“I just feel in my spirit…”

by K.W. Leslie, 18 April 2018
MY SPIRIT maɪ 'spɪr.ɪt noun. Me. (Usually said to make one, or one’s opinion or issues, sound particularly spiritual.)

Certain Christianese terms don’t come from scripture, theology, or the ordinary practical course of religious behavior. They come from hypocrisy.

“My spirit” is a pretty common example. It does originate from the bible, ’cause various poets and psalmists refer to themselves as “my spirit” or “my soul.” It’s a poetic synonym for oneself.

It’s just certain Christians insist on using “my spirit” for everything. Instead of simply referring to themselves as “me” or “mine” or “myself,” they gotta keep referring to their spirit. Sometimes because they’re around fellow Christians, and figure we oughta speak in Christianese around one another. The rest of the time it’s because they’re deliberately trying to sound extra-spiritual, or super-Christian.

“I think [but can’t articulate why]…”“I feel in my spirit…”
“I don’t think so.”“I feel a check in my spirit.”
“I feel really strongly…”“I feel impressed in my spirit…”
“I feel certain…”“I feel convicted in my spirit…”
“I agree.”“I bear witness in my spirit.”
“I love that!”“I rejoice in my spirit.”
“I’m really sure…”“I know in my spirit…”
“I changed my mind.”“I feel a shift in my spirit.”
“I want to…”“It was put in my spirit that we should…”
“I don’t want to.”“I feel hesitation in my spirit.”
“I got the idea…”“I sensed in my spirit…”
“I got emotional.”“I felt moved in my spirit.”
“I was sad.”“I was grieved in my spirit.”
“I was happy.”“I rejoiced in my spirit.”
“I’m worked up.”“I feel oppressed in my spirit.”
“That excites me.”“I feel a quickening in my spirit.”
“I agree.”“That really speaks to my spirit.”
“I feel free.”“I feel freedom in my spirit.”
“I feel strong.”“I feel strong in my spirit.”

Pick any adjective you like, and you can totally feel it in your spirit. Pick any verb, and you can easily do it in your spirit. It’s just that easy.

Christians who aren’t so sure their spirit is them.

Since there are a lot of Christians who like to fling around Christianese terms, yet don’t entirely know the definitions of any of this stuff, there are gonna be those Christians who think they need to describe certain situations as “in my spirit,” because they’re not entirely sure they should describe it as their motives or feelings. Fr’instance the Christian who’s trying to practice supernatural discernment, who’s pretty sure the Holy Spirit is telling them no, so it’s not that they think it’s a no; they’d describe it as “feeling a check in my spirit.” The Spirit’s talking to their spirit. As he does.

But when the Spirit’s talking to your spirit, you do realizing he’s talking to you, right?

Your spirit is in fact you, after all. Specifically it’s your lifeforce, the non-physical part of you. But it’s still you. Ps 17.1, Lk 1.47, Ac 7.49 Most Christians realize that “my spirit” really means the most essential part of “me”—the part that thinks, feels, chooses, continues to exist after we die, and gets put back into a new body when we’re resurrected.

There are certain Christians who claim your spirit is only part of you, a segment of you, a spiritual body part. They claim humans are made up of body, soul, and spirit. They claim your soul is what does the thinking and feeling and choosing.

Yeah, they’ve mixed up a few ideas. Mostly it’s because they’re actually teaching Sigmund Freud’s theories about how the mind works—how the id, ego, and superego interact with one another—but instead of calling ’em what Freud did, they’re using “body” to mean the self-centered id, “spirit” to mean the others-centered superego, and “soul” to describe the conscious will of the person who chooses to please oneself or think of others—to follow the body, or “flesh,” or the spirit. Basically it’s 20th-century secular philosophy, but borrowing a whole lot of terms from Romans 8. Inappropriately so.

So if “my spirit” is the superego—if it’s selfless, others-focused, and only seeks to do what’s right and moral—whenever I refer to “my spirit,” it’s implied this is the part of me which only ever does what’s right. Right?

Wrong. There’s nothing in the scriptures to indicate the human spirit is anything other than flawed and imperfect. Which is why God appreciates a broken spirit, Ps 51.17 and wants us to have a repentant and renewed spirit. Ek 18.31 My spirit might want to do the right thing, whereas my body not so much. Mk 14.38 But this doesn’t mean my body is evil and my spirit is good, like Plato of Athens used to teach. It only means part of me has good intentions… and the rest of me has no follow-through. And if my spirit decides to capitulate towards the urges of my body, it ain’t all that righteous.

So if you’re under the delusion your spirit will never steer you wrong, stop that. Don’t fall for that pagan baloney. It’s the Holy Spirit who’ll never steer you wrong. Your own spirit is not your guide. He is.

Christians who think “my spirit” means the Holy Spirit.

Yeah, there are a number of ’em: When these folks say “my spirit,” what they really mean is the Spirit: They’re claiming the Holy Spirit is personally guiding him. When they say, “I feel in the Spirit that this is true,” what they’re actually claiming is they think the Holy Spirit is leading them to believe this is true. Their feelings come straight from God himself.

So no, they’re not hypocrites. They just don’t realize there’s a difference between how they feel, and how God feels. They honestly think God’s directing their thoughts; that their thoughts are his thoughts. Yeah, it’s kinda scary. But it happens all the time, particularly among newbies who aren’t quite sure how this whole Spirit-living-within-me deal works. We need to correct ’em right away: Our thoughts aren’t his thoughts. (We’re working on it though.)

Regardless of what various Christians might mean by “my spirit,” I don’t want there to be any ambiguity in my own language. I avoid any “my spirit” language altogether. If I feel something, I state plainly I feel something. If I think it’s a God thing, I state I think it’s a God thing (’cause I might be wrong, y’know). I try to stay far away from any hypocrisy, deception, or self-deception. Or, as it’s stated in Christianese, I feel a check in my spirit lest I use “my spirit” improperly.

Otherwise I have the bad habit of using the term mockingly: “You know, I just feel in my spirit that I should go get some coffee. And my spirit wants sugar. Or Splenda; my spirit’s watching the calories lately. Does your spirit want anything? Your spirit want cocoa or tea?”