A human being: body, soul and spirit
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the spirit of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.
Our body was formed of the dust of the ground, and it is sustained by that which grows up from the ground. With our body we are in contact with everything that has been created. In the beginning, God breathed the spirit of life into man’s nostrils. With our spirit we are in contact with God. Man didn’t become a living soul until the spirit entered his body. The soul is our life—the result of the union of body and spirit. With our soul we are in contact with people.
Separated from God
The intention was that God would lead us by our spirit; but then the fall came, and separation from God. Man began to live according to thein his body. (Genesis 3:6) Instead of the body being an instrument of the spirit in the service of God, the body started to lead instead. The consequence was separation from God because the spirit in man became a slave to the lusts in the . The fruit of the fall is all the corruption we see in the world. The corruption is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)
Because the body took over the leadership, we are earthly by nature—carnal and not spiritual. Our lives are in the things that have been created, and we naturally worship the greatness of this world. Our soul—our senses—revolve around the visible things. The truth is that we are restless in this state, and we suffer under the emptiness of this world, for our spirit can never be content or satisfied by the things that have been created. We don’t naturally understand this because of the darkness in which we are in, and as a result we look for distractions and enjoyment that only increase our emptiness. One could say that we get a taste of hell in our soul. However, God has not left us to ourselves in this state! “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘He jealously desires the spirit He let dwell in us; but He gives even more grace.’” James 4:5. (NIV translation).
It is possible, through the light of the gospel, to be converted to God. Instead of loving our lusts, we can act according to Jesus’ words: “Take up your cross daily and deny yourself.” By denying ourselves, our spirit is delivered from the sin in our flesh, and we enter into fellowship with God. And then, as we start to nourish ourselves with God’s Word and prayer, we receive strength to discipline our body and bring it into subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27
As a result, we become spiritual and have our life—our soul—in the heavenly places. We will start to get a sense for invisible things, which are eternal. We come out of that restless state of that corruptible emptiness and into incorruptible treasures of life that give our spirit rest. We get a foretaste of heaven in our soul! The perfect liberation of the soul from that corruptible emptiness is the end of our faith. (1 Peter 1:3-4, 9)
A calling to fulfill
Jesus has taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. Jesus fulfilled this prayer in the days of His flesh. He also said when He came into the world, “‘A body You have prepared for Me … Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7. We, too, have a calling and task to fulfill. We have also received a body. If our body does not assume the leading role (with the result that we lower ourselves to live according to our ) but is presented as a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice to God, then we spread God’s kingdom. We accept God’s will through our spirit, and we carry it out with our body. The fruit of this co-operation is a heavenly life, a saved soul.
Death will have no power
Jesus says: “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles [heathen] seek … But seek first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33. The heathen seek what the body needs. That is their main concern. The animals do the same. But we must act differently. We must keep the nourishment and well-being of our spirit in mind. We must seek God’s kingdom first! If we do this, then God will provide for our body. If we do this, we are saved from all the anxiety that plagues the world.
This deliverance of the spirit from sin in the flesh is a resurrection, and only those who partake of this salvation will have a part in the first resurrection. They are blessed and holy, for “over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6. Only through this salvation can the God of peace sanctify us completely, so that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
This article is an edited version of the article “Spirit, Body, Soul,” which first appeared in the BCC periodical “Hidden Treasures” in March 1942.
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