Purpose of this Session
Man is a tripartite being, comprising spirit, soul and body. Understanding how we are constituted by God, and the synergy of these parts of our being, can help us grow into whole and healthy individuals.
We will begin our study of these components of the total personality from the outside in, beginning with the body, followed by scriptural consideration of the soul of man, and finally we will enjoy a time looking at the inner man, the spirit.
- The physical part of man
- The sense or world conscious part of man. The body, as the instrument of the soul, is governed by the five senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. By these faculties, man acquires knowledge of the external world and communicates with the external world.
- Capable of receiving information and stimuli from the world around him
a. God formed man’s body
Man’s body was not the result of an ‘evolutionary’ process. Rather, God formed man’s body from the dust of the earth, as a potter forms a clay vessel.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7 NKJV) [see also Gen 3:19]
“Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again?” (Job 10:9 NKJV)
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1Tim 2:13 NKJV)
As to Eve’s body, she was ‘built’ [Strong #1129. baw-naw´]; a primitive root; to build (literally and figuratively)] from the side of Adam.
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.””
(Gen 2:21-23 NKJV)
From this time forward all human bodies (other than the body of the Lord Jesus Christ which was prepared and formed in the womb of Mary supernaturally (Hebrews 10:5)), have been the result of natural conception and development.
Our present physical body is described as the temporal ‘home’ of our spirit whilst on the earth. Consider the following descriptions from the Bible:
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2Cor 5:1 NKJV)
“knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” (2Pet 1:14 NKJV)
“But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (John 2:21 NKJV)
““I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” (Dan 7:15 NKJV)
“‘Pierced hath been my spirit — I, Daniel — in the midst of the sheath (literal), and the visions of my head trouble me;” (Dan 7:15 YOUNG’S LITERAL)
The physical body of a human is the dwelling place of a spirit.
A spirit cannot operate effectively in the earthly realm without first indwelling a body. This is why demonic spirits seek to enter and possess the body of a person, or secondly, an animal, in order to extend their influence in the earthly realm. Examples of this include satan’s entrance into the body of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, his possession of Judas on the night of Jesus’ betrayal (John 13:27), and unclean spirit’s desire to dwell in the body of a person as spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45. Sinful and corrupt doorways opened through our actions and words, or those of others, gives legal entry to demonic spirits who will then seek to rule in the ‘house’. This is why habits and addictions such as pornography or narcotics are much more dangerous than mere physical actions. It also explains why so many demonic rites involve self-mutilation (such as the prophets of Baal cutting themselves) and violent or sexual acts. We must guard ourselves from unclean habits and forsake all questionable physical practices and appetites:
“For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, That each one of you should know how to possess (control, manage) his own body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor, Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will,” (1Thessalonians 4:3-5 AMPLIFIED)
The body is also referred to as a body of humiliation (KJV). Although we have the first fruits of our bodily redemption through the provision of healing in the atonement, since the fall, our body has been subject to the ravages of age and various other weaknesses and infirmities. In due time God will redeem the believer’s body from all corruption and mortality and make it like Christ’s glorious body.
“who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:21 NKJV)
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”” (1Cor 15:53-54 NKJV)
In our present body we groan, longing for that glorious day of release:
“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,” (2Cor 5:2 NKJV)
b. The body of the Believer – the temple of the Holy Spirit
Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not only do we live there, the Holy Spirit Himself has also come to live in our body together with us. We need to respect and treat our body as such:
1 Cor 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
God wants our bodies to be sanctified from all uncleanness and set aside for His purposes.
“You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” (1Cor 6:20 AMP)
c. Bringing our body into subjection
God’s desire is for man to function and fulfil his destiny. To do this things within man’s being must be in proper order. The body must be subject to the spirit of the man:
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1Cor 9:27)
The flesh is very insistent upon its own way, and therefore must be brought into subjection. This includes both the control and direction of bodily appetites (not in themselves sinful), and the discipline of the body through hardship.
