Me, Myself and Him
Hebrews 4:12 – 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 (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
The other day, I took my kids to see a movie at the theater. When we came out, we started driving home when I noticed something flapping from underneath my windshield wiper. When we pulled over to get milkshakes at Sonic (they have some of THE BEST summertime milkshakes by the way!), we pulled this from my windshield:
It is a gripping little comic strip about the need for Christ and how demons are going to destroy your soul if you let them. It talks about how when you accept Christ, “your soul is saved for all eternity.” This led to my son asking me all kinds of questions about what the soul is, how can one tell if the soul is saved, and a whole bunch of other rapid-fire type questions that C.S. Lewis would have been all jazzed about answering.
Needless to say, as a seminary student, my professors usually frown upon answering deep theological questions in 6th grade vernacular, so this was a little difficult for me to answer his questions without sounding too lofty or losing him.
I decided to start with God (always a GREAT place to start every conversation by the way). I asked if he could explain to me the Trinity. After thinking for a while, he came back with: The Trinity is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Great! That is a great start to this.
Then I said, how do you think the Trinity is like us?
He asked me what I meant, so I tried to put this in very basic terms. I said, “Think of Jesus, who is as real as real can get, as your body. You can touch your body and feel it. It is real to you. It is the easiest part of you to understand.”
He nodded his head that he agreed.
“Next, you have a mind. This mind is what you use to think. It helps you to make choices and tell you right from wrong.” (now, remember I am talking to a 6th grader. I am not going to bring up the Hebrew word nepes or explain the differences between the Greek words of psyche and pneuma, that would just confuse him, and consequently confuse me). I said him, “your mind is like God the Father. He is that which makes the world move and gives everything its name. You can look at a ball and call it a ‘ball’ because your mind allows you to. That is how God is. He is the author of every word you think. This mind is like your soul”
I got a little more cautious nod from that.
Next, I explained that you have a part of you that gives you power and energy. It causes you to get up every day and want to be better at everything you do. It is constantly wanting you to perform your best and giving you the ability to do so. That third part is your spirit and is very similar to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit breathes in us and give us power. He gives us the drive to live a holy and righteous life. The spirit is that which is inside you that WANTS to do the right thing.
Just as God is Triune in nature, man is as well. We are, after all, created in God’s image.
He said he understood what I was saying, but felt he needed to learn more. I told him that was good. God’s word is not meant for us to be able to comprehend all the time. There are mysteries that we simply don’t understand and it is simply because our minds and souls are not fully developed yet. And they won’t be fully developed until we come closer and closer to Christ.
For example, when my kids were younger, they believed that babies came from the stork (thank you Nickelodeon for putting THAT thought in their minds). As they got a little older, they understood that babies came from mommy’s tummy but they didn’t know anything else. Now that they are learning in health class in middle school, they are learning exactly the processes of how babies are created and born. Finally, when my daughter is old enough she will perhaps give birth and truly understand the whole process from start to finish.
The same is with us as humans. If you were to ask me a few short years ago, I would have told you that man had a physical part and a soul. I would have never had the insight that I have been given as I mature in my faith in Christ.
So let me break this down for you a little.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23 – I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
There are clearly three separate, distinct entities that comprise us as humans.
There are heretical groups out there (for example the Jehovah’s Witnesses) who preach that no man has a soul. This is very contrary to Biblical teaching.
When the word “spirit” has a capital “S,” we know that the Bible is speaking of the Holy Spirit of the Trinity. But when the word has a small “s,” it can hold several meanings. One of those meanings is the spirit of man. Before the Fall of Adam, the spirit of man was in harmony with God. After the Fall, man’s spirit became black as death and, until the person gives his/her life over to Christ, it will remain in death due to a lack of salvation.
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 is a great description of just what the spirit of man is. However, as it is written:“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
I love coffee. If I desire to know how to better grow coffee in Costa Rica, I have the ability in my spirit to figure it out. But that is all the farther my spirit can go…UNTIL I KNOW CHRIST. Then once I know Christ, I begin to understand the things of Christ.
We must surrender our own will and give it to Christ. When we do that, He can take residence inside us and He will bear witness that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16)
The soul is where our base emotions come from. It is where the lusts of our flesh arise. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:11 – Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
God saves the spirit of man. That is the part of us that gets regenerated through salvation from Christ. The soul begins directing toward God after our regeneration. Mary, in Luke 1:46-47, speaks to both the soul and spirit of man. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Even in the 23rd Psalm, David claims that God restored his soul. At no time did David lose his salvation, but he lost his way and his soul caused him to remain in bondage to sin. But the power of God that turned his heart to the Savior regenerated his soul and turned his intentions and desires back to God.
So, Christian, you are a human made up of body, spirit, and soul. Rejoice if you have given your life to Christ because that means your spirit is His, your soul is conforming to Him, and your body will be shed one day to reveal the true, spiritual being that you are.