Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Psychologists only recognize two parts of man’s nature, mind and body. But the Apostle Paul gave us some insight into a third part of man’s nature, the spirit of man. The spirit nature that we possess allows us to recognize the spirit side of life, and to have both relationship and fellowship with our creator.
A close, overcoming walk with God begins by knowing how we are made. Based on the Apostle Paul’s model of man, here is a simple overview that helps me.
I am a spirit being, I possess a soul, and I live in a physical body. The real, eternal part me is spirit. God is a Spirit. I am made in His image as an eternal spirit.
My conscience is the voice of my spirit. My conscience must be trained in the Word of God and obeyed implicitly. If I train my conscience in the Word, it can become the primary way God leads me. I call a trained conscience the “inward witness.” I must instantly obey the Word that I know, and never violate my conscience. When I violate my conscience, I am allowing my mind and my body to usurp that first place that my spirit should hold in my life.
I, as a spirit being, possess a soul. My soul is made up of three parts; mind, emotion, and will. The dominant part of my soul is my will. With my will, I can direct my mind and my emotions to obey my spirit through my conscience.
My mind and emotions are like tag team wrestlers. They work together to seek to rule my life. They play on one another, my mind alerting my emotions, and then both of them working together to get me to respond to life the way I did before Jesus redeemed me.
My mind is very keen and seeks to dominate my life. It thinks it knows how best to protect me. It has this fight or flight mechanism built in and seeks to protect me from what it perceives as harm. It seeks to parallel what happens now to what has happened in my past. It alerts my emotions to feel now what I felt in similar experiences that I’ve had in my past.
I must retrain my mind to listen to my conscience, the voice of my spirit. My mind must be continually renewed with God’s Word, or it will revert back to old ways of responding.
In my soul there is a residue of sinful thoughts, emotions, responses, and motives left over from my before Christ days. It can make me think something is real when it really isn’t. My soul is clever and frequently seeks to undermine the rule of my spirit. I must be very cautious and careful to keep my soul submitted to God’s Word and to my re-born human spirit.
My body is the part of me that will perish in 80 or 90 years or so of living on earth. It is my earth suit that I must have to live on this planet. I must never let it dominate my spirit or my soul. My body easily responds to earthly things and has an appetite for anything to which it is exposed. I must control my body and keep it disciplined so that my spirit can manifest through it. I must use my body as an instrument of righteous and godly living, and must not use it in a selfish way.
The Father can help me build up my spirit through the Word and then through prayer, particularly praying in the spirit or in other tongues. The Father can help me keep my mind and my motions submitted to my spirit through His Word. And He can help me keep my body under strict discipline. He wants my whole spirit, soul, and body to flow with Him!