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 A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology


Scriptures & Faith 1 Spirit, Soul & Body

English & Greek

Moses writing the first five books of the bible wrote in Genesis “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”1 (Genesis 3:7)

καὶ ἔπλασεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον χοῦν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐνεφύσησεν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνοὴν ζωῆς, καὶ ἐγένετο ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν.2

The apostle Paul in writing to the church at Thessalonica wrote these words “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.”3 (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

αυτος δε ο θεος της ειρηνης αγιασαι υμας ολοτελεις και ολοκληρον υμων το πνευμα και η ψυχη και το σωμα αμεμπτως εν τη παρουσια του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου τηρηθειη. πιστος ο καλων υμας ος και ποιησει.4

Hebrew Genesis 3:7

וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ ֣אֲדָמָ֔הוַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃

Spirit, Soul & Body

In the Greek pneuma (πνευ̂μα), the spirit refers to the “breath” of life. The Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for “spirit” comes from the root word pnoe (πνοή), akin to pneo, “to blow,” lit., “a blowing,” signifies (a) “breath, the breath of life.5 This same word is used in the Septuagint (Greek 3rd century Old Testament) which is the Greek word (πνοὴν) in the passage from Genesis 3:7.

In the Greek psuche (ψυχή), the soul, or life, is rendered “heart” in Eph. (6:6).6
It is the same Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. It denotes the seat of the personality as well as the power of volition (choosing}.

In the Greek soma (σωμα) is “the body as a whole, the instrument of life,” whether of man living, e.g., Matt. 6:22, or dead, Matt. 27:52; or in resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:44; or of beasts, Heb. 13:11; of grain, 1 Cor. 15:37-38; of the heavenly hosts, 1 Cor. 15:40.7

This introduction is simply a beginning into the same subject matter which psychology claims to be concerned with, but from Biblical textual sources, both in English as well as Greek and where applicable Hebrew. The obvious big difference is in the dichotomy of what constitutes a man. In psychology a man is two parts; soul and body. Whereas biblically a man is Spirit, Soul & Body. The passages of scriptures above are all in the Greek. This is to make it possible to correlate linguistically between New and Old Testament Scriptures. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New testament was written in Greek. I will include the Hebrew text underneath the Greek Old Testament translation of the Old Testament and where I think it necessary I will give any explanations which seem relevant.The Greek translation of the Old Testament is know as the LXX or the Septuagint and was originally translated from Hebrew (Aramaic) 350 years BC at the time of many of the famous Greek philosophers.

The above Scriptures and their Greek Old and New Testament equivalencies are not presented as fully as they could be. For example the Greek word used for body in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is different to the word “dust” used in Genesis 3:7. Clearly this is because Genesis is dealing with the original “material” of the body from which the body was “moulded”. Whereas 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is an apriori conception of what the body itself is as a living biological entity after God breathed into the “form” of man, the breath of life. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is speaking of “living” people whose bodies were clearly post Genesis 3:7. Whereas Genesis 3:7 is a narrative of how the body came into existence as an biological entity as well as the original material used.

1. ASV
2 Septuaginta (Stuttgart)
4 Tischendorf, C (1997) Greek New Testament
5 Vine, W E Dictionary of New & Old Testament Word
6. Vine, W E Dictionary of New & Old Testament Word
7. Vine, W E Dictionary of New & Old Testament Word

To Be Continued

 2012/12/4 4:27

Joined: 2008/5/23
Posts: 605
Monroe, LA - USA

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

This is a great subject to study. Thanks for bringing it to the forum. Several years ago, I was greatly helped with this subject by the writings of Watchman Nee. I got interested because a new Christian asked me "what is the difference between the soul and the spirit". I had to study A LOT to come up with somewhat of an understanding in order to try to answer the question.

So many topics as that are very deep, and require much study for even a tiny grasp of understanding of the subject. None of us with our finite minds ever reach a full understanding of such infinite things ... we just grope for understanding and God gives us grace!

