The Spirit, the Soul and Their Functions

The soul of the unregenerated man, although morally fit in some ways, is led by the flesh, not the spirit. In Acts 4: 10-13, we read that Peter and John reflected the Spirit of God in them by their actions. They were a positive testimony of Whom God was to them.  They were recognized by their persecutors as ones who had been with YAHSHUA. Verse thirteenth reads, Now when they saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools, they marveled, and they recognized that they had been with YAHSHUA. Paul writes, Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]; but the mind of the Holy Spirit is life peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (Rom. 8:6-7).

The Holy Spirit restored the believer’s spirit to life at the moment of his regeneration. when sin entered the heart of man, his spirit experienced spiritual death- condemnation; he was then under the wrath of God; but with his new birth, God’s Spirit revived his spirit. When the soul is led by the Spirit of God, then it is no longer man that lives, but YAHSUA lives in him. A revived spirit will testify with the Holy Spirit of God that we are children of God (Rom. 8: 16). The soul is dictated either by the flesh or by the Spirit. The in results of our actions will reflect whom we followed. Paul said, For those who are according to its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit (Rom. 8:5). The soul- the mind, the will and the emotion is naturally carnal and tends to follow the fleshly desires. Therefore, there is a battle between the soul and the spirit. Paul well describes this battle: For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self; but I discern in my bodily members a different law at war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs (Rom. 7:22-23). I am sure that many of us experienced this spiritual battle.

The conscience, the link that connects us to our spirit through accusations of wrong doings or even defense, can be seared by lies and hypocrisy to the point of no longer being sensitive to evil (paraphrased) (I Tim. 4:2).  When ignored, the spirit ceases from communicating and the flesh takes over. The deeds will clearly show the results. Paul told Timothy to hold fast to faith by having a good (clear) conscience, for those who reject and thrust from the conscience, will make a shipwreck of their faith (I Tim. 1:19) (Paraphrased).  A guilty conscience will not experience peace, but torment, unless that guilt is dealt with. When Peter denied the Lord, his conscience accused him; he repented and was restored. On the contrary, Judas, when accused by his conscience, he felt remorse, and for not repenting, he perished.  A clear and good conscience before God and men denotes spiritual success.

To have a clear conscience, requires discipline and an effort to keep that way. Also, an awareness of the weakness of the flesh to fall into sin. Writing to the Romans, Paul said, I am speaking the truth in Christ; I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me that I have bitter grief and incessant anguish in my heart (Rom. 9:1). It is through the conscience that the Holy Spirit speaks to us when He convicts us of sin, when He guides us to truth and holy living. When we disregard the voice of conscience, we are disregarding the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us. To the pure [in heart -soul and conscience- spirit] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and conscience (soul and spirit) are polluted (Titus 1:15). The Holy Spirit of God was given us as a gift from YAHSHUA to teach, to counsel, to guide and convict us. Also, to continue the ministry He started on this earth. His Spirit is the gift of His presence in us- God with us, as He said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you; I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18-19) The relationship we have with Him is through His Spirit communing with our spirit. If one is a born- again Christian, his life must be oriented toward following YAHSHUA’S Spirit. The soul is always willing to follow the flesh, because we are fleshly discerning. It takes awareness of the fact that we are not spiritually minded to desire to change. Paul appealed to the Romans in His letter, saying, I appeal to you therefore, brethren and beg of you in view of the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service and spiritual worship; do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind(soul), so that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you] (Rom. 12:1-2). To make a conscientious choice to have the mind renewed is a step forward to succeed in our spiritual growth. How do we present our body as a living sacrifice, if we are not saying no to the flesh, if we are not carrying our cross and following YAHSHUA?

When the soul listens to the conscience, it cannot go wrong, provided that the conscience is not polluted and seared to the things of God. But a conscience that is connected to the Spirit of God, is a clear conscience that will, under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, direct us to the renewal of the mind.  The spirit is willing to do rightly, but the flesh is week and prone to sin. The soul will fall into temptation to sin when it listens to the flesh, and the body in its entirety will suffer the consequences.  Guard your heart, with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:23). The heart being part of the soul in its emotions and desires, as the brain -the intellect, must listen to the spirit. The difference between the spirit and soul is obvious: one lives forever; the other is faded away with death. They are both invisible to the naked eye; the spirit is the life breathed by God into man; the soul is the personality. It is what makes us act the way we act. David prayed, Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139: 23-24); and create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps. 52:10). The heart and thoughts comprise the soul. So, a clean heart and mind, are the results of a renewed spirit. May these be our prayers also.

Author: Jacinta da Cruz Rodgers

I have been committed to teaching the truth of the Word of God beginning with Trans World Radio on Bonaire, N.A and Swaziland, Africa (1969-1980), then through churches in the United States in both English and Portuguese and then through ministry in Israel (2005-2006). This ministry continues through local Bible studies and outreach to the world via the internet. I have written a book about my life from that of an orphan in Brazil to missionary in 5 countries. You can find out more on the "Book" page of our blog site.

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