And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV)
and I pray God your whole
spirit and soul and body
be preserved blameless unto the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, for starters, I am a slow learner. Because so many lessons in my life which are blatantly obvious now were hidden from me for decades. Sometimes I DO wish we could go back and start over, ya know?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 is one of those lessons which has layers and layers of revelation and which can either empower and propel us into an exhilarating dimension or push us into the ground and bury us under layers of exhausted, depleted drudgery which actually forces us into an early grave.
I was probably headed to the early grave until God in His mercy began to reveal this verse to me in incremental stages. This isn’t an article; it’s just a blog post, so I will summarize a few of the points briefly and let you get on with the business of discovering the meaning of all this for yourself.
The inspired, living Word says we are a 3-part being: spirit, soul, and body. Three in one. A triune being in one person. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it! It should sound familiar since we were created in His image . . . Three parts to the whole. Spirit. Soul. Body. In that order.
What ARE those parts? Knowing there is much left out which could fill pages, here is a succinct summary:
Spirit ~ the part of us that is the God-element. The part which lives forever. The part which is consumed by HIS Spirit when we allow Him inside and receive His gift of taking over our spirit.
Soul ~ the part of us that defines our outward expression. Our mind. Our choices, our emotions, our style of processing. Our persona.
Body ~ the physical part of us which houses the other two parts.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, in my humble opinion, the big deal is that religious people spend a massive amount of time trying to make the spirit part come into alignment (which is right and good and must be done.) But, in the process, many times the soul is neglected. So, a great chasm begins to emerge and widen between the spirit and the soul. The soul becomes depleted by the activation of the disciplines of the spirit and a dry, burned-out, flat-line version of a shell emerges which is NOT where the Spirit thrives, so consequently, the spirit then begins suffering. (Yes, the capital letters and non-capital letters are intentional. Take note of that.)
These two elements live within the body, so when they are no in alignment, guess what suffers? Yes. The body. So, physical ailments begin to manifest and diseases begin to insidiously attack and chaos ensues.
What can be done?
Well, again, I have a humble opinion.
Since the spirit needs to be ruled by the Spirit, that should be the foundational focus. Because if the spirit is drawing from the wrong source, the soul and body are also going to suffer. The spirit needs daily God-connection in order to have the right information from which the soul can make its choices.
The soul must then let the Spirit dictate what it does. The choices the mind makes, the thoughts the mind thinks, the emotions which must be processed from life experiences must all spring from the filter of the Spirit. However–and this is a biggie–the soul cannot deny itself the function for which it was created. It must continually be refilled from “the riches of His glory” (“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;” [Ephesians3:16]). The “riches of His glory” includes all of the beauty He has provided for us to fill our souls–our emotional selves–the part of us which loves and needs and craves beauty and emotional fulfillment.
Nature is part of the “riches of His glory.” The mountains, the sea, the sky, the forest, the gurgling stream, the changing leaves. Love is part of the “riches of His glory.” The emotional connection between spouses, families, friends and animals. Music and laughter and gathering around a table were all made possible by Him to us in order so we may be able to be strengthened in our inner man.
So when our spirits are filled by His Spirit, when our souls are replenished from the riches of His glory, our bodies have a head start on health and energy and replenishing sleep and longevity. The body is truly at the mercy of the spirit and the soul. Our choices, our lifestyles, our damaged emotions, our negative approach to life will guarantee our bodies will struggle. But turn that around and it is amazing how the body thrives!
Isn’t it ironic that we try to stuff our spirit full, but totally neglect our soul and make wrong choices in our food, our goals, our connections, our relationships, our physical disciplines and, consequently, wind up with all kinds of health challenges and then beg God to supernaturally heal us? Do you ever wonder if He just wants to sometimes say, “If you would stop eating carbs and processed foods at 9:00 pm and if you would stop pouring yourself out in areas I have not asked you to and if you would take some time to be still and know and if you would stop being so mean to people and just lighten up and learn to love them even if they don’t do things the way you think they should be done, well, then, your body might just heal itself!”
But He probably doesn’t say that because He is God and He is good and kind and I am not God and we are all glad I am not.
Make sure your spirit has daily God-connection.
Make sure your soul has consistent filling from the riches of His glory which He created for that purpose.
Make right choices with your body in the areas of rest and food and exercise and discipline.
That’s the only way we will ever know the best version of you.