Body, Soul, and Spirit – The Soul

Peninsula Community Church

Body Soul and Spirit – The Soul

February 23, 2014

Romans 8:1-8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Today, we will continue our study on the body, soul, and spirit. However, we will transition from looking at the body to looking at the soul. As we make this transition, know that we will end the series by looking at how the body and soul interact with each other and then how both of these interact with the spirit.  

One of the problems that exists for us today is that mankind has lost the understanding of the soul. This comes as a result of the writings of Darwin and others and their belief that man is simply a higher form of animal life. Darwin’s view says that man is just a more highly advanced animal therefore he does not have any specialness about him. It is for this reason that our current society is able to so willingly abort babies at any age and to engage in euthanasia. Whether the consequences were intentional or not; the result of diminishing man to not much more than an animal, devalued the worth of God in man and the purpose of creation itself. Such a view of man runs counter to God’s design because man is a created being. He is one that has had the very breath of God breathed into him. Mankind was created and set in place to rule and reign over God’s creation. To believe anything less diminishes the value of man. To believe anything less changes the creational purposes of God. The outcome is not just a diminishment of man but of God in the eyes of man.

As we turn to our study, we find that the soul represents the mind, the will and the emotions. Note that the mind is that part of us that represents our intellect. It is the place of reasoning. The will is that part of us that motivates us to action or inaction. It is noteworthy that we have been created with what has been defined as “free will.” Free will empowers man to make choices. We have choices in our life, and how we carry out these choices will determine the kind of person we will be and the kind of actions we will take. As believers, we also recognize that while we have free choice, we are also empowered by the Holy Spirit and that we are given boundaries and guidelines for our choices. The Word of God plays a major role in this process. The Word defines the boundaries within which we should live. Finally, we are emotional beings. We have been created with emotions. These emotions run the gamut. We laugh, we cry, we worry, we become afraid, we trust, we have anger, and so on. We are emotional beings. Once again we must understand that the mind, will, and emotions interact without one another and must be in balance to be most effective.

Today, we will focus on the mind. We will review the subject of the mind over the next couple of weeks. While the five senses are the gateway into the soul, the mind is the vehicle that processes information, relationships, and experiences. We must understand that the mind includes the intellect and and it includes reasoning. Both of these serve a purpose in our lives and must not be ignored. The intellect is the knowledge that has been received. Let me note here that for the believer intelligence is not the goal as much as wisdom. Intelligence is not beneficial if we have not learned to appropriately apply the truth we have. In the book of Proverbs, this is known and described as wisdom. You see wisdom is the proper application of truth.

The second idea presented by the mind is reasoning. God has created us with the ability to process information and to determine that which is truth and that which is not based in truth. The problem exists when reasoning and faith are running counter to one another. It is my belief that these two items do not have to be counter to each other, but can work jointly together when we commit our ways to God and to His will.

Because we have been created with both intellect and reasoning we must be careful and not check our mind at the door when we become believers. One of the issues that I run into is that somehow some believers in Christ believe we are to disregard data, intellect, and information. To do so can be dangerous. When we make decisions solely on the emotions or the will of man we can make less that effective decisions. Jesus reminded us that we are to count the cost. That is reasoning and faith linked together. The reason for this is that we do waver in our faith but our faith grows and matures in Christ as we get to “know” Him.

It is interesting to note that many religions and in particular new age type religions call us to empty our minds. Emptying our minds is not the secret to our success but filling our minds with the right stuff is critical. The problem with emptying our minds is that where there is a vacuum, the vacuum will be filled with something either by choice or not. It is not by chance that Paul commanded Timothy to study to show himself approved (2Timothy 2:15). While we have the spirit of God in us to teach us, and direct us we do not forget that we are to do our part and that is to study and fill our minds with the Word of God.  Notice, that Christ reminds us that we are to serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. 

As noted above, the mind and the emotions often battle each other but they don’t need to. The mind, emotions, and will do not have to battle one another but rather they can and should interact with one one another. They support one one another. This can be illustrated by Paul’s words. In Romans he stated that “Faith comes by hearing.” The emotion of faith is solidified by the words of truth. John also notes this congruence when he stated that the truth sets us free. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31- 32). Emotions do not set us free. The will of man does not set us free. It is the truth that sets us free. This should not confuse or distract us. If this occurs, we must attempt to understand why we feel confused and why we are distracted by the truth. Perhaps the reason for this is that the basis of our truth is skewed and needs to be reconsidered. 

As we close today, let me make one more comment. The mind is to be renewed daily. We must acknowledge that we are in need of transformation. Dallas Willard has noted that the problem is not that we have been formed but that we need to be transformed or reformed. Let me explain what is meant by this. Throughout our lives we have been formed and shaped by a number of things.

We have been shaped and formed by our environment. We have been shaped by what we are exposed to in life. We are shaped by our experiences. We are shaped by the theological input in our lives and our view of God. We are shaped by the voices that speak into our lives. The problem therefore is not a problem of formation but the need to be transformed into the image of God and the image of God’s purpose for us.

The key to transformation is the renewal of our minds. And, this renewal must be a daily practice because we are so easily formed and shaped by the the things around us. The formation of our thoughts are not always in alignment with God’s will or His purposes so we must renew our mind on a daily basis. When that happens we must find out what God’s will and plan is and then conform ourselves to that plan. 

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