Spirit, Soul, and Body
A good understanding about the spirit, soul, and body of the human being, and about their particular roles is of vital importance in the process of cleansing our conscience, and in growing spiritually. This teaching has revolutionized my personal life and eliminated some of the frustrations and confusion that I experienced when I read and studied the Word of God. It provided a firm foundation for everything else that the Lord revealed to me along the years about righteousness, conscience, confession of sins, eternal security of salvation, and sanctification. It also helped me get rid of a lot of wrong thinking in my life. I pray that it will do the same for you while reading this book.
I would like to begin this section by reading 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that clearly illustrates the three parts of a human being. People are spirits that have a soul and live in a body. There are many Scriptures that reveal the trichotomy of the human being, but 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is the most clear passage in that direction that doesn’t need any other proof:
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
23 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.
This is so obvious that I don’t think there can be any credible argument against the fact that we, humans, are made up of a spirit, soul, and body. This is very important because there are some theologies that actually believe man is only made up of two parts, which is body and soul. That is probably not a dominant theological position, but as far as practice goes, as far as people in their day-to-day living goes, very few people understand the concepts of spirit, soul, and body. Most people confuse soul and spirit as being the same thing and acknowledge only two parts of them: a physical part and a mental-emotional inner part that most people refer to as their personality. As a matter of fact, if you will take a look in the Strong’s Concordance, which is one of the main concordances that people use to look up Greek words in the New Testament, it even defines the word “spirit” (“pneuma” in Greek) as being ”the immortal soul” and it doesn’t make a distinction between those two. My study of the Word of God has revealed that there is a very distinct difference between spirit and soul, so I cannot agree with that Greek definition of what the word “pneuma” means. It means more than the immortal soul; it’s talking about the spirit man, the inner part of us.
There are three distinct parts: spirit, soul, and body. Now the body is obvious. If you go look in a mirror, that is the part you see immediately. If you were talking to me face to face right now, you would be looking at my body, but you would be speaking to my soul, which is my mental and emotional part. Some people define the soul as being made of mind, will, and emotions and I think that is certainly true. However, I don’t think that is all inclusive, there is more to it. I believe that our conscience is also a part of our soul. The soul is basically the personality of a human being. If I were to touch your physical body, you can feel that. But I can also touch you by words. For instance, through this book, without me touching you physically at all, I am speaking to your soul and it can touch your emotions. It can either make you glad, sad, or angry. You can also say words and hurt people without physically touching them. Every person is in touch with their soulish part as they are with their body part. It’s easy for you to search and check how you feel, whether you are happy or depressed.
The body and the soul are two areas that everyone is in touch with constantly and we really don’t need a lot of explanation on that. But the spirit part is a totally different matter. In John 3:1-8, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the synagogue who came to Him by night, Jesus told him that he had to be born again. Nicodemus responded: “How can this be? How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” In the process of explaining this to him, Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. And that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” And what He was saying was that spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh, and there is no direct connection between the two. They are inter-related and I am going to explain some of that in just a moment, but spirit is spirit, and flesh is flesh.
You cannot feel your spirit in a physical and natural way. Again, if you want to know how your body is, all you have to do is just think and your body instantly tells you if it’s tired, or pumped up and your adrenaline is flowing, or if you are excited and ready to go for a run. You can pull an inventory instantly and find out exactly how your body is. You don’t even have to think about it, you are constantly being fed that information. You can also pull an inventory on your soulish realm and you can know whether you are glad or sad, whether depression is your problem or fear, or if you are worn-out mentally and need to take a rest. You are instantly in touch with all that. But you cannot contact your spirit through your emotions or through any physical way. The spirit cannot be accessed in any natural way and herein lies one of the great problems in the Christian life: the spirit is the part of us that was radically changed at the moment of salvation. The spirit is the part of us that God communicates with and the spirit is the part of us that all the life and power of God flows through. You cannot just feel and discern spiritual reality and truths through your normal senses. And if you don’t understand that, then when the Scripture says that you have the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11), or that you can do the same works that Jesus did (John 14:12), or that you are a completely brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), then you will search your physical body and your mental-emotional personality part, and if you cannot see, taste, hear, smell, or feel what the Bible says about you, then immediately you will perceive it as a contradiction and feel conflicted. You will start thinking that the Bible is so hard to understand, you will see the disparity between your experience and what God’s Word says, and you might want to throw up your hands in the air and conclude that it’s just not true what the Bible says.
One of the greatest keys to walking with the Lord for me has been to understand this reality of spirit, soul, and body, and that the spirit realm cannot be seen or felt. The only way to discern and define spiritual truths is through the Bible. You just need to believe that what God says in His Word about you is true, without trying to access those truths through your senses. Jesus said this in John 6:63,
John 6:63 (NKJV)
63 It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
The Word of God is spirit and life. The Word of God reveals to us the spiritual reality. If you want to know what your spirit is like, then you have to go to God’s Word to find it out. You cannot just go by an emotion, or some type of perception. You have to go to God’s Word. Here is another passage of Scripture in James 1:23-25 that says:
James 1:23–25 (NKJV)
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty (namely the Gospel) and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
This passage of Scripture is likening the Bible with a mirror that you look into, not to see your physical face but to see your spiritual face, to see what you are and who you are in the spirit. When you want to see if your hair is combed, what do you do? Did you know that you have never seen your hair? You have never seen your face either. If you are a woman, you put on makeup in front of a mirror; you are not really looking at your face. What you are doing is looking at a representation, a reflection of your face in a mirror. The truth is that you, with your eyes, have never looked directly into your face. You have always looked at a reflection or a representation, but you got to a place where you trusted that.
The Word of God is a perfect reflection of your new spirit. When you want to see if your hair is combed and your face looks nice, you don’t just go by how you feel. You cannot just sit there and say: “Well, I feel that all my makeup is on and my face looks nice and when I touch my hair, it feels that is combed and I am ready to go.” You cannot go by how you feel or think. You have to go look in that mirror and then you trust what you see. It’s the same thing with the Word of God. The Word of God gives you a perfect picture of who you are in your spirit – that you are the Word made flesh exactly like Jesus was. And it’s the only way. You cannot just say: “Well, if I had the power of God on the inside of me, I would know it.” No, you wouldn’t. Samson didn’t know when the Spirit of God together with his strength had departed from him. That shows us he didn’t feel anything special when the power was over him, but he was seeing just the manifestation of it. He didn’t feel his power. That which is spirit is spirit and that which is flesh is flesh. You cannot perceive the spirit or the power through your fleshly senses. It would be like someone saying: “Well if my makeup was on, I would know it, I would feel it.” You cannot feel that, you have to look at it and go by what you see. It’s the exact same thing with the Word of God and your spirit: you have to look at your new spirit through the mirror of the Word, not through your five senses or emotions.
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