There is an imp…

There is an imposter who is out of control in the church.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

V23. 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. (24) He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

2 The Point

We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body

All human beings possess both material and immaterial characteristics.  It is clear to the human eye that all mankind has a body containing flesh, blood, bones, organs etc. It is the intangible qualities of mankind that are debated. Is mankind cut in two parts body/spirit-soul, or three parts, body/spirit/soul? To those who hold the view that mankind is cut in two parts, body/spirit-soul, the opinion is that the soul and the spirit in the bible are interchangeable terms, the soul equals the spirit and both are ego (the self/individual). There is a measure of truth to this view which is why we say that it is of no value to be arrogantly dogmatic. There are good arguments for both views. I trust that things will become clear as to why we hold our view, as we go along in this study.

What does scripture say about this debate?

To get a correct answer we must go back to the creation of man in Genesis 2:7 which states that man was created a living soul. And consider Numbers 16:22 that names God as the God of all spirits. Proverbs 4:23 indicates that the heart is central to man’s will and emotions. So somehow, the soul, spirit, heart, and mind are connected and interrelated.  Man was created as a network (a system of interconnected- co-operating parts). The soul and the spirit without argument are the primary immaterial aspects of humanity.

The verse that I believe to be key to this debate is Hebrews 4:12 which reads in the NKJV : 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 joints and marrow, and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The KJV reads: dividing assunder of soul and spirit, which means to part, to disunite, difference between, portion (strongs 3311, 3307, 3313).

From this we learn that the soul and the spirit while closely connected are separable. The soul and the spirit can be divided.  The NT never confuses the two as though they were the same. Not only are these terms different; their very natures are different from each other.

What is the significance of understanding that the soul of man is a separate entity from the spirit of man?  It is an issue of supreme importance for it affects tremendously the spiritual life of the believer.

  • How can we understand the true spiritual life if we don’t understand the extent of the realm of the spirit within us?
  • Without such an understanding how can we grow spiritually?
  • Without such an understanding we fail to understand the difference between spirit and soul. And often account what is from the soul as spiritual and as a consequence remain in a soulish state, totally out of sync with the word and Spirit of God. The point is very simple: in man there is a realm of the soul which is natural, and the realm of the spirit which can receive, appropriate, and understand the things of God. These two realms must be clearly divided asunder so that man can know the difference between the realm of the soul and the realm of the spirit. It is the living word of God penetrating into his being which makes such a division and which separates these realms from one another.
  • Since all of God’s communications with men occur in the spirit it is crucial that that a believer know his/her spirit. If he/she does not know their own spirit, they do not know how to have fellowship with God in the spirit. Not only that, he/she mistakenly takes the thoughts or emotions of the soul for the activity of the spirit. It is the Spirit of God that searches the deep things of God, and knows the thoughts of God. It is to our spirit, not our soul , that the Holy Spirit reveals spiritual things and God communicates with regenerated man  (1 Corinthians 2:9-13)

In our humble view the parameters for understanding this debate are before the fall (at first-at the beginning) and after the fall.

 1 Thessalonians 5:23

May the God of peace SANCTIFY = to hallow/make holy, which means to set apart, sanctified, consecrated, chaste and pure, meaning to be free from defilements or impurities. Holiness stands in contrast to that which is defiled and common. Sanctification cannot be accomplished without someone separating his or herself. The word sanctified means to withdraw from fellowship with the world. This is accomplished by first gaining fellowship with God.

You WHOLLY = All, the whole, completely, entirely, the goal reached

Your WHOLE = This word expresses the perfection of man before the fall. The whole having all its parts, sound and perfect, that which retains all that was allotted to it at first, completeness bodily, mental, moral entireness

Spirit = the element man which gives him the ability to think of and communicate with God. It is mans vertical window.

Soul = Mans life element, his horizontal window making him conscious of his environment

Body = the material substance covering and dwelling place

Genesis 2:7

The Lord God FORMED man from the dust =this word describes the work of an artist. It speaks of a molding, squeezing, shaping, and sculpting of Adam. Like a potter shaping an earthen vessel from clay man was made from the earth.

And BREATHED  =  to puff blow breath INTO HIS NOSTRILS

The BREATH = this word in Hebrew appears to be synonymous with the word for soul and is often used in combination with ruach = air that is being breathed/breath, ruach is the human spirit as breathed by God into man (Genesis 2:7; Job 27:3; Numbers 16:22). Although the OT treats man as a whole, it also recognizes that essentially he has two immaterial parts-man has a spirit but he is a soul, which combined to form the self/ego.

