Body, Soul, and Spirit Part Two
To gain clarity on the questions raised in Part One, we must understand our humanity and how it functions. To do that I personally think we must first gain an understanding of the difference between body, soul, and spirit. Each of these are aspects of every individual with distinct and separate functions, but all work together to make us the glorious creatures that we are. Following are some simple drawings that have helped me and many others understand the inner workings of the human self. Of course, these diagrams can only give an idea of what we as persons look like and how we function because no human explanation can adequately portray spirit truth. It is my experience that the real meaning of these truths only comes to the honest seeker by means of Holy Spirit revelation.
The outer circle represents the body, the middle circle our soul, and the inner circle the spirit. The body is the outer clothing or the outer expression of the soul and spirit. The soul is the seat of our emotions (feelings) and reason (thoughts). We will go into a detailed discussion on soul later.
Spirit is our real self, and it has three basic facultieswill/choice, mind/knowledge and desire/love. 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). We are thus vessels through which He expresses His selfless agape love.
Mind is our second spirit faculty, the means by which 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 things of the spirit by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Again, in our Holy Spirit union, He is the Knower in and through us.
The third faculty of the spirit is the will, and that is where 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 arbitrator of our destiny because it is here that we have the Godordained freedom to choose for God or against God. (I am assuming that your choice to accept Christ as personal savior has already been made.) If in our lives as believers we choose to trust God, His will takes us over in our human spirits and He thus works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). If, on the other hand, we do not choose God and we fall for Satans lie that we or another person is independent of Godanother way of saying we commit the sin of unbelief the usurper (Satan) gains external control and produces his deeds (sins) through our membersour soul and body. This is a very subtle thing and can look quite innocent. Here is an example: for me to say something like I am just a shy person is what I am talking about. No, I am not an independent I that has the power within myself to be anything but a container for spirit. The truth is that Christ who lives my life is not shy. I am Christ/I. I may feel shy, but that is merely a soul feeling and not who I am.
We will move on now and attempt to explore soul, which is represented by the second circle in the diagram. Soul is where emotions and reasoning take placewhere we feel and think. I am sure you know what I mean when I bring up feelings. I think the best way for me to talk about feelings is to list several: hatefearjealousysadness happinessunhappinessuselessness lonelinesssuperiority. It is obvious that the list could go on and on. It is important to know that all feelings are necessary components of the human personality. But they are a huge problem for us because until we know differently, we believe our feelings are not only how we are but who we are, and we operate (make our choices) based on this misconception. The simple truth is that we are who we are in our spirit. All feelings are just thatfeelingsand are morally neutral.
Nonetheless, because of this erroneous believing, we are overcome with guilt and defeat at not being able to change or improve either our thoughts or feelings. The truth is that neither needs to be changed nor will they change by effort on our part to change them. The reason that neither needs to change is that both originate in our soul and do not affect our inner spirit reality. Thoughts and feelings do become a problem when we believe them and act upon them. We sin in a moment of unbelief when Satan entices us to agree with him that we are independent, selfoperating selves. In this state of unbelief, Satan gains the power to boss us from outside and take us into any sin he chooses. Our union with Christ is not broken, however, and the way out of this Satan trap is simple but not widely understood and, even sadder, not always practiced by those who do understand it. Paul uses the marriage analogy in Romans 7 to help clarify the issue. He is saying in this passage that we must consciously enter into the reality of not only our cut-off from our old husband Satan, but also our marriage to our new husband Jesus Christ. Until we do this, we will remain under the illusion that we are independent. This puts us, unknowingly, under the outer control of our old husband Satan. And as a result defeat and guilt are our lot.
Because soul and spirit are so closely linked together, 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 intimately 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.
The good news is that we can avoid the Satan sin trap. We do that by simply remembering and if necessary stating the truth that thoughts and feelings are not the real us. They are factual but not real in the eternal Spirit sense. This is the way the Bible says it. “The things that are seen are temporal (fleeting) and the things that are not seen are eternal (everlasting)”2 Cor. 4:18.
I am not saying that we are to ignore our thoughts and feelings. It is very important that we look at them honestly, and if necessary, talk about them to someone, but as quickly as possible move past them and begin to reflect on who we are in our spirit centerwe joined to Christ rather than how we feel.
Here is a simple example of what I am talking about. We become aware of a negative feeling. For example, we feel afraid; we accept it as a fact about ourselves, and we say something like this. Oh, Im just a fearful person. Thats the way I am. Ive always been fearful. The feeling could be anything; make your own list: hate, jealousy, anger, shyness, pride, inferiority, etc. As weve said, all feelings are soul and not Spirit, and Spirit is who we are. Our feelings tell us how we feel but not who we are. The correct way to express our feelings is to for us to say I feel very fearful, as opposed to I am so afraid. The first is a statement of feelings; the second is a statement of who we are.
Gods greatest desire for us is for us to live life by putting our faith in the fact that its He living despite what we are feeling. He expects us to march into the battles of life, feeling terrified and with sweat on our brow. That was Jesus, wasnt it? He sweated blood in the garden of Gethsemane even though He knew from the foundation of the world that He was going to go to the Cross. Nevertheless, when the time came for His crucifixion, His plea was, Let this cup pass. His feeling was fear. His feeling was pain. The whole point is that whatever the human Jesus was feeling, His feelings were swallowed up in His choice to do the will of His Father. This was who He was and what He came to do. You and I can do the same thing. To do so is a lifechanging experience.
