Sunday, October 4, 2015

Body, Spirit and Soul. Part One of Four

While I have heard these spoken about for many years now, I still fail to grasp the meaning of these three parts to our complete being. It almost seems there is much confusion and often overlapping as if understanding this concept is far out of the grasp of our teachers in general. It is because of this, I have embarked on this journey, under the complete guidance of the Holy Spirit, to once and for all, seek an explanation of what this means to me and my eternal destiny. It may not make sense to everyone, but by the time I have finished my study for me, it will make perfect sense to me.   

My first port of call was to see what my Bible had to say about these three. Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew. 22:37).   "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30).  "You shall love the your God  with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself" (Luke 10:27). Three of the four gospel writers record the same verse with some differences. It must then be important. Matthew says heart, soul and mind. Mark adds strength, while Luke has all four and adds neighbour. A careful study will show the lawyer answered Jesus firstly from the book of Deuteronomy (6:5, 11:13) and also coupled Leviticus to his reply (Lev. 19:18). He obviously knew his law and was testing Jesus as to His response lining up with what he believed to be the true answer. Jesus agreeing with the lawyer opened the way to further investigation. This having been done, understanding came to the lawyer. So now I employ this same principle, knowing the Holy Spirit will bring not only knowledge but understanding, as I wait on Him for direction and guidance.

I reached for my old Doctrine Book (1969 Edition) and found the following stated as to what I believe. Doctrine 5. Man is one being, consisting of body, soul and spirit (see also Article 10).
The body is the part of man, by which he is related to the natural world around him. The Bible does not always clearly distinguish between soul and spirit, for the word 'soul' is used two ways, Sometimes it includes both soul and spirit, that is, everything other than the physical body (as in Luke 12:20); at other times as a simple description of individuals (as in Gen. 12:5). Where distinction is made between soul and spirit, spirit represents that part of man's nature can enjoy spiritual fellowship with God, and which can exist apart from the body (as in Eccles. 12:7, Luke 23:46, Acts 7:59), while the word soul is used in relation to things of time and sense.

Article 5. Section 2, part 2 (page 76/77). I found the new edition doctrine book has even less to say about this subject.

I now looked at Doctrine 10 for further enlightenment. Their emphasis is on sanctification and living the life of holiness but was not addressing my questions. I read on into Doctrine 11 where it tells me about the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body in the general judgement, but this is not answering my inquiry. Even in the index, there are no other references to body, spirit and soul apart from Doctrine 5. I now know what I must do. Pray and wait for direction.

I need to try to define each part separate so as to understand what is meant by each. The body is not a real problem as it is fairly obvious by the statement in our doctrine book. To me the body is the outer case that houses the complete being. It often reflects the inward parts for our thinking and the roads we have travelled. You can't always tell a book by its cover but our body can be the exception to this saying. The real being is only seen by God, as we are told "Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart" (1 Sam.16:7). Paul when writing to the Corinthians tells us a little more when he writes, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you" (1 Cor. 3:16)? Again Pauls says, "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" (1 Cor. 6:19)? These two verses complement each other as they tell me that my body houses the very dwelling place of God and that His Spirit dwells within me. Much more is going on under the surface than just a mere existence.

What do I now have revealed to me about the body? It is the outer covering containing within itself the spirit of man and the soul. It should be the indwelling place of God. When we die, the body returns to the dust from where it came. At a later time, our body will be redeemed (Romans 8:23), but then changed (1Cor. 15:50-54), our new body now being incorruptible. It will now be like or match the spirit of man and the soul, this now all being in a spiritual state. While this sounds good, I am reminded that this body too will be destroyed, along with the soul if the soul is found, at the judgement, not fit to enter the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 10:28).  

To define or understand "Spirit", I need to go back and look at the creation story and what happened. At creation, God took the 'spirit of man', clothed it with the dust of the earth, and breathed into it and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7. 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 soul. (Authorised Version King James) Here we have Body, Spirit and Soul. So what is the 'Spirit of Man'? 

Lets gather some references from our Bible. Maybe this will give us a clue. "But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding" (Job 32:8). "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart" (Prov. 20:27). "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecl. 12:7). "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2Cor. 4:16). So what can we gather from these verses? The Holy Spirit brings understanding to the spirit in/of man. The body will return to dust but the spirit in/of man will return to Him. While we are gradually dying, ageing, we are required to grow spiritually, daily. But is there something more? What does James have to say about this 'Spirit of Man'? "Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body" (James 3:3). While many think this only applies to the tongue, a greater lesson is hidden in the detail. So what is James telling us?

In the previous verse, James talks about bridling the body. We need to get a firm mind picture of a rider sitting on a horse. What do you see? A rider on a horse holding the reins which are attached to the bit which is held by the bridle around the head of the horse. The bridle represents the Word of God. The reins is our mind or thoughts. The horse represents our body. The rider is the spirit of man. The bit is the key to control. The spirit of man is the rider who holds the reins. The bridle is the word of God. The bit is a small part of the total picture, but is the ‘key’ to control. Word of God when spoken brings us into submission. Our mind (thoughts) is the gateway to our soul. We are directed by what we say and think.

I guess this is where the five senses come into play. Sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. These are the five inlets into our body. Our brain takes what it is fed, processed they become thoughts. It is what we now do with these thoughts makes the difference. We need to control what is fed to the 'Spirit of Man'. A point to note. Every temptation begins with a thought. No exceptions. These thoughts are now channelled into five sources fed to our inner spirit, the spirit of man. Imagination (sight), conscience (smell), memory (hearing), reason (taste) and affection (touch). This was taught by Jesus when dealing with the Pharisees using the Rich man and Lazarus as examples. You can read the story in Luke 16:19 to 31. Here we see displayed by the rich man, when he was in Hades, the five channels of thought he had retained although his earthly body was buried and once again returning to the dust from which it came. Having this told to us gives an insight of what we can expect, after death, to experience. Decisions made now control our eternal destiny.  

Part One of Four  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading your article, but not until I'm further along in the Holistic Quest that I'm being guided to pursue. However, I am in the same learning mode, remembering my past studies on this subject, searching for truth, guidance, and following the direction of the Holy Spirit.

So, thank you for sharing your experience. May God richly bless you, too.

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer
Guardians of the Truth '83-'85