Of LIFE Hebrew chay = alive, have life – the Hebrew viewed man holistically-body, mind/soul, and spirit were a unified whole. Life was associated with health, vitality and prosperity etc. while death was the opposite of life.

And man BECAME =to be, to breath, to exist

A LIVING Hebrew chay = alive, have life. chay speaks of  identity, character, and  the state or condition of being a person or individual human being.

SOUL  = a breathing living being-the natural self. It is the soul by which the body lives and continues to live while drawing breath. The soul is the vital principle of life which results in death when it leaves the body. The soul is the life element

As soon as the breath of life, which became man’s spirit, came into contact with man’s body, he became a living soul. The soul was produced. Hence the soul is a combination of man’s body and spirit. The scripture calls man a living soul. The breath of life became man’s spirit-the principle of spiritual life in him.

The Hebrew word for life is chay and is in the plural. This may refer to the fact that the in-breathing of God produced a two-fold life both soulical and spiritual.

Formed from the dust of the ground refers to man’s body.  Breathed into his nostrils the breath of life refers to man’s spirit as it came from God. And man BECAME a living soul refers to man’s soul when the body was made alive by the spirit and brought into a living self-conscious man.

A complete man is a trinity-the composite of body/spirit/soul. According to Genesis 2:7; man was made up of only two independent elements, the corporal and the spiritual. But when God placed the spirit within the casing of the earth, the soul was produced. The spirit of man touching the dead body produced the soul. The body apart from the spirit was dead-but with the spirit of man was made alive and called a living soul.

The combination of spirit and body produced the soul suggesting that the spirit and body were completely merged in the soul. Adam in his un-fallen state knew nothing of the ceaseless strivings of spirit and flesh which are matters of our daily experience. There was a perfect blending of his three natures; body/spirit-soul into one perfect unison. And the soul as the uniting medium became the cause of his individuality- and existence as a distinct human being. Into one is the key phrase-meaning there was no distinction made at first-at the beginning ,between the body/spirit/soul, because God communed with the whole man (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:8-11).

Personhood = man was designated a living soul, for it was there that the spirit and the body met and through which his individuality was known.

What man is, is dependent on how his soul is. His soul represents him and expresses his individuality. The soul is the organ of man’s free-will, the organ which spirit and body are completely merged. If man’s soul wills to obey God, it will allow the spirit to rule over the man as ordered by God. The soul if it chooses also can suppress the spirit.

Before the fall (at first-at the beginning)

Adam in his un-fallen state was holistically and totally in-sync-all systems in his net-work (body/spirit-soul were in order, pure and undefiled by any foreign matter, working correctly as designed by the creator. He was in full possession of his human faculties – powers of the mind, will, reason and emotion. With a God consciousness that enabled him to have spiritual communion with God. Initially innocent, and sinless, Adam was in right relationship with God.  Before the fall of man the soul was governed by the spirit. And this is the order God still wants, first the spirit, then the soul, and lastly the body.

After the fall

The consequences of the fall = Genesis 2:15-17

Adam died spiritually. Communion between God and man was broken. Surely die v17 has the basic idea of total separation. It means spiritual separation, physical separation, and eternal separation. At the moment of their sin Adam and Eve died spiritually but because God was merciful they did not die physically until later (Genesis 5:5)

In his un-fallen state the spirit of man was illuminated from heaven. But when the human race fell through Adam, sin closed the window of the spirit, pulled down the curtain, and the chamber of the spirit became a death chamber and remains so in every unregenerate heart (Ephesians 2:1-5).

Adam lived on after the fall dead to God in his spirit, but alive/ conscious to his environment in his soul and body. After the fall man died spiritually and became mortal. He was changed immediately and became liable to all the sufferings and miseries of life to death. But lived on as a living soul in his natural-soulish being, with his soul infected with (the virus of sin) which he spread to his off-spring (Romans 5:12).

When we are born again we receive a new spirit, but our souls-natural lives still retain the virus of sin passed on from Adam (Romans 7:17-18), and it is that virus that we call the imposter.

It is in our born again life that an understanding of the tripartite nature has supreme importance.

The purpose of Christ’s redemption is to remove all the hindrances to the Holy Spirits control over the whole person, so that he or she can be made spiritual.


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