Understanding Identity. Day twelve...
Some time ago, I was visiting with clients about two young boys previously living on the streets in Kansas City, whom they'd taken into their home to live as a part of the family. Just hearing that much of the story made me realize this was an incredible act of love. The two brothers had a new identity—from kids on the street with nothing and no one to look after them, to kids in a home with everything and caring people to look after them.
And then my clients told me the rest of the story. The brothers told their “new” parents to never wake them except at a distance; otherwise they would be in danger of being hurt by the boys, who were used to defending themselves on the streets from attacks while they slept. The boys also, even though they had complete access to the kitchen, would squirrel away food in their pockets at mealtime as if they might go hungry otherwise.
Many other issues came up as well. And sadly,as I learned later, the young men returned to the streets of Kansas City, because the mindsets and habits of their old life just overpowered their new life.
If we're ever going to understand and control our behavior, we must understand our three‐part nature as human beings.
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. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV)
If you ever wonder why you do what you do, understanding how these three components affect each other is one of the most freeing revelations you will ever experience. If you need additional motivation to stay with me through this somewhat technical discussion, I promise you that understanding your triune nature will do more to help you make progress in life than any degree or any job ever can.
It has been said that we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. I think this is a pretty good illustration.
“Spirit” is the English translation of the Greek word “pneuma.” In the English language many words having to do with wind and air flow are derived from this Greek word. The spirit is the rational part of man, the power of perceiving and grasping divine and eternal things, and upon which the Spirit of God exerts its influence. Martin Luther said the spirit, “is the highest and noblest part of man, which qualifies him to lay hold of incomprehensible, invisible, eternal things; in short, it is the house where Faith and God's word are at home.”
“Soul” is the English translation of the Greek word “psyche.” In the English language many words having to do with mental processes are derived from this Greek word. The soul is the breath of life, the vital force, which animates the body and shows itself in breathing. The soul is that immaterial part of man held in common with animals. In man, the soul consists of the mind, the will, and the emotions. The soul of an animal is much more limited obviously, but animals still have a vital force, separate from the body, that animates the body (if you doubt this, ask any animal lover).
“Body” is the English translation of the Greek word “soma.” The body is the material part of our existence.
Please note: The Bible also describes man as a two‐part being—spirit and flesh. The flesh, in this case, is the body and the part of the soul that perishes with the body at death. We will discuss this later.
It is the spirit of a man that has the salvation experience.
The body is not born‐again. The soul is not born‐again. It is the spirit of a man that is born‐again.
It is in the spirit that the Christian differs from the non‐Christian. The spirit of the unbeliever is corrupt by default and cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)
In Luke chapter 9, the disciples want to behave badly by calling down fire on their enemies like Elijah did. But Jesus corrects them:
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. (Luke 9:55 NKJV)
The disciples did not understand the substance of their spirit. Christians have a different spirit than non‐Christians. While it seems hard to believe, to be born‐again is to have our spirit made in the exact image of God's Spirit. It is the part of us that is perfected at salvation.
I know this doesn't make any sense, from looking at the way we behave. But it will make perfect sense as we get a grasp of our triune nature.
Have a good day,