From K through 12 (for 13 years) we took classes like math and science, reading and writing, history and biology, geography, economics, government, physical education, the arts, etc. Some of us may have taken a vocational course or higher education to learn a new skillset for a future job or career. We learned all about the physical world around us, and that’s a good thing. God gave us bodies and brains, and we should use them. The problem is that our modern educational system intentionally neglects matters of faith.
Sports, nutrition and exercise feeds your body. Music and the humanities feeds your soul. Hearing lectures, reading textbooks and watching teaching videos feeds your mind. But what about our spirits? There is this entire realm of human existence that we are taught from a very early age to completely ignore. We have majored on the physical and soulical realms but concerning the spirit realm we didn’t even show up to class.
Humans are not merely physical creatures. We are spirit beings. “Man is a spirit who possesses a soul and lives in a body,” said Kenneth E. Hagin, Senior. Having been in ministry for more than 65 years, having studied what the Bible says about the three-part nature (the spirit, soul, and body) of man, and having written numerous books on faith; he got ahold of this powerful truth very early on and it changed his life. You are a spirit, you have a soul and you live in a body.
The Word of God reveals…
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT)
It helps to understand that a person’s spirit and soul are not the same. Hebrews 4:12 talks about the spirit and the soul being different. In the Amplified it uses the words “division of the soul and spirit.” God’s Word translation says “the place where soul and spirit meet.”
The Bible repeatedly makes a distinction between spirit and soul as it uses different words for them in the original source languages of the Old Testament and New Testament. This word spirit in Hebrew is ruach and in Greek it is pneuma. In contrast, the word soul in Hebrew is nephesh and in the Greek it is psykhe. As you read scriptures that make reference to the spirit or soul, if you read them in context, it becomes clearer. A person’s spirit and soul are not the same.
Your spirit is the part of you that is most like God. You contact the spirit realm with your spirit. You are capable of having faith in your spirit. You can have God’s peace and His joy in your spirit. You can receive revelation from God, meaning you can know and sense things in your spirit that you had no way of knowing or figuring out in your head. You are more than just a primate with a big brain. You are a spirit.
You are a living spirit. Remember, in the original Hebrew, this word spirit is ruach, which also means breath. The Hebrew for Spirit of God is Ruach Hako’desh, meaning Holy Spirit. God is the source of this spiritual life that is inside you. God has breathed life into our mortal bodies, making us living and eternal spirit beings just like Him.
The soul is the seat of the consciousness. Even a lost soul is conscious of his or her own existence. But to have a soul is much more than simply being self-aware. Your soul is your mind, will and emotions. If you can say, “I think, I want, I feel.” then you know that you have a soul.
A human soul is a place where thoughts and desires are just as real as material things are in the physical world. Inside yourself you can experience feelings of happiness, fear, sadness, loneliness, anger or shame. Proverbs 23:7 in the Young’s Literal Translation says, “For as he hath thought in his soul, so is he…”
The human condition is carnal and selfish by nature. The unsaved are flesh-ruled. The Godless are dominated by their thoughts and feelings and appetites. They are led around by their five senses. The man or woman who does not believe in God cannot understand spiritual things. Their spirit within them is dormant. They are spiritually dead inside. And their soul is lost.
Physical death is not the end of your existence. 1 Peter 1:9 talks about receiving the goal of your faith which is “the salvation of your soul.” Because your soul is eternal, after your body dies, your soul will continue to exist. You will still be you, even after your soul leaves this world. You will just no longer have a body. When a person breathes their last breath, as their body dies, their spirit and their soul come up out of their body and they depart this world.
When you choose to believe in Jesus a transformation takes place inside the core of your being. Your spirit is awakened. It no longer lays dormant. Now you have been made alive, spiritually. You’ve been born again. You have also become much more aware of spiritual things. However, your soul (mind, will and emotions) is not suddenly changed because you now have a new spiritual nature. The truth is that all people have two competing natures. Galatians tells us that what our corrupt nature wants is contrary to what our spiritual nature wants. Even a Christian is a contradiction. (see Galatians 5:16-26)
Christians are sometimes surprised to find that they must deal with some of the same wrong thoughts and wrong desires that they had before. Even as a Christian you may still struggle with your old nature. But now things are different. You have a spiritual strength that you did not have before. You have help from the Spirit of God. The same spiritual life and power that created you and saved you is in you to help change you.
Honestly, it is very easy to be saved. Faith is just a choice. But holding onto your faith can be a challenge. In this world there is every kind of pressure and pleasure, deception and distraction. This is why we need to hear anointed teachings. Faith comes by hearing anointed words.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63 NIV)
Hearing and speaking Spirit-and-life filled words is what made us born-again Christians in the first place. It gave us faith. Continuing to hear and speak spiritual truths is how we hold onto our faith.
When you first chose to believe Jesus is Lord you were saved in your spirit. It happened instantly. As you continue to do what the Bible says to do in order to be saved you are “walking out your salvation,” which means you are being saved in your soul. That takes a lifetime. In this sense, salvation is a process. And you will be saved in your body on that glorious day when the Lord returns. At the second coming of Christ the Christians who are still here on Earth will be changed in “the twinkling of an eye.” God’s people will have their resurrected and immortal glorified bodies, and we will never die again.
Much of the confusion and arguments believers have about salvation would end if they understood the 3-fold nature of man — you are a spirit, you have a soul and you live in a body. This is how I can say that as a Christian I am saved in my spirit, but I am being saved in my soul, and I will be saved in my body on that great day when the Lord returns.