There are some terms in the Bible referring to various parts of us –and they just aren’t clear. Body, soul and spirit are the basic ones, but then it talks about flesh, mind and heart. We also experience emotions. Just how do all of these fit together into a Christian –”walking in the spirit”?
The body is the container that houses us while we are here on earth in this physical life. Sometimes it’s called our tent. Contained within this body are the mind (also referred to as the soul) and the human spirit (or heart). We were created in these three parts by God who also composed of in three parts –that’s what is meant by man being created in the image of God. (There’s more to that part, but we’ll save that for another time.) God, the Father, correlates to the soul; the Holy Spirit to the human spirit; and Jesus to the body.
The mind (or soul) does the thinking and retains the conclusions that it reaches. Those conclusions are what we believe to be true –they define our faith. The body has five entry points (our five senses) though which the external world can influence the thoughts that go through the mind. The human spirit is what connects us to the spiritual world. Like the senses, the spirit also has the ability to influence the thoughts that go through the mind. It can be thought of as a woman in search of her life-mate. And until her desire for that mate is found she continues searching –trying to fill her empty life with a purpose –a reason for living.
God has a great desire for everyone of us to live with Him for all eternity. He appeals to our spirit with His Holy Spirit –to join in perfect marriage –to be the perfect life-mate who will fulfill every need. He offers unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, and a meaning and purpose for life –all beyond measure.
That spiritual appeal from inside of the “container” isn’t sufficient for some since they can’t use their senses to know for certain that it is He that is appealing to them. They require proof of the appeal from the outside so God made His entire creation to be a witness to show that He exists and wants us all to join Him. It displays His magnitude and majesty as the designer of a universe that can never be fully comprehended. And it displays the fact that we, like it, are disintegrating more each day. If that isn’t enough, He sent His Son to explain it all to us and His story has remained on record in the Bible for thousands of years.
When we respond to God’s appeal –no matter how we understand it at the time –with whatever words we use –accepting His proposal, we become “engaged” to Him. His Holy Spirit immediately joins with our spirit inside our “container” as a promise that He will never, no matter what we do or say, never be separated from us. He and we become like-minded while we live on this earth. We will receive a new body –one that doesn’t corrupt– which will be joined with His Son. The official marriage ceremony will be conducted in heaven.
Not everyone thinks of their relationship with God as a marriage. Often we only understand that He wants to save us from the trap of sin and death that surrounds us –so we ask Jesus to be our Savior. It doesn’t matter what we understand at the time. He faithfully relates the depth of His love over the years of our lives.
Meanwhile, we are immersed in this world with its many sights, sounds, smells, etc. The prince of the world (Satan) uses them to make us think –and wholeheartedly conclude– that God doesn’t really care for us all that much. Satan uses things that are shiny and new, things that smell delicious, things that are powerful, things that are sexy, things we don’t have –all to get our thoughts off of the One who truly loves us and onto what our senses detect.
As long as we live in this body, there will always remain a part of us that doubts some aspect of God’s compassion for us –and that is the very definition of our flesh. (It’s also called “indwelling sin.")
Many people reject God’s appeal to them and therefore they do not have His Holy Spirit living within them. They cannot “walk in the spirit” –another way of saying travel through life’s circumstances trusting in God’s promise of eternal life and love.
The mind –for those who have trusted in God’s offer– has thoughts stimulated by senses and other thoughts from the Holy Spirit. It’s what we do with those thoughts that changes our conclusions –and those conclusions form our faith. We will grow in our trust of God either slowly or quickly depending on what thoughts we choose to think about. The Bible tells us to focus on Jesus and the good things of God rather than our possessions, our troubles, our desires. Doing so will grow us in faith.
Another dimension to our being is its emotions. They are the natural result of what we think about. If we think about God’s provisions for us, then we will be at peace and be content with our circumstances. If we think about what the world offers –through our senses– then we will experience loneliness, frustration, disappointment, anger, emptiness…
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians–&1:4-9)
The way to stop emotions from being in control is demonstrated in this passage. It says to: 1) Think about the right things. 2) Act on those thoughts. 3) You will be at peace and in want of nothing.
When the troublesome and lustful thoughts come into your mind, return to the thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit that relate God’s tremendous love for you and the emotions that you say you want, will become a reality in your life.