Body, Soul, spirit

Recently, some of the men in our church had a good discussion about the issue of Body, Soul, and spirit/Spirit as it came about from reading a portion of a book (On The Inside Looking Out by Carlton Arnold) along with the Bible. I thought it might be helpful to sort through all the comments and summarize them to determine where all this leaves us.

Human Beings consist of:

Body – which is merely the earthly residence for who we are, all provided by God at conception.

Soul – who we are consists of (not mutually exclusive; some overlap):
Our mind
Our will
Our heart (not the organ)
Our personality
Our temperament.
Our emotional make-up
Our conscience
Our spirit

spirit – small “s” (meaning a human’s spirit as different from God’s Holy Spirit)
Some writers of scripture say there is a human spirit that is “outside” of our Soul (called Trichotomy – meaning Body, Soul & spirit), but most writers of scripture are content to consider our spirit to be part of our Soul or the same as the Soul (called Dichotomy – meaning Body & Soul), as I’ve listed it above.
Others consider an individual’s spirit to be what contains our Soul. Still others see our spirit as our “life force” or our life’s energy from God, and our Soul as who we are and who we become as we go through life.

It seems to me that this Trichotomy – Dichotomy discussion is a bit too academically fanciful or artificial. That is to say, all points of view acknowledge there is a human spirit, and admit our spirit, whether the same as the Soul, part of the Soul, or encompasses the Soul, goes to the eternal world for judgment, reward, etc., when our “residence” (body) ceases to function on earth. Why? Because scripture supports the idea that the non-physical part of us goes to be with the Lord after earthly death (2 Cor 5:6-8). And both the spirit and the Soul are non-physical. So, making the distinction between our spirit being part of our Soul, or vice-versa, or separate is frankly a distinction without a meaningful difference for this discussion.

Not incidentally, the Soul of all humans is eternal, redeemed or not.
As one country church sign-board in North Georgia once humorously but so accurately declared:
“Eternity – Your Choice! Smoking or Non-Smoking?”

The real issue that all this brings up is what changes within us when we finally “get it”, then repent and ask Jesus to forgive our sins, and He saves us, regenerates us, redeems us? What follows is the summary of our conclusions:

At conception, God provides us a body and a soul in the womb. Our spirit is not tuned in to God’s Holy Spirit – or Spirit, capital “S” – because from scripture (and personal experience) we know our spirit is “dead” in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) – thanks to the first Adam disobeying God in the Garden. We are not tuned in to God, we are tuned-in to ourselves (our will, our mind, our emotions, our wants and desires, etc.). That is why the Apostle Paul and other Biblical writers refer to our Souls as “flesh”. We are self-centered, not God-centered. So, the things of God, which are spiritually discerned, cannot be discerned accurately or reliably by our pre-salvation, unregenerate spirit. In a very real sense, we’re not on God’s wave-length.

BUT, when we turn to God in repentance asking Him to forgive us and become our Saviour and Lord, He forgives us our sins and changes the nature of our spirit from being “dead” to God, to “alive” to God. He essentially flips on the holy light-switch
(Eph 5:8,9). We can then see increasingly clearly those things of God that were hidden before. Some men exclaim that they can read the Bible for the first time with understanding (most of us were like that). Why? Because its author, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us. Our spirit is alive to His Spirit. Our direction changes. Our wants and desires change. Our spirit is counselled by His Spirit into a whole new way of thinking and acting. Our once “dead” spirit is now alive to God (Eph 2:4-6). The miracle of redemption!!! We are truly born again; the first birth into flesh, the second into the Spirit.

As Paul says in Romans 8:9 we are no longer in the realm of the “flesh”, but we are, at that point, in the realm of the Spirit. Our spirit is now alive to the Holy Spirit of God (1 Pet 3:18). Our new life in Christ has begun and we will be His for all Eternity,
as long as we continue to follow Him (see the paper ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ for more on this aspect of our followership). Sadly, choosing not to turn to God in repentance to receive His marvelous forgiveness and redemption, dooms us to be in an eternity without God – which is Hell.

Let me try to put this into the format of an equation.
Before Salvation: Humans = Body + Soul (w/our spirit not tuned to God).
After Salvation: Humans = Body + Soul (w/our spirit alive to God) + the Holy Spirit.

So now you see:
We are not Human Beings on a spiritual journey,
We are Spiritual Beings on a human journey.

Tom McDonald
11/29/18 (Original)
8/5/20 (Updated)

Speak Your Mind