Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Thessalonians 5:23
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.“Hebrews 4:12
In the beginning, God created man in His own image. The scriptures declare that we are made a little lower than God:
“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”Psalm 8:5 KJV
“Yet You have made him but a little lower than God [or heavenly beings], and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”Ps 8:5 AMPLIFIED
The word translated “angels” in the KJV is actually the word “Elohim”, the word used elsewhere referring to God Himself, including Genesis 1:1.
Mankind, male and female, were originally as close to God as possible, without actually being gods. Jesus was so convinced of this reality that He pointed out the truth in his conversations with the religious leaders of His day, quoting Psalm 82:6:
“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”John 10:34 KJV
The Constitution of Man
The constitution of Man
Man is a tripartite being, consisting of:
- Spirit – Hebrew: “Ruach” Greek: “Pneuma”
- Soul – Hebrew: “Nephesh” Greek: “Psueche”
- Body – Hebrew: “Beten” or “Geshem” Greek: “Soma”
Spirit and Soul are distinguishable but indivisible, and these are housed in the physical body. These are the three centres of consciousness within the total personality of man.
Without God, man has no possibility of knowing himself and the complexity of his being. Psychologists have tried to understand the soul of man but have taken little account of the spirit of man. Consequently their understanding is incomplete and their ability to restore the heart of man severely limited.
Wholeness and Restoration
Throughout the Bible, God reveals himself as a God who is well able and more than willing to restore our lives when we truly come to Him with a contrite heart.
Rejection, insecurity, inadequacy and the fear of failure are some of the many factors that blight and bruise the human heart during the years prior to our conversion.
The Word of God is the only source to which we can refer in order to understand ourselves and through faith in it experience God’s power to completely restore every area of our lives.
A victorious believer is one who lives out of his spirit. Until in our understanding we can truly comprehend the differences between our spirit, our soul, and body, we will be subject to wrong thinking in our mind, negative emotions and bodily appetites. True freedom and the path to wholeness comes from knowing that we can control our mind, will, emotions and body from our spirit.
Stated simply, this is the understanding God wants to give us of ourselves. As we live in this truth, we will be victorious in the circumstances of life.
Example from Scripture
a. King David, a spirit man
King David had a revelation that he was more than just a soul in a body. He often spoke to his soul from his spirit. From his spirit, he was able to use his will to focus his mind on God, overcome negative emotions, and gain the victory.
Psalm 42:5-6a “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me;”
Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”
This ability was amply demonstrated as David returned to Ziklag to find the town raided and all of the women and children missing.
1 Samuel 30:3-6 “So David and his men came to the city, and there is was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
Everyone’s soul was grieved including David’s, but from his spirit, David was able to rise above his feelings of grief and focus himself on God. He eventually recovered all.
Spirit, Soul, and Body
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. banah, 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.””
(Genesis 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 AMP)
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)
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)
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:
- 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” :
“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.”