~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Andy Davis. You can hear the whole sermon, Spirit, Soul, and Body, by clicking here.
Joshua 1:8 says“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” If you are meditating on the Word, you are going to by nature be reviewing it! Romans 10:17 says “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It does not just come by hearing new words of God. This review will be helpful to us all! As we are being sent out into the harvest, the purpose of this message is to prepare us for the next step: discipling those God is bringing into our lives and brining into our church.
Our walk with God consists of reconciliation, transformation, and duplication. We are now at this launching point of sharing the gospel – of seeing lives come into the kingdom. The question is “how do you help foster them?” That’s what this discipleship manual is for. Discipleship is simply helping our brothers and sisters become followers of Christ while becoming more of that ourselves as we grow closer and closer to God.
There are three parts that make up who each of us are: spirit, soul, and body. Hebrews 10:14 says “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” We have been perfected forever – in our spirit. And we are being sanctified (being transformed) in our soul. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God…?” Holy Spirit lives inside His earthly dwelling – the bones, muscles, and tissues of believes! Our body – our skin, bones, tissue, and muscles – are the earthly dwelling for our Spirit, and our soul is made up of our mind, our will, and our emotions.
It will also be helpful to clear up two other terms used in the Bible – flesh and heart. “Flesh” refers to the combination of your body and your soul. In Acts 8:21 (with Simon the Sorcerer) we see “heart” meaning “spirit.” At other times, however, we can see from scriptural context that “heart” is used to particularly mean soul – such as in Matthew 15:19 – “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Here we can tell that thoughts come from out mind – a part of your soul. Clarity around this terminology (spirit, soul, body, flesh, and heart) is going to be very helpful for those we are discipling!
So what happens when we are born again? The thing that fundamentally changes upon being born again is our spirit. Before we were born again, our spirit was dead and dark – we were spiritually dead. Not only were our spirits dead, but that spiritual deadness also pervaded our souls and into our bodies. Ephesians 4:17-18 speaks to this “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that 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.” Paul is speaking to the fact that the unbeliever has their understanding darkened, they are alienated from the life of God, and have blindness in their heart. In other words, their spiritual death pervades into their soul.
Jesus, on the other hand, was pure light. John 1:5 says “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Jesus was both pure light and life. Every aspect of Him (Spirit, mind, will, and emotions, and body) was completely perfect.
When we accept Christ into our life we become a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17-18) This referring to the new creation in our spirit as we are now in Christ! When we are born again, we receive the Spirit of Christ on the inside of us – instantaneously, 100%, no darkness and all light.Wall-to-wall Holy Ghost! This is something that we cannot forget. We cannot forget it concerning ourselves, nor can we forget it about our younger brothers and sisters in Christ after they are born again – especially those we are helping walk through the discipleship (transformation) process.
However, when we received the full portion of the Spirit of Christ, that did not necessarily transform our soul or our body immediately. Think back to yourself before you were born again. You may have struggled with emotional issues, with lusts or angers in your thoughts, and choosing (willing) to do wrong. When you received the Spirit of Christ instantaneously upon being born again, it probably didn’t drastically change all of those parts of your emotional life and thought life in an instant. In the moment of being born again you received the 100% Spirit of Christ but you still needed transformation in your soul! This is what the work of transformation is for – primarily transforming our souls – our mind, will, and emotions.
Similarly, a young brother or sister in the Lord who you are discipling won’t change in their soul overnight. They may sin against you in some way because of their still imperfect soul. So of course, you forgive them – 70×7 times if necessary! But let’s also consider 2 Corinthians 5:16 “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” As believers, we are being instructed to regard each other no longer according to the flesh – to no longer think of them according to their soul or their body – we think of them according to their spirit. Their spirit is now that of Christ – the same Holy Spirit that is also inside of each of us! When God looks upon this born again brother or sister, he sees Jesus, by virtue of His Spirit in them! That’s how our Father sees us. That is how He sees our young born-again brother or sister in Christ. We are urged to see them likewise!
Now what the enemy will try to do, is to make us think otherwise about ourselves and about our other brothers and sisters in Christ around us. The enemy want to make us think that there is something at our core that is bad or evil. He wants to trick us into believing that all the thoughts that come into our head are really the “true you.” Those are lies he wants to sow into our heart about ourselves or those around us. He uses these lies to make us think that we need to “get more good” into us – that we have to try harder to make ourselves holy. That is the trap. That is religion. We have to fight against that because in fact, we have all the goodness, all the holiness, all the righteousness, all the perfection within us that we will ever need! We have the 100% Holy Spirit inside of us already! Rather than trying to “get good into us” we need to simply be letting that holiness of the Holy Spirit out of us!
There are three ways we can be about the transformation of our souls. The core way is using the mirror of the Word and lining up with the Word. And the other to helping ways are by keeping / guarding our hearts and by managing / eradicating unbelief in our lives.
The core offensive transformation strategy is using the mirror of the Word in order for our soul to line up with who we are in Christ – who we are in our born-agin spirit. This can be a challenge because we can far more directly experience what is going on in our bodies and souls. By contrast, there is often less direct of a direct sense of your spirit. Thankfully, the Lord has revealed to us so much about our true self, our spirit, in His Word. So, what we need to do is to learn through the Word – using it as a mirror to learn about our true self, to align the rest of ourself with this true self via the Word, and thereby by truly transformed. (see 2 Cor. 3:18)
Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So if we look at what the Word says about the born again spirit we now have within us, we see that it’s key virtue is that it is righteous! We are not self-righteous. Instead, like 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” As believers, we are the righteousness of God in HIM! We are not self-righteous, we are Christ-righteous! “I am at my core, righteous! Regardless of something I may hear, see, think, or do.”
So what do we do with that reality of our righteousness in Christ? 1 Corinthians 15:34 says, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin.” This verse is telling us that we need to realize that righteousness is our true nature now, and that we need to focus on that. We need to take hold of the reality of our righteousness in Him and in so doing we will “be holy as He is Holy.” If you will focus on the righteousness that is in you, you will be transformed in your thoughts, in your will, and in your emotions. On the other hand, if we have a sin-conciousness, if we are constantly rehearsing “oh I did that … oh I thought this …” and you are speaking that out you are actually counteracting the expression of His righteousness that is in already in you! If we have and focus on a sin-conciousness, we will struggle to not act accordingly. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
As you read the Word look at the places where it talks about what becomes of the righteous, holy, or upright person! Look at what they will have or receive and realize that when you read about those who are righteous, holy, or upright before God and realize it’s talking about you! For example, Psalm 34:17 says “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Praise God we are now in the new covenant and we have full righteousness through faith in Christ! Therefore Psalm 34:17 applies to you and me -to all those who will receive Christ and realize that they are righteous in Him! Likewise Psalm 37:30-31 says “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” This is what we need to be saying and thinking about ourselves as believers. “I speak wisdom. My tongue talks of justice. My posterity will be delivered!”
Recently, Andy has been blessed with a great opportunity – he’s been leading a huge project – a very visible project. Andy speaks Proverbs 16:3 in faith “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” Andy is saying “Lord, I commit this to you and I trust in You to bring it to pass. You and I are going to partner together on this and that’s how I’m going to get through it. I am not capable of this on my own, but certainly with you I am!” In committing his works to the Lord Andy has seen it come to pass and has been able to do it with joy, peace, and patience!
There are two other helpful ways to transform your soul. The first is by keeping your heart. This strategy is essential to making sure you maintain the ground you’ve taken by the word! Our heart is what determines what will be produced in our lives. In Luke 6:45 Jesus said “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Proverbs 4:20-23 also tells us to keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Keep your heart by keeping your words, your ears, and your eyes. Surely we can see areas in our lives that need improved, but take care about how you do that – go about it with with a righteousness-conciousness. Go about that by taking in the truth from the Word and allowing that to do the transformative work – as opposed to speaking negatively about yourself or listening to words coming in about you that are not lined up with the Word of God.
Another helpful component of the transformation process in your soul is knowing that your faith will be released by getting unbelief out of its way! In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says: “for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” But what does he say before that? “Because of your unbelief.” So, what was Jesus answering? He was telling the disciples that it was because of their unbelief they couldn’t cast out the demon that was causing the boy’s epilepsy. Jesus was saying “it is because of your unbelief. The problem isn’t that you don’t have enough faith. The problem is that your unbelief is blocking that faith.”
This is a simple (but not easy) concept – that unbelief is what is hindering our faith. It is, however, a true key to the transformative process that needs to go on in our lives! First realize that the issue if we are not seeing the fruit of what the Word in an area of life is simply unbelief – not God’s Word not working! Recognizing unbelief in our life is not bad, negative, or something to feel guilty about. It is just the fact of the matter that can upon recognition be addressed! In fact, the offensive strategy of transforming our soul (looking at the mirror of the Word) is the same strategy we use to drive out unbelief! As you are seeing who you are in the Word, be prepared to see areas where you have unbelief. Don’t run away from those. Say “I need to see this more in my life!” Get after that unbelief by bathing your mind in His Word! Your thoughts will be replaced with His thoughts and your ways will be replaces with His ways. Finally, your own results will be replaced with His results!