The following is an e-mail conversation that took place over a couple days. I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope to do more, but for now I thought I would share it in the hope it helps encourage others too.
Louie: What do you think about discussing a verse or two, and each of us can add a comment or question at our leisure. What do you say? If you’re in then let’s begin with spirit/soul and body.
Check out these verses and let me know what you think.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Tracey: I love this idea of email biblically based conversation. So here it goes…Hebrews 4:12 is one of my favorite explanations of dividing between Spirit, soul and body. It gives us permission to be human. For example, the soul, joints and thoughts go together because they all move and we don’t necessarily have control over them. But the Spirit, marrow and intentions are steadfast, unmovable, and where the life is. So, it explains that being human is okay. It doesn’t give us permission to sin, however, but it gives a great explanation of how the Word of God divides the three parts.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 this verse points to my sanctification, as if it isn’t my mine at all, but that of Christ. He doesn’t leave any thing out as if I may mess it up. It is Him who I am depending on for my Spirit, soul, and body to preserve me until the coming day of Jesus Christ.
What a load off of my self effort and we can fully or wholly, depend on Him for our keeping. All parts of us.
Cindy: Is our spirit and soul not the same?
Louie: One of the main things I wanted to look at in these two verses is that spirit and soul are in fact not the same. This is why all three: spirit, soul and body are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians and in Hebrews 4:12 we are told, “The Word of God divides (or distinguishes) between soul and spirit.”
Like Tracey said, “soul, joints and thoughts” are one category and “spirit, marrow and intent” are the other. If you think about the joints of your body and how they are designed to move, and how they coincide with our soul, you will start to see that our soul level was created by God to change or fluctuate. The reason for this is because our soul is primarily made up of our thoughts and feelings (emotions) and they change all the time don’t they? On the other hand, our “spirit” is a bit deeper coinciding with the marrow of our bones which is where the real life is. Then again if it wasn’t for the life in the marrow (spirit) there could be no life or movement in our joints (soul). So the truth is we are spirit beings designed for God’s Spirit, joined to our spirit, to be expressed through our souls (thoughts, feelings, personality).
But the real point here is that we are spirit and if we’ve been born again “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This means we are designed to live from our spirit, where the life (Spirit of God) is instead of our soul that is designed to move with thoughts and feelings we like and thoughts and feelings we don’t like.
I admit this is a huge topic and I don’t want to write a book here but getting an understanding of this is life changing. Once we see we don’t have to be ruled by our thoughts and feelings, we will begin to walk in the spirit and stop fighting things on a soul level, which will change if given enough time. So we learn how to wait.
Tracey: I was going over this again and something hit me. (not literally) Is that it’s the Word of God that divides. Meaning we live our lives (all 3 parts) as by the Bible (The Word) who is Jesus. This is our guide line, not what the world says, or even our sister (ha), but we let the Word of the Lord divide it, and we live by Him.
Cindy: We have to let the word of God open our eyes to the fact that we don’t have to be controlled by our soul, that the word shows us that we are NOT our feelings. We have to choose to not be lead by our thoughts and feelings, because God is not the one driving the confusion and condemnation.
Louie: Amen to both T and C. Sometimes Christians think the enemy is going to stop his attack once we’re saved. The truth is the enemy no longer lives within the inner citadel of our hearts, but he still has access to our body/soul level. He can still inject thoughts and feelings we don’t like. So the question is what do we do with them once they come? This is where we are told to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Once we realize the thoughts aren’t from God, we turn to Christ and see what He has to say about it. For instance if the enemy says to us “You’re no good and you never will be.” We say, “That’s strange because God says He loves me and has great things in mind for me and I’m not who I used to be” (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Thoughts and feelings we like and don’t like will continue throughout our lives but we learn to detect their source.
Cindy: What we choose to do with those thoughts and feelings is the point. We know to well how they can be persuaded by the enemy, which in turn causes us to lash out that the ones close to us. Idle time will cause us to fight with the thoughts and emotions that Satan throws at us, and make you totally miserable. Like the Bible says, God gives us an outlet to temptations, so too He gives us a way out of the thoughts…..look to Him!
Louie: That’s right Cindy, we can’t control all of our incoming thoughts but in Philippians 4 we are told what we can do as an offensive. The Apostle Paul said, “Think on these things: whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” In other words we redirect our thoughts and think of these types of things “On purpose.”
What Hebrews 4:12 is telling us though is it takes “The Word of God” to distinguish between our soul and spirit. This isn’t just talking about the written word but it’s talking about God’s very word to us. When God shows us the difference between our soul and spirit we know it. For instance we may feel angry or jealous but we begin to see those are emotions and not the real “us”. We begin to be able to see these feelings as apart from us rather than thinking they are us. In other words, I’m not angry; I’m feeling angry and so on. This enables us to step back from within and let them pass through without ruling us. We look at anger or jealousy and say, “You’re not the boss of me!”
Cindy: Being able to “just be still” and listen to the voice of God as he instills his word in us to be able to distinguish between what is soul or spirit is a struggle for me at times I must admit.
Louie: Now you’re onto something Cindy. I think most people don’t really want to be still because they are afraid of what God might say to them. One more thing I would like to add to this about Hebrews 4:12 is this whole chapter is talking about entering into God’s rest. I think the key to “His” rest is learning how to walk in the Spirit even while all Hell may be breaking loose in the soul/body level. Jesus promised us His rest if we would just come to Him…Matthew 11:28-30. This is a rest even in the midst of life’s storms.
Cindy: Why is it so hard to walk in the spirit, especially when all that Hell has to offer is being thrown at you and the ones you love? Why is it so hard for us to actually just say, “OK God, here you go, take over”. When your world is falling apart, why is it so much easier to use the excuse of what you use to do in the past for “rest” you are seeking, instead of looking to God for the real rest….because we know the other “rest” just wore us out. Made us ache and cry out in despair. Turn to God, we will tell anyone that quick, but sometimes it seems to be the last resort when it comes to ourselves.
Louie: Wow! This is quite insightful Cindy. Let me quote our friend Brian Coatney here. He says, “Walking in the Spirit is easy. It’s excruciating at times but it’s easy.” In Romans 8 we discover “to be carnally (flesh) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity (open hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” So what we really need is to learn to walk in the mind of Christ, which we have according to 1 Corinthians 2:16 “We have the mind of Christ.”
A counselor Tracey and I spoke to before we were remarried seemed to do everything in his power to convince Tracey I would go back to drugs as soon as something difficult came along. Little did he know Christ truly had taken up residence within me, and He would keep me! Later on this man’s wife actually apologized to Tracey once she saw and believed God had truly changed me and it wasn’t just me, or “my flesh”, attempting to “turn over a new leaf.” God did in fact transform me into a new creature. So to make it real simple, the only way we make it is to be kept people. We learn to “NEVER” trust in ourselves, and our old ways, but in the “ONE” who raises the dead!