In the Classic book The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee describes in chapter 12 the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden as permitting the “overdevelopment of the human soul.”
“But—and here we come to the point—the fruit of the tree of knowledge made the first man overdeveloped in his soul.” Watchman Nee
According to Nee, Satan’s temptation of mankind and the subsequent eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil tore the soul of man from the Spirit of God and set in motion human souls growing beyond their intended role. Man’s soul went wild.
Nee describes this overdevelopment of the human soul as the result of the human spirit no longer being directly connected to and continuously inspired by the Spirit of God. In the place of God’s inspiration and man’s voluntary cooperation there is now a continuous stimulation of the human soul by sin and Satanic influence.
This “overdevelopment of the human soul” produces what the Scriptures call the “works of the flesh.” These works are destructive to the person practicing them and to those in relationship with them. (See Galatians 5:19-23 to see a comparison of the overdeveloped soul called “Flesh” and the properly developed soul called “Walking in the Spirit)
The Apostle Paul describes this tormenting overdevelopment of the human soul in Romans 7 as he says:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it isno longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. Romans 7: 14-17
Under the instruction of God’s perfect law, which describes how a human being behaves with a God developed spirit, soul and body, Paul could envision what the “normal” human life was meant to be at creation. Paul could see himself with a soul that was not overdeveloped by sin abiding in him and by constant Satanic influence. Paul could envision himself with a spirit connected to God’s Spirit and a soul properly developed for love. Sin in him and Satanic influence all around him, however, would never allow this to happen so he says in Romans 7:24:
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
I recently watched a documentary filmed in 2007 about the tallest woman in China. She was nearly 8 feet tall. This young woman’s pituitary gland would not allow her body to function normally. No matter how much she envisioned being a normal height and doing what she longed to do, she could not stop the actions of her rebellious pituitary gland and her body was the evidence of an over abundance of growth hormones. It was a tragic story of overdevelopment of the body. It hurt just to watch her struggle!
The overdevelopment of the human soul is far more tragic. The overdevelopment of the human soul due to the absence of God’s Spirit, the presence of sin in us and the constant inspiration of Satan makes the story of the human soul one of death and more death. The fruit of the separation of man’s spirit from God’s Spirit and the overdevelopement of his soul is clear to see and always brings a premature and sad death. It hurts just to watch humans struggle with the size of their souls!
There is good news in Jesus! We can begin again in the Spirit of Christ. We can receive into our spirit the Spirit of Christ and the process of the restoration of our soul to its intended size and function can begin in us. This begins in what is called being “Born Again” and then continues as “spiritual formation,” “Christ formed in us” or “discipleship”. (Read Romans 8 to see this amazing change in action.)
Our souls must be reduced in size to love again. Our pride must go first and poverty of spirit must take its place. The normal activities of the overdeveloped soul called “flesh” must be put off like excess size and we must learn to live and walk lightly in the Spirit. We must enter into the “yoke” with Jesus and finally find rest for our souls.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mateus 11:28-30
Nothing short of a new beginning in the Spirit can bring rest (right size, function and weight) to the overdeveloped souls of men and women. This new beginning must be lived moment by moment and day by day abiding in Christ until our soul becomes a willing servant of God’s Spirit. When this happens we will be perfected or made into what God originally intended in Eden.
“He must increase and I must decrease” takes on a new meaning in light of our overdeveloped souls! When we finally love like He does, our souls are the right size again and the heavy burden will be gone