In the post titled, Spirit and Truth, I had written,
“First, we are comprised of three areas: the body, the soul and the spirit. But we are even more intricate than that. We have a heart and a mind and each of these areas have connection with God and involve faith (pistis). But I am getting ahead of myself. Oh and when Paul talks about the word of God dividing the soul and spirit it doesn’t mean what many think it means ie: the spirit is good and the soul is bad…..and they need to be separated but that is for another blog another time.“
Today I want to write about what I had stated above. There are two scriptures I will be focusing on: Hebrews 4:12 and Luke 10:27 (also stated in Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Deuteronomy 6:5). Let’s start with Hebrews 4:12:
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” NASB
I had been told from previous Christian leadership the above scripture meant I needed to ask the Lord to divide my soul and spirit. This thinking and teaching had come from reading Watchmen Nee’s book “Latent Power of the Soul” and the counselor that was on staff. At the time I thought this made sense, so we prayed for this to occur. After a little while I was having troubles, I can’t remember what the troubles were now but I distinctly felt what I had done was incorrect and asked the Lord to repair what I had asked to be divided. After I brought this to the leadership they also quit. I never understood why it was incorrect I just felt it was. Though now I believe I understand why and I wanted to share what I learned with you. If you have spent anytime in Christian circles you may have heard or learned in the past the body is evil or the soul is evil and your spirit is the only thing good. Watchmen Née in his preface to his book “Latent Power of the Soul” states this:
“The spirit and the soul are two totally different organs: one belongs to God, while the other belongs to man. By whatever names one may call them, they are completely distinct in substance. The peril of the believer is to confuse the spirit for the soul and the soul for the spirit, and so be deceived into accepting the counterfeit of evil spirits to the unsettling of God’s work.“
I want to counter what he has written here and many have taught within ‘Christian circles’ or ‘the church building’. Many times I see bible verses being taken out of context and/or the full meaning of what is being stated in Greek does not come across in English. This is why I encourage you to go in and search out a matter.
One of the things Watchmen Née and I agree with is:
- Spirit is God given
- Soul is God breathed Life
- Body is God formed
All of what and who we are has been done by God. The body in both the Greek and English is pretty straightforward. It is our skin, bones, organs, and muscles. Easy enough to explain our body yet what becomes a little more difficult to explain is our soul and spirit. Let’s look at the Greek for both of these:
spirit (4151) pneuma- properly, spirit (Spirit), wind, or breath. The most frequent meaning (translation) of 4151 (pneúma) in the NT is “spirit” (“Spirit”). Only the context however determines which sense(s) is meant. Here this is the spirit of man: the vital principle by which the body is animated; the power by which a human being feels, thinks, wills, decides; is the rational part of man, the power of perceiving and grasping divine and eternal things, and upon which the Spirit of God exerts its influence; (πνεῦμα, says Luther, “is the highest and noblest part of man, which qualifies him to lay [h]bold of incomprehensible, invisible, eternal things; in short, it is the house where Faith and God’s word are at home”
soul (5590) psuche- the soul as the seat of affections and will; psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity(unique personhood), i.e. individual personality. Hebrew nephesh means: life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion
As you can see both the soul and spirit contain similarities. Many times I have heard it simply put that our mind, will and emotions are within our soul yet according to the Greek and Hebrew these seem to be a part of both our soul and spirit. So, I would like to propose it just isn’t that simple or concrete and Hebrews 4:12 tells us why it isn’t. If we were to apply the same logic of dividing the soul and spirit to our bone and marrow this would be devastating to our body. Right there is probably why I didn’t think this was accurate in the past. So, what is this verse saying? In context, the writer of Hebrews had been speaking of entering God’s rest, resting from their works and not hardening their hearts to the truth of what they are hearing of ‘true rest’ from works. Hebrews 4:12 starts with the word living which means “I am alive” then goes on with logos (word) of God. According to biblehub.com, the Greek word logos is used 330 times in the NT and is preeminently used of Jesus Christ (John 1:1). I propose, because the Hebrews writer was speaking of entering God’s rest, that the use of logos and life here meant that Jesus Christ the logos of God is alive and active (effective, productive of due result, at work). Jesus Christ (because the Hebrew writer is making it clear to Hebrews that God is Triune (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit) is also the only One Who has the ability to see us clearly even to the point of being able to divide between joint and marrow or spirit and soul. See these to us are completely intertwined for us and were designed that way with purpose from our Father in heaven. One of the definitions used to describe the word translated as “piercing or penetrating” is passing through and this is the only occurrence in the NT this word is used. God is the only One Who can pass through and see where one ends and the other begins which is translated as the word divide in Hebrews 4:12. This word merismos (3311) which is only used twice in the New Testament can be further described here as division to that most hidden spot, the dividing line between soul and spirit, where the one passes into the other. As you can see the Hebrew writer was trying to explain how God is the Only One able to penetrate and see the dividing line where one passes to another for both our bone and marrow or our soul and spirit. He is also the only One Who can judge the inward thoughts and intents of our hearts.
