplish that task. If we neglect the Law of God, we shall have nothing with which to overthrow the law of sin that still infests our soul. More doctrine won’t restore your soul. More praise music won’t restore your soul. More time with your Christian friends won’t restore your soul. God only will restore your soul, and He will only do it His way, by writing His Law and all His word on your mind, heart, and conscience – day by day, and all day long.

If you long to rest sweetly in the green pastures and by the still waters of salvation, go to the schoolhouse of the Spirit, enroll in His core curriculum, and open your soul to His teaching and His restoring power and grace.

For reflection

1. The Law of God does not save us. But can we be truly saved without the Law? Explain.

2. Why do we say that the Law of God is the core curriculum for following Jesus?

3. How will you be able to know when the Holy Spirit is effectively writing the Law of God on your heart?

Next steps – Transformation: Add meditating on the Ten Commandments to your daily reading of Scripture. Ask the Lord to show you how each of the commandments should be expressed in love for God and neighbors.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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