Dr. Domenic Marbaniang
Christian Minister and Provost at Central India Theological Seminary. He is also author of several books on Amazon,
Lulu, and Google Playstore. He prolifically blogs at Marbaniang.com
Humans are made of body, soul, and spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul prays that the “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless.” The body signifies the physical dimension of man; the soul, the psychological; and, the spirit, the spiritual.
The following are characteristics of the body (physical):
1. It is Spatio-temporal (i.e. it extends and can be located in physical space-time continuum)
2. It is Material (i.e. it is made up of matter)
3. It is Mortal (i.e. it is destructible)
4. It is Natural (i.e. it is subject to the laws of nature)
5. It has Sensory Consciousness (i.e. the physical sensory system detects and processes sensory stimuli)
6. It has Physical and Sensory Development
The following are characteristics of the soul (psychological):
1. It is Intellectual
2. It is Emotional
3. It is Volitional
4. It is Self-Conscious
5. It is Self-Determinating
6. It has Cognitive-Affective-Conative development
The following are characteristics of the spirit (spiritual):
1. It is Moral (is conscious of moral categories) – possesses conscience and the sense of guilt and justification
2. It is Intuitional (can receive extra-sensory information)
3. It is Theological (is capable of faith in God)
4. It is Relational (stands in relation to God, self and others)
5. It has Innate knowledge of God (Rom.1:19-21)
6. It has capacity for Abstract categories such as goodness, justice, temperance, infinity, immutability, divinity, and the like.
It is possible to study the human body with reference to studies of the bodies of other animals, it is even possible to study human psychology with reference to some studies of the behavior of certain animals; however, it is impossible to study the spirit of man without the help of Scriptures.
Differentiating Between Mind and Spirit
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul makes an important distinction between the mind and the spirit when he mentions praying and singing both with the mind and with the spirit. Here, to pray with the spirit means to pray in unknown tongues as the Spirit gives utterance to the human spirit. No one except God can understand the words prayed with the spirit. To pray with the mind means to pray with our understanding in expression of our thoughts, emotions, desires, and resolutions. Obviously, the words uttered in unknown tongues (with the spirit) cannot be deciphered intellectually; they cannot be studied and listed in a dictionary and given a grammar for humans to learn how to intellectually understand them or learn the language; they do not possess the physical and psychological characteristics or patterns of human languages; therefore, they can only be interpreted with the gift of the Spirit.It is important to make a difference between the soul and the spirit.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb.4:12)
Innate Sense of God, Spiritual Death, and Corruption of Soul
The Bible tells us that the knowledge of God is innate in man.
“because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom.1:19-20).
This innate sense of God is what makes people religious and God-seeking in nature and capable of knowing God by the things that are made.
“But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” (Job 32:8)
However, when Adam and Eve sinned, humanity died spiritually towards God and the religiosity became increasingly nature or this-worldly centered – like Adam and Eve’s turning to the fig leaves to cover themselves; this so because the mind became carnal and slave to the flesh because of sin.
“because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Rom.1:21-23).
New birth and the Regeneration and Washing of the Spirit
When one turns to Christ, he is born again, i.e. his spirit receives the washing of regeneration by the Word of God and is put in right-standing with God (justified).
“according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and rene-wing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit.3:5). “…the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb.12:23).
This washing of regeneration cleanses the conscience of guilt and dead works and makes us the dwelling place of God.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).
“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb.9:14).
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16).
Renewing of the Spirit of Our Mind
Ephesians 4:23 asks us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. This commandment is also given in Romans 12:2 where Paul writes that we should not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. While the regenerational renewing of the spirit is an act of God (Tit.3:5; Psa. 51:10), renewing of our mind towards spiritual transformation is our obligation.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16)
The soulish or natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14) because the human mind cannot understand the mind of God. However, the Spirit of God knows the deep things of God and reveals them to us and those who are spiritually minded receive them by faith and spiritual understanding (1Cor.2:14-17).
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:17-18)
The flesh and the spirit are at war in the battlefield of the mind.
“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (Gal.5:17)
The lusts of the flesh war against the soul – intellect, emotion, will and person (1 Pet. 2:11), so that the mind will be rebellious against God (Rom.8:7), be darkened in understanding and abound in the works of the flesh. The devil can use lusts to blind human minds (2 Cor.4:4; Acts 5:3; Eph. 4:26,27). It is, therefore, important to humble oneself before God, submit to Him, be prayerfully watchful, and resist the devil.
“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:5-7)
The mind that is submitted to God (to His Word) and is spiritual (walks in the Spirit) is renewed day by day into the image of Christ (Gal.5:16-18). It is filled with the fruit of the Spirit-“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Serving with the Mind and the Spirit
The Bible doesn’t call us to suspend the mind or ignore it. Divine wisdom is “open to reason” (Jas 3:17, RSV). God wants our mind to be renewed, not disposed. God wants us to be spiritually minded so that we can worship and pray both with understanding and with the spirit.
“I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1Cor. 14:15)
We are called to:
1. Draw near to God (Jas 4:8)
2. Be cleansed of all impurities of flesh and spirit – ofevil works and conscience (2 Cor.7:1; Heb.10:22)
3. Submit to God in all humility and self-negation (Matt.16:24;
4. Be watchful, give no place to the devil, but resist him (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 4:27; Jas. 4:7)
5. Pray for spiritual understanding and enlightenment (Eph. 1:17,18; Col. 1:9)
6. Be filled with, walk in and be led by the Spirit (Rom.8:14; Eph. 1:18
7. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet.3:18)
8. Pray in the Spirit and with the spirit (Jude 20; Rom.8:26; 1 Cor.14:2)
9. Practice obedience to God’s word and become skillful and mature in the word (Heb. 5:12-14)
10. Do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom.12:2).
11. Do not be slave to the traditions and opinions of men (Col. 2:20-23; Gal. 5:1; Mark 7:6-13; 1 Pet.1:18)
12. Worship and serve God alone (1 Cor. 10:14; Matt.4:10)
13. Walk in love, serve one another, and be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Jn. 13:34; 15:12; Gal.5:2, 13, 22-23; Heb.10:24).