Spirit, Soul and Body
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" 1 Thessalonians 5:23
If you are a Christian and have read the verse above then you can clearly see that Gods Word teaches that you are a three part being. Understanding spirit, soul and body is foundational and by recognising this truth, it has the potential to revolutionise your entire Christian life and will help you to understand your true identity in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the relationship between God and man
God is Spirit (“God is Spirit” John 4:24)
God decided to make us in His image (“Then God said let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness” Genesis 1:26)
God then created us (“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” Genesis 2:7)
So from this we can see that we were made in His image and likeness spiritually not physically. We are a spirit being who has a soul and lives in a body.
In Genesis 2:17, God told man; “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.
In Genesis 3 we read that man’s relationship with God was broken after man chose independence and disobeyed Gods command after being deceived and tempted by satan and the consequences following this.
So from this point man became spiritually dead. Man became disconnected from God and became a two part being - body and soul. The spirit became dead and dormant as we can see from the illustration below:
But as we know, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16
So God showing His great love for us provided a route of salvation in His Son who would redeem us with our Father in heaven. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6
It is only through our faith in Jesus through the redemption He has offered to man by dying on the cross for our sins that we are able to learn, understand and experience our true identity in Him - our spirit
When we were born again we reconnected with God. Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3
So upon our acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God joined with our own spirit. The apostle John said “This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us; He has given us of His Spirit” 1 John 4:13
“the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you”
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." 1 Corinthians 6:17
Our dead and dormant spirit became alive as illustrated below. “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” Ephesians 2:5
We have access to the same intimacy with God the Father that God the Son, Jesus Christ had. As recorded in Mark 14:36 Jesus addressed God the Father as “Daddy” when He prayed, “Abba, Father . We are told in Galatians 4:6 that “because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
We are the sons and daughters of God by the witness of the Holy Spirit within us. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” Romans 8:16
Our spirits are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13) and cannot be contaminated by this world. The Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14)
We became a new creation “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Just as the first human was made alive by the breath of God, we as ‘new creations’ in Christ are made spiritually alive by the breath of God - the Holy Spirit
‘New creation’ is not referring to your body or your soul but it is in the spirit that we became a brand new species of being. Our regenerated spirit has saved our soul from spiritual death and when our physical body dies our spirit and soul will leave our bodies and go to be with the Lord in heaven forever (2 Corinthians 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:52-57, Psalm 23:6, John 11:25-26). While we are on earth the parts which make up our soul- the mind, will and emotions are all subject to change while we are in our earthly body. We do this by renewing our mind and walking in the spirit.
Now that we can clearly see our true identity in Jesus Christ - our spirit, we must recognise that we still have to deal with our old nature which has also been described in the Bible as the carnal mind, the flesh, the old man which affects our soul. You can find out more information about the soul in our teaching entitled “soul”.
Jesus tells us in John 3:6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit”. And Paul says “For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;” Galatians 5:17.
The flesh here is describing our old sin nature which was programmed in our minds at our physical birth. This is a clear definition between the two describing our natural birth into sin and sin nature (flesh/old man) and our spiritual birth where our spirit was regenerated (spirit/new man).
The mind is part of the soul. As an example, you can look at our minds like a computer in the way that they are programmed. We were all born into sin (Psalm 51:5) and our old sin nature programmed our minds and the result of this is shown in Galatians 5:19-20.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We now need to “walk in the spirit” and not fulfil the lust of the flesh” Galatians 5:16.
Sadly many Christians don’t know who they are in the spirit and have lost this spiritual point of view. Religion has taught them that we are all sinners. The point here is that we were sinners and had the nature of the devil working in us (Ephesians 2:2-3). But when we received salvation in Christ we became a new person in the spirit.
“those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24
In Romans 6:3, Paul tells us “that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death”. And “our old man (old nature) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” Romans 6:6 (brackets mine)
If you notice the word “might” here I believe this is highlighting that we have a choice whether to sin or not. In our new born spirits we are dead to sin, “our old man was crucified with Him”. Our old sin nature is dead IF we walk in the spirit and now that we have been born again through our spiritual birth in Jesus Christ we need to reprogram our minds to our new nature - the new spirit - the new man.
The only reason Christians still sin is because they don’t know these truths “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32
We “should walk in newness of life” Romans 6:4
How do we walk in the spirit?
We spoke earlier about the power we now have working inside us, “we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Walking in the spirit is simply being obedient to the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and trusting Him with our life. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6)(2 Corinthians 2:9).
We need to totally commit our lives to the Lord by presenting our “bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) which is Gods will for us. Only then will more specific directions come as we start to change our way of thinking. So as well as walking in the spirit, Romans 12:2 instructs us to “renew our minds”;
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This verse tells us that as Christians we must think differently to the rest of the world. We will only get the same results if we think the same things as the world. “We are not of this world” John 15:19
The key here is in our minds and what we focus on. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7. If our minds are focused on God by studying His Word and fellowshipping with Him, we will have “perfect peace”
“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” Isaiah 26:3
As Christians, Gods Word is of the highest importance to us. The Bible contains the mind of God and His will for each one of our lives. That is why the Bible was given to us. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Gods Word is authoritative, powerful and when mixed with faith will produce results.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
This verse here shows how the power of scripture is able to separate our thoughts and is a graphic explanation of how Gods Word can distinguish between the godly and ungodly.
The result of walking in the spirit will be evident in the believer.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
We need to get the Word of God inside of us by meditating on it day and night (Joshua 1:8). James 1:21 tells us to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Once we get the Word inside of us, our personal guide and teacher the Holy Spirit will be able to impart and direct knowledge and wisdom directly to us when we seek after it and He will be able to bring to our remembrance Gods Word when needed.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." John 14:26
We can now recognise that we are three part beings spirit, soul and body. We have looked at our sin nature which was transmitted through our physical birth and we need to realise that as long as we are in this mortal body, we cannot fall asleep in our battle against the works of the flesh. If we do, our flesh is just as capable of sin as anyone else's. When our spirit was regenerated by the Holy Spirit we became a new creation in our spirit and we now need to walk in the spirit, renew our minds and become rooted, grounded and established in the Word of God.