What’s the Difference Between Spirit, Soul, and Body?
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”
1 Corinthians 6:19
If I were to ask you, “What three forms can water come in?” you would more than likely be quick to answer with, “Liquid, solid, and gas.” Three different forms, but all three are equally water. Just because water is in a different form, that does not change the fact it’s still completely water.
This is a great way to describe who we are as humans, as well as God, the Trinity, three in one. For us, only one part of our three-part make up truly describes us, but for God, all three are equal. I’ll get to us in a minute, but for our Creator, if we look for the word “Trinity” in the Bible, it’s not there. However, if we put one and one and one together, it’s easy to understand that God is three parts. Jesus mentions it, so does Paul, as does John (see Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 John 5:7).
Even from the opening book of the Bible–the opening chapter even–God is mentioned in plural form (see Genesis 1:1,2,26). So God is: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three Persons, one God. The Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Son–nor any slicing of it. However, they are all three in perfect harmony as one God.
I wanted to set that up because we too are three-part beings: spirit, soul, and body. When we understand the separation of the three–how different each part of our being is–things will start to make a lot more sense. Mainly, you will stop mistaking one for the other, which will give you confidence and peace. Also, the devil will look like the idiot he is, because his lies will be even more blatant to you.
First of all, all Christians are perfect, spiritually. At our core, in the everlasting part of us, our spirits, we’ve literally been crucified with Christ, buried, and raised back to life as new spiritual beings. When this happened, once, by believing Jesus has forgiven you, your spirit was made brand new! (See Romans 6:6,7, Colossians 1:22, 1 John 3:9, Hebrews 10:10).
Whether you believe in Jesus or not, your spirit will never die. It will go on to live with God forever, or without God forever. Our faith in receiving God’s Spirit into us right now, decides this. Jesus explains:
“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31)
For this verse, Jesus is not talking about saying the Lord’s name in vain. The grace-confused Christians want you to think that so they can control you with fear. Just imagine if God left us for good because we said a swear word? What a stupid idea. Jesus is talking about rejecting His Spirit into yours. Blaspheme means “to speak evil of.” If you speak evil of God’s Spirit, you obviously will not be accepting Him into your spirit. Further, we accept Him into our spirit by grace through faith; by simply believing He is our Savior (see Ephesians 2:8,9, John 1:12, 6:29). Once we do believe that Jesus has forgiven us, He makes His home inside of our bodies and spirits (see Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
Next, I want you to know that you do not have a sinful nature. For so long, even I thought I had a sinful nature. This was because I was reading a NIV Bible that had not been updated. In order to be more readable the publishers changed the word “flesh” to “sinful nature” in the 1984 version of their NIV Bible. Since then, they’ve changed it back to flesh.
Why is this important? Because the words “sinful nature” are not in the Bible. The original word is “sarx” which means “flesh.” Sarx doesn’t mean sin and it doesn’t mean nature–it means flesh. So each time you read the words “sinful nature” in the older version of the NIV, you can scratch through it and write “flesh”–literally.
This matters because your body is your flesh–one of the three parts of you. Your flesh does not have a nature, and your flesh is not sinful. Even before you were saved, it was your spirit that was sinful, not your flesh. Therefore you do not have a sinful nature. Unbelievers have sinful spirits which can lead their flesh, but even they do not have sinful flesh. There is nothing wrong with anyone’s flesh. God likes our flesh, it was His idea. So, any sinful desire that comes from your flesh is coming from the power of sin in your flesh.
From the opening book of the Bible, God has warned us about the power of sin–the force of sin:
“sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (See Genesis 4:7)
Do you see that it desires? This power of sin–not us acting on it, which is called “committing sins”– but sin by itself, it is a separate entity from us and has nothing to do with us as Christians. It is a tumor, so to speak. It’s in us, but it’s not us. Christ, who now lives in you, He has defeated the power sin had over your spirit! He did so by killing off your old spirit and giving you a new, perfect spirit which is already seated in heaven with Him! (See Romans 6:6,7, Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 2:6).
Therefore, Christian, you are not at battle with yourself. Yourself is good! Yourself is holy! Yourself is settled up with God forever because of Christ making His home in you! (See Hebrews 7:25, 10:10, John 14:23). So, the power of sin–which is everywhere on this planet like gravity–it tries to influence your flesh each day (see Romans 7, Galatians 5). But as we walk by our true selves–perfect spirits–we overcome sin as it takes a back seat. We now know we’ve been remade to not act on sin’s influence in our flesh. Paul explains this to the Romans:
“Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires” (Romans 6:12).
Do you see that it is us who allows sin to go to work in our lives? To reign? And do you see where that happens? In our mortal bodies, our flesh! And lastly, do you see once again that sin is an “it”? This is very important to understand because as a Christian sin is not you! You are not sinful! YOU’RE NOT A SINNER! You are holy, blameless, and free from all accusation from God! YOU ARE A PERFECT SPIRIT! You are completely reconciled with your Creator in the part of you that lives forever! Your spirit! (See Colossians 1:22, Romans 5:1).
