Body – Soul - Spirit
Mankind (hereafter means male and female) is a triune being: spirit, soul, body (1 Thessalonians 5:23), just as God is a triune being (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We will examine each aspect of the natures of mankind below. We must realize from the outset that, although all humans have these natures, most of humanity is using the three according to God’s divine intention. Our Spirits, as our only means of communicating with God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24) are often buried beneath our soul or body so that the spirit has very little domination in our lives. Our true life, the only real source of life, is our spirit’s communication with God through our human spirits with His Spirit.
It is the spirit that should dominate the other areas of our lives here on earth and in the age to come. Our soul life and our bodies must come under the dominion of our spirit. Today for most of us the opposite is true to the point that most are not even aware of the spirit aspect of their nature. We are happy when the soul and body are satisfied by the many means available-religion, worldly goods and money, our intellect, emotions, food, lust, pleasure of all sorts and anything temporal we see around us. In truth we are never fully satisfied with these pursuits as the feeding our souls and bodies does nothing but temporarily satisfy our human cravings. The spirit is eternal. It is on the spirit, not the soul that we must feed. We cannot know God through our
Souls, only through our spirits.
We will begin our discussion with the soul and body, and address the spirit last. An understanding of the soul and body is necessary to more fully understand the role of our spirit.
The soul is our identity, who we are in our humanity. The soul is the seat of all of our non physical functions as humans. It contains the emotions, the intellect, our individuality, our desires, our will and is in fact the switchboard for human expression either as fallen man or, more perfectly as an expression of our spirit. It is in that sense mutable; it can be controlled either by our earthly desires or our spirit. When controlled by our earthly lusts, the Bible calls the soul the “flesh” or “flesh nature”. In Romans 8:3-4 Paul says: "[God] condemned sin in the flesh [our unperfected souls] in order that we do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit". In Galatians 5:16-23, he distinguishes between the deeds of the soul (flesh) and the deeds of the Spirit.
There is a soulish body, but there is also a spiritual body which some will possess in resurrection. What takes place in the miracle of resurrection is far more than reanimation. An individual does not come forth reanimated to live exactly as he did before; he will not function as he did in this life. There may be certain similarities in appearance, but all of the corruption, the fading away of youth, and that aging process is removed in the body of spirit as it exists now in the body of soul (Stevens, John Robert: This Week, Volume II (1971) p. 342).
Man’s soul was corrupted at the fall of man at the Garden of Eden. Whereas God used to walk with man/woman in the garden in the cool of the day and speak to them after man’s disobedience he never had such easy access to God. Man was reduced to a soul dominant being as the spirit of God left man’s awareness. The Spirit that mankind used to communicate with God was buried in the soul. Without the Spirit’s guidance the soul, left with a free will, often chose evil over good and thus the term “soul flesh”. This was what was called the separation of God from man.
The Apostle Paul said this about the deeds of the corrupted soul or flesh/soul nature. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Then He defined the deeds of (fruits of) the spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control". In Romans 8:14 he distinguishes between the domination of the human soul and the soul led by the spirit. "For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are the Sons of God" or put in another way all those whose spirit is dominating their soul and body have the ability to hear God and walk in His ways.
We cannot know God the Spirit by our minds or intellect. "For the mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" and get this "because the mind set on the flesh is HOSTILE to God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even ABLE to do so" (Romans 8:6-7). Our minds and thoughts are not focused on God but usually worldly things because that is all our minds are capable of doing.
As we’ve said previously this is not entirely our fault. Beginning with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, God subjected creation to futility, a cursed, futile state, where all things are separated from God (Genesis 3:17-19). Paul notes this by saying: "For the creation was subjected to futility not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it" (Romans 8:20). Futility in the Greek (called vanity in the King James Version) means: nothingness, worthlessness, emptiness, objectless, useless, perverse, foolish, idle, vain and false. Everything we see with our physical eyes and participate in on the natural realm is temporal (temporary) and under the curse of futility. Futility is the state of being where dreams are never fully realized, families are dysfunctional, countries are dysfunctional and/or corrupt (see the Book of Ecclesiastes for a complete explanation of futility). An excerpt: “The words of the, son of David, king in Jerusalem [Solomon]. “Futility of futilities” says Solomon, Vanity of vanities! All is vanity [futility]” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2).
However this futile state was not meant to be permanent. Creation, according to Paul was subjected to futility "in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:20-21). And who are these children (Sons) of God? They are those who are led by the Spirit. Those whose souls and bodies do not dictate the course of our lives but whose spirits dominate, subjecting soul and body to do the will of God. We can be those spiritual Sons here and now, in this earth. Many taking part in the first resurrection will not die but be resurrected (Matthew 16:28; John 8:52; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). The seed of life is sown as a corruptible soul and is raised an incorruptible spirit. When we enter into knowing Christ after the Spirit we will have a body that directly responds to the spirit, just as the body now responds to the soul and vice versa. There is a body of the soul and there is also a body of the spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 15:42-45).
