I can't quite explain it, but I am continually amazed at the journey I'm on with Jesus. For some time now, I have been discerning that I am short-changing my spirit, if that makes sense. I am well aware that I am a three-part being -- body, soul, and spirit. I have been seeking greater engagement with my own spirit, just as I want to engage at a deeper level with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But I am beginning to realize that too often, my spirit is entangled with my body and soul, making it difficult for my spirit to be free of this earthly domain.
I have actually read different commentaries that say we are not spirit. But I disagree and so does Scripture. Let me share a few verses .... The [Holy] Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16); Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your
whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23); For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? (1 Corinthians 2:11). That should settle that question.
We are the creation of God, and before the Fall in the Garden mankind shared in a perfect relationship with his Creator. Our spirit easily communed with God's Spirit, as when God placed man in the Garden and told him not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was no impediment between our spirit and His Spirit. But when sin befell man, it was as if a window closed, or a curtain fell, blocking easy access between our spirit and His. It is only when the Holy Spirit is deposited in us that we once again can gain access to the Presence of God.
Just as in the Old Testament picture of God's Presence residing in the Temple in the Holy of Holies, it is my opinion that the Holy Spirit is now God's Presence in us, residing in the temple of our body, specifically in our heart which is representative of the Holy of Holies. If we are truly a new creation in Christ, then the spirit part of our human nature should be intimately engaged with the spirit realm of the Kingdom of God in Heaven. So why are so many Christians still under oppression and not walking in the freedom that Jesus came to deliver to us?
Here is what we need to realize ... We are a spirit being, having a soul, and residing in a physical body. Being that new creation, our spirit should prevail over my soul and my body. But oftentimes, before our conversion, the soul has run the show. We have been governed by our natural minds and emotions, and our free will has been used to doing what makes us feel good. Oftentimes, that soul part of our nature has served as a protector from the world and its hurts. For instance, we develop a controlling personality because we've been damaged by people who have taken advantage of us in the past, and that helps us to feel like we're invincible. So our soul (mind, will, and emotions) develops a protective pattern that has become the way we operate in this world.
But Jesus came so that we could be free of those emotional wounds, and when we accept Him as our Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells us. And if the soul has a hard time giving up its supremacy, that situation limits the ability of our spirit to engage with God's Presence in us. The soul still tries to control how we live, and we are unable to operate out of the spirit, as God designed us. In other words, the soul is still operating from a "natural man" state. It is important that we keep the soul and spirit separate so the testimony of the Word of God in our spirit can lead our souls to a restful state and into the full knowledge of the Presence of God in us.
Try to picture it like this .... we are designed to be spirit beings, having access to the spirit realm in Heaven and the Presence of God and Jesus. We have been made a spirit being, yet having a soul and living in a physical body. If the soul is allowed to dominate our "spirit man", it is like a hard shell of concrete placed over our heart, where our spirit operates out of. Our spirit is being smothered by our soul and it cannot get free to seek the Light of God. This brings into focus the importance of Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
When we are born again, our soul and spirit are to be divided and separated, allowing our spirit to function in the capacity God ordained it. The soul must come into submission to our spirit, instead of the other way around. We must be attuned to the state of our soul, and when necessary, determine [in the flesh] to break it apart from our spirit, in order to free the spirit to commune with God. Use your imagination to see something splitting that concrete shell off your spirit, freeing it to function as a spirit being. Take the word of God [which is power!] and drive it between your soul and spirit. The dividing of soul and spirit is mandated by the word of God and is vital to our ability to commune with Him. We were made to function spirit to Spirit, and to engage with God in that spirit realm. Our spirit man is designed to host our body and soul; to be bigger than them in order that we might walk in the full measure of our Sonship.
It is not hard to see this Truth when I consider Revelation, Chapter 4. There, the Apostle John tells us that his spirit was free to engage with God in that spirit realm: I saw a heavenly portal open before me, and the same trumpet-voice I heard speaking with me at the beginning broke the silence and said, “Ascend into this realm! I want to reveal to you what must happen after this.” Instantly I was taken into the spirit realm... or as the Amplified version says, At once I was in [special communication with] the Spirit...
How I want that kind of relationship! And it is not some special dispensation for John alone! Our Father desires that we engage with Him in the spirit realm! I know that is not a commonly held opinion in our modern denominations. But throughout the Bible God and His Spirit have engaged with men, and it is the intimate desire of His heart that this be an integral component of our relationship. When our spirit can function as it should, and we are able to engage with Heaven on that intimate level, then our souls find rest and our natural man operates from a place of peace.
In summary, contemplate what the closing verses in Matthew 11 tell us about how our souls are to operate in a spiritual relationship with our Savior. Jesus asks, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden [upon your soul]? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Take My yoke upon you [joining your life with Mine] and learn My ways. You’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” If you can see it, this is a picture of communing with Jesus in a spiritual realm, free of the burdens of our mind and emotions, where our spirit is refreshed and our souls can be at rest.... and we can enjoy the reality of who we are designed to be; soul and spirit, divided and operating in cooperation with God.
Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.