Our soul and spirit, like with bone and marrow, are both vital and necessary and parts to our structure. We can’s say one is more important or better than another because each serves a purpose to our bodies. It is the same with our spirit and soul. Each serves their necessary purpose and they need one another. It makes up who we are as individuals. You can not say one is more important than the other because both are necessary. The soul makes up our unique personhood. It is who we are created to be. This is our personal identity and God does not want us checking this at the door when we come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Let me go further with this, God breathed His Life into us making us a being with a soul which gave us our personality; so why would He want us to essentially cut this part of our being away from our spirit? See our personality makes us unique and the Body of Christ is in need of the uniqueness of each individual otherwise we won’t have all the body parts (1 Corinthians 12).
Another argument for loving your soul and keeping it attached to the rest of you is from Luke 10:27. Here it is in context:
“And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, ” YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”” Luke 10:25-28 NASB
I have written about this scripture before in What Does God Really Want From You? and I love how God desires to go deeper and reveal more. Let’s dig into some Greek from the above scripture:
heart (2588)- kardias- The affective (mood, emotions) center of our being and the capacity of moral preference. “Desire producer that makes us tick” establishes who we are. This is not the actual physical heart.
soul (5590)-psueche- see definition above
strength (2479)- ischus- strength-have force to overcome immediate resistance.
mind (1271)- dianoia- from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly, from side-to-side,” which intensifies 3539 /noiéō, “to use the mind,” from 3563 /noús, “mind”) – properly, movement from one side (of an issue) to the other to reach balanced-conclusions; full-orbed reasoning (= critical thinking), i.e. dialectical thinking that literally reaches “across to the other side” (of a matter). (“critical thinking”), literally “thorough reasoning,” incorporates both sides of a matter to reach a meaningful (personal) conclusion.
I have written before that Jesus was making it clear that we could not do this on our own. There is no way any human could fulfill the law as He was to fulfill the law for us and bring us back into relationship with the Trinity. This is true and accurate yet Jesus also had a hidden message here that may not have been clear until He died, and rose again. Let’s look at the Greek which reveals the secret. Jesus uses the Greek word “Agapeo” and this is the key. The next key is Jesus told the lawyer that this is the way to LIFE. Now we all understand that Jesus is the way to life for all people. So we need to look at this word “AGAPEO”:
love (25) agapao- properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to“live through Christ“ (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. 25 (agapáō) preeminently refers to what God prefers as He “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). See 26 (agapē). With the believer, 25 /agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True 25 /agapáō (“loving”) is always defined by God – a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection” (WS, 477). 1 Jn 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving (“preferring,” 25 /agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.
Agapao is defined as our preference, our selection, our choice to have Christ live in our heart, soul, strength, and mind which in turn gives us LIFE. Many Christians have been taught that Christ comes to live in them but only in their spirit. Yet, He comes to infiltrate every part of our being. As we understand this truth of how He intertwined Himself within us, within all parts of us we can see how much He prefers, chooses, to live inside us. This is exactly what He was born for. This is exactly what He died for. This is what He was telling the lawyer. LIFE comes from our choice to have Him come and live within us.
We can not separate our body, soul or spirit from each other. God sees where one starts and the other ends. The reason people were so afraid of their soul is because they were afraid of “soulish” prayers. If we think that it is our responsibility to make sure we don’t “pray soulish prayers” there is much pride there. God knows our hearts…we don’t even always know. But He does and He still loves us. The other reason Watchmen Née and others thought we should separate our soul and spirit is to make sure demonic beings could not inhabit us. As Christians I do not believe when we are filled with God there is room for demonic beings within us. Can they bother us externally, yes…but I believe the only way they can bother us is if we believe they can…this thinking or belief sets up fear which gives them a place to pick at us as believers. My faith, belief, lies in the fact that Jesus took care of it all for me and since then I have not been harassed in, going on, four years now. Amazing. The belief that somehow demons can come into our souls sets up a fear within us becomes the very thing that would allow anything to look like this could happen. If you have further questions, because I know there is no pat answer, please do not hesitate to ask below in comments or you can PM me on my Facebook page His Beloved Grace 4Ever
Definitions found at biblehub.com