Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spirit, Soul & Body

One of the most important biblical teachings concerning human beings is the teaching that man is a triune being like God.

In the bible it is taught that God is 3 in 1; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is also taught in the bible that man is 3 in 1; spirit, soul, and body.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul said this, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, we have here, (as well as seen in other scripture verses) that man is made up of three distinct parts; spirit, soul and body. (1Thess. 5:23)

In order to understand this principle and how it affects us as humans and as Christians, I need to describe the three parts of man. And though all of this is difficult to explain in writing, it may even be harder to read, so I will keep it as simple as I can and try to make my points clear and understandable. Stick with me; I believe that you will be blessed.

The spirit of man may be hardest to understand. That is because it relates so much to the unseen “spirit” realm and our relationship to it. I believe however that the best way to describe our spirit is to say that the spirit of man is his or her very nature, that is to say, the way we really are on the inside. And according to the bible, our spirit is only one of two natures because there are only two basic natures in the spirit realm. There is the nature of God and there is the nature of the devil; the nature of God being a good and righteous nature and the nature of the devil being a nature of evil and of sin.

When God first created man and woman, they had the nature of God, a righteous nature. But when they chose to sin, they took on the nature of the devil, a sinful nature. And according to the bible this sinful nature is passed down to all men after them. That is, we are all born with this sinful nature. (Rom. 5:12) This sinful nature is the part of man that Jesus said must be “born again.” We must be "born again" and changed again into the nature of God, the nature that bAdam once had. This is done by accepting Jesus as our savior who died to remove our sin. But before this "new birth" occurs, man is spiritually dead, separated from God, and in spiritual darkness due to sin. (Jn. 3:3-5)

The soul of man is the personality of man. It is who we are and what makes us all individuals. The soul is comprised of our mind, our will and our emotions.

The body of man is just that, it is his or her physical body, and is the part of man that is in touch with this natural world through his five senses. The bible often calls this part of man his flesh.

One reason that this principle of spirit, soul and body is so important to understand is that in order for a human being to be a fully healthy and entirely whole, each of their three parts must be nurtured and fed and taken care of properly. Man’s spirit must first be given life through the new birth, then fed and nurtured through the Word of God. Man’s soul must be fed and nurtured through intellectual endeavor and love, and man’s body must be taken care of through a good diet, rest and exercise. Of course this is all very simplified but that is what I am endeavoring to do.

For Christians however, the significance of the spirit, soul and body principle goes beyond the basics of a normal healthy life. Understanding its deeper implications will determine whether a Christian has a toil free, power filled and productive life or a life of tedious “works,” trying hard to be something that they cannot be, do things that they cannot do, and trying to have things that they will not have… I will explain as I go along.

As mentioned before, when a man or a woman accepts Jesus as their personal savior, they become "born again;" bringing a major change to their spirit. Speaking of this change, Paul said this, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ…” (2 Cor. 5:17-18) Paul is talking here about the change in our spirit when we accept Christ. When we accept Christ as our savior, our sins are forgiven, we receive spiritual life and light, and our spirit once again is restored to the nature of God. It is through this “new birth” that our spirit is made again into the image of God and made complete in him. And by complete I mean that our spirit becomes fully Christ-like in every way. How Christ is, our spirit becomes. (1Jn. 4:17)

The implications of our spirit becoming Christ-like are far reaching because this is now our “new” nature and the way we really are. We truly become Christ-like. However, a major problem arises when a Christian does not realize this and thinks that they are like what they “see” in their outer behavioral lives, that is, in their soul and in their flesh. (And indeed, it often seems anything but Christ-like). So, instead of identifying with and resting in the finished Christ-like work within themselves, they identify with what they see in themselves in the natural. Thus, they can feel inadequate, unworthy, sinful, guilty, powerless etc. etc., and thus are trapped into believing that they must in some way change to become more Christ-like. But this is a false notion and it is futile to try to accomplish. There is no way we can become Christ-like by “trying” to be Christ-like. It must be done by faith and must be a work of God, and in fact is already accomplished in our spirit when we become born again. We ARE new creatures and we ARE changed and we ARE Christ-like because our spirit has been made that way by God.

Simply put, most Christians try to be Christ-like instead of believing that they are Christ-like already. They live according to the flesh instead of according to the spirit; they live a life of works and what they see themselves doing instead of living according to faith and what God has made them on the inside. Yet, it is through understanding what has happened to our spirit in salvation, and believing that is the way we now are that is the key to living a really Christ-like life. It is only through faith that true confidence with God and effectiveness in our Christian lives can take place.

But most Christians don’t know how it can be that they are righteous when they see sin in their lives, how they can be healed and whole when sickness is in their body, how they can be fearless when they feel afraid, how they can be victorious when they fail, how they can be all they need to be and have all they need to have when they do not see these things in their lives. BUT, it is our spirit that is the fullness of all these things. It is not our soul or our flesh. And it is knowing this truth that gives Christians the right to say they are strong when they are weak, healed when they are sick, rich when poor, wise when simple, righteous even though they sin. They are not lying; they are speaking by faith and identifying themselves with their new spirit and true nature rather than their soul or body. This perspective is what Paul the apostle called living by faith rather than by sight, and is the life all Christians are called to live... “For the just shall live by faith and not by sight.” (2Cor. 5:7)

WHAT YOU ARE IS NOT WHAT YOU SEE! Just because you have problems in your soul or in your body does not mean that you are not new, or righteous or healed or whole or pleasing to God or qualified for heaven. The truth is that if you have accepted Jesus as your savior, your spirit and true nature is fully changed and made righteous, holy, wise, strong, healthy, sinless, and totally Christ-like and complete. And it is identifying yourself with your spirit rather than what you see in the flesh that will bring the peace and rest Jesus promised. And along with peace and rest, it will also bring a transformation to your outer life because this kind of faith will transform you, making it possible to live outwardly as you already are inwardly… and it will do it through the power of God rather than yourself. (Rom. 12:1-2, Gal. 5:16, Heb. 4:11)

God is the “Father of spirits,” (Heb. 12:9) and it is your new spirit that is always complete and pleasing to him because it is always Christ-like. It is because of your new spirit that God sees you as already changed, already holy, already pure and righteous, kind and loving, powerful and blessed in every way. And that is because that is the way your very nature is.

So you too should see yourself that way because this is the ONLY way you will ever please God and have the life and power of Christ in the flesh. Trying harder just doesn’t work, but having faith does… “For to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6-10, Heb. 11:6)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www. jbagati.com

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