A spirit in man

fire-175966_640Job 32:8: But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.

Man has three parts of spirit soul and body (1Thessalonians 5:23). Arguable the least understood is the spirit. Biology tells us about the body (its knowledge is limited), psychology tells us about the soul (or it tries to). What about the spirit (how far has theology helped?).

The brain part of the man connects the soul to the worldly realm. When we are translated to the world after (after we are brain dead), the soul goes with the spirit, which allows it to function in the spiritual world. The soul defines our personality in this realm; and in the hereafter, the soul still defines our personality.

For the believer, after death and on to the spiritual world, the soul becomes fully merged with the spirit, and removed from the encumbrance of the body-brain limitation. But for the non-believer, who did not have a renewed spirit on earth, there is the attachment to satanic spirits, which overrun the soul and there is torment without end.

In the life of ordinary man now, what takes pre-eminence is the soul. What about the spirit? It is dead (Ephesians 1:1-6). The body? Peter calls it a tent that will soon be laid aside in death (2Peter 1:13-14). But the fact that the spirit is dead does not mean it does not exist.

But at creation, the spirit is the most important part of man. It allowed man to carry out his functions as the image of God. He breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Divine qualities were introduced into man at that time.

The body was formed from the ground, the Spirit is the breath of the God and the soul which was formed from the meeting point between the body and the spirit, defines the individual personality of the man. The spirit, soul and body were fully one, just as the trinity is fully one.

So the phrase “living soul” was used to capture the identity of the full man; it means a living person, bursting with the life of God, but designed for earthly realm. The body is the form; the soul is the personality, while the spirit is the functionality, the three existing as a cohesive whole.

That is why when it comes to spiritual functionality (after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden) the bible says that we were dead in sins and trespasses. Man experienced spiritual death as a result of the sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15-17; 3), which means that his spirit was disconnected from the intensity of the life of God, and what is left is merely a vestige, like a shrivelled-up limb of a man born lame. It looks at it there is a leg there somewhere but really it’s as good as not being there because it has been cut off from life (blood and nerve flow from heart and brain respectively).

But since the gifts of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29), God did not take away the spirit of man. It takes some measure of the spirit for us to be alive at all. It is the vestige of the spirit in man that is made alive again through the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. It was dead in the sense of disconnection from God, which had a whole range of implications, one of which is mortality (because man was made immortal).

Jesus said that he that is born of the Spirit is spirit, explaining the meaning of new birth to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). He wanted to impress on him the powerful reality of the novelty and instantaneous nature of the new birth, how spiritual birth is such a powerful event, not a process of learning certain things.

Jesus told him that the one born of the flesh is flesh and the one born of the Spirit is spirit.  For fleshly conception, two individuals come together one supplying the sperm and the other supplying the ovum. In a way the sperm is more alive as it actively seeks out the ovum, pierces it; and a new life is formed.

For the new birth, the Holy Spirit (sperm) comes in man, contacting the vestige of the spirit of man (ovum) and causing it to come alive, as we are born of the will (initiative) of God (supplier of the Spirit) and not of the will/initiative man (the male gender, supplier of the sperm). The Spirit of God brooding over the deadened spirit in man, births light in it reminiscence of God’s remaking of the earth after a long time of darkness (Genesis 1:1-3).

Paul borrowed that analogy, saying: God, who caused light to shine out of darkness (2Corinthians 4:6), has caused the light of the knowledge of his son to shine in our hearts.

The spirit functions as a means of connection with God, who is Spirit. Jesus came with this instruction for humanity: God is Spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24). That describes what the function of the spirit in man is. With the new birth, with the Holy Spirit birthing a new spirit in us, man was made capable of worshipping God. He is now endowed with the new spirit, in the order of the last Adam, Jesus, who is called life-giving spirit, capable of giving life to our spirits (1Corinthians 15:45).

When man decided to disconnect from the word of God (the Word of Life), refusing to be bound by it in obedience, God also disconnected from man, cutting him from his life. That did not lead to the immediate cessation of breath for man, because there was a course set in motion in the functioning of the body parts, while the spirit was functioning in man, but that (because there is a disconnect from God, the source of life) degenerates as old age sets it, leading up to death.

In Jesus, we experience restoration. He told the apostles: receive the Holy Spirit, emphasising the fact that the prime place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer (John 20:22).

What relationship does our spirit have with the Holy Spirit? He gives us of Himself, making us one with Christ, since He is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9-10). It is in that context that we are the body of Christ.

One thing about the one, who is born naturally, is the fact that his will is not involved in the process. You were not involved in the decision making process leading up to your conception and birth.

In the same way, though you need to open up yourself up through faith in Jesus and confession with your mouth, salvation is what happens to you, like the sperm “happens” to the egg and a new creature is formed, based on the guarantee of the Word of God, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Through faith, you get a deposit of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the unique spirit, a never-before-seen spirit, a spiritual persona, which becomes the gateway of God into the individual, for his dominion life to be expressed, in the new order of life, eternal life; the very life of God.

A contradiction however ensues. The bible says we have received an anointing (a deposit of the ability of God) from the Holy One, and we know all things (a divine capacity) (1John 2:20). That contrasts that with the limitation we inherit with the soul (centre of self awareness) and body of man (centre for the awareness of the elements, the Spirit is the centre for the awareness of God).

That is the context in which we understand what Paul said that we groan in ourselves (Romans 8:18-25), as we wait for our body to be equally to the level of our renewed spirit have experienced, and the soul is experiencing its own transformation of the personality in this life time, equally to the level of the spirit. The body will also be transformed at the end of time (1Corinthians 15:42-49).

The spirit within defines our reality as Christians. It is that heavenly quality about us, which makes us live an elevated existence even in this world.


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