Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spirit, Soul & Body II

The bible says, “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…” (2Cor. 5:17-18)

But how is it that I am a new creature? I know that when I accepted Christ some things changed. But how is it that I am completely new. I may feel different and see some things differently but I am still me. And how is it that old things are passed away? There are still a lot of old things that I have. I still have old thoughts, feelings, emotional and physical problems. And how is it that all things are of God? That just doesn’t seem possible. I still have a lot of things that are not of God in my life. Just what is this scripture talking about, and just how can it be true?

Well, Paul is talking about our spirit. You see, the bible teaches that man is made up of three separate parts; spirit, soul, and body, and when you accept Christ as your savior, it is your spirit that is so radically changed. Your soul, (which is “who” you are; and comprises your mind, will and emotions) and your body, (which is your physical body) may be affected to some degree, but it is your spirit that is made new, and made like God. And because your spirit is your nature, (the very essence of “what” you are), Paul can say “if any man be in Christ, “he” is a new creature… (See 1Thess. 5:23)

Before we accepted Jesus as our savior, (becoming “born again,”) our spirit was “dead” in sin. It is not that our spirit did not exist; but because of sin, it was simply separated from the “life” of God. But when we accepted Christ, our sins were forgiven, the life of God was birthed once again into our spirit, the characteristics of our old spirit (and old life) passed away, and our spirit became changed and new; spiritually alive, connected to God and as righteous as he is. “That’s” how we are new creatures in Christ. It is our spirit within us that is made new. How else can we be holy and perfect enough for heaven? It certainly it is not from the outside, from what we “see” of ourselves. It is our spirit that is “a new creation.” It is our spirit that is made righteous and Christ-like and holy and complete and qualified for heaven, not our flesh. (2Cor. 5:21)

But most Christian’s don’t look at themselves as they are in the spirit, which is new and Christ-like. Rather, they look at themselves as they are in their natural lives and in their behavior; with faults, weaknesses and sin. They live according to the flesh instead of according to the spirit. They do not understand what it means to “walk in the spirit,” and they live by works instead of faith, trying to be in good standing with God and trying to change themselves, and trying to be good enough and trying to add up. They “try” to be good Christians and pleasing to God rather than “believing” they are already pleasing to him. But you can never please God in the flesh. It is only by faith that you can please God and be in right standing with him, and it is only by faith that real outer change can be made in our lives. Now, I am not saying that we should not “try” to be good Christians. We have a “natural” life and should do the best we can in it, but it is not in the natural that we will gain or maintain a right standing with God. Nor is it by trying harder that we will bring any real transformation in our lives. It ALL must come by faith. (Rom. 7:18, Heb. 11:6)

The point I am making is that “living” our lives as Christians is no different than how we became Christians. It is by faith. It does not come by doing the best we can. To those who understand salvation and gaining eternal life, you know that being good enough will never attain eternal life for us. Being good enough is never good enough; it can never bring about forgiveness and the change in our spirit that is necessary. That has to come from God. And it is only through faith in what Jesus has done for us that God is able to “save” us. And it is the same after we are saved. Trying to please God and maintain our right standing with him or trying to bring “change” in our lives by doing the best we can is just not possible. We simply do not have the power within ourselves to do either. It too has to be done by faith. (Rom. 7:18, 2Cor. 5:7, Eph. 2:8-9)

Now let’s address another misconception which is connected to all of this. I had said that a man or a woman’s spirit is their very nature. It is the essence of what they are. And because of sin; before we are born again, our spirit (and thus the very essence of our being) is the nature of sin. But once we are born again, our spirit becomes the nature of righteousness and of God. None-the-less, because of the struggle we have with sin and sinful desires after we have accepted the Lord, many Christians believe that we have two natures; one that is the nature of God, and the other the nature of sin. But that is impossible. Let’s consider a simple illustration. Think for a moment of your neighbor’s pet dog. It has only one nature and that is the nature of a dog. That is because that is the very essence of its being. That is what it is. It cannot have a nature of a dog and a nature of a cat. It can only have one nature, not two. It is the same with Christians. They cannot have two natures. They cannot have a righteous nature AND a sin nature. They can have only one nature, and that is the nature of God. “That” is the very essence of their being. The struggle we have with sin and sinful desires does not come from a sinful nature. It comes from our flesh. Paul clearly explains this in the book of Romans when he says that the reason he cannot do good even though he wants to is because of sin in his flesh. It is not because he has a sin nature. He said clearly that his sin nature was dead and gone. (Rom. 6:6-7, 7:17-20)

Now the reason that we still have sin in our flesh is because our flesh is not yet redeemed. It is not yet changed like our spirit is. We are waiting for the redemption of our bodies which will take place at the resurrection. It is then that all those who during their lives had accepted Christ as their savior will receive new and immortal bodies, like the one Jesus received when “he” was resurrected. Until then we must deal with bodies that are corruptible, susceptible to sickness, suffering and death. (Rom. 8:21-23, 1Cor. 15:51-54)

