In what way are the spirit and soul distinct from one another, and how are they related to one another? And where does the “mind” fit into the equation? What is the Bible talking about when it refers to “the heart of a man” (Not the physical organ that pumps our blood!). What about emotions and “the will? How do they fit in with mind, heart, soul, and spirit? Most people are not comfortable trying to address or define these “abstract” aspects of the human being, and yet they are as significant to our well-being as Christians as our liver and lungs are to our physical well-being, so doesn’t it make sense to understand them? We are living in a world where “spirituality” is all the rage, and in fact will be significantly instrumental in the anti-Christ’s implementation of the end-time One-world religion. So, what do discerning Christians need to know about these things right now?As usual, I’ll give you my dollar and thirty-two cents worth.
The spirit of man, if he is unsaved, is dead, though the soul is living. The soul is the person. We are not a person who has a soul. We are a soul, that currently resides in a certain type of physical body designed by God to exist in the atmosphere unique to Earth.
The soul is self.
We are souls that have a physical body we currently reside in, and via which we interact with other physical people and things. By that token, the spirit is the aspect of our soul via which we interact with God.
God wanted us to be able to appreciate and process sound, so He designed us with ears and a brain. Those are the physical organs that are in play in regards to our ability to apprehend and comprehend sound. He wanted us to be able to perceive the things of God, and God is Spirit, therefore we needed a spiritual aspect with which to perceive Him. The singular purpose of our Spirit, is for relating to God.
Is the human soul part of the human spirit, or is the spirit a part of the soul?
I would have to say that the spirit is part of the soul. Because first God created Adam (a soul contained in a physical body), then He breathed the breath of life into Adam. What God breathed into Adam was the spirit, (in-spire) that life-force itself that is life, and by which we interact with God, for outside of relating to our Creator, we are nothing and can have no worthwhile purpose! He created us to glorify Him and that He might enjoy fellowship with us, and us with Him.
Does God breathe that same life into each embryo that forms, or is that life passed on via the seed? (Life is in the blood, blood is in the seed, passed on via DNA of sperm and egg) If so, is that life, or life-force now “stillborn” in every conceived baby? Yes, we are all born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins until (and unless) we are eventually reborn “of the Spirit” by salvation in Christ. Rebirth is not a formerly dead spirit coming back to life, though, it is a whole new birth.
The person who walks away from the Lord or is negligent, will find himself stumbling in darkness which is often worse than the blindness he was in before he got saved. (Someone born without sight learns their way around using other senses. Once someone who has had sight, goes blind, it is much harder.) A person who is stumbling because he stopped turning on the lights, is in danger of wandering very far from the safe path, but not only that, the spirit that is not doing what God designed it to do, (which is to be in communion with Him), will grow sickly. (He is the Vine we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing.) So this new creature can either thrive, grow, and flourish, bearing much “spiritual fruit” both in the “fruits” of love, joy, peace, et al, as well as spiritual “offspring” via influence that results in other souls saved, or it can shrivel and fail to thrive, and and be puny and ineffectual.Sometimes people are saved and while naive and inexperienced, they inadvertently land under false teaching. They can be full of zeal and think that their knowledge is fine, when it isn’t. So they can be spiritually unwell, and not even know it. They can have all sorts of “growth” like that tobacco plant, but it’s all “suckers” which prevent real nourishment from getting where it needs to go. We should have pity on them, and gently rebuke not the person but the false teaching. Discernment is a tricky thing in that those who have it, know they have it, (while those who don’t have it can sometimes think they have it!) Yet while the one who truly has it, confidently and gently rebukes false teaching, those who think they have it, condemn the discerning rebuk-er as being “judgmental”. In reality, we are accountable to one another as Christians, it is the unsaved we are not supposed to judge.
A sick spirit, such as one full of bitterness and un-forgiveness toward others, if left un-“treated” by the cleansing of the Word and by confession and repentance, can lead to a Christian becoming not just spiritually puny, but physically sick, or even to their dying. This is rarely taught in churches either. That is the reason why Timothy said “is there any sick among you, let him call upon the elders of the church to anoint him with oil and pray for him and his sins will be forgiven” When we take communion unworthily (without addressing sin) we eat and drink damnation unto ourselves. That is to say, if we are unsaved, what we are celebrating and commemorating, actually cries out our guilt. But if we are saved, but holding onto bitterness or unforgiveness toward others, then we are in danger of becoming sick or dying because the Lord will turn us over to our tormentor (Satan) in this present, Earthly life.