Michael Strickland

 2012/12/4 11:08Profile

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

Spirit, Soul & Body

Human Science 1 Behavioural Psychology

It is important to understand that generalised psychology, as a broad subject of systematic enquiry has many roots which have produced a tree of great breadth and height. It has yielded fruits which are pleasing to the eye of the natural man, food to the natural man and able to make the natural man wise. If this were being written for the natural man it would serve no useful purpose. However if a new creature in Christ reads it and gives thought to the potential of what is being spoken, as well as its reality, then it may produce a good effect.

This is because the influence of psychological thinking today (now that the “tree” is bearing Its seasoned fruit) is profound, far reaching and has serious implications for believers who may be unaware of these things. I feel certain that I will share nothing whatsoever which is new. Others will have dealt with this problem far better than I am able to do. Precisely because of this, I persist in seeking to address this difficult subject without referencing others. Also I do not believe in a cut and paste approach to ministry, to do so would be a contradiction to my conscience. If the central tenet of this short article is to have any merit then let it have merit. If not then let it fall to the ground. Nothing others have said will serve to persuade me to disregard or neglect that which the Lord Himself puts on my heart and I care nothing for what men think of this attitude. Moreover if all we ever do is quote others as though somehow we understand the deeper reality at hand then we are not ministers of Christ but intellectual parrots and charlatans.

The subject and application of psychology emphatically represents a union between men and the prince of the power of the air. It is a union which itself has its roots at the very dawn of this age, in the garden of Eden. For this reason alone I reject psychology and all subjects in humanities precisely because they are of an agreement innocently entered into by one man, Adam and therefore are implicitly not of God. The fact that so many believers have based their ministries in and make intellectual assertions taken from the air and through books of so-called learning, simply demonstrates that they have eaten the seasoned fruit without either comprehending the fruit, the tree, or its roots. If those who “serve” in this way insists that this is not the case then I would say it is because they themselves are yet of the same root which they drew upon from their youth. In short they are yet mere men. To add to that premise let me say straight forwardly if you hold another view or if this admission offends you then turn to the next post as this one is not for you.

I could say that I am grateful for having had an opportunity to study psychology at university. However this would be a half truth. The reality is that I continuously rebuked my professors Dr Terry Johnson and Dr David Field and other lecturers for their monstrous attitude to God and demanded to know by what authority they spoke of Him in such terms when they did speak of Him. I discerned a complete mortal contradiction in psychology, criminology and sociology with biblical truth then in 1987, and today I comprehend more of its substance. Then it was simply childish faith, today it is a more “patient” man. Finally, apart from the many books which I was required to read at university I have read nothing since, nor have I read anything on that which represents the root of this conceptual presentation. Only one man will I give recognition to after Christ and the many men of Scriptures, and that is Watchman Nee whose teaching ministry first gave me the ability to make sense of the inner struggle I had when reading psychology in the 1980’s.

The Roots:

In speaking of the roots of psychology one can easily say that they range from ancient Greek thinkers in the Graeco-Roman world through to the 19th century when psychology took a very different direction from what may be legitimately identified through ancient and near middle age philosophy and physiology literature, to what is now claimed to be more empirically based in observational psychology. It should be noted that animals as well as human beings are interrelated in this schema, so that dogs, rats and chickens are just as valid observational subjects as are little children. Behavioural psychology believes that what is true for a dog is just as true for a man, at least at a psycho-physiological level. It would seem that psychology has ”grown up” as it were, and now thinks itself sufficiently advanced in scientific methodologies to dispense with its roots in philosophy and cognitive reasoning and has become a pure empirical science producing theories of human behaviour which are “proven” to be true. This is a deception of course but it suits psychologists to believe this as it sets them in a class of their own, and legitimises their self seeking status as “priests” of behaviour.

