Second Mansion: Divided Loyalties—Battles Between the Kingdom of God and the World
In the Second Mansion, we have come to desire earnestly to live life God’s way. But the pull of the world with its false pleasures and gratifications is still strong. The conflicts of loyalty become more intense as we face our significantly mixed motives. We experience increased spiritual attack. The enemy hammers away with the deception that the world, rather than God, is the source of security, significance, and happiness.
Our struggles draw us more deeply into prayer, where God touches our hearts with his love and draws us onward into a deeper relationship of trust. However, the Second Mansion often doesn’t feel much like spiritual growth. The struggles and conflicts feel more like “backsliding,” and there is often a time of discouragement as we experience our share of failures. But God is relentless in his faithfulness and love and calls us closer.
Galatians 5:16–25 and Ephesians 6:10–18 illustrate some of the issues we face in the Second Mansion.
Third Mansion: Discipleship—Life in Order
The Third Mansion, for Teresa, represents what we might call a fully discipled Christian. Teresa makes a huge jump from the Second Mansion to the Third because she wants to focus on the later mansions of spiritual transformation, beyond the basic discipling of new believers. If we reach the Third Mansion, we have developed a relatively balanced life of “discipleship.” Put in contemporary terms, our spiritual growth is marked by regular church attendance and ministry, consistent prayer, a concerted effort to live the Christian life, and a genuine desire to please and honor God.
While the temptations of the world are still real in the Third Mansion, the more subtle temptations of pride, jealousy, envy, etc., are more threatening. God continues to meet us in our study of the Word, worship, sermons, and difficult events, calling us deeper into prayer. Our prayers are still dominated by requests for God’s favors and thanks for his blessings. While major issues of sin and addiction may have been overcome, we are being enlightened at a deeper level regarding the depth of sin and the mixed motives that still lie within. Our life in the Third Mansion is focused on serving God faithfully, and most of us spend many years here as our “home” mansion.
It is interesting to note that the attributes of the Third Mansion are often all that we are taught in our discipling process. Salvation, assurance, godly living, and ministry can be seen as “all there is.” But Teresa says we aren’t even halfway to what God has for us. There is more, much more!
Look at Ephesians 4:1–3 and Philippians 2:12–16 as examples of Third Mansion life.
Fourth Mansion: Touched by Love
In the Fourth Mansion, God begins to reveal himself to us through profound touches of his love and presence. We are given the beginnings of grace to “see” and “feel” God in prayer and in daily life. Our attention is shifted more toward the Giver than the gifts, and we find a longing for deeper intimacy with him and a correspondingly greater desire to love others. Supernatural experiences in prayer begin here, according to Teresa. At the same time, however, we see more clearly just how wounded we are and begin to realize and confront the difficulty we have in loving and being loved freely. In the Fourth Mansion, God begins to “set the agenda” for our prayer times, and our desire to listen increases.
Teresa calls this new responsiveness in prayer “infused contemplation” because it is given to us by God. We begin to “taste the love of Jesus” in a way not experienced before. One of the troubling “symptoms” of journeying in the Fourth Mansion is impatience with exhortations to work harder and do more. Worship songs and hymns of love speak to our hearts, while more Bible knowledge, “practical” sermons, or classes may feel dry and unfulfilling. The Fourth Mansion is an exciting time, but only a taste of what is ahead!
Read over Philippians 3:7–11 and John 21:15–17 to gain a better insight into our journey in the Fourth Mansion.
Fifth Mansion: The Call to Union
The Fifth Mansion is a time of transition when the focus of our discipleship moves even further from “doing” to “being,” from serving to loving. God calls us to begin to experience the fulfillment of the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in John 17, the call to union with God.
Listening prayer has become a regular part of our experience, with times of deep and adoring silence, times of just being with God. A hunger for God deepens and intensifies, and our motives are purified. In this mansion, Teresa says, our “Mary and Martha” have learned to work together as worship and work have become intertwined and balanced, both as an experience of God’s love and as an act of loving him in others.
In the fifth mansion, a growing awareness of God’s holiness compared to our own sinfulness increases our humility. Because of this new awareness, we often feel dissatisfied with our ability to serve God fully enough to express our love for him. While there may have been temptation to feel self-satisfied with our successes and growth in the earlier mansions, we are now more aware of how far we have to go. As we, the “beloved,” desire to love God more purely, we become more aware of our woundedness and yearn for healing that will give us freedom to love and be loved more fully.
Like the Second Mansion, the Fifth may not feel much like growth to us. Teresa believes that most Christians enter the Fifth Mansion to some extent, but may retreat from it because they haven’t been taught about this sometimes frightening dimension of life with God.
Romans 8:38–39 and John 17:20–26 describe many of the experiences that become foundational in the Fifth Mansion.
Sixth Mansion: Spiritual Betrothal—Falling in Love with God Alone
The Sixth Mansion is marked by even deeper experiences of God’s transforming love and a corresponding passion to serve him in love. This “falling head over heels in love” phase in our relationship with God produces both great joy and great pain. There is now a desire to live with God alone, to sense his presence continually, and to serve him in utter responsiveness and obedience. Times of prayer can become intense experiences of the fire and passion of God’s love for us and our love for him. In these last two mansions, the “dark nights” described by John of the Cross, during which God can seem totally absent or hidden, are also experienced. But even with the presence of the dark nights, the Sixth Mansion is characterized by a deep longing for God and “counting as loss” those things that don’t facilitate greater intimacy and devotion.
Psalm 27:4–6 and Philippians 3:12–14 express the intensity of this phase of our spiritual formation.
Seventh Mansion: Mystical/Transforming Union
The Seventh Mansion represents the ultimate in intimacy with God that we can experience in this life. It is marked by a complete integration of mind, body, and spirit in the life of Christ. Mary and Martha have become one. We can truly say with the Apostle Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ [who] lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB). Life in this mansion is a leveling time, with less pronounced highs and lows, when we live continually and transcendently in the present moment, in the fullness of Christ’s love. Here we find a relative perfection, combined with a freedom to be truly ourselves. Strengths and weaknesses are all opportunities for the experience of the ongoing transformation that comes through union with Christ. As with the former mansions, the Seventh Mansion represents an ongoing process rather than a destination. We continue to journey more and more intimately into the depths of God’s love and live out more fully his love for the world.
Read Ephesians 3:14–19 and Galatians. 2:20 in light of what we have discussed about the Seventh Mansion and the goal of our life with God.A more systematic description of the Teresian Mansions and a “Mapping Tool” to help locate yourself in the Teresian Mansions are available in R. Thomas Ashbrook, Mansions of the Heart: Exploring the Seven Stages of Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009), available from Tom at email@example.com).