Positive subjection of the body may include such practices as:
- Exercise (20-30 minutes per day is recommended.)
- Balanced diet (everything in moderation. Watch your weight!)
- Rest (6-8 hours per night, and, take your holidays. The Sabbath is also a principle.
Disciplinary subjection of the flesh should also include the practice of fasting (voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual reasons).
Basic bodily appetites and drives include:
iv. Sexual drive
These basic human drives all need to be brought under the control of our spirit by God’s grace. They make up part of what the bible calls our ‘flesh’. These drives must be managed through the exercise of our spirit until the day we are received up in glory and are given our new body, which will not be subject to the same weaknesses and desires. Unchecked physical desires lead to some of the following consequences listed by Paul in Galatians.
“I say then; walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:16-21
These bodily appetites ruled many of us (Ephesians 2:1-7). Hunger became gluttony, thirst became alcoholism, the need for sleep and rest became laziness and slothfulness, and the sexual drive, once released, led us into immorality and sexual uncleanness.
Fasting is indispensable in bringing all these drives under control. It seems that as we control our appetite for food we gain mastery of the other drives as well.
As well as these God given human drives, many people introduce artificial ones in the form of tobacco and various narcotics leading us into addictions. Obviously God wants us to be free of all addictions (including caffeine!). To be a disciple is to be a disciplined one.
As helpful as it however to aid our understanding of man to consider the tri-partite nature of man, we must be careful not to segregate our being and relegate the body to a place of unimportance.
This error was very much part of Gnostic heresies in the early years of the church, where proponents of the Gnostic doctrine stated that all that was physical was evil and all that was spiritual was good, and that what one did with the physical body was irrelevant and unimportant. This led many to think that one could sin in any way they wanted, as the body was separate to the spirit and therefore what one did in the body was unrelated to one’s spiritual state of being. The scriptures do not advocate such a philosophy however, and we will be judged for those things we have “done in our body” (2 Cor 5:10).
In respect to the place of the body in the total make-up of man, I bring a few thoughts from Prophet Graham Cooke’s book, “Permission Granted” (published by Destiny Image ISBN 0-7684-2380-5):
“The Bible gives far more importance to the human body than most of us have been taught. It is viewed with dignity and is really quite inseparable from one’s essential person. It is never viewed as an unnecessary addendum to the spirit. Man is not a pure spirit like God. He is, and always will be, a body person…
The Bible has a Hebrew view of man, not a Greek view with which we have bought into a worldview made explicit by the ancient philosopher Plato, which splits reality up like bifocals, or even trifocals. This “Platonic Dualism”, as it has been described, causes us to devalue the physical expressions of worship in order to appear spiritual. And this fragmented worldview leads to distortion that affects our whole worship experience.
The Hebrew mind-set views man as a unity, while the Greek perspective analyzes man as a combination of body and soul (the material from the non-material), or even body, soul and spirit (physical, mental, spiritual).
The Hebrew picture neither splits man into two (dichotomous) or three (tricholomous) parts, but sees man as a unity with inner and outer dimensions. It sees body as the physical expression or outward extension of the spirit or the “inner man”. So when the whole man worships, he worships with a congruence that allows for an inward release and an outward expression that encompasses the kind of worship that Jesus said that the Father is seeking in John 4:23
God is looking for complete. Heartfelt, full-body worship that captures everything about us – spirit, emotion, and body. Worship becomes religious when we refuse to be fully ushered into new, all consuming places in His presence – new places that He is inviting us to enter, even if those new places require more of us.”
2. The Soul
- Our soul is the faculty that is self-conscious, or, self-aware.
- The central and mediatory part of man, connecting the spirit and body together in tri-unity.
- Can influence both the spirit and the body because of its centrality.
God formed Adam’s body from the earth and then breathed into him “the breath of lives” [literal], thus he became a living soul:
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7 KJV)
The breath of lives included both soul life and spirit life.
