Connected upward, yet pulled downward.
That is the battle within your soul.
But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.
© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.
[Combat Zone article originally created 2009, then updated January 2015, July 2016, and December 2019.]
Italians might wish a newborn “benvenuti alla luce”—welcome to the light—but whenever I see a baby, one of my first thoughts is “Welcome to the battlefield.”
The dynamics have begun. Within that little body lies a great commission . . . its soul’s journey, purpose, identity. Designed to reach up and connect with G-d.
That journey can be anything but easy because the soul’s matrix—composed of three distinct, yet interwoven parts—will engage in a no-holds-barred tug of war vs. resting in a holy balance.
At times, the inner battle will transect, disturb, sharpen, and engage both the spiritual and physical dimensions. The world-bound self challenging His righteousness. The earthly desire racing to overtake holiness. The outer chaos impeaching inner silence.
I know that battle well. Too well. It’s been the substance of the war within my soul matrix for years. More than likely, for you too. It is, after all, the stuff within all of us who reside on this side of heaven.
WHAT’S WARRING WITHIN
Let’s take a look at your three-component soul matrix through a rabbinic window based on the Hebrew in G-d’s Word—and then walk the Judaic-Messianic bridge, merging it with mirrored wording from Messianic Judaism/Christianity (New Testament).
Your soul-breath of life, attached to G-d: Neshama [neh-shah-mah]—soul, breath of life, nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], that G-d breathed into Adam per Genesis 2:7—higher/holy part of the soul, attached to G-d, bringing His light and voice through, impassioned to pull your entire soul upward to live a holy life in and toward Him, reflecting G-d’s presence; every human (Jew or Gentile) has a neshama, but animals don’t.
The neshama holds the identity of what He made you to be in Him vs. the illusion that whispers to you from the world and other sources. The neshama funnels G-d’s light and truth into the soul matrix.
Your human spirit: Ruach [roo-akh]—wind per Genesis 8:1—human spirit, rises/descends, births emotions, and is attached to and sandwiched between the neshama (soul-breath) and nefesh (life force/body, lower soul part); humanity and animals have a ruach.
The ruach is like a transmitter, assigned to work in tandem with the neshama to fan the flame of love for G-d and pull the nefesh and entire soul matrix up into G-d’s will and ways—moving within His flow for a Shechinah (שכינה, divine presence dwelling within) soul walk.
Life force and body: Nefesh [neh-fesh]—living being, but from Hebrew root nafash meaning to rest per Exodus 31:17—lowest part of the soul, life force (Leviticus 17:11), includes the physical body, tethered to the physical world, compelled by the things of this world, self-focused, physical desires, fear; attached to ruach; humans and animals have a nefesh.
The New Testament writers often refer to this world-tethered component (nefesh) as our “flesh”—focusing on the physical body and its self-driven characteristics and mindset.
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit [of God] is life and peace . . . Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” —Romans 8:5, 6, 8
Like a glassblower, G-d’s action of exhaling a soul
is like the breath [neshama] leaving His lips,
traveling as wind [ruach/spirit],
coming to rest [nefesh] in the vessel [you/me/everyone].
—Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
The good news: When the true light of G-d flows unhindered through the soul-breath (neshama), your human spirit (ruach), and your flesh (nefesh), the soul matrix as a whole emanates His ways, becoming a menorah, a witness of His light to the world.
The challenging news: Sin (rebellion against G-d’s way of living/doing things) can, in time, erode the connection between the soul-breath and your human spirit, nearly dissolving the connection. That can cause your human spirit to disengage from the things of G-d—leaving the rogue, world-driven flesh (nefesh) at the helm. And that pulls down your entire soul matrix, eventually into spiritual darkness, and impairs your walk with G-d.
There are more characters in your soul story to contend with—many opponents on many battlefronts that need to be fought, spiritually and physically:
(1) the world—earthly, mundane, carnal, temporal pursuits
(2) your DNA
(4) relationships—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, congregant members, etc.
(5) life encounters/experiences
(6) your since-the-beginning-of-time adversary, satan
And let’s not forget free will . . . complete with your two-sided inclinations: yetzer tov (יֵצֶר טוב), a drive toward doing/choosing things that are good, and yetzer hara (יֵצֶר הַרַע), a drive toward doing/choosing not-so-good things.