The Book of Romans Chapter 8, written by the Apostle Paul, explains the difference between soul and spirit aptly: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death….so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” [the Law spoken of is the Mosaic Law, the 10 commandments and other laws given to the Jews]….For those who live according to the flesh [the soul] set their minds on the things of the flesh, [temporal things] but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-11).
Many will say “well I am a good person and don’t do the things mentioned here” and they will be wrong. You may be doing good things on the outside but we are talking about the inner life. Nobody is righteous in the innermost being. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deep and desperately wicked; who can know it?” If you do not even know your own heart, don’t be so defensive about it”. Also: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you [your soul life] have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Collisions 3:1-3). Also: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Sin is simply the soul acting without the spirit of which we are all guilty.
God’s Word created the entire creation. His word is powerful. As Hebrews says: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (v. 4:12-13). This is irrefutable evidence of the spirit and the soul. God knows the difference.
Like our souls, our bodies must also be subjected to and led by the Spirit. It is the body that ultimately expresses what is in our souls or spirit here on earth and in the Age to Come. Even in resurrection we shall have a body. "It is sown in a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power" (Romans 42-43). In 1 Corinthians 15:44-46 Paul goes on: "So also it is written [in Genesis 2:7] that the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam [Christ] became a life giving Spirit; the first man is from the earth; the second is from Heaven".
The body plays a major part in expressing the spirit. It expresses the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians Chapter 12). It is a vehicle for exercising worship. We form relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ through our bodies; we communicate verbally. Christ himself came in an earthly body, although His was obviously in subjection to the Spirit. The Spirit can even quicken our mortal bodies. "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN YOUR MORTAL BODIES by his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:10).
The body is limited when subjected to the soul. The soulish body feels and reacts on the emotional, not Spirit, level. It is limited in time, space, and ability to move from one place to another. The spirit body will be absolutely unlimited and could be a million miles away instantly, and tune in immediately to anyone, anyplace. Phillip was translated to Ethiopia in an instant; Elisha could even hear the enemy King’s battle plans discussed in his bedroom; Elijah and Enoch were translated to the Spirit realm, never experiencing death; Paul was caught up to the 3rd Heavens; Jesus would appear or disappear suddenly and He would perform miracles. Imagine having even earthly bodies that can do these unbelievable things!
More importantly, in the Kingdom of God, we are promised that we will not suffer sickness or death. All the sickness of the human body can be traced to the condition of our soul which is not controlled by God but by other forces. Christ cured sickness by expelling the evil influence causing it. All of medical science cannot do this. Since they are going about their attempt of healing through technology created by the human mind, as advanced as they seem to be, they cannot really control or stop sickness. God, through the Spirit, does have these answers. The Body subjected to the Spirit is unlimited.
We have met the spirit in the preceding sections. But what is the realm of spirit and how can we recognize it? How do we walk by it? We must understand that our spirit is a distinct part of our nature, as viable as our souls and bodies. It is controlled easily by our will. In other words, if we cause our spirit to be focused on God, in time it will connect with His Spirit and you will be aware of Him, the source of the spirit. The spirit works according to laws, just like our human bodies and souls. In the natural plane, if you touch the stove, you will be burned. It is a law. You cannot walk through walls; it is a natural barrier.
Some Spirit laws are applicable also in the natural realm. For instance, if you seek hard and long enough you will find what you want. If you want to be rich, just seek that goal and eventually you will attain it. If you want to be successful in life i.e. the good job, big house, expensive cars, be persistent and you will eventually have these things. Whatever you set your heart on, and persistently pursue, you will find. More important for the Christian if he/she seeks after an understanding of their Spirit, and do not give up, they will find it. In the Spirit are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
We all have a human spirit within us but in many it remains unquickened and in a sense asleep. The spirit itself, when recognized through Christ, is unlimited. When our spirits are free, they can go anywhere and do anything. Most of us, however, are not aware that we have a spirit. Therefore we are completely unaware of God, despite how much intellectual prowess we have. The intellect cannot know God. As we have said previously GOD IS A SPIRIT. The one and only way we can know God is through our spirits-His spirit and ours in joyful communion.
However for those who desire to walk with God, just being aware of our spirit nature is not an end in itself. The spirit can only be truly effective when it is directed by God. It is through the spirit we can obtain eternal life. Just having an undirected spirit gains nothing as an undirected spirit is open to many things that are not God. A free undirected spirit can easily become deceived as there are many voices (spirits) in the earth. As John said in his Epistle: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets [false spirits] have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).