Now I want to give a more comprehensive explanation of how our understanding the Total Truth message enables us to live the victorious life God created us to live. In other words, what difference does it make in our everyday life for us to know that we are not independent self-operating selves but as Christians we are in union with Jesus Christ? We will also include more discussion on soul and spirit.
It is crucial that we understand that sin never begins with a deed; consequently, our root problem is never our deeds. Deeds are merely the symptoms of a deeper hidden problem. But Satan has done an excellent job of tricking us and keeping us from getting to the root of sin. Because of his deception we always concentrate on the symptom. This keeps our attention off the source of sin, which is believing Satans lie that I am just me and that I can and do operate independently of God.
Here is a personal example of what I am talking about. I feel very inadequate to write as I am now doing. And not to be left out my thoughts go hand in hand with my feelings and I think over and over I am not good at writing; this is too hard, I am just inadequate to be doing this so I will just quit and leave the writing to those who are good at it.
Now lets look at all this more closely. Is the problem what I am thinking and feeling? (I am incapable of getting my thoughts organized and written down.) Look at my sentence for a minute and, as you do, keep in mind that the key is who is doing the organizing and writing. Is it good old I or just me? It cant be, can it, because there is no independent I or just me in the universe, and when I believe there is, sin Satan has moved in on the flesh level and he is blocking Christ from getting this job done.
If I keep my focus on these thoughts and feelings I put myself in danger of crossing the line from being tempted to believe I am independent to actually believing I am. The course of action I must take to avoid the trap is very simple but not easy to do, because it takes my giving up my idea of the situation and saying that I am wrong. Next I stop saying all the negative things to myself that I have been saying, and instead I say the truth about myselfand that is, If I am Jesus Christ in my particular form and He is my operator, then what I am thinking and believing about my inability to organize and write down my thoughts cannot be true. What I am thinking and believing may be the way things appear to my human senses, but they are merely appearances, and we are admonished in Scripture not to judge by appearances. I must look through appearances to what is true in the realm of spirit. This is how Jesus lived. He saw past the outer human need to His Father, the total supply, though invisible to the human eye, right in the midst of the negative circumstance.
Next, I begin to say by faith (none of it will be fact at this stage) what I know to be real in the realm of the Spirit. The truth is that Jesus Christ through me can write anything that He wants to write as long as He is the one in control of my life. As we discussed earlier, Christ regains His rightful place as Lord (Boss) of my life when I confess my sin of unbelief and then confess and stand in the truth.
Now, lets apply the same spiritual reasoning to my situation: I am totally inadequate to get my thoughts organized and written down. For my statement of faith to be true, I must say, I can get this article written. Of course we know the secret that makes this statement true; it is Jesus Christ who is my Spirit operator that can and will do it through me. My responsibility is simply to trust Him to do it.
It is important to remember that it is okay for me to say, I feel like I cant get my thoughts organized and written down. Here I am expressing a soul feeling and not a spirit fact. As we have already established, Satan takes over when I move from expressing soul feelings and thoughts to stating Spirit facts.
Here are more examples that I hope will help you deal with your thoughts and feelings. We say that we are shy or fearful or smart or ugly (use your own example). Lets pick shy again and write it out. I am a shy person. I have all the traits that portray someone who is shy. I have always been this way. I have been told I was shy since I was a small child. All this is true on the bodysoul level, and Satan has been free to live out shyness because my wrong believing about myself has given him the freedom to do so. But (and it is a big but), the truth is that I know that my operator is Jesus Christ and the shy label that I have put on myself is a lie. The truth is that Christ is not shy. If He is sometimes quiet in me, that is His business. I am wrong to call myself shy because of His quietness. At the same time, I may be feeling shy, but you now know that is just a soul feeling and it has no reality on the Spirit level. I speak the truth when I say, I am feeling shy, or afraid, lonely, or superior, or smarter, but these are all feelings and they are not who and what Jesus Christ, who is my operator, is. We must not think we are off-course when the feelings continue, which in all likelihood they will. We simply focus on who we are and pay as little attention to our feelings as possible.
Satan tried to use his same way of deception on Jesus. Do you remember His temptation experience in the wilderness? (John 4:1-11) Satan began his discourse with Jesus, not as we would expecttempting Him with food, (Jesus was hungry because he had fasted for forty days) or with power. He tempted Him with pride. Satan preceded all these specifics with his piercing statement, If you are who you say you are, you can turn these stones into bread or you can throw yourself off the temple and God will send angels to save you. Jesus could have come back with, Of course I am who I say I am; I am the Christ, the Son of the living Godthe I meaning that He had what it took in and of Himself to do what Satan tempted Him to do, and go Satans self-for-self way. The truth, and He made it quite clear, is that He and His Father are One, and He does only what He sees His Father do (John 14:10). His strengths and His abilities are operated only in love for others just as are those of His Father. The words of the glorious hymn say it very clearly. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
I am now finished with this article, but the task of writing it never became easy. I sat at the computer, putting myself at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, and simply recorded thoughts as He brought them to my mind. No matter how impossible the task felt, I continually reminded myself of the truth which is, Christ is perfectly capable of getting the writing done that He wants. My responsibility is to remain faithful by making myself available to Him to use to get the job done.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 22 No 1
- From Spirit Action to Body Action
- Editors Note
- The Chocolate Soldier Part One
- Bible Study: Choice
- Thank GOD For The LawThe Guide to Our Manhood in Christ
- Tape Talk
- Where Lives Are Changed
- God Does Nothing by Halves
- Train Up A Child
- The Intercession of Rees Howells – Daniel
- A look At A Book
- Letters from Norman
- Christ in the Drivers Seat
- Words to Live By
- Body, Soul, and Spirit Part Two