IT is easy enough to distinguish between the body and the other two (spirit and soul).
But it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the spirit and soul. Nothing but the Bible can do that.
Some people think that the spirit and the soul are the same. They are not:
Hebrews 4 vs 12: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and in-tents of the heart.
If they were the same they could not have been divided. If they were the same, Paul would not have said in I Thessalonians 5 vs 23:
“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. With the body (physical) we contact the world. The body deals with the physical realm.
The spirit man contacts God, for God is Spirit. Only a spirit could contact a spirit. (That is why we use the spiritual power from God to cast out devils and not our physical might).
The new birth is a re-birth of the human spirit, for Jesus told Nicodemus, John 3 vs 7: “Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again.”
John 3 vs 4: Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered John 3 vs 6:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”Now having seen that with the body we contact the physical realm and with the spirit we contact the spiritual realm, that leaves only the soul to locate.
With the soul we contact the intellectual realm. Now we should begin to think of ourselves as spirit beings who possess a soul and live in a body.
Now lets look at these three dimensions in great detail.
Man’s first dimension – the spirit
Man’s spirit is that part of him that knows God. He is in the same class with God because God is a spirit and God made man to fellowship with him.
God made man for his own pleasure. Man is not an animal
In order for man to fellowship with God he had to be a spirit being because God is Spirit.
Jesus told the woman at well
John 4 vs 24: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We can not touch God physically, but we can reach out to Him spiritually. It is through our spirits that we come to know Him.
God who in spirit took upon himself a man’s body
Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. John 1 vs 1, 3, 14, 1: In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.
vs 3: All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made.
vs 14: The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth. When God took upon himself human form, he was no less God than when he didn’t have a body.
Man, at physical death leaves his body. Yet he is no less man than he was when he had his body. Luke 16 vs 19-31: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
“But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate. Desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.
Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man died shortly and was buried.
“Being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.
“But Abraham said, son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. Then he said, I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house.
“For I have five brothers, that he may testify to, lest they come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. He said, no, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent. But he said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded through one risen from the dead.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5 vs 23: We see a glimpse of man’s three fold nature.
Paul says, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have new spirits now because of rebirth, for our spirits are born of God. But we will have a new body at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5 vs 17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. When a man is born again, the spirit is born again, physically you remain the same.
If you were short you are short, and the like. 1 Peter 3 vs 4: “Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
This is the real man. It is not the outward man, the man flesh and bones it is the inward man. 2 Corinthians 4 vs 16: Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
The body gets older and older everyday and is decaying. Just as a house or car. Yet the inward man is renewed day by day because it is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4 vs 17-18: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
You might be going though a trial or misery from the natural stand point, but remember it is only for a moment.
Smith Wigglesworth once said, “I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe.” The only way we can look at the unseen is by faith.
Next week we will look at man’s second dimension, the soul.