Man has 3 parts
He has a personal spirit which requires him to live in two realms, the natural and spiritual. The natural world is what he sees and the spiritual world is what he senses with his spirit. To be fully human according to God’s design for man, we must be healthy and functioning in both worlds. This concept is very well explained in the book by Harold Eberle, “Spiritual Realities, Vol.1.”
My purpose in this article is to show that thought and emotion are the only parts of us that exist in both worlds, natural and spiritual. Wholeness in this part of our being will always require healing in both the natural and spiritual aspects of thought and emotion. One cannot come to complete emotional wholeness if treatment is directed at only the natural or spiritual aspect of man. God wants to bring us to freedom in both realms.
From my observation, there are three parts to man: body, soul and spirit.
Have your own Christian guide to emotional health!
The body is our physical nature, the part of us that relates to the natural or “seen” world. As a result of the Fall of man, it is temporary, imperfect and subject to malfunction, degeneration and disease. It is the temporary container which our spirit briefly inhabits while on earth.
Our spirit is the eternal part of man. This is the true inner, unseen self which God places in us at conception. It is the part of us that relates to the unseen spirit world which includes both God and Satan.
Our soul, in my observation, is our personality which includes our mind, will and emotions. It is the part of us that relates to other humans. It is shaped by all of our accumulated life experiences. I like to think of it as being attached to a huge bag or drag net into which all our life events go. These experiences both good and bad, shape our personalities and determine how we relate to others.
Before salvation, we are outside God’s kingdom and in the domain of Satan. There he molds us into his image by wounding us in as many ways as possible. These accumulated wounds leave deep scars in our personalities which cause lifelong emotional bondage. The longer we live in Satan’s kingdom, the greater will be our accumulated wounds and personality damage.
What happens after salvation?
When we become Christians, our spirit immediately transfers ownership to God as we enter His kingdom. From this point on, we begin to have a relationship with God as He fills our spirit with His own. The Holy Spirit then begins the process of transforming us into God’s image.
When we enter God’s kingdom our body doesn’t usually change much. If we wore glasses before salvation, we usually wear them afterwards. Once in the Kingdom however, we are given the privilege of praying for divine healing. The body is still subject to the consequences of the Fall, which means it is still subject to disease and malfunction. The eventual transformation of our physical bodies will take place in Heaven. Until then, we have to cope with somewhat unreliable physical containers for our eternal spirits.
What happens to our soul or personality at the moment of salvation?
One way of looking at this question is to consider another one. How much must we change to qualify to become Christians? Well obviously we don’t have to change at all. God, through the miracle of His grace takes us just the way we are so that He can clean us up and transform us into His image. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 This means of course that we enter the Kingdom in a sorry state, broken, bleeding, wounded with deeply damaged personalities from all the years that we have spent in Satan’s kingdom. God accepts us as we are, damaged goods, “factory seconds.”
It is possible then, to be a new Christian and still be bound in sinful habits and attitudes, with dysfunctional relationships, deep personality scars, addictions and compulsions. In other words, a new Christian can still have a very active and contaminated old nature which wreaks havoc in their mind even though their spirit now belongs to God.
This old nature is actually the bag that I referred to earlier which is part of our soul. Prior to salvation the bag is accumulating pain and scars that Satan is putting into the bag to mold us into his image. After salvation, we are still carrying the bag since it is so much part of our former or old nature. This bag will continue to hurt and paralyze us until the Holy Spirit so fills our life with God’s new nature that the chain holding us to the bag of our old nature is cut.
It is God’s desire to free us from that bag of pain, clean us up and give us His new nature.
He wants to empty the bag, heal all those wounds and scars and set us free from our sinful habits and thought patterns. God wants our new nature in Christ to control our soul and personality so that the old sinful nature is overcome and disposed of. These two natures are always in conflict.
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
This process of emptying the bag and healing the wounds is called sanctification and it is accomplished through the actions of the Holy Spirit.
Where do you think the bag of our old nature is located? Where do you think this battle between our new and old natures takes place? Well, it’s actually located between your ears. There is a surprisingly large amount of space there for this battle to take place.
The battle for your mind
You see, the battle is actually for your thoughts and for who will control them. As long as your old nature is unhealed and active, then your thoughts will be controlled and contaminated by your sinful and painful past. When the old nature is healed and cut away from you then your thoughts will be full of God’s nature.
Your thoughts are really the rudders of your life. Whatever spiritual force controls your thoughts, will control your life. That is why there is such a battle between the forces of Light and Darkness to control your mind. Satan desperately wants to influence and control your thoughts by keeping your old nature alive and your new nature suppressed. God wants to set you free from that old nature so your mind will be free to think His thoughts and walk out of the bondage of your past into your new nature in Christ.
This article is excerpted from “Emotionally Free” by Dr. Grant Mullen