We must know what the functions of the body are and understand them in order to understand that God works in us from the inside of our spirit and the devil works against us from the outside. Therefore, everything that is of God comes from the inside working out (through our spirit) and everything that is of the devil comes from the outside and works itself in (through our body and soul).
The enemy first tries to enter through the windows of the soul, which are the five physical senses of the body. This process always begins with the enemy trying to attract and gain our attention. Once he has our attention, he will try to awaken one of our body’s basic instincts. As many have already learned, our instincts were corrupted by sin and were transformed into allies of the devil. When the devil awakens an instinct within us, we say that we are being tempted.
Once the devil succeeds in awakening an instinct within our body, the next step is to produce a desire. The desire itself is not yet a sin, just a strong temptation. Temptation may lead to sin, but it is not a sin in itself.
Sin occurs when our desire becomes an intention. Jesus said that the man who looks at a woman with impure intentions has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28). It is much easier to obtain victory over the devil once we understand the way he works. The Word of God teaches us how to keep the body under the control of the spirit:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)
We must offer our body to God and keep it under the discipline of our will that is in turn submitted to God. The body is not properly disciplined through asceticism and humanly imposed religious rigors. It is simply a matter of not yielding to the will of the body. Our body and our soul are that part of our natural being that the New Testament calls “the flesh”. The carnal man lives on the natural level, or the level of the soul and the body.
SOME PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS
God has His purposes in separating the spirit, soul and body. There are practical implications in this separation that we must understand in the light of God’s Word. There are certain attitudes and relationships that we must have and practice in order to experience a victorious Christian life. We must recognize that as three-dimensional beings, each dimension requires a different approach. Therefore:
1. The spirit needs to be exercised
God has already completed His work in our spirit, so we can say that the spirit is ready. However, just as a child may be born perfect, it still needs to be developed. The same is true of our spirit, it is perfect but we must learn how to activate it instead of accessing our soul and body for spiritual life and work.
2. The soul needs to be transformed
This transformation occurs by the renewing of the mind; and it is through this renewal that we can know God’s will. (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:16) There are several metaphors that the Word of God employs to describe the process of this transformation of the soul for example the metamorphosis of being transformed into the image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord, the purification of fire, cleansing of the fuller, the pruning of the vine branches, the molding of the potter and the treading out of winepress among others.
3. The body needs to be disciplined
Paul instructs us to be harsh when disciplining our bodies, subjecting them to servitude in order for us to be approved. (Rom.12:1; 2 Cor. 9:27) Sometimes we must subject ourselves to hunger, lack of sleep, and sacrifice of leisure if necessary to expand the kingdom of God.
4. The three parts of man and the “tenses” of Salvation
Our spirit was regenerated in the past – the life of God was put inside of our spirit. It is like a lamp that was lit. The work is finished. That’s why the Lord said that the spirit is ready (Mt. 26:41).
Our soul is being transformed in the present – God’s goal is that the life in our spirit overflows to our soul to the point of saturating and transforming it.
Our body will be glorified in the future – The pinnacle of God’s work is the manifestation of His children in glory.
5. The three parts of man and the purpose of God
The body points to Egypt – from God’s perspective, sin lives in the body therefore there is no cure. We must get out of Egypt and receive a glorified body.
The soul points to the desert – we need to ask if we are living on the level of the soul or the spirit after being saved. Life in the soul is a dry and fruitless place. To live by the soul is to live in the desert.
The spirit points to Canaan – the Promised Land points towards Christ. God wanted Israel to fully enjoy the good land just as He wants us to enjoy the Lord Jesus today. We already know that the Lord dwells in our spirit; therefore we understand that we also enjoy Him in our spirit.
6. God’s dwelling and the three parts
The body points to the outer courts of the tabernacle.
The soul points to the Holy Place.
The spirit points to the Holy of Holies.
Paul exhorts us to be confident while entering the Holy of Holies as stated in his letter to the Hebrews (10:19). However, where is the Holy of Holies today? The answer is very simple: it is in our spirit. The ark of the Lord is in our spirit and it is through our spirit that God speaks.
Inside every radio there is a receiver. When we tune the radio into a specific frequency, the receiver captures the magnetic waves in the air. The same happens with us. Our spirit is this receiver that captures the spiritual waves that come from God. We synchronize our spirit correctly when we have a broken, contrite and open spirit before God. Beyond cooperating with God in the discipline of the body, the transformation of the soul we must also do our part in accessing and activating our human spirit in order to mature as useful and profitable servants of God.