Illuminating Body, Soul and Spirit
The following article is a transcription of a teaching lesson for youth given by Scott Prewitt at a fellowship weekend in North Carolina.
Scott: Good morning, everyone. It’s time to pretend we are in English class. Let’s split up the word tripartite into prefix and root. “Tri” is the prefix, and “partite” is the root. You should have learned how to do this in school. When you are trying to define a word you don’t know the definition of, one thing that can possibly give you clues to find the definition is to split up the word. Take a word like “tripartite,” which seems a little scary, and split it up. We can easily say that the word “tri” means three. What do we think of “partite”?
Scott: Do we have a consensus on parts?
James: Three parts.
Scott: Very good, James . . . three parts. I am going to focus on three very important parts today. Who can guess what they are?
Amy: Body, soul, and spirit?
Scott: Body, soul, and spirit, very good. Okay, here is the drill on body, soul, and spirit. Some of you have heard this before and might be thinking that you already know this. You might be thinking, “Why do I have to hear it again?” or “I know it pretty well.” Let me tell you, it is always good to go back over body, soul, and spirit again, and go back over it, and go back over it again. This will refresh us and make sure we know how to understand body, soul, and spirit. You may also be thinking, “I have never really understood this.” If so, I challenge you to soak it in and to understand it this time. Even if you can’t completely understand body, soul, and spirit today, at least try to understand as many facts as possible. Because, where you might not completely understand it, if you are at least armed with the facts of body, soul, and spirit, you will be much better off. At least knowing the facts can help you out immensely in your years to come in life; you can hearken back to it and think, “Oh, I know that fact, and now I’m beginning to understand.”
Let’s get some background on body, soul, and spirit. Why in the world do we say such a thing, that man is made up of a body, a soul, and a spirit? We go to the Bible and we find that the evidence in the Book. God’s Book, the Bible, teaches us that we are in fact made up of three parts; we are tripartite. Who wants to read 1 Thessalonians 5:23?
Jonah: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Scott: Okay, who knows who wrote Thessalonians?
Scott: Yes, Paul. Paul had insights beyond what any man had received during that day and time. Let’s look at that verse again. What does sanctify mean?
Caleb: Make you holy.
Scott: Make you holy. Sanctify you through and through. What does through and through make you think of? Complete in every way. That’s everything, there is nothing more. Sanctify you through and through. In what: spirit, soul, and body. Paul is talking to the Thessalonians who are people, just like you and me. May God sanctify you, cleanse you, make you holy, through and through, completely, totally. This is it: spirit, soul, and body. Is everyone clear on that part? Paul is clearly making reference to people, and people are made of three parts (tripartite). Is everyone comfortable with that? So now we know we are made of three parts. What part is probably the easiest to understand?
Scott: Why is body so easy to understand? We can see it and feel it. I can experience a body with all five of my senses. I can’t experience your soul and your spirit with all my five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. I cannot experience your soul and your spirit with those five senses, but I can certainly experience your body in those ways. Body is really easy to understand. Let’s look up
1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Keep your Bible at the ready; we are going to be reading a lot of verses. Who wants to read it to me? Brian, give it to me.
Brian: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Scott: Really quickly, let’s go through my mathematical/grammatical truisms. The word “is” means “equals.” “Is” in English means “equals” in math. Do you not know that your body is—equals—a temple of the Holy Spirit? All right, we know what our body is. Paul says here that we know that the body is equal to a temple. Let’s talk about the temple for a little bit. It was built in Jerusalem by the Israelites. Now, who can tell me what was at the heart of the temple?
Caleb: The Ark of the Covenant.
Scott: Where was the Ark housed? What was the tent of the Lord called?
Scott: Very good. For this purpose, I am going to call the temple and the tabernacle the same thing. They are both designed to do what? What was in the temple and tabernacle? The Ark. There were physical things such as the tablets of the Ten Commandments and manna in the Ark. It housed these physical things, but the Bible also says that God’s presence was with the Ark. So, the Spirit of God was a presence that rested on the Ark. But now, since Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to mankind at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)1, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The temple housed the Ark and housed the Spirit of God. Now our bodies house the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 6:192 says, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” who is the Spirit of God. Paul is saying all of our bodies have become the temple and contain God. As Christians, the Holy Spirit lives in us.
What else is so important about the body? Not only is it a temple, but what else could we say about it? Since the body is a temple, it contains spirit. Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it contains your soul also. Now you are probably asking, “How is the body related to soul and spirit?” Well, let’s look at a modern-day metaphor. Why is a screen and a printer important to a computer? They are the output devices for the computer. The screen and printer express what is going on inside the computer. In the same way, the body expresses what is going on inside a person. The body is the output device for the soul and spirit. Through my body—through what I say, what I do, the way I walk, through how I look, through the actions I take—I express what is in my soul and spirit. Otherwise, soul and spirit have no other way of expressing themselves. We have to have the body to do that!
