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The Division of Soul and Spirit

• Greg Boyd

The Bible has a lot to say about how the heart and mind of a believer can be transformed! Greg examined what this might mean as we think about our spiritual and emotional health.

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The Division of Soul and Spirit

Two schools of thought:

  1. We are composed of soul and body. No difference between soul/spirit. (Dualists)
  2. Three Parts – (body, soul, different Spirit)

The preceding passage (Hebrews 4:12) says that the Word of God can divide soul from spirit. So, there is evidence that the two elements (soul/spirit) are different entities.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
“May God bless your body, soul, and spirit”.

So, what is the distinction between soul and spirit?

Soul is to us on a spiritual level what joints of a bone are to us on a physical level, and spirit is to us on a spiritual level what marrow is to us on a physical level, and the Word of God can divide that like a sharp sword.

Soul – psyche (Greek). Soul is our personality, though / feeling process.

Spirit – What is inside that (the marrow). The innermost part of ourselves (our will,
where we make decisions).

The Word of God is living and active; it can cut you (in a positive way). Most people identify with their soul. Most people assume that you are your thoughts, feelings , emotions.

Feelings, on the whole are simply your emotional responses to your thoughts. We don’t respond to reality – we respond to our thoughts about reality; not necessarily true – a representation of reality.

How you represent reality determines your feelings.

Truth: We can go against our thoughts / feelings – we transcend our thoughts/feelings. Your thoughts/feelings don’t need to determine you or define who you are! You can go against that as an active agent.

If we were our soul, why does the Bible tell us that we can control our feelings/thoughts (e.g., take every thought captive to Jesus Christ)? You are not your thoughts; in fact, you transcend your thoughts (can take thoughts captive).

Romans 12:2
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Choose what you think! Know that you aren’t what you think. Transcend what you think. (The map is not the territory! TNT class)

Ephesians 4:24-25 (NKJV)
“and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, “let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another”

Put off the OLD SELF and put on the new by being transformed..

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Whatsoever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report; think on these things.

Problem: We have lying pictures, voices, memories, etc., in our brains and they make us feel a certain way. As a result of these feelings, we think these pictures, voices, etc., are true.

You need to know that you can change your thoughts, etc. You aren’t passive! You can choose truth of how God loves you unconditionally, not the fleshly enemy’s lie ? stuff of this world (e.g., make lots of $, be thin, etc.,). Tear down enemy strongholds (those lies in your mind) and replace them with pictures that reflect God’s love for you, how God sees you.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” You are not your feelings, etc. You can control those feelings, etc Rearrange the “furniture” in your mind to align with God’s word.

Your feelings, thoughts, etc. aren’t lord of your life, GOD IS!

What we should do ? The spirit is to be in charge of the soul. We tell our mind what to think, it doesn’t tell us what to think.

[ Spirit > Soul > Body ] We control our environment! All of this is to be pointed toward God.

The Fall: Pattern of this world defines us.

Two ways to apply this:

  • We need to divide soul and spirit with the Word because there isn’t always congruence between the two.
  • When You’re Saved: The word of God is like surgery to separate soul/spirit incongruity. Harmony occurs when our soul/spirit is aligned with God’s truth about us and we take control of our thoughts, etc. so that they align with God’s word, not the fleshly lies of this world.

Problem: Even though you can be saved, the old self (lies) can still creep in. You need to come against that fleshly stuff, that incongruity. Healing/Growth ? getting rid of that old stuff to let the spirit take control. Then, you no longer identify with your soul (passive), but realize you can change! Ask the question, “Is this stuff really true or not?” Ask God to help you be discerning.

Problem: Sometimes the soul needs to be healed even though the spirit is born again. What is on the inside (do you have marrow?). The Word of God is healing to believers. For non-believers, break the bones and have a marrow transplant (say no to self and yes to God).

Metaphor: We are not the computer per se. We program the computer. We can change those thought patterns, etc. to align with God’s picture of who we really are.

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Focus Scripture:

  • Hebrews 4:12

    12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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