And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
We see the three parts of man clearly shown in Paul’s statement – spirit, soul, and body. The word spirit is translated from the Greek word pneuma. This word has been translated inconsistently which has led to a lot of confusion. The Strong’s Concordance provides a definition for pneuma as the immortal soul. People struggle with delineating between the soul and spirit. I have heard ministers talk about souls being converted. According to the Bible our spirit is converted so this is not accurate.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Our past was washed away when we became a Christian. Everything in our lives became new but only in the spiritual realm. Paul was not talking about our physical body or soul. If you had blue eyes when you prayed the prayer of salvation, your eyes were still blue afterwards.
Paul told the Roman believers to present their bodies as living sacrifices and then to be transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:1-2). The word translated “renewing” means to make new. We are spirit and we present our body as a living sacrifice. We submit ourselves to the Word of God by spending time in it on a daily basis.
Spiritually all things have become new. Paul was not talking about our soul (i.e., mind, will, intellect, and emotions) when he said everything has become new. He was also not talking about our physical bodies. As we spend time meditating in the Word we will find our souls coming into alignment with our spirit and the result is that our physical bodies will be brought in line as well.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
We will see our mortal bodies put on immortality one day, but this has not happened yet. Paul was talking about the glorification of our bodies when Jesus returns for the Church. Our physical bodies will be changed in an instant. This has not happened yet.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12
As I read these verses it seems clear that Paul was not talking about our body or soul in 1 Corinthians 5:17. He was talking about the change that occurred in the spiritual realm when a person receives Jesus and becomes a Christian.
I have heard people ask what changed when they were saved. They struggle with the same addictions and bondages. From a natural perspective we cannot see the change that occurred inside of us.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2
I am repeating my earlier statements in saying that we are the ones who present our physical bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices. This is not something that the Holy Spirit will do for us. It is also not something that we only do once. The flesh will also not be a willing participant in our presenting it as a living sacrifice! It will fight us tooth and nail. If we persist and do not give up, we will find victory over it.
I once met a homeless man who heard me quote Romans 1:16 where Paul tells us that the Word is the power of God. He decided to prove that this Scripture was not true. After service he went to a liquor store, bought a bottle of alcohol, and sat on the sidewalk with a Bible that had been given to him. The Bible fell open to the book of Philippians. He read a verse and took a drink proving that there was no power in the Bible, at least from his perspective.
The man did not become an alcoholic overnight. It took time for the Word to take root in His soul, so he did not experience an immediate change. I met him several months after he sat on that sidewalk for the first time. He developed a habit of reading a verse, taking a drink, and declaring to anyone around that the Word was not working. When he reached the end of Philippians, he would turn back to chapter 1. The man continued this for several months. I did not tell him to do it. He just set out to prove that the Bible was wrong. One day he had a “suddenly” moment and became sick after taking a sip! The Word had taken root and the harvest was deliverance from his addiction to alcohol.
We have been given a freewill and the power to choose. God will not force us into His Word. There will be many opportunities each day for us to choose to pursue the Word or not to. We can choose to look at the headlines to catch up on the latest news or we can open the Word and spend time meditating on its truths. The choice is ours. The Holy Spirit will guide us towards the Word but will never force us into it.
Mind renewal takes time. The homeless man did not receive deliverance overnight. He continued in the Word every day for several months. It is true that he did not set out with any expectation of being delivered from his addiction but that was the end result. Think about what would happen in our lives if we did the same thing as he did but on purpose.
If you are a Christian, you are a brand-new creation in the spiritual realm. This does not mean that your family members will be able to see a difference. Our friends and coworkers will also not be able to see a difference. The change was not physical and will not be detectable to our five physical senses.
God is spirit. He created all physical matter. Spirit created the physical and the spiritual realm surrounds us. There are angels and demons operating around us all the time. We are primarily spirit and the Spirit of God is dwelling inside of our spirit. To fulfill the plan of God will require that we gain revelation of who we are in the spirit.
When a person surrenders their heart to God a miracle occurs in their spirit. They are transformed into a completely new creation that did not previously exist! The sin nature inherited at birth died. God’s Holy Spirit entered their spirit and they were changed into the very image of God. If they will present their body and make time to spend meditating in the truths of the Word, the Holy Spirit will open their spiritual eyes.
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