Adam and Eve, the first souls, came into being as a result of God’s creative power. All souls have since come into existence by the co-operation of Creator and parents. God is the “Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9), and the soul and body come from the parents according to the laws of human reproduction. God does not create sinless souls each time a child is born, nor is the soul pre-existent, but God gives the spirit, and the child receives soul and body from the laws of reproduction through the parents. This accounts for the sinful nature in mankind from birth, and the inheritance of character traits and likenesses witnessed in children and their parents.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psa 51:5 KJV)
Faculties of the soul
a. Mind: Conscious mind and Sub-conscious mind
The outer man – The Soul
When we are born-again our spirit is saved; we become a brand new creation in Christ Jesus. In respect to our soul however, the work of salvation is progressive. The mind must be renewed and the will conformed to the will of God (Romans 12:2). The emotions must be restored (Psalm 23:3).
For many people, the soul has been dominant for many years of their life. When their spirit is born-again, a conflict of interest can begin within the person’s own being. We do not have two natures at war within us, but rather there is a conflict of interest. The newly regenerated spirit wants to forsake all and follow Christ, but the well-developed soul, in self-preservation, seeks to maintain control and influence our decisions, not according to faith but according to its feelings, thoughts and attitudes.
Watchman Nee addresses this issue in a masterly fashion in his book, “Release of the spirit – the breaking of the outward man”. Jesus spoke clearly regarding the necessity of losing our (lower) life in order to gain the (higher) life.
“For whoever wants to save his [higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God].” (Mark 8:35 AMP)
“For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death].” (Luke 9:24 AMP)
God is at work both to restore us, making us whole, and to break us in respect to our soulish dependence. Our soul must forsake its self-reliance for a new life of utter dependence upon God. This process at times is painful, and challenges the very core attitudes of our personality.
Our salvation in Christ is three-fold, and touches upon our entire being:
Our Spirit: We are saved.
Our Soul: We are being saved
A progressive work or restoration and renewal
Our Body: We will be saved
We enjoy first-fruits of God at work in our body through healing and strength, but our present body remains subject to the ravages of age and will eventually die. Ultimately, we will be given a new body, made in the image of Christ’s glorious body.
The mind of man consists in the main of the conscious and sub-conscious mind. With the conscious mind we process incoming information from our five senses and act accordingly. The mind (which is non-physical, a faculty of the soul), operates through the physical brain.
The sub-conscious mind is the area of learned behaviour. Our reactions and responses to situations are largely determined by our sub-conscious mind. It is in the sub-conscious part of our mind that our attitudes are held. These have often been inherited from our parents and others who have had influence over us. Many of these attitudes can be ungodly and need to be renewed by the Word of God.
To do God’s will instead of our own, will require a radical change in our thinking patterns and paradigms.
Rom 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Isa 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My Ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our mind is like a computer. We need to reprogram it with new software! That software is the Word of God. It needs to be programmed according to the new reality of being in Christ. As we allow this to happen, we will change from who we were, to being more and more like Jesus.
Eph 4:22-24 “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
In our warfare with the enemy, the battleground is often in our mind. Throughout all the years we lived apart from God, our mind was the target of the lies of the devil. Directly or indirectly, he built in our minds strongholds such as failure, inferiority, worthlessness, rejection, pride, rebellion etc. As we replace these thinking patterns with the Word of God we gain victory over the devil. We become more than conquerors.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
It has been said that we are the sum total of all our attitudes. Many of our thinking patterns are in the form of our attitudes. Our attitudes can be grouped into four areas:
- Attitude toward God
- Attitude toward ourselves
- Attitude toward others
- Attitude toward circumstances
Our attitude toward God must be that revealed in the Great Commandment.
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Our attitude toward ourselves must be one of self-acceptance, self-respect and love. If God accepts us as we are then we must also accept ourselves. If we cannot love ourselves, we will find it impossible to develop right attitudes of love and consideration toward others.
John the Apostle defined himself thus:
“Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:20,24 NKJV)
John’s identity was firmly rooted in the absolute love of Jesus, his friend and Saviour. We are also defined not by our job or function, our social standing or financial situation, or any transitory thing, but by our eternal relation to the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NKJV)
You are the disciple whom Jesus loves!
The right attitude toward others can be seen in the following verses;
Matthew 22:39-40 “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Our attitude towards our circumstances must be governed by faith, hope and patience. There is no place in the believer’s life for self-pity, resignation and fatalism concerning our circumstance. Our attitude must be that all things are possible for him who believes.
Pride and Prejudice are just two examples of sinful attitudes. Derek Prince once said pride has three aspects to it.
- Pride of face, which is vanity.
- Pride of place, seeing itself in a class above and better than others.
- Pride of grace, which is self-righteousness.
Prejudice is the mind of the devil. It is hate in disguise. To harbour prejudice against a race or class of people is sin. God loves all people of all races.
Rebellion against legitimate authorities such as the police or other governing bodies is also sinful and ungodly. We can have rebellious attitudes toward our pastor, employer, our parents and teachers and many others. We need to develop an attitude of respect and submission toward all those in authority over us.
Stubbornness is rooted in pride and rebellion and is also a sinful attitude. Stubbornness resists the work of the Holy Spirit as He convicts us of our need to change.
1 Samuel15: 22a-23 “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
Note the Godly attitude of obedience in the passage above as well as the ungodly ones.
Unbelief is another attitude that grieves the heart of God and keeps us out of His blessings.
Hebrews 3:12 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”
God wants to change us, and our circumstances, by changing our thinking. Ultimately, our attitudes must reflect those taught by Jesus in the Beatitudes (Beautiful-attitudes) in Matthew 5:3-12.
The Will of Man
In the beginning, God created man as a free moral being with a will of his own. God did not want a race of robots so He had to give man the power to exercise choice. Man could choose to obey God’s will, or disobey. Tragically, man chose to disobey with catastrophic results for the human race. The only safe place for the will of man is in submission to the will of God. Self-will is sin and will always produce death in some form or another in our lives.
The five “I wills” of Lucifer.
Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; I will ascent into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascent above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.”
Unlike man, the angels, including Lucifer, did not have the right to choose to exercise self-will. Lucifer’s rebellion resulted in his fall from heaven. Knowing the effects of exercising self will he then successfully deceived Eve into doing the same thing in the Garden of Eden with the same outcome.
In contrast to Lucifer, Jesus only did the will of the Father even under extreme pressure, as in the temptation and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Mark 14:36 “And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
We must follow the example of Jesus in the midst of trial and temptation. God will always give us the grace to obey Him.
In many respects, the will is the ‘strongman’ of the soul. It has the power to direct the mind and the emotions. To strengthen the will under God’s direction, is a key to living a life of victory.
Romans chapter 7 and 8 outlines perfectly the glorious truth that our will has now been restored to a place of strength and decision. The last lines of Romans 7 reveal the conflict of desiring to proceed according to the will of God, yet being unable to do so because of the principle of sin at work in the soul. It concludes with the desperate cry, “Who shall deliver me?” Scripture then answers, “Jesus Christ!”
Prior to salvation, our will was condemned to a certain fate. Our destination was determined and we had no way of choosing an alternate route. On death row, we were indeed condemned men.
In Christ, our will has been restored. We are now free to choose, like Adam in the first instance, whether to follow the law of the Spirit of Life, or the law of sin and death, each with their consequences. We are no longer bound to do the will of the flesh, but to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit who is within us.
The Emotions of Man
In the beginning God created man with emotions, an ability to feel. In the Garden of Eden before the fall, man’s emotions only knew joy that came from his intimacy with God. However, after the fall man felt for the first time feelings of guilt, fear, anguish, jealousy, depression and hate.
Jesus wants to make us free to emote and enable us to manage our feelings and emotions, and to change them where they are negative and destructive. He also wants us as believers to minister the anointing to bring healing to the emotional lives of others.
Matthew 12:20 “a bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench,”
(Amp) Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]”
In the same way that our outer man can exhibit bruising after an accident; our inner man can also be bruised, not only by physical abuse, but also by people’s words. Words of rejection can cause deep emotional hurt, which profoundly affect an individual’s life. Many times, long after the physical bruises have disappeared, the bruises on the soul remain, influencing our lives daily.
Many times we do not understand why we feel the way we do at times. For example someone is selected for a task instead of us and we feel intense feelings of rejection. At other times, we can feel insecure and inadequate. All of these feelings flow out of damaged emotions.
Man has an intense need for love and acceptance. For those who have been bruised by life, the road to recovery begins by accepting the unconditional love and acceptance of God and His people.
A key for managing emotions
As we change our thought life our emotional life will follow i.e. you cannot feel ‘down’ if you are thinking ‘up’. Our emotions are inextricably linked to our thought patterns.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the believer has an absolute standard for sound mental and emotional health, and that is the Lord Jesus Himself. He laughed and wept. He felt grief and anger. He knew happiness and joy as well as sadness and sorrow. He displayed the full range of human emotion, and exemplified emotional wholeness and stability.
Philip Yancey in his book, “The Jesus I Never Knew” brings home this point : (Zondervan ISBN 0-310-21923-X) (p88)
“The personality (of Jesus) that emerges from the Gospels differs radically from the image of Jesus that I grew up with, an image I now recognise in some of the older Hollywood films about Jesus. In those films, Jesus recites His lines evenly and without emotion. He strides through life as the one calm character among a cast of flustered extras. Nothing rattles Him. He dispenses wisdom in flat, measured tones. He is, in short, the Prozac Jesus.
In contrast, the Gospels present a man who has such charisma that people will sit three days straight, without food, just to hear His riveting words. He seems excitable, impulsively “moved with compassion” or “filled with pity”. The Gospels reveal a range of Jesus’ emotional responses: sudden sympathy for a person with leprosy, exuberance over His disciples successes, a blast of anger at coldhearted legalists, grief over an unreceptive city, and then those awful cries of anguish in Gethsemane and on the cross. He had nearly inexhaustible patience with individuals but no patience at all with institutions and injustice.
I once attended a men’s movement retreat designed to help men “get in touch with their emotions” and break out of the restrictive stereotypes of masculinity. As I sat in a small group, listening to other men tell of their struggles to express themselves and to experience true intimacy, I realised that Jesus lived out an ideal for masculine fulfilment that nineteen centuries later still eludes most men.”
The Spirit of Man – The Inner Man
- God-conscious part of man, capable of knowing
and communing with God.
- The eternal part of man, capable of true worship.
When man fell his spirit lost its contact with God. This can only be restored through the new-birth. When a man becomes a new creation, it is his spirit that is born-again, or renewed.
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him,
“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:1-6 NKJV)
In becoming a new creation man’s ability to contact and commune with God is restored, and the believer’s spirit is joined to the Lord, becoming one with the Holy Spirit:
“But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.” (1Cor 6:17 AMP)
At the moment of conception God as the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9) breathes a human spirit into the natural cells of the newly conceived human life. As a spirit, the new life is eternal in nature in the sense that it will never cease to exist. When, 70 or so years later its biological life finally comes to an end it will still exist as a spirit either in heaven or hell.
To have a relationship with God who is a Spirit (John 4:24) man’s spirit needs to be born-again and recreated in the image of God by the Holy Spirit. This happens as a person receives salvation and his sins are forgiven. At this point, the Life of God comes into the spirit of man.