This is one of three places the antichrist is mentioned in the Bible. Many would have you believe that the antichrist is a man revealed in the end-time who initiates a war with God. The real antichrist is the many who deny Christ. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now [2000 years ago] many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Also: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3). And: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).
This is actually a truly effective test for what is of God and what is not. There are many voices and many religions and philosophies loose in the world. The only test as to their validity is whether the teaching identifies Jesus Christ as the Son of God. As harsh as this seems, this simple test eliminates many of the world’s major religions (the people are not rejected but the religion or philosophy is). It is only through our spirit in connection with the Spirit of God that we can make these distinctions and thereby know the truth. As Jesus pointed out: “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (Matthew 24:11). They will mislead those who do not have the spiritual discernment by their spirits to discern the true from the false.
Our conscience can deceive us as well. Our human conscience is neither Spirit nor God. Many rely on their conscience to dictate what is right or wrong, to lead them in living a “moral” or “righteous” life or doing what in their eyes “is right”. The human conscious leads only to dead works whereby we believe we are pleasing God when in fact we are not. Scripture says: “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14). The human conscience is part of the soul and when followed allows man to do what is right in their own sight, not the will of God.
Since we all have a conscience, and we sometimes allow it to rule our moral sense of things, there could be six billion separate consciences dictating as many moral values. Moral standards are nothing more than deep-seated opinions that govern our sense of right and wrong. Unless our consciences are sanctified from these dead works (our human moral values mean nothing) and brought into the living works of Jesus Christ, we will not obtain what God wants for us. Our human consciences are a barrier (wall) to knowing God. Only God knows what righteousness is and our doing right or wrong must be according to His standards, not ours. The right thing to do, according to His word, is to have faith in Christ and believe He fulfilled the Law of God for us.
Many Bible scholars apply their entire lives to the study of God’s word by their intellect. However, the mere study of the word by the human mind does not come to know God; the effort is a dead work (John 5:39). The Pharisees of Christ time were the most religious appearing people of the day, similar to some of our famous ministers of today. Yet Jesus said they were “of their father the devil” (John 8:41-44). They knew what the Words said but they were unable to do them. A man can write a commentary of the Bible, interrupting what he thinks it means, yet that commentary can be obsolete before the ink is dry. God’s Word is ever changing as it applies to us. It is a living Word meant to be real today, not what someone thought of it yesterday. Since the Word is Spirit, it can only be spiritually discerned. Jesus said: “My words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63) not mere words. God’s word is spirit and conveys spirit. Human words can only convey ideas, impressions or emotions, not spirit or life.
Neither do our human emotions lead us to God. Religious movements based on emotional expression were considered to be an expression of the Lord (Pentecostal movements, Quakers etc.). They are and were led by their souls. The Spirit has its own set of emotions: love, joy, peace, longsuffering etc. It may express itself as dancing in the spirit as David did, or it may be quietly communing with Him. However, to correctly express spiritual emotions has to begin in the spirit, not the soul or body.
In order to come into an awareness of God’s Spirit one must desire it above all else. Jesus said: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). One must feel emptiness in this life and want something more. He may have tried different religions or philosophies, but to no lasting avail. A meeting with God is a personal experience; He is your personal Savior.
One method to become aware of Him is to wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31 KJV). It is like meditation but meditation involves being passive and letting anything that presents itself into our consciousness. Waiting on the Lord is aggressive; the body is relaxed but the spirit is focused on God. If you do not know how to focus your spirit, use your imagination and express a faith that it will happen. The Spirit can be focused by our will and our faith. This is called the “fervent prayer of listening”. If you are presenting some problem you have in life to the Lord, believe you will receive an answer directly from God, you will. If you do this often enough you will suddenly become aware of a still, small voice in the background of the clutter of your mind that rings of truth and is in fact the voice of the Lord.
As you develop this intense listening skill, that voice will become louder and louder until you are aware you are actually hearing from God himself on a regular basis. As this progresses, suddenly the things of the Spirit will become more important to you and you will began to manifest in your daily life what is being revealed to you. Finally, the Spirit will begin to dominate your desires, thinking, actions etc. You will be living by the Spirit, being led by the spirit. He then becomes your priority, your first love. When the Spirit becomes first in your life, everything else you need or want will be given to you anyway. However, our wants and needs will change the more the spirit begins to take dominion in our lives. If you follow the spiritual walk, you will not only have fulfillment in this life but in the Age to come, resurrection life (Luke 18:29).
Scripture: New American Standard Bible, 95 ed.
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