I was asked recently to give a little more explanation on the division of Body, Soul and Spirit that I referred to in the first message of the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting called, The Fast & the Curious. I hope this is helpful.
We are all created in the image of God, who exists in three persons, Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
He is not three God's. 1+1+1=3
One God. 1x1x1=1
In the same way, God made man in his image, male and female, made up of three parts -- body, soul and spirit.
The Apostle Paul writes: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).
This is the most obvious of the three. Our physical being, created in the image of God.
(From the Greek, “Psyche”) Genesis 2:7 God created people with a “living soul.” The soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will and the emotions.
Together these first two are the “natural” man, or some translations in the Bible, the “flesh.”
This is the eternal part of us, the part of us that can communicate with God. But the spirit part of us is not alive at our physical birth because of the curse of sin.
Paul describes people who are dead spiritually in 1 Corinthians 2 & 3.
1. The natural/unspiritual person.
People who aren’t spiritual (without the Spirit) can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT)
Jesus explained the need for a spiritual awakening. He called it being born again. Not a physical birth, but a moment that needs to occur in everyone’s life where they are born or come alive spiritually. To the spiritually dead, or unspiritual person, spiritual things sound foolish to them and they can’t understand it. Paul says only those are spiritually awakened can understand what God's Spirit is saying.
A spiritual awakening is something God initiates in a person. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. ( John 6:44 (NIV) Therefore, when the spirit within them is dead/not alive, they are understandably critical of the things of God. Until He reveals himself to them and they experience Him. When when they have an encounter with God, lights come on, they believe and the spirit awakes.
2. The spiritual person.
Paul now shows us the spiritually awake person who now can understand spiritual things.
Those who are spiritual (with the Spirit) can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16 NLT)
When a person responds to the revelation of God's Spirit--that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead--by believing it, they are born again. They have a spiritual awakening. The dead spirit inside comes to life forever. The spirit, the "real person" is eternally "saved."
Even though the body, mind and emotions still struggle with sin and brokenness, our spirit is made holy, justified, made right with God. The spirit wants to please God and do His will. Spiritually awakened people can see spiritually. Spiritual things begin to make sense, things what don't make sense to people who are unspiritual, who do not have the spirit awakened. Or another way to say it, they are not just locked into the human way of evaluating things. Who can understand what God’s thoughts are? We can, who have been spiritually awakened. We can have the mind of Christ.
3. The worldly, spiritual person.
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? (1 Corinthians 3:1–3 NLT)
Paul addresses believers, people who have been born again, spiritually awakened, but never grew. They are still infants and act just like the world. What does he mean, “worldly?” People who are spiritually dead only function according to the flesh...their physical, mental and emotional capacity. So Paul admonishing worldly believers who still have the body and soul (mind/emotions) running the show. They are still controlled by the body and soul, the flesh, the sinful nature.
- Body & Soul (Mind and Emotions) = The natural/the flesh
- Spirit (Eternal part of us that God saves) = The spiritual
Which part wants to be in charge! Both! The flesh AND the spirit. The natural human, and the awakened spirit.
Q: Who will be in charge? A: Whatever part is stronger!
Q: What causes one part to be stronger over the other. A: The part that gets fed the most.
Q: What causes one part to be weaker over the other. A: The part that gets starved the most.
Like the trinity, this is a mystery, difficult to understand. Where does the Soul end and the Spirit begin? It’s hard to tell. The soul and the spirit are mysteriously tied together and make up what the Scriptures call the "heart." However, the awakened spirit wants to do what the Spirit of God wants. The flesh, is opposed to the spirit. There is a division within us. The natural will fight the spiritual all our lives.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Gal 5:17 ESV)
God’s word can help us separate what is a desire of the flesh and a desire from the Spirit.
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. (Heb. 4:12 NASB).
This is why we do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.
- Prayer connects us to God, and feeds the spirit.
- Fasting disconnects us from the world, and reveals the desires of the flesh that still control us.
Think of what happens to us spiritually when we do this?
This will be the best year of your life if it’s your best year of your life spiritually!