So it doesn’t take much to stir up a war—instead of
doing what the soul matrix should be doing . . .
stirring up the heart to love Him.
A little compromise here. An ignoring of G-d there. Toying with this. Hanging around that. In time, the nefesh/flesh becomes so strong in its earthbound desires that even doctrines of demons—guised as light, acceptable social mores at odds with G-d’s standards—can seep into your soul and blind your spiritual sight.
Isaiah 7:9b bottom lines it:
Without firm faith,
you’re not firmly established—you won’t stand at all.
G-d’s not asking you to stand on ceremony, get caught up in religious acts, or drown your soul in legalism. G-d wants your love—and a restored relationship with Him, walking in His truth, His Word, and His love.
In Joel 2:13, G-d gives a clear image . . .
Tear your hearts, not your garments.
Return to the Lord for He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
That’s why it’s so critical to learn the rules of engagement for this soul battle down here. Isaiah 8: 11-14 gives some basic guidelines. In a nutshell . . .
Don’t fear what people fear or
be awed by what awes them.
Let G-d be the object of your awe . . . consecrate Him.
He alone is to be your sanctuary.
YOUR SOUL: HIS SANCTUARY
This isn’t about gaining”spirituality” . . . being or getting religious. And it’s not about rote mantras, transcendental meditation, or trance-like states—all of those things are outside of G-d’s ways. Nor is it about creating your version of G-d—that’s idolatry.
It’s about connecting with G-d on His terms, not the world’s, not ours.
I believe G-d has made it clear from Genesis onward of what His terms entail. He consistently has revealed His character, His desires, His rules of engagement. And since the beginning, He has made it clear that humanity has a disconnect with Him, so He made a way to restore relationship with Him. There were temporary measures at first—sacrifices that had to be repeated daily, annually.
But those were mere shadows of what was coming, the greatest gift . . . a one-time holy sacrifice. A doorway giving us access to the Father, to the King of Kings.
God’s way of restoring relationship with Him:
“I am the Truth, the Life, the Way . . . no man comes to the Father except through me.”
— John 14:6. The Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name)
Fulfilling the soul’s journey begins with receiving the restoration gift from G-d: Jesus. From there, your soul matrix grows and is transformed by being . . . resting within the fibers of His presence, His Word, His ways . . . being hidden in Him, where you’re surrendered. Total white-flag territory.
It’s where your soul matrix gets into sync,
working as a whole with Him,
bowing before Him.
Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep is calling to deep at the thunder of your [G-d’s] waterfalls; all your surging rapids and waves are sweeping over me.”
That’s where holy communication is sparked, where you discover yet another layer of who He is, what He is, where He’s moving, how He’s guiding you, what He’s saying to you for this season of your life.
It’s where you’ll swim in the glorious waterfall that flows from His throne and releases . . .
words of knowledge
discernment & understanding
mercy & grace
His consuming fire
BRIDGING SCRIPTURES & UNDERSTANDING
No matter which side of the Judaic-Messianic Judaic-Christian bridge you’re on, this fact is mutually agreed upon and scripture-based: people are souls clothed in a life force/body that is tethered/drawn to this world. And for the most part, both camps also understand the need to let G-d’s light of His scriptures and His truth breathe in and through the soul—and exhale out to humanity.
You, me, and the next guy are all called to be more than a menorah of light—we’re called to love and worship Him in truth and in spirit, becoming His menorah of true light, reflecting that great light of His Word to the world around us. Connecting . . . resting . . . gently, humbly loving.
Psalm 16:7*. My soul instructs me.
[Note: The kidneys denote inner parts, deep parts . . . where the truths of faith exist.]
Psalm 63:2, 9*. My soul is attached to G-d, my heart clings to Him.
Deuteronomy 6:5* & Matthew 22:37. You are to love Adonai your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Proverbs 20:27*. The human spirit is a lamp of ADONAI; it searches one’s inmost being.
Hebrews 4:12. See, the Word of G-d is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.
Matthew 11:29. [And Yeshua/Jesus said] Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
John 4:23-24. But the hour is coming—indeed, it’s here now—when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. G-d is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
NOTE: Hebrew Bible scripture/numeral reference
Judaic scripture numbering used for references in the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”)