Understanding Spirit, Soul, And Body
By Andrew Wommack
Did you know a Christian can actually die from sickness or disease while the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lies dormant within them? Or did you know that believers can be overcome with depression, anger, and bitterness, all the while possessing God’s love, joy, and peace in their spirits?
It’s true—they can and they do. Why? Because they really don’t understand what changed when they were born again, and therefore have difficulty receiving the promises of God. The Bible says that every born-again believer has undergone a complete inner transformation.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
It doesn’t say that all things are becoming new or have the potential of becoming new; they are new, the moment you are born again. But in order for that to make sense, you must first understand how God created you.
God’s Word clearly teaches that we are three-part beings, but very few Christians have a functional understanding of spirit, soul, and body in their daily lives. Intellectually, most Christians believe they’re three-part beings, but functionally, they act as though they’re only made up of body and soul. They’re confused about the operation of the soul and spirit, seeing them basically as the same thing.
Even Strong’s Concordance fails to distinguish all three! It defines “spirit” (pneuma in the Greek) as “the rational soul.” However, in my study of God’s Word, I have found a very distinct difference between spirit and soul. Your spirit is your innermost part, not your “rational soul.”
First Thessalonians 5:23 makes it very clear:
“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” (emphasis mine).
If you were talking to me face to face, you’d be looking at my body but speaking to my soul. The word “soul” is defined by some as the mind, will, and emotions. While that’s certainly true, it’s incomplete. The “conscience” should also be included in that definition. The soul is really what most people call the “personality.”
You can feel both your body and your soul and are receiving information from them all the time. For example, if I put my hand on your shoulder, you would know that I touched you. I could also make you feel happy or sad, or even hurt you without any physically contact, simply by the words I speak. Those words are processed by your mind, and the result of their effect is often expressed in your emotions.
It’s easy to know how your body feels, what’s going on in your mind, and what emotions you’re experiencing. However, your spirit is much different. It cannot be accessed in any natural way.
John 3:6 says,
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Jesus meant that there’s no direct connection between the spirit and flesh. They are interrelated, but spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh. You simply cannot contact your spirit through your five senses or through your mind, will, or emotions. Therein lies one of the great problems of the Christian life!
If you don’t understand that spiritual reality can’t be felt, then you’ll be confused when God’s Word declares that you have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead living in you (Eph. 1:19-20). If you think truth can be discerned through your natural senses, you’ll be baffled when the Bible says you’re a brand-new creature who can do the same miraculous works that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:17 and John 14:12).
The apparent disparity between your natural experiences and God’s Word will cause you to throw up your hands in frustration and conclude, “It must not be true.” It’s understanding spirit, soul, and body that unlocks the spirit realm so you can experience who you are and what you have in Christ.
In the natural, the spirit realm can’t be seen or felt; the only way to accurately perceive spiritual truth is through the Bible. Simply take God’s Word and believe it!
Jesus said in John 6:63,
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
God’s Word reveals spiritual reality. If you want to know what your spirit is like, you must find out from the Word, not rely on emotions or other perceptions. God’s Word is spirit and life! When you look at your face in a mirror, you aren’t really seeing yourself; you’re viewing a reflection. Even though it’s only a reflection, you have learned to trust it and act on what you see. God’s Word is just like that mirror: it reflects perfectly who you are in the spirit.
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therin, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:23-25).
You must look into God’s mirror and trust the spiritual reality you see! It reflects your new born-again spirit, your innermost part. However, it does not reflect your body or your soul.
Although full payment has been made for your glorified body through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, you still have a corrupted body. One day it will be redeemed and changed into an incorruptible one. For now, you still must live in the same body you had before you were saved.
Your soul wasn’t saved either. You may have the same thoughts and emotions you had before you were saved. And because of that, some people seriously doubt whether or not they are saved. They don’t understand that the change took place in their spirits. Typically, your body and soul are both impacted by what happens at salvation, but that’s not where the complete change took place.
The good news is you can change your mind. In fact, we are commanded to do so.
Romans 12:2 says,
“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.”
Your soul can be transformed to the degree that you renew your mind, change your attitudes, and conform to the Word of God. This should happen, and it’s in the process of happening, but it didn’t happen automatically when you were saved.
In your soul, old things did not pass away, and all things haven’t yet become new. For that reason, you could actually die from sickness or disease even though you have all of the power that raised Jesus from the dead residing untapped within your spirit. It’s like dying of thirst while leaning against a well full of life-giving water.
Think of your soul like the valve on a faucet. It controls the rate and volume of the flow of the spirit into your body. If your mind is renewed and in agreement with the Word, the valve is wide open. But if it is in agreement with what your body is feeling or your emotions are experiencing, the valve is either closed or in the process of closing.
Your soul has the power to keep every drop of life-giving power from ever reaching your physical body or flooding it with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. If the valve is open, you’ll experience healing, deliverance, anointing, victory, power, joy, prosperity, and more. So, keep it open!
This revelation of the relationship of the spirit, soul, and body has transformed my life. When I realized that God had already given me everything I needed and it’s all contained in my spirit, it set me free. All I needed to do was release it. That simple understanding changes everything.
The Christian life isn’t a process of “getting from God”; it’s a process of renewing the mind and learning to release what you’ve already received.
If you don’t understand that you have already received all that you will ever need (in your spirit) at salvation, there will always be an element of doubt. You may know it’s possible or even promised in the Word, but you’ll be trying to perceive it in the mental, emotional, or physical realm. That’s a formula for failure.
That erroneous concept can also result in a performance-based relationship with God: “If I’m good enough, if I read the Bible enough, if I pay my tithe,” and on and on it goes in an attempt to motivate God to give you what you need. It’s the misconception that God hasn’t already given you everything and that somehow you have to make yourself worthy enough to get it.
You’re already worthy because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. He paid the price for everything you will ever need. In fact, you’ve already got it. It’s just a matter of understanding the relationship of the spirit to the soul and body.
Understanding spirit, soul, and body is critically important to every believer. It’s like the key that opens the treasure chest of God’s grace. It could be a matter of life and death, and it’s the foundation to understanding the rest of Scripture.