Monday, September 29, 2014

P1 The full story of man: spirit, soul and body

1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ."

Today and tomorrow's posts will attempt to tell the complete saga of man: a soul with a spirit clothed in a body.  We will do this through five main points covered in scripture: creation, fall, redemption, death and resurrection. Today's blog will focus on the first three of those areas.

Man as a soul, with a spirit clothed in a body at creation.
Man is a three-fold being who was created to know God and exercise authority in this world. Some Bible teachers advocate that man is essentially a two-fold being (also called di-chotomy): body and soul or body and spirit.  

It is the contention of this writer that tri-chotomy overall represents the Bible's testimony about man. With that said, we do not entirely dismiss that view out of hand.  Why?  The reason being is because from Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 2:7 we see God revealing the creation of man from two angles: a spiritual being in a physical body who was to walk with God and a soul clothed in a body who was to take dominion over his surroundings and be self-aware. 

In short, here is what we learn of mankind as originally created:

1. Humanity's body was perfect, capable of interracting and working the physical environment.  Being that the body of man was made from the earth, God endued the body with five senses and the capability to be aware of the world.

2. Humanity's soul is the life of the man.  The soul was breathed from the Spirit of God, resulting in physical life in the man.  Man was uniquely created with the ability to think, feel, choose and have conivictions or a conscience.  The soul is the man himself. We could say, with older Bible teachers of the past, that the soul is simply man's self awareness and the body is his center of world awareness.

3. Humanity's spirit was to be the aspect of man wherein he communed with God.  Being made in the image of God meant among other things that man alone could communicate and be communicated to by God in his spirit. 

Man as a living soul, clothed in a body, died in his spirit at the fall
When Adam and Eve heeded the voice of the serpent tempting them in the garden to partake of the tree, the scripture says that for Eve, the tree was pleasant to the eyes and desirable to eat.  She had already began to alter God's word in her mind and by her will she chose to abandon the grace of God on her life in preference to her soulish desires.  Adam willfully chose his wife over God and the two of them fell from the Grace that has been clothing their mortal bodies.  As souls they continued to live, however the curse of death through sin reaped its fruits. The result? Adam and his wife died in their spirit, affecting their soul totally to the point of where they could only live by their own desires.  

The bodies of the man and the woman would be subject to mortality or physical death.  The totality of how sin would affect the entirety of man's being is what Bible teachers call total depravity. Total depravity does not mean man is as bad as he could be. We see examples of unbelievers doing good things. Rather total depravity addresses the extent to which the fall affected Adam and his descendants - through and through and throughout their spirit, into their soul and upon their body. 

All of this of course ended up affecting every single person born into this world, with the sin and guilt of Adam passed down through the bloodline of the father's side. (1 Peter 1:17-18) In short:

1. Man died in his spirit
2. Is corrupted in his thinking, feeling and choosing in his soul.  Nothing he can do, apart from grace and saving faith can please God.
3. All people will die in their bodies, awaiting resurrection (believers in the resurrection of the righteous, unbelievers unto the resurrection of the wicked)

Saved man is a soul who has a resurrected spirit and lives in a body
When a man is born again by the Spirit of God and believes on Jesus Christ for the forgivness of sins, the Bible is clear on what takes place.  First, the Holy Spirit at saving faith has penetrated past my mind, emotions, will of my soul and through God Word, pierces the dividing wall between soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12) 

Then as He shows me the awfulness of my sin and the awesomeness of Jesus Christ, by the new birth I believe and am saved, born again, justified or declared righteous and adopted into God's family. (John 1:12-13; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 8:16-17)  At salvation I am instantly saved in my spirit or "inner man" by the New Birth or regeneration. As I grow in grace through the process of sanctification, I am being saved in my soul as I conform my mind, emotions and will to God's Word.  Though sin indwells my soul, my new nature in my spirit is the working of the Spirit who desires to affect me in my soul.  The body of course is still decaying.  In short:

1. My spirit or inner man is made alive by the New Birth
2. My soul is being saved and I through Christ am urged daily by the Spirit in my human spirit to go to the scriptures and be led by Him
3. My body is still decaying.  I realize now as a Christian I am to look forward to resurrection. 

Sadly not everyone will by grace through faith believe on Jesus Christ.  It is God's grace, His Spirit and His word which prevail upon people to choose and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is man who choosing to reject Christ apart from grace deems himself unworthy of eternal life. (Acts 13:46) 

Unless the Spirit of God moves, and unless a person believes and repents of his sins, they will still be a soul with a dead human spirit living in a decaying body.  An unbeliever functions in their body, soul and dead spirit much like those who evidence never having been truly saved as seen in 1 Timothy 5:6 "she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives."

More tomorrow...