Watchman Nee, in his book ‘Release of the Spirit’ points out:
“Since neither our emotion nor our thought has the same nature as God, it cannot be joined with Him. The Gospel of John, Chapter four, shows us the nature of God. God is a Spirit. Our spirit alone is of the same nature as God; therefore, it can be eternally united with Him. If we try to get the presence of God by directing our thought, then when we are not concentrating, His presence seems to be lost. Again, if we seek to use our emotion to summon the presence of God, then as soon as our emotion relaxes, His presence seems to be gone. Sometimes we are happy, and we take this as having the presence of God. So when happiness ceases, the presence flees! Or we may assume that His presence is with us while we mourn and weep. Alas, we cannot shed tears all our life. Soon our tears will be dry, and then God's presence disappears. Both our thoughts and our emotions are human energies. All activity must come to an end. If we try to maintain God's presence with activity, then when the activity ceases, His presence ends. Presence requires the sameness of nature. Only the in ward man is of the same nature as God. Through it alone can His presence be manifested. When the outward man lives in activities, they can disturb the inward man. Thus the outward man is not a helper but a disturber. When the outward man is broken, the inward man enjoys peace before God.
Our spirit is given to us by God to enable us to respond to Him. But the outward man is ever responding to things without, thus depriving us of the presence of God. We cannot destroy all the things without, but we can break down the outward man. We cannot put a stop to all the things without; these millions and billions of things in the world are utterly beyond our control. Whenever anything happens, our outward man will respond ; thus we are not able to enjoy God's presence in peace. We conclude, therefore, that experiencing the presence of God is contingent upon the breaking of our outward man.
… Brother Lawrence was engaged in kitchen work. People were clamoring for things they wanted. Though there was the constant clatter of dishes and utensils, his inward man was not disturbed. He could sense God's presence in the hustle and bustle of a kitchen as much as in quiet prayer. Why? He was impervious to external noises. He had learned to commune in his spirit and deny his soul.
Some feel that to have God's presence, their environment must be free of such distractions as the clatter of dishes. The farther away they are from mankind, the better they will be able to sense the presence of God. What a mistake! The trouble lies not in the dishes, nor in other people, but in themselves. God is not going to deliver us from the dishes; He will deliver us from our responses! No matter how noisy it is outside, the inside does not respond. Since the Lord has broken our outward man, we simply react as if we had not heard. Praise the Lord, we may possess very keen hearing, but due to the work of grace in our lives, we are not at all influenced by the things pressing on our outward man. We can be before God on such occasions as much as when praying alone.”
a. Faculties of the human spirit include:
- Spiritual perception and awareness
i. Faculty of Conscience
Rom. 2:14-16 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Proverbs 20:27 “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart”
Our God given conscience is a faculty of our human spirit. Our conscience is that inner witness designed by God to tell us whether our thoughts and actions are morally and ethically right or wrong. When we have sinned, our conscience is pricked and we feel pangs of guilt. This, of course, is assuming that our conscience is in a healthy state. The Word of God reveals that our conscience can be less than healthy and defines a number of different states our conscience can be in.
Conviction vs Condemnation
As believers, if we sin we experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit that draws us to him that we may confess our sin and walk on in fellowship with the Lord. We need to keep short accounts with God.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John 1:9
Condemnation is always the voice of the enemy speaking to our mind. His aim is to accuse us and get us to a place where we feel cut off from God. Any feelings that make us feel like distancing ourselves from God are from the devil not from God. He understands the power of guilt to cause us to feel condemned. We need to run to God when we sin, not from Him!
”There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”
Conditions of the Conscience
i. A good conscience
1 Tim 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”
1 Tim 1:19 “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,…”
ii. Seared conscience
1 Tim 4:2 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
Before we were saved many of us sinned in a certain area so many times our consciences became so callused that we hardly felt any qualms whatsoever about the particular offence.
If we constantly override our conscience, it becomes less and less sensitive to our sinful actions. This is dangerous, as God’s commandments are for our good and, if our conscience is not fulfilling its office, we will reap death in some form or other.