Despite this maturation, psychology is still an infidel as far as truth is concerned because it is only able to address that which its philosophical roots were able to conceive of, and to which it is irrevocably tied. This being the dichotomy of a man as soul and body, rather than a true understanding arising from Scriptural revelation and knowledge that a man is Spirit, Soul & Body. In my presentation, historical psychology has three principle divisions out of which a fourth can be identified. The fourth being implicit in the formal development of psychology as an independent empirical subject attending to its effect and satan’s ambition to be worshipped as true God. In balance, one would have to say that psychology is a contributing factor and not the sum of this effect. Other subjects have been cross informed and in their own right have contributed to the wickedness of the day we live in.

Western Time Line

1. Graeco-Roman World & European Renaissance 6th Century BC - 14th Century AD
2. Emergent Modern World 14th Century AD - 18th (1774) Century AD
3. Industrial Age 18th Century (1750) AD - 1859 AD
4. Post Industrial - Emergent Post Modern World - The Fullness of Lawlessness.

It is important to understand that these time line distinctions are merely to provide a framework for thinking about the subject matter. They do have significance beyond providing a frame work in which to work, but this significance is better drawn out as a separate presentation because it is a spiritual significance and attends to the prince of the power of the air and the god of this world, and not just the world itself. Although it is inevitable that one would have to allude to this “spiritual” implication, the actual business of presenting spiritual truth is better done non-apologetically. The fact that we live in this present age and not in the past demands that we look at the historical claims of psychology to better understand its scope of reason and enquiry. This is because psychology is academically presented today, as having longevity and therefore by implication integrity for asserting that its roots lie in the ancient world where pure science existed and where thoughts about humanity; which is the principle subject of psychology, are empirically, and therefore scientifically valid. It is possible to say that psychology does have its roots in the ancient Roman world with Greek philosophical thinkers, but it would be spurious to say that in essence this claim presented by historical psychology is as valid as the similar claim, that pure science is valid such as mathematics, physics, or else astronomy. These also also have their roots in many of the same thinkers. In fact, it would be necessary to assert emphatically that in so far as the psuche (soul) is concerned, the ancient world was in this regard interested in the soul principally, and by reasonable deduction of the soul its attendance to the physical body as well.

For example; whilst mathematics as a cognitive and empirical science has developed throughout the ages. The basic, underlying cognitive reason and subsequent empirical evidence of mathematical theory from the ancient world still remains true today. It is also true to say that the historical roots of psychology arising from the philosophies of the ancient world, still remain in the air and are still implicit in every fabric of its foundation, its emphatic denial of the reality of God, and its dichotomous presentation of man as being soul and body, rather than Spirit, Soul & Body.

Regarding Pure Science:

The Pythagorean Equation is just as true now as it was when it was first expressed. The Pythagorean equation relates the sides of a right triangle in a simple way, so that if the lengths of any two sides are known the length of the third side can be found. Another corollary of the theorem is that in any right triangle, the hypotenuse is greater than any one of the legs, but less than the sum of them. A generalisation of this theorem is the [[law of cosines]], which allows the computation of the length of the third side of any triangle, given the lengths of two sides and the size of the angle between them. If the angle between the sides is a right angle, the law of cosines reduces to the Pythagorean equation.

This same empirical and theoretical validity can be seen across all pure sciences and most have their roots in the ancient world. Only technological advances in observational instruments such as varieties of scopes, measuring devices, as well as the use of mechanical computational instruments has made a significant difference in the last 500 years to the breadth and development of pure science, particularly in the last 100 years due to the development of the 80286 and micro-channel IBM computer architecture. Although all human sciences claim this same integrous link, the true root is a philosophical one and not an emphatic empirical one so far as behavioural psychology is concerned. As a matter of academic reality the claims that early philosophical thinkers were empirically based in physiology is absurd.

The Tree:

It is necessary to recognise that we ourselves must not take our present understanding or else the intended meaning of psychological thinking today precisely from the historical root. What is widely accepted today as legitimate psychology bears almost no resemblance in purpose or character to what was by reason of the subject material (Body & Soul) of the early thinkers in their day. However psychology does have philosophical as well as empirical roots in the past. This includes ancient as well as renaissance thinkers. In