But we are not helpless or bound to a life of sickness, and suffering, and struggling with sin. God has made it so that our soul can be a “bridge” to our new spirit and through our soul we can gain a “transformation” in our bodies and in our behavior. What I mean is this. Instead of believing that we are like we see in the flesh we can choose to believe that we are like we are in our new spirit. And that kind of faith will, over the course of time, transform us on the outside into what we are already on the inside. (Rom. 12:1-2) Paul calls this “walking in the spirit.” This is the only way a Christian can have peace with God and confidence in their salvation. And it is the only way they can have victory over sin. Paul said, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 3:16-17, 2Cor. 5:7)

It takes a while for this concept to sink in. It is not natural. It is spiritual. It is living by faith and not by sight. And simply put, that means to believe what God’s word says about you (or anything else) even if it is different than what you see in this world. Your faith will then change what you see. It will be done unto you according to your faith. So, if you begin to think of yourself strictly as God says your new spirit is, a transformation will begin. The power of God’s word will begin to transform you into exactly what it says your spirit is, empowering you to live a Christ-like life in every way. If you believe that you are a saint, and perfect in Christ, you will be able to live righteously, healthfully, wisely, and powerfully. Your faith will be a bridge to your new spirit. However, if you believe you are a sinner and incomplete and imperfect, seeing yourself as you are in the natural; you will be bound by the very things you believe. You will have used your faith as a bridge to your flesh.

Believing is the course of the day since Jesus instituted the New Testament. The Old Testament was about what man was required to do. And that proved impossible. The New Testament is what man is required to believe. It is faith that will attain for us forgiveness and eternal life, it is faith that will bring peace and rest in God, and it is faith that will free us from problems we experience, enabling us to grow and develop and walk the Christian life.

You don’t need to become a better Christian. You need to believe that you are the best Christian you need to be. You don’t need to become more loving and forgiving. You need to believe that you are already loving and forgiving. You don’t need to try to get healed. You need to believe that you are healed already. And all of this faith will be based on the truth of what your new spirit is.

Jesus said this, “It is the spirit that quickeneth, (or gives life) the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (Jn. 6:63) It is in believing the word of God that brings life and results. Trying harder does not. We are called to believe, not work. It is God’s word that will work. In the book of Isaiah, God said this about his word. “…it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing that I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)

It is up us to believe and to live by faith and it is up to the word of God to accomplish that which it says; and if we believe God’s word that is exactly what it will do…! Like it says in the book of Zechariah, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit (that is my word) saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6, parenthesis mine)

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


photo © Dorothy Alexander

Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936. Her first book of poems, Good Times, was rated one of the best books of the year by the New York Times in 1969.Clifton remained employed in state and federal government positions until 1971, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News About the Earth (1972) and An Ordinary Woman (1974). Read mre about Lucille Clifton on Poets.org @
blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)
may the tidet hat is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out beyond the face of fear
may you kiss the wind
then turn from it
certain that it will love your back
may you open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

This was my third Jones Lewis Family reunion celebrated with my husband's side of the family in Baltimore, Maryland; Dougie and Janice did an exemplary job as our host family from the start of the weekend through Sunday farewell gathering afternoon spent in their backyard.
Truly it was a memorable occassion and quite a whirlwind weekend filled with cutural and family appreciation. New connections were made, conversations had with favorite family members, laughter and lamenting opportunities had while we meander through the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Why I never thought about Art History and eventually becoming a curator is beyond me? I love visiting museums, truly it's a great meeting place, and yes there's history, culture and art under one roof.

This was my second visitto this fine museum, but this moment provided me with an opportunity to journey through the exhibit A People's Geography. As my husband entertained and chased little Courtney around the museum, I eventually caught up with them in the gallery that featured A People's Geography: The Spaces of American Life and there was Lucille Clifton's blessing the boats poem painted on the wall.

There I stood transfixed rereading her blessing. I felt the words were as powerful as the beautiful quilts, the artistic impressions and the historical video.

I thanked God for how eloquent and appropriate Ms. Clifton's words were for this family sojourn. These were words were stenciled not only on this wall, but in my heart. Wordsthat captivated my soul. Words meant for our time, our ancestors and the generations yet to be born. Words that were a blessings for any visitor, any travelor to behold.

Here we were in the midst of this celebration of family and culture, why it couldn't have occured in a more approriate setting! Thank you and may God continue to keep you Sister Lucille!

Every Word of God is pure;
he is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.
Proverbs 30:5

Joyfully Submitted by :
Linda Mose Meadows
The Blessedness of Believing
A Devotional Journey of Life’s Lessons and God’s Promises

All rights reserved, no use without prior written permission of Linda M. Meadows

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