The body is also a source of input. The way we receive information for the soul and the spirit to process is through the body. We receive information through our five senses, through sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. The microphone on a computer is an input device, as well as the keyboard and mouse. The body is the source of output and input for the soul and spirit. Without the body, the soul and the spirit do not have legs to go anywhere, be a part, participate, or communicate. The body in and of itself is absolutely nothing. The body is totally driven by the soul and the spirit. The body is helpless without the soul and the spirit; without them it is dead. When someone dies, the spirit departs, and the body lies lifeless. It is what it is, a computer without any guts in it, just a computer that doesn’t do anything. It is there and you have a keyboard and a screen and all, but without the guts inside the computer—the memory and the processor and the hard drive—the computer is absolutely useless. So the body depends on the soul and the spirit, and the soul and the spirit depend on the body. They all work together. Everyone with me? Good. Let’s look at our soul.
Soul is where it starts getting a little bit tricky. We can’t see the soul. I can’t unzip you and see your soul sitting there next to your gallbladder. I can’t really know your soul except by how you express your thoughts and feelings through your body. We need to commit this to memory. The body is the body; we know what it is from being able to look at each other. The soul has two elements: feelings and thoughts. What are we talking about when we talk about feelings? Frustration, fear, happy, sorrow, and thousands and thousands of other feelings. What about thoughts? Let’s look at a very simple example. When we came outside today, we received input through our bodies that the weather is absolutely gorgeous, right? It’s wonderful; it feels great. We also walked into the house and received input that inside it is hot and dark. So our minds began to go through the thought process of reasoning. We have the outside which is beautiful and nice. Then we have the inside which is hot and dark. So we start processing…
“I sure would like to be outside on this beautiful day. We could be inside in the dark and hot house. Can we be outside? Do we have somewhere to sit? The ground might be wet. We have blankets to sit on. I know where they are. Let’s go get them. It’s going to be very sunny; the sun might be in our eyes. We can sit in the shade.”
So we go through these thought processes, and we begin reasoning that we would rather be outside. We can make things happen so that we can be outside. We processed the input in our brains, and this thought process is a function of our souls. So we know what happens in our souls: we feel and we think—we reason and we process input.
The first two elements that I have discussed, body and soul, are the non-eternal parts of your personhood. When you die and leave this earth, the body and the soul are gone and do not continue. The final part of our tripartite self is spirit. Spirit contains three elements. The first is desire. There are only two kinds of desires that the Bible says we are capable of having. We can choose for the self to be for its own self, or for the self to be for others. What does that mean? How does that all relate to good and evil, righteousness and sin? We either desire to live life getting only what we want for our own desires; or we desire for ourselves to be for others. Let’s look up some examples of a self-for-others existence:
Eddie: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Scott: Obviously the clearest example of self-for-others is a laid down life. God sent His Son to die so that others could live.
Frank: Luke 6:27, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
Scott: Loving your enemies is another example of being self-for-others. The Bible doesn’t say love everyone except your enemies. LOVE EVERYONE. Lay down your life for the other person whether they are good, bad, or ugly—whether you feel like you love them, or you feel like you hate them.
The second element of your spirit is will. Will is where you choose what you’re going to believe about yourself. Will is where you choose which desire you’re going to live by. Will is where you choose to act on the input presented by your thoughts and reasoning. Let’s look up Matthew 26:39. “Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ’My Father, if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” Not as I will—not going to be My choice—but as You choose. Will is where choice is made. It is in the will that sin has its roots; sin begins here because sin results from a choice. When you go into the Seven-Eleven and steal a candy bar, the sin is not taking the candy bar and putting it in your pocket; this stealing is the result of the sin choice. The stealing is the outward manifestation of the sin choice; it is what the sin looks like from the outside. What it looks like on the inside is a choice made in your will. Then, the sin choice was physically walked out in the body. You took the candy bar and put it in your pocket and walked out the door. But it began with a choice—and that is where the sin lies. So will, the second element of spirit, is where your choices are made; it is where sin has its roots. It is where the choice to be self-for-self or self-for-others is made.
The third element of spirit is mind. Mind is one of the harder parts of body, soul, and spirit to explain. Mind equals spirit-knowing. What is spirit-knowing? Let’s look up 1 Corinthians 2:11. “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Wow, no one can know God’s thoughts, except God’s own Spirit. So follow this logic with me. If we accept Christ as our own Savior, Christ comes and lives in us; it is the Holy Spirit living His life out through us. Holy Spirit equals God which equals Jesus; they are all the same—the Trinity. So, if we contain the Spirit of God and are joined to His Spirit, then we have the mind of God and His Spirit-knowing. We all know and understand that the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us when we become born again. Since the Holy Spirit is an expression of God, that expression of God is living inside of us. His Spirit is joined to my spirit.
Okay, let’s talk more about the mind as a part of the spirit. In certain situations, you just know that something is right or wrong. You can’t necessarily put it into words, but you just absolutely know within you. It comes from within you, and it’s not something that has come out of your brain, your thought processes or your feelings. For example, we might not know every single jot and tittle of the law that is written in the Bible, but God’s Spirit, Who becomes joined to our spirit when we are born again, becomes our conscience, and He makes us know these things.
Caleb: So we have this Spirit-knowing because we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 explains this really well:
But we know these things, because God has revealed them to us by His Spirit, and His Spirit searches out everything and shows us, even God’s deep secrets. No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us His Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can’t understand us at all. How could they? For, ’Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give Him counsel?’ But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
Scott: Okay, let’s take a five-minute break. When we come back, we’ll talk about how it works to have our spirit joined to either Christ (as believers) or Satan (as non-believers).
–Part Two continued in next issue.
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.(KJV).
2 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (KJV).