1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The idea of a physical body is pretty straightforward. It is something we can use our five physical senses to understand.
When it comes to the soul and spirit, it’s not quite so clear. Some people believe they are one in the same. Others believe they are distinct. One thing for sure is that they are intricately connected.
It seems to me, though, that in this verse above (and others), the soul and spirit are distinctly different and that the Apostle Paul lets us know that all three need to be sanctified (set apart, purified) and preserved (watched over, attended to carefully, guarded). I am going to proceed on the point that they are separate entities even though I don’t think the human mind can adequately express the differences for human understanding.
Notice that the spirit is listed first in this verse. Then the soul. Then the body. Nothing is by accident in the bible. It is in this order that we must be sanctified and preserved. Within outward. It is God that does this sanctifying and preserving through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit for those who are believers.
A commentary at Precept Austin says this: “John 3:6 makes it plain. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. A believer’s spirit is born again by the Holy Spirit of God. Before that it was dead, functional, but dead toward God, and was controlled or strongly influenced by another spirit called the spirit of disobedience, Satan himself.”
I think it is important for us to know as much as we can about these three things. Body. Soul. Spirit. They are us. They are us as God has created us.
I hope you think it is also important since we are either controlled by the Spirit of God or the spirit of disobedience as we saw above in John 3:6. It boils down to which spirit to we choose to control us.
According to what we’ve seen in scripture so far, there is the Spirit of God and there is a spirit of disobedience. It seems there is also another spirit according to this verse 1st Corinthians 2:11 For who among men knows the things of man, except the spirit of man which is in him?
Commentary at bibletools.org has this to say about 1 Corinthians 2:10-12
We see three things here:
- There is a spirit in man that enables him to understand physical things.
- God reveals to man through His Spirit, which enables man to penetrate the deep, spiritual things of God.
- We have received the Spirit that is from God, and there is a spirit of this world.
Here, Paul shows at least three different spirits: the spirit in man, the Spirit of God, and the spirit of this world.
In the Old Testament, we see the same thing
Job 32:8 But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.
The spirit in a man is the breath of the Almighty. The Spirit of God, which we can only have by making the conscious choice to accept the Almighty’s plan of salvation, gives us understanding.
A bible commentary about this verse says that this “spirit in man” endows humans with the ability to understand, reason, plan, and create. It joins with the physical brain and assists in our thinking. The Bible often uses the word “spirit” to refer to a person’s mind, intelligence, or attitude. See what I mean? Our soul and our spirit are so intertwined that it’s often hard to distinguish the differences.
Over the next few weeks, I want to take a closer look at the body, soul and spirit, what goes on among them, how they function separately as well as together and this sanctifying and preserving of them that Paul says we need.
I hope you’ll tune in again!