Sometimes we can have real bad blind spots in regard to our own sins. God allows for that fact by providing for the elders (those more discerning and knowledgeable -by Biblical definition), to pray over us. We can’t always pray adequately for our own selves because it is impossible to see our own blind spots. That is why the Bible says to confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another. The very fact we are deficient in a specific area negates or at least hinders our own ability to pray with wisdom and authority about that problem area. It is not about confessing your sins to others, it is about knowing you have a weak area and soliciting the prayers of someone better equipped to pray knowledgeably about that troublesome area, and not hindered by blind spots or pride. Well, getting back on-topic;
With original sin, not only did we die spiritually, but our ability to choose to obey God, was also lost. Adam and Eve chose for us. Once the entire law was transgressed, all humanity was hopeless and helpless to redeem ourselves and place ourselves back on the other side of that irrevocable violation. So not only is our spirit dead, but our will to obey has been forfeited. Our hearts and minds are also darkened and depraved. Dead spirit (in Adam and Eve) can’t pass on life to the spirit of their offspring, and neither do the rest of us. We are all born with these dead spirit-parts and remember, it is only via this “part” that we can interact with God.
So even though we preach “free will” it is still a free will that operates within the confines of God’s absolute sovereignty. His ways being so much higher than our ways, that there is infinite room for us to choose, while never creating even the remotest possibility of circumventing, cancelling, or rendering void, God’s will. This is really not so unfathomable. It simply requires the ability (and yes, willingness) to accept that we are contained within something larger than ourselves. (In Him we live, and move, and have our being). Ants in an enclosed “ant farm” have lots of conflicting, opposing choices. But no choice (of theirs) can take them outside the ant-farm because someone much more powerful, and much larger, has placed them into the designated environment, and sealed off the exits. Another way of putting that, is that the ants are “bound” by the boundaries the greater being has enforced. Their will can freely operate within the parameter of those boundaries. People err in their assumption that our will and God’s will, are mutually exclusive, simply because conflicting will in the human realm often is. To reduce it to more of a two-dimensional concept, if I write a book, I can “grant my character free will”, but I am still the author. I can create an entire story and world between the pages, but it is a product of my mind. We are a product of God’s mind, only we are not imaginary.
Gods will and our will are not mutually exclusive because every will or choice we might make, is contained within the boundaries of His sovereignty. Just like a computer is able to create zillions of lines of code using the measly two digits of binary code. It is not limitless, but it almost seems like it! Because the computational ability modern technology has achieved, has already far surpassed the capacity of the human brain, speaking strictly in terms of number of operations per second (such that we are now up to “terabytes” to describe the exponential capacity of computer memory).
One terabyte is equal to -approximately- 1,000 gigabytes.
1,000 gigabytes is equal to -approximately- 1,000,000 megabytes.
1,000,000 megabytes is equal to -approximately- 1,000,000,000 kilobytes.
1,000,000,000 kilobytes is equal to -approximately- 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.
The mind is the element of a person that enables us to be aware of the world, our experiences, that element that allows us to think, and feel, to have the faculty of consciousness. Therefore our feelings (emotions) are rooted in the mind. But is emotion seated ONLY in the mind? Emotion is a state of mind, or a mood. But is it only a mood? Where does the heart fit into all of this?
The Bible mentions the heart nearly 300 times. God has a heart. God feels things.
The heart is the spiritual part of us where emotions and feelings dwell. Therefore one could say the heart must reside within or be a part of the spirit, and since our emotions are processed and expressed via the mind, then the mind must be contained within the spirit. That only makes sense considering not only did we die spiritually at the fall, but our minds and foolish hearts also were darkened (blinded) spiritually.
Before salvation, our hearts are in darkness, our minds are in darkness, and our spirits are dead. If a body is dead, it doesn’t know or see or perceive anything. That’s like: “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Yes, but what is sound that is never perceived by any ear? It may as well not exist. What good is a spirit that does not commune with The Spirit? It, too, may as well not exist.
After salvation, through the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, we are able to see, understand, comprehend, and our hearts can be circumcised. But circumcision is a choice, and a healthy spirit is also a choice. Does the average pastor ever teach that? Do most Christians understand this?
Here is the crux of my question, it speaks to why it’s important.
We can have a saved soul, and yet have a spirit so deprived of the Word and spiritual light, that our spirit can be in a state we could theoretically and figuratively have to think of as a spiritual coma. (Thus the need for “revival”, yes?). We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. It’s a continual, recurrent need. Like eating. We are filled by partaking. We partake of the Word, we have the Word (hopefully) reinforced in fellowship with other believers, etc. That’s why the Bible talks so much about persevering to the end, and about working out your own salvation in fear and trembling. It is not about keeping salvation. It is about not being destroyed by lack of knowledge during this life. Salvation is settled once and for all when we get saved. Our fulfillment and satisfaction in this life is directly proportional to the degree to which we keep God always in our thoughts and His law as a reference and compass. (When you seek me you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart).