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!
Have you ever had one of those days when you just wanted to be somewhere else? It’s time to be there, you know you’re late, and there’s nothing you can do about it? That happened to me as I was on my way to the jail, but I had to work late. My flesh was throwing a fit, like a two-year-old. I was so mad. I knew there was nothing I could do about it so I started to focus on the fruit of the Spirit, knowing I already have the fruit of self control. Before I knew it, I was at the jail with a sigh of relief.
The Lord had prepared me to talk about Hebrews 4:12 and what it teaches us about soul and Spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intentions of the heart; it’s okay to have temptations and pulls. We talked about how our circumstances don’t have to rule how we behave, when Jesus lives on the inside, He exercises Spirit living inside us. I don’t understand it all, but I do know we can trust Him to do it.
Afterward I talked with a lady whom I have seen a bunch of times. Her note indicated that we haven’t talked in a while. She is leaving for rehab in a couple of weeks and wanted to let me know about it.
The next woman I chatted with had given her life to Jesus the week before. She had tears in her eyes as she poured out her heart about how it bothers her about the negativity from the other girls in her cell. I asked her if this was anything different than other times she was in jail. “It’s me that has changed this time,” she said. “That stuff never bothered me before, but now, I can’t wait to get out of here,” she continued. She proclaimed how she is never coming back to this place ever again. Her ex-husband, who is in prison has written to her and asked to be reconciled. I asked her if she was still in love with him and she said yes. He has also given his life to Jesus and wants to be the Christian husband he was intended to be.
It was getting late, so I looked for the other ministers to say good-bye. They invited me into the law box with them and an inmate who was struggling with anger and unforgiveness. Wait till you hear what happened next. She shared with us the hurts and anguish she has suffered throughout her life since she was 12 years old. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer, she began to let go of some horrific things. Each of the ministers were laying hands on her as she started to confess forgiveness for each person by naming them out loud. When it came time to forgive the man who sexually molested her as a child, she began to shake and her body temperature rose. I wanted to lay my hand on her head, but when she said this man’s name, God told me, “now”. When I put my hand on her head, the shaking immediately ceased and she became visibly calm. Everyone in the room knew a miracle had taken place. You should have seen the smile on her face once we left that room!
These are the very things that make my heart long to be where Jesus is, and this is one of the places He likes to manifest Himself for His glory.
Thank you, Jesus for who you are and what you are doing in the lives of people who seek your face. Thank you for you grace and mercy and love.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 KJV
Hebrews 4:12 seems to be one of my favorite verses as of late. It’s one of those verses that apply to everyone in every situation of life. The reason is simple. We are all human and being human means we are all the same in our makeup. We are made up of three parts: spirit, soul and body. Of course in this particular verse the body really isn’t the issue rather the spirit and soul are.
The Word of God distinguishes between soul and spirit. In other words God is the only one who can truly show us the difference between the two. My experience has been that I can learn lots of things from books and teachers but it isn’t until God himself shows me that it becomes real to me.
If we don’t come to the place where we understand the difference between soul and spirit we are easy prey for the enemy. The soul realm is made up of our emotions and intellect. This is where our reasoning faculties are found. The spirit realm is of course first and foremost where we meet with God. God is Spirit and we too are spirit at our core.
The Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple were great illustrations here. Remember how it was set up in three distinct parts? There was the outer court, the inner court and the Most Holy Place. In a manner of speaking they represented us. The outer being the body, the inner being the soul and of course the Most Holy Place, being the spirit where the priests would meet with God one on one. We too meet with God in our spirit, our inner man, one on one. There may have been lots of movement and activity going on in the outer two courts, but in that Most Holy Place the priest was meeting with God and receiving instruction from him. All the guidance came from the inner and then outward not the other way around.
Let’s get back to Hebrews 4:12. This verse lists six things. There’s soul and spirit; joints and marrow and thoughts and intents. Hold on to your seat because I believe there are some that are about to receive revelation about this right now. While there are six things listed we can safely place them into two categories describing the same thing. The verse is really about the division of soul and spirit right? Look at it this way.
Now think for a minute about what a joint does. Have you got it? A joint is moveable isn’t it? In fact it is designed to move isn’t it? Well, a joint corresponds with soul so could it be that God intends for our soul to move or fluctuate? Maybe those thoughts and feelings we are having are in fact okay. Maybe God isn’t expecting us to manage and control all of our feelings all the time. Maybe he wants those ever changing emotions and thoughts to push us into him.
If you look now at the marrow and how it’s under the spirit category you’ll think well, what’s up with the marrow? The marrow, unlike the joint, isn’t meant to move and fluctuate but rather it is that deep inner part of the bone where the real life is found. Without the marrow there would be no need of a joint. You could say the joint is the outer expression of the marrow. The joint would have no life at all without the marrow. We too are designed to live from the spirit not the soul.
Finally we come to the thoughts and intents. A thought is something that may flash into our minds without warning. If we would admit it we would have to say we all have thoughts that come to our mind throughout our days we don’t like. Sometimes we even think “Where did that come from?” Once again that’s okay we simply cannot control every thought that bombards us but what about the intent? Intent, on the other hand, is different. A thought is a passing thing whereas intent is something we have pondered and even decided on.
One last thing about this verse we need to see is the context it is in. The fourth chapter of Hebrews is talking about rest. I believe the only true rest we will ever get is when God makes the difference between soul and spirit clear to us. Once we really see that we are spirit joined to Spirit and we are not our thoughts and feelings we gain freedom and rest.
Let me finish with an example. Just before my usual lunch break at work I had to go on a delivery. Doing this was going to make me late for my lunch break so I began to get agitated. As I left in the truck it dawned on me as if God said to me, “Louie you really only have two options. You can get angry, take these deliveries and go home late for lunch or you can not get angry, take these deliveries and go home late for lunch.” I actually had a choice to not get angry. I know that’s deep but just follow me if you can.
Right then and there I became fully aware that the anger wasn’t me. The anger was real and I felt it, but I saw myself apart from it. I saw that my spirit joined to the Holy Spirit was my true identity and the anger was in my soul realm. God’s design for all of humanity is for his Spirit to join to ours and be the command center in order to lead our soul and body. In the fall mankind became turned inside out. We became lead around by our body cravings and desires and our soulish thoughts and emotions. We became outer court people when God’s plan all along is for us to be Most Holy Place people.
Written by Louie
I received a call this morning from Joyce Zander concerning her 88 yr. old auntie being in the hospital. She wasn’t sure if she would be at jail tonight, so she made arrangements for a deputy to accompany Tammy and me if we still wanted to lead the service. We both agreed and waited and prayed for a healing. When the time came we were all available as God provided the way. Starting out with praise and worship with Nicole Mullins was a perfect start.
When Joyce called my name, I asked the ladies if they were sick and tired of being sick and tired and many hands went up. I was asking this because there is rest that God promises us in Hebrews 4:1, if we would put our faith in Him. I talked about when God made the whole earth in 6 days; the last thing He made was man. So think about this, man’s first day on the planet was to rest. But somehow we think if we aren’t busy, worried or in control, then it won’t get done, but that is simply not true.
The point I was making was how we are always going to be tempted to get out there into the drama. There is always going to be something we are going through. Hebrews 4:12 talks about how the “Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” In our soul, there is always movement, like our joints and thoughts. That’s okay. In our Spirit is the center, where the marrow and our intentions are, that’s where we draw life from. The struggle is good for us because we are growing up into maturity. God is looking for a son to take over the family business, but do you have the passion, and concern like the Father does. Can He trust you with the inheritance? How does He find out? How does He show us? He works this out through our trying and failing and then finally our resting in Him. The good news is we can have rest in our Spirit at the same time our soul is a mess.
That was the theme of the counseling tonight, it seemed. There is so much drama going on in the cell and a few of these ladies are asking me what they should do about it. One of my girls makes fun of herself along side the ones in the cell making fun of her. The other girl said she moved to the suburbs to stay out of the drama; meaning the cell is split in two categories, “I moved from the ghetto to the suburbs, Miss Tracey, they read their bible in the morning in the suburbs and have popcorn prayer before bed at night.” She told me.
Although I listened to five ladies tonight, but there is one in particular I wanted to tell you about. This lady has been through the tough stuff. Her whole adolescent life she wanted and craved attention from her mom and dad, but never got it. When she had her own children, she made sure they got what she wanted growing up. However, since her daughter has been alive, she has been in and out of jail and not bonded with her. The little girl is now 11 years old and knows how to work the system to her benefit. This lady I am talking about almost lost all hope of breaking the generational curse. But God is calling her name and He has her undivided attention. She told me as she was leaving her cell to meet me, she thought, “He, (the Lord) is going to speak to me through this church lady”. I heard her say, that she has hope. There is hope in Jesus and I saw something in her tonight I have never seen, and was happy to see the change. A smile came over her and brightened up the room. It was getting late, like midnight late, so we plan to get together next week right after services.
I could tell she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, but now we were both just tired.
Written by Tracey
Everybody wants to be good all the time and never make any mistakes; but life doesn’t work that way, it was never meant to. Where is the glory in that? If we were good all the time and never made a mistake, we would never need Jesus. The fact is we do make wrong decisions, we blow it more times than not, but it always leads us right to the feet of Jesus, where we belong. Nobody loves us like Jesus does, and nobody will take us back a gazillion times like Jesus will. He is head over heels in love with us, He will never give up, back up or shut up, and He loves us too much to leave us in our sin soaked ways. So what happens is that we end up in a mess, it could look like a hospital, being homeless or jail. However God chooses to get our attention.
“I will put a My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statues and you will be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). When we belong to Him, He lives inside us and He causes us to move. There was a lady in the service tonight at jail who questioned me when I talked about us being in God’s will right now. She didn’t think that Gods’ will meant for her to be in jail when she was doing perfectly fine in the Trilogy program here in Hopkinsville. (a long term woman’s’ live-in rehab facility; often times mandatory by a judge.)
I believe God means good for all of us, He is a good God, but we put ourselves in situations that move God to bring us back to Him. I read to them several chapters in John, skimming around in there about not letting your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me, Jesus said. Jesus always pointed to the Father. Jesus was leaving the disciples to go back to heaven and it was good that He leave so the Comforter could come which is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He “would not leave us as orphans, I will come to you”. Many women in the audience this night have been abandoned by people they trusted, they have been lied to by those close to them, and it’s hard for them to believe in a God who says He will never leave them. But it is as simple as believing Him and His word because He is truth.
When it was Tammy Straders’ time to talk, she spoke the words of truth about knowing God. She was talking about the Adam knew Eve kind of knowing, you know the kind I am talking about. It’s intimate and it’s an experience with Him. She told them she never wants God to say to her when she meets Him “Depart from me, I never KNEW you.” How would you respond to a comment like that? We were amazed at how God put her and me together to talk about Believing God and then we have a knowing with Him.
Rhema Word came to talk about Valentines Day and being loved by God. Sha asked if anyone had a good Valentines in jail. There was not a good response to that question, but honesty came from it. One lady said she expected a card or something from her family because she sent out cards to them. Sha explained God is our love and He has special time just for us, we are loved by Him and not just on Valentines Day, either.
All in all it was a great night; I got to tell two different ladies I counseled about how we are meant to swing from good to bad because that’s how we are designed. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.” 6 things are named here, Soul, joints and thoughts; the other 3 are spirit, marrow and intents. The first 3 move, come and go, and swirl around all day long. But notice the spirit, marrow and intents are stable, life-giving and inward. We live where the life is and that is in our spirit because our human spirit is joined to the Holy Spirit and we are one with him, just as Jesus and the Father are one. We are in union with Him whether you believe it or not, but it would do you well to know that we are one with Him.
Written by Tracey
I never get tired of talking about how we are a spirit/soul/body and how that plays out in everyday life. Tonight was no different talking to the guys in jail. I love going to the jail to speak and I guess it’s because I get the opportunity to encourage them and let them know God still loves them. I know if he can turn my life around there is no reason he can’t do the same for them.
Most of the time when going to the jail I have a verse or passage of scripture I want to share with them tonight I guess you could say I had one verse. After telling them a brief testimony of how I used to do drugs and how that led to divorce but God delivered me and restored my marriage. I spoke to them of how humans are made up of three parts. We are a spirit have a soul and live in a body. I read Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” So right here the Bible tells us our soul and spirit isn’t the same thing and it takes the word of God to divide between the two.
I’m convinced that most of our problems stem from not understanding how we are made. I shared with the guys how when Adam sinned man began to be only outward focused. Of course this is because he died in his spirit. He only had the outer to live by hence the need to be born again of the Spirit of God. As a lost man, dead in our spirit, we are left to live a flesh driven outer focused life. God never intended us to be led around by our bodily cravings or soulish thoughts and feelings.
Some may have different views on what constitutes the soul but for me I have settled it as follows. I see the spirit realm as being where we are in contact with God. The soul realm is the realm of our emotions and intellect. This is the part of us that very well may fluctuate all day long. We may wake up feeling good and by lunchtime we’re frustrated and angry about something. The trick is recognizing it is just that, the soul. We are directed to live by the Spirit not the soul or body. Living after the Spirit is where the settled more steady life comes from. This is where the renewing of our minds comes into play.
We have lived by being led by our body cravings and soulish thoughts and emotions for so long we have to learn how to walk after the Spirit. This is the whole reason I speak on these matters because I don’t hear too many others talking about it. But the Apostle Paul tells us “Walk after the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the lusts (desires) of the flesh.”
There were 31 men there tonight and for the most part all of them were glued to what I was saying. I know it was because I was telling them how to handle everyday life. Not just a “la la” life but everyday life filled with temptations designed by the enemy to lure us out and away from the Spirit. As long as we continue to live as though the outer man is the only one that matters we are in for trouble.
I guess I spoke for about 45 minutes and I ended by telling them the Christian life isn’t difficult it’s impossible. Jesus Christ is the only one who ever lived the Christian life and he is the only one who ever will. The great news is that God’s plan is to live in and through us by way of his Spirit. Then Christ will still be the only one living the Christian life but now it will be in and through you. I left them with a few more verses.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NASB)
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches…” John 15:5 (NASB)
As we were all putting up chairs getting ready for the guards to come and walk them down the hall to their cells a few of the guys came up and shook my hand. They said things like “Thanks for coming”, “I really needed that tonight”, and one guy asked for the churches address so he could write to me. I gave it to him, and I think he’s the one that walked away with my pencil too but you know what? It happens to all of us.
Just as I was walking out the door into the hallway one of the guys apologized to me because some of the others he said, “Only come in here to talk with someone from another cell.” I told him I know that happens but they also heard the truth and God can work with that later even if it doesn’t seem like they were paying attention. I am convinced that God will use what was said tonight for his glory no matter what it appears like on the surface. After all we are Spirit beings and things work a little differently in the Spirit.
Written by Louie