As for our flesh, it is but a tool. Tools do what the person holding it decides. A hammer can’t hammer itself. As heaven-ready people, we have God’s desires written on our spirits which is now supposed to guide our flesh (see Hebrews 10:16). We want what God wants, we really do! So we live that out through our bodies!
Because of our God-given freedom, we can allow our flesh to be led by the Spirit of God in us, or we can allow our flesh to be led by sin. Which, ultimately, will result in us acting out sin, therefore bringing it to life (see Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 6). We can also allow our flesh to be influenced by the lies and temptations of the enemy and his demonic spiritual forces. This began in the Garden with Adam and Eve and it continues on today.
Your flesh has no moral compass or scruples–you do. It can still act on sin if you let it because sin is still in it as a parasite (see Romans 7:17). But you are not of the realm of the flesh! You’ve been transferred into the realm of God’s presence by allowing the Holy Spirit to possess you! (See Romans 8:9).
However! We, perfect spirits, children of God, are still responsible for walking according to our true, holy selves. At any point in time we can choose to walk by a manner that does not match up with our identity in Christ–but, we cannot out-sin our perfect identity! (See Romans 5:20). Because of Jesus already taking on the full punishment of our sin at the Cross, even when we do sin, our spiritual perfection stays sealed up forever! (See Ephesians 4:30, 1 John 2:1).
So this begs the question, “Then why not go ahead and call up Guinness to record our new sinning record? After all, choosing to act on sin won’t change my identity in Christ.” Paul knew the Romans would ask something on the lines as this. So he made clear that our perfect spirits weren’t made to sin, as in, sin will never match up or feel right permanently no matter how much we do it! Just look:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1,2)
Again, this is another passage that is used by the self-centered Christians to try to make others think we will never sin. And again, a moronic idea in the fullest. God does not grade us on a curve. We must be perfect, and that can only come by way of being reborn in the spiritual realm (see John 3:7).
Paul is saying, “Listen, you are now an eagle! I know you were born a chicken, but you are not a chicken any longer! Why would you want to sit in that barnyard with those other chickens, pecking around on the ground?! You were made for more! You are regal! Stop acting like someone you’re not! You weren’t made for KFC buckets, you were made to soar!”
Now, can an eagle stare at the ground and act like a flightless bird? Sure. But just because an eagle chooses to do something so stupid, that will never change its DNA structure. It’s an eagle. Period. Forever. Same with us as reborn children of God! We are heavenly spirits! We are saints! Not by what we do, but by birth!
Friend, once we shed this flesh-shell and are removed from this fallen planet–which still has the power of sin floating around–only then will we be completed in our bodies because we’ll get new bodies! We will get a body like Jesus had after He rose again! Poppin’ out of thin air, walking through walls, and floating up into the sky and stuff! It’ll be awesome! (See 1 Corinthians 15:35-58). But for now, this is the tool God has given to us to use for Him. We do this by simply being ourselves! (See Romans 6:13).
So lastly, what is the soul? Our soul is the customizable part of us. It is our mind, free will, and emotions. Another way to look at our soul is this: it’s our thinker, our chooser, and our feeler. Our souls are constantly changing and growing depending on whether or not we are being our true selves–or by letting sin reign in our flesh. When we let sin have its way with our flesh, our flesh and spirit stay in constant contradiction to each other (see Galatians 5:16-26). Our soul is effected negatively when this happens.
Plainly stated, your soul is what expresses you at any point in time, but it doesn’t define you. Your spirit defines you. Your soul gives off a flavor of you at any particular moment, but that taste does not change your substance. Your thoughts, choices, and emotions, they all ebb and flow, but your spirit remains steady. No matter what’s going on in your soul–happy, sad, mad, glad, indifferent–you are still a child of God! Your identity is not based on how you feel, think, or act!
This is why you must divorce your spirit from your flesh and soul. Never mix up your who with your do because they are not the same. Incorrect attitudes and actions are not coming from your perfect spirit, but from the flesh and soul. Once we understand this, the gospel begins to make a lot more sense because we can comprehend what Jesus has done inside of us permanently.
So today, my friends, know this: God gave you your flesh so that you can be a part of this physical world. He gave you your soul so that you can enjoy this world and make your own choices. One of those choices He longs for you to make is to believe Jesus has forgiven you. As for your spirit, God made you a spirit so that you can live on forever in heaven with Him. But not just that, He also made you a spirit so that He can come and live with you, right now, today.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me the truth of my own trinity, my body, soul, and spirit. With this knowledge, I understand so much more about myself and your grace. I ask that you continue to teach me more so that I can go deeper into your wisdom. Thank you. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them have been taught that their poor choices define them, and they do not. I ask that you open up their minds to the truth of their spiritual perfection! Teach them that as believers, you now live in them, and they’ve been completely remade for good! Now that they know this truth, help them to live it out as they simply be themselves in Christ! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!