We should pray for the spirit of conviction to be continually upon our hearts that our conscience would be tender before the Lord at all times.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
iii. Weak Conscience
1 Cor 8:7 “However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.”
A weak conscience is one that has not received enough revelation knowledge to come to a right moral and ethical position regarding certain practices. In the case described above by Paul, the matter in question was the eating of food offered to idols. Paul had a strong conscience because he had an abundance of revelation knowledge, and understood in his heart that an idol was nothing, therefore food offered to an idol was of little consequence. He chose however to conduct himself sensitively in order not to hurt or confuse those whose conscience was less grounded in this spiritual reality.
The consciences of others
Paul warns us that even although we have knowledge we are not to use our liberty if it will cause those who are of a weak conscience to stumble.
1 Cor 8:9-11 “but beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?”
ii. Faculty of the imagination
The imagination in worship
The primary purpose of our imagination is to contain our concept of God, which is built up line upon line as God reveals Himself to us through His Word and by His Spirit. We worship God holding this image in our mind’s (or rather, spirit’s) eye. The imagination’s highest function is in worship.
John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Our imagination as a faculty of our spirit facilitates our worship of the Lord.
If not given over to God in holiness, the imagination can become the seat of idolatry in our lives. It can be filled with lust, vengeance, vanity and many other selfish expressions of idolatry.
Winkie Pratney once said, “Whatever you give your imagination to gets your worship, and whatever you worship you give power over you, and whatever has power over you will get you.”
[See Ezekiel chapter 8 and the references to ‘chambers of imagery’ and idolatry.]
The imagination as our spiritual eyes
“But as it is written: eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” 1 Cor 2:9-10
The imagination is the eyes of our spirit. We are born again with 20/20 vision! We can all see in the Spirit, and behold things that before our salvation were hidden from us. This involves seeing revealed truth through visions, dreams and the revelation gifts of prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom and the discerning of spirits, as well as directly from the Word of God. It must be stressed, however, that the Word of God should be the focus of our spiritual eyes for receiving revelation from God, and that the Word is the judge and measure of all other forms of revelation.
The power of the imagination in visualisation
Gen 11:5-6 “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
The power of the imagination can be seen in the building of the Tower of Babel. There, a strong leader in the person of Nimrod was able to cast his vision to the people in unity. In this situation, God declared that anything they could imagine would be possible.
If this is true of the heathen without God, how much more for the people of God who have the opportunity to put their faith and hope in God, and realise the visions and dreams that He has for them!
Visualisation has been hi-jacked by the world by everybody from salespersons to new-agers. However, it has always been an integral part of the exercising of faith and hope in God’s promises.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The “substance” of the things we are believing for and hoping for is seen with the eye of our spirit not with the natural eye.
2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Through the Word we shape our inner image of reality. The Word is powerful and active, and paints on the canvas of our imagination divine truths that then shape our actions and attitudes, and ultimately our destiny.
iii. Spiritual perception and awareness
Just as our natural physical body is aware of the physical world around it through the five senses, our spirit man is also aware of the realm of the spirit through his spiritual senses. Every sense that our natural man has our spirit has also.
John 3:6-7 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Our spiritual senses can be sharp, dull, or, somewhere in between.
Heb 5:14 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Heb 5:11b “….seeing ye are dull of hearing.”
The key to sharpening our spiritual senses is to use them.
Meditation in the Word, prayer, speaking in tongues, praise, worship and fellowship together with other Christians, and our service for the Lord will all sharpen our spiritual senses.
Perhaps one of the most significant faculties of the born-again human spirit is the ability to commune with God. This is not necessarily just referring to prayer (in the conventional sense), as communion can take place at any time in any place (the student is referred to the classic work by Brother Lawrence, “The Practice of the Presence of God”). Christ now lives in us by His Spirit and the possibility of deep and intimate friendship and communion are open to all who will invest time in the divine relationship we are privileged to enjoy.