1 Thessalonians 5:23 states that we are three distinct parts. We are spirit, soul, and body. Traditionally, we have been taught that we are two parts: soul and body. The spirit has been used interchangeably with the soul, but they are not the same thing.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6, NKJV). The spirit is where we are born-again in Christ.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12, NKJV). Our spirit has been reborn by His Spirit. In our spirit, we have received His Spirit so that we might know (in our mind) what God has given us.
Our spirit was reborn when we were saved, and our spirit is where we became a new person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). In our spirit, we are saved (liberated from the old person we once were). In our spirit, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). In our spirit, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit who guarantees what we have received in Christ (Ephesians 1:13). In our spirit, we pray, receive, and worship God (John 4:24). In our spirit, we have received Christ’s perfect work of salvation.
Then what about the soul? The soul is often referred to as the mind. The mind makes up our mental and emotional state—our personality. It is where we think and reason and where we feel the full range of human emotions like happiness and sadness—compassion and anger. The mind is where we reason and make choices. The mind is where we either understand with our senses (what we feel and experience) or understand the truth of the Word the Spirit reveals (what God says is true).
In our spirit, we have received the Holy Spirit so we might know what God has given us (1 Corinthians 2:12). We can either understand with our flesh (the natural mind that feels and senses) or with our spiritual mind (the mind of Christ that we have received). Either the spirit determines what the soul (the mind) believes or our flesh determines what we believe.
Our natural mind will tell us that we are not new in Christ. We know our failures and faults. We know we are not perfect in our flesh. The flesh fights to keep us from understanding that we are a new person in Christ. When our mind dwells on our feelings instead of God’s truth, we are subject to the enemy using our emotions and our feelings to try to destroy us. But when we dwell on the things of the Spirit, we are subject and open to God’s truth.
When we look into the mirror of God’s Word—the truth of who we really are—we see the new person Christ has made us. Our soul (the mind) is where the Holy Spirit convinces us of what we have received in our born-again spirit. Our mind is where we choose to believe we are new in Christ. Our mind (our soul) is where we are molded by God’s truth. Our soul (our mind) is where we work out our understanding of the salvation we have received in Christ.
“So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]” (Philippians 2:12, AMP).
Salvation is what God did for us through Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God that can only be received by faith. When we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior, God imparts salvation and its blessings in us (Philippians 2:13). Working out our salvation is not earning it. We can’t. Christ has already earned it for us. We work out the salvation we have received in the spirit by actively pursuing to renew our minds with the Word and receiving understanding of the new nature Christ has given us (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:23-24).
The Spirit of God you have received reveals God’s truth to your mind (John 16:13). When you renew your mind (your soul) with God’s Word, you receive an understanding of the new person you are in Christ (Romans 12:2). You surrender your senses—your feelings—to His truth instead of what you naturally feel. When you do this, again and again, you believe, and you sow God’s truth in your heart.
What you believe is what you receive. Believe according to your feelings and receive the lies your feelings can dictate. Believe according to God’s truth and receive what His Word says is true. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind and choose to put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Actively pursue spiritual maturity. May the God of peace sanctify you completely so that your spirit and soul and body are preserved blameless (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
© 2022 Lynn Lacher