Life: The What, The Who, The Why
We continue our excerpts from Page Prewitt’s booklet, copies of which are available from Zerubbabel Press.
Crucified with Christ–What Does It Mean?
I think it would be helpful to digress for a moment to explain what the Bible means when it talks about our being put to death (crucified) with Christ on the cross and, in turn, our being dead with Him. There are a lot of explanations for what our being dead with Christ means. But most of them are not only confusing, but inaccurate. We must get it clear that death does not mean our termination. It is, instead, the process by which spirit is separated from body.
The Bible says that Christ became sin–or in other words, He took the spirit of Satan/sin on Himself (2 Cor. 5:21) and was crucified (put to death), the purpose of which was to eternally separate Himself from the sin spirit. This sacrifice of His life made possible this freedom for all mankind. We were crucified with Him. And by His miraculous sacrificial death we, too, were freed from the Satan/sin spirit. However, this work does not take place in our life until we accept Christ and this work He did for us on the cross. At that moment, we are raised to newness of life by the Holy Spirit and from that moment on our life is the life of Christ in us.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him (Rom. 6:6-8).
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom. 8:11).
Thus, in actual fact, we become new creatures, or what the Bible calls the “new man.” When this exchange of spirits takes place in us, the old man who is made up of our human spirit joined to Satan no longer exists. In spite of what we are universally taught, there is no longer an old man waiting around to re-invent himself as us. Our new life is now the life of Christ who joins himself to us in an eternal union.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
It is very important for you to understand that I am not in any way saying that we reach a state of perfection where it is impossible for us to sin. The explanation of sin in the life of a Christian will come later.
I hope this short account lets you see that when we say that through Jesus’ body death on the cross we become new creatures in Christ, we are stating a literal fact and not some high-sounding spiritual ideal. We are actually changed from having Satan joined to us (Satan/I) to Christ joining Himself to us (Christ/I).
Body, Soul and Spirit
Once I came to accept this biblically validated truth as the foundation for my own Christian experience–that I am in union with Christ and am thus one spirit with Him–I still had questions that had to be answered. (Let me interrupt and say that it is my experience that most people have these same questions.) Does the Holy Spirit take us over in our union with Him and automatically eclipse our freedom to choose and thus make it impossible for us to sin? Or can we say that because of our oneness with Christ, He is somehow responsible for our sin? Of course we must say NO to both of these suppositions. From Scripture and experience, two things are very clear: Christians (union people) do sin, and Christ has never sinned and never will sin. Another question that plagues us as Christians regarding sin is this: Do we have to go Satan’s sinful, anti-God way?
To gain clarity on these questions, we must understand our humanity and how it functions. To do that, we must first gain an understanding of the difference between body, soul, and spirit. Each of these is part of every individual and each has its distinct and separate function, but all work together to make us the very glorious creatures that we know ourselves to be.
Following is a simple drawing which, along with the others presented earlier, has helped me and many others understand the inner makeup of the human self. Of course, these diagrams can only give an idea of what we as persons look like and how we function. No human explanation can adequately portray spirit truth. Please note that a true grasp of these truths only comes to the honest seeker by Holy Spirit revelation.
The outer circle represents our body, the middle circle our soul, and the inner circle our spirit. The body is the outer clothing or the outer expression of the soul and spirit.
Our soul is where emotions and reasoning take place–where we feel and think. It is very important that we understand and accept that our thoughts and feelings (fear, happiness, sadness, shyness, etc.) are morally neutral; all feelings are necessary components of the human personality.
But they are a huge problem because until we know differently, we believe that our feelings are not only how we are but who we are, and we operate (make our choices) based on this misconception. We are overcome with guilt and defeat at not being able to change or, better still, eliminate either our negative thoughts or feelings. The truth is that neither needs to be changed. They both originate in the soul, and as we said, they are morally neutral. Neither affects our inner spirit reality unless or until we believe them and act on them.
Just What Is Spirit?
Spirit, which is our real self, is represented by the inner circle. Spirit has three basic faculties–desire/love, mind/knowledge, and will/choice. Desire or love is at the center of the human spirit. Sad to say, in our lost state we are self-love, with Satan expressing his self-for-self love through us. But as we touched on earlier, when we become born again, the glorious exchange takes place whereby our sinful operator, Satan, is cut off from our human spirit through the body death of Christ and, in turn, He (Jesus Christ) joins Himself to our human spirit, and we become “one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). As we said earlier, we are the vessels through whom He expresses His selfless love–spirit love, the term for which is agapé.
Mind is our second spirit faculty. It is where we know things–not what we think about things (that is a soul function) but where we know them. Ideas belong to the soul realm; knowledge belongs to the spirit. For example, we may know a lot about God and Jesus on a soul level, but we can only know them and matters of the spirit by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the Knower in and through us.
The third faculty of the spirit is the will, and it is here that our spirit choices are made. Our love and knowledge (the other spirit faculties) both help shape these choices which are, in turn, expressed through our soul and body. The will is the arbiter of our destiny: our God-ordained freedom to choose for God or against God exists in our will.
Because soul and spirit are so closely linked, it takes a revelation of the Spirit for us to know the difference between them. Hebrews 4:12 gives us an illustration of their closeness: For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The writer to the Hebrews is saying that the two are as closely connected as the marrow is to the bone. Like the marrow, spirit is the life of the body. The soul, like the joint, is the vessel for the marrow and is the means by which the inner spirit life expresses itself.
Continued in the next issue…