When we are little children, many times we play with our toys in a random way, exploring as we learn. But we have no grand scheme or purpose to our play. We simply make it up as we go.
But can you imagine God doing something like that? Would the God who is wise, loving, and eternal create the universe without a purpose? Could He create human beings without a purpose?
The terms soul and spirit have been discussed at length throughout philosophy, literature, and religion. Even scientists have ventured remarks about the soul. Many times, soul and spirit are interpreted to mean the same thing and end up being used interchangeably.
This can lead to the question, ‘Is there a difference between the soul and the spirit, and does it really matter if there is?’
Regardless of what philosophy, literature, religion, or some scientists say, we have to ask, ‘What does the Bible say?’ The Bible clearly makes many references to both. So what does God’s Word say about our soul and our spirit? And why can knowing this be a crucial factor in our spiritual progress and relationship with God?
Are they the same thing?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, ‘And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
This verse clearly tells us that human beings are made of three parts—the spirit, the soul, and the body. In the original Greek language, the conjunction ‘and’ in ‘spirit and soul and body’ indicates the three are different from one another. Therefore, just as the body is separate and distinct from the soul, the soul is also separate and distinct from the spirit, as illustrated in the diagram below:
In Philippians 4:6, we are given a seemingly impossible command:
‘In nothing be anxious.’
Each of us has a long list of anxiety-inducing circumstances—relationship issues, financial stress, academic pressure, naughty children, stress at work, no work, and so on. And in addition to our personal life, the world today seems to manufacture large-scale anxiety-inducing events—economic uncertainty, war, social upheaval—delivered to us on a conveyor belt of 24-hour news coverage. Is God’s command out-dated or unreasonable, given so many anxieties in our life?
What does the New Testament mean when it says ‘life’?
For instance, when the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10, ‘I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly,’ what did He mean? Did He mean He would help us to have a better human life, that He would enrich our life, or improve our life?
We have all heard someone say, ‘I’ve been blessed by God’ usually in relation to success, health, family, wealth, or a job. We’ve even heard athletes say this after winning a big game. We all want to be under God’s blessing.
The common understanding of what it means to be blessed by God is that He gives us good things. In this respect, we can say that God’s blessing is on everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. Matthew 5:45 says that the Father who is in the heavens causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.
But does God’s blessing pertain only to material things? Though these are included, thinking of God’s blessing as mainly material things greatly limits our understanding of what is in God’s heart for us as believers. So what is the fuller meaning of being blessed by God?
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a good question: ‘Or do you not realise about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?’ We might consider this phrase, ‘Jesus Christ is in you’ surprising, or perhaps we just read over it without thinking too much about its significance. But what does this phrase mean? And what is its importance in our Christian lives today?