One of the most helpful and transformational messages in all of the Bible is that of “Spirit, Soul, and Body.” In short, we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. We have to understand who we are in God. Understanding who we are in God will allow a plethora of scriptures to come alive to us.
Before we are born again, our minds were blinded, our understanding was darkened, and we were alienated from the life of God. “. . . those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4) “. . . you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart . . .” (Eph. 4:17b-18)
Look at this Bible-inspired depiction of the difference between a pre-believer and Jesus as it relates to their spirits, souls, and bodies:
The Bible describes the spirit of pre-believer as dark or dead. “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt 6:23b) “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’” (Acts 26:18) The spirit of a non-born-again person is dark or dead. Eph. 2:1 carries on this language: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Eph. 2:5 uses similar language “. . . even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” Prior to being born again, we were spiritually dead. Spiritual death is, by definition, separation from God – He is the source of spiritual life. Spiritual death does not mean you cease to exist; it means you are separated form the source of life – God. God is the source of all life. 1 Jn 1:5 “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Darkness does not exist in God! He is incapable of it! What great news! This is why the diagram of the Spirit of Christ looks far different than the spirit of a pre-believer.
In addition to spirit, soul, and body, the bible also uses the terms “flesh” and “heart.” Here is a clarification of those words:
- Flesh = combination of soul and body.
- Heart = combination of soul and spirit.
You can determine if “heart” refers to soul or spirit by the Word of God. The context of the Word of God will separate soul and spirit. (see Heb 4:12) One example would be “‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.‘ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive . . .” (Jn 7:38-39a) This is an example of the Word of God interpreting itself (saying heart = Spirit, in this case). A counter example would be: “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.'” (Mark 7:20-23) In this case, the heart clearly does not represent the Spirit of a born-again believer: it represents the soul needing transformation. Jesus is teaching how an un-renewed soul will produce all sorts of sin – like a poorly tended-to garden producing all sorts of weeds.