Eli was the last priest judge of Israel. He fell dead when the ark of the covenant was taken by an enemy. He fell dead when the religious symbol was taken. He had placed his trust in religion and religious activity and put it in the place of God. This is the religious spirit. God replaced Eli the priest with Samuel the prophet who knew God Himself.
Eli’s sons had another problem and followed another spirit. They put their own souls above their spirits, and in doing so rebelled against God’s order of spirit above soul. They fell under the spell of carnality. To be carnal is to place your soul above your spirit, and be led by it-this works itself out as love of money, pleasure, earthly power and may other things, but the rebellion is the same-it is against the true order of things.
These two spirits prevail now as well as then: the religious spirit and carnality. They both block us from knowing God directly. When we place out trust in our religious activities instead of God, they become a block. And when we lift our soul above our spirit, we also block our knowing of God, because God’s Spirit speaks to our spirits in that secret place. God wants to be known. Both Eli and his son’s had placed things between them and God-one placed religion, the other carnality. These two are still the problems for most of us.