I personally believe there is a complete lack of spiritual orientation provided in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. In this post I will endeavour to speak in to WHERE we are in a spiritual sense and what is around us and WHO we are, what is the difference between Body Soul and Spirit.
I have found this to be of great help in my own walk of faith and to be essential in helping me to overcome and defeat sin in my life and to have a more consistent, joyful walk of faith. I also believe it is a vital foundation in moving from the place of being a church attender to a disciple of Jesus.
Where are we? The Spiritual World.
As Christians we believe in a heavenly realm or unseen realm. This can be confirmed throughout the Bible but even the very foundation of our personal faith is having hope in things that cannot be seen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:8
We recognise that there have been people throughout the history of Gods people who have had their eyes opened to peek beyond the veil and have seen into the spiritual realm while here on earth.
This passage from Second Kings speaks to an unseen spiritual realm, it also shows how prayer is a powerful weapon when we meet adversaries.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. 2 kings 6:15-19
NB: In this post I will not be discussing our interaction with, response to this unseen realm.
This spiritual realm is populated with spiritual beings of both a positive Godly nature and the opposing negative or demonic nature. The Bible also shows us that these beings have ability to manifest in and influence the seen realm to accomplish their purposes to work for Gods glory or to oppose it.
Daniel 10 gives a great depiction of the wrestle in the heavenly realm between the Gods righteous angel and the fallen angels who seek to oppose God. Daniel had been praying to God for help and the Archangel Michael was sent to answer that prayer but he was opposed or withheld by the heavenly prince of Persia for 21 days.
Also we see the battle clearly described in Revelation 12 from verse 7. Which shows the correlation between the battle in the unseen and the involvement of those who profess faith in Jesus in the natural, you and me.
We as Christians have been called to no longer to live to or for ourselves but for the righteousness and glory of God. God’s instructions are for our good but they are largely to live a life of Holiness which Glorifies him and accomplishes his will, rejecting sin and the power of Satan. The unseen realm and beings work against / with us (demons/angels) for Gods purposes to be accomplished or limited.
The reality of eternal life is something which we are right now, in the present, involved in.
Things that are eternal are of the Spirit. God is Spirit and he has given us new life in the spirit so that we may begin that eternal union with him now.
Outside of Christ we are separated from God in the death of our spirit because of sin. That too is an eternal, unseen reality. A reality that can only cross from eternal death to eternal life through faith in Christ. The truth is that those who are not in Christ are currently dead, life only comes through Christ.
Living according to and in light of the truth of God’s word is an active participation to the reality mentioned above. It is important to note that indifference, apathy, or rebellion (sin) is also an active participation against God.
We would do well to acknowledge, in humility, the things we do not understand as still being very much real and to not write things off to superstition or erroneous doctrine simply because we do not understand. There is significant resources to further examine the biblical revelation of these things. Here is one of my preferred such sources:
https://drmsh.com - Michael S. Heiser is an American biblical Old Testament scholar and Christian author. His area of expertise is the nature of the spiritual realm in the Bible, namely the Divine Council and hierarchy of the spiritual order.
It is important to note that I do strongly believe that our interest in, experience with and engagement with the supernatural or unseen realm should be guided strictly by scripture. It should not be the focus of our lives in Godliness. God has chosen us to be in this world physically for our human lives so we shall do our best to honour him through obedience to his word and a life marked by Holiness, dependant and submissive to God and unceasingly in prayer. This indeed has great implication on what is unseen.
In large I believe understanding our world gives us greater context and understanding to our lives in Christ and as spiritual beings having a spiritual understanding also helps us to better understand ourselves. Understanding that there is an eternal reality of life which is now concurrently in existence yet unseen also gives us a bigger picture to relate our life to. EVERYTHING we do has eternal impact. The things we value in the seen success, money etc have no value in the unseen in themselves but how we obtain and use and relate to these things. Which leads nicely into discussing....
Who are we? Body Soul and Spirit.
One of the concepts that I had found very confusing was the distinction between Body, Soul and Spirit. What part of me died with Christ, and if I died than who is living….? When I came to the beginning of an understanding of this and what is meant to be a new creation, I found greater joy and freedom in my faith. That joy and freedom opened me to greater worship of God and victory over sinful areas of my life.
This is a very brief breakdown of what I’ve come to understand
Body: our flesh and bones
Soul: our mind and emotions
Spirit: The God breathed life in us made alive through faith and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor. 5: 17-21: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Before we are born again we live from the fallen sinful nature of man. This is a nature of rebellion and separation from God. We live for ourselves, kings of our own lives and suffer from an emptiness that has been created by our separation from God through sin. This is living from an unregenerate soul and uses our body to fulfil our own desires, whatever that may be.
After we repent of our sin and rebellion to God, proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives and receive the Holy Spirit what changes?
We are given a new SPIRIT within us, our old carnal nature of Adam which separated us from Christ has died and been buried and we have received the Spirit of God and sealed with a new spirit within us. Our identity has changed. We are no longer identified as the rebel in opposition to the throne of God, bearer of many sins and worthy of eternal separation from God.
We are made new, children of the heavenly family, brother or sister to Jesus and sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father who rules all of creation, the seen and unseen. You are robed in righteousness and perfect in Christ. We are no longer sinners saved by grace. Miserable humans with sinful nature. We are regenerate SAINTS who sin through the soul, the flesh prompted by our carnality and the schemes of Satan.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Our SOUL has not been made new. We can think of it as an operating system that has been defiled and broken through sin, lies and brokenness. The Spirit of God in us has been given to be received and so that we may live in truth, to sanctify and convict, to lead us to repentance and to heal us from the trauma of the fallen nature of the world. This gives us the revelation and power to overcome the old mind (soul).
The bible says to no longer be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Your spirit is perfect when given to you at the moment you’re born again. The way we operate our soul will influence how much we live by the spirit or the flesh.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
The BODY does what comes from the Spirit and Soul.
Ideally as Christians we would conform our mind so much to the will of God through reading the word, prayer, obedience, trust and faith that the Spirit would meet no resistance in overflowing to the world around us that people would indeed begin to see Jesus in us. That we would hate the things God hates and love the things God loves. That we would truly be vessels for the Holy Spirit alone.
The TRUTH of who you are in Christ is that you, in the eternal level of your being, the spirit level, are fully accepted, full of significance and totally secure.
That doesn’t change with a single day. We will sin,
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.John 1:8-10.
but that does not change the truth that you're fully accepted, fully significant and totally secure standing before God. God is faithful to forgive the repentant.
Repent of your sin and get right with God when you sin. Always pursue holiness so that your significance in Christ for his kingdom can come to life. Your life of significance for the kingdom comes from living by the spirit and not the soul or flesh. There will be things that God will convict you to remove from your life, and it will feel hard and painful. Trust in God, listen to his prompting and obey. He will provide you the strength to overcome any temptation or desires through trust and obedience. Also, I have come to find that the ‘pain’ in giving something up does not come from my spirit but from my soul or flesh. Your Spirit is the real you, the mind is being transformed. You have the victory, the struggle is appropriating the victory from your spirit to your mind.
My eagerness to share this is so that Christians would live in fullness and freedom, not being prisoners to their own minds and flesh led by the lies of the world.
I was deceived for so long to think that when the Bible talks about the freedom we have in Christ what it meant is that we have the opportunity to struggle in our own strength until we get to that place of freedom. When I came to realise the totality of freedom is 100% completely available when I live not from the flesh (old) but from the spirit (new) I rejoiced in ways hard to describe. There is nothing to be earnt in the Christian faith, not only do we not earn salvation but we also do not earn a single promise or gift from God.
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
Feelings of rejection, fear, guilt & shame have all been established in us from the fallen nature of our created beings. This all carried over as a curse from our separation from God from the original sin. I believe a lot of our sinful soulish behaviour and the hole unbelievers try to fill is the covering or satisfying of these ‘wounds’. These can clearly only be healed by Jesus and in believing what the word of God says about those who have received Christ as Lord. This is not a process in justifying sin by any means, or minimising the seriousness or depravity of sin or the real world rejection, guilt and shame we are made to feel through ourselves and others. I believe knowing and believing who we are in Christ is the only place to find the freedom to overcome and defeat sin in our lives and live a life pleasing to the Lord.
If you have accepted Jesus as Lord but have not believed a verse like :
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
Then you are living from the unrenewed, corrupted old mind and from unbelief. All that the Bible says about those that are in Christ if completely and fully true. Your spirit is and you are completely accepted, significant and secure in God and therefor free from having to try to fulfil yourself in any way outside of Gods will for you. Full life comes from God alone and anything outside of it is only temporary. Live by spirit.
I think understanding the distinctions of body soul and spirit is the only way we can comprehend so much of what the bible has to say about the new creation we are in Christ and the freedom that comes through truth.
It takes time but I have found it helpful to ask myself when I am tempted to sin what is the root of this? What am I trying to compensate? Or heal in myself? Quite often I can trace it back to rejection, fear, guilt or shame or the protection against those feelings. In those moments I also realise that there is something I am not believing or applying about how God sees me and my renewed being.
The transformation of the disciple comes through the renewing of the mind.
The transformed disciple no longer lives in accordance with the lies of the mind or will, or the lies of kingdom of the age but by every word that come from the mouth of God.
The transformed disciple lives from the Spirit, the new nature.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
For those in Christ, Jesus has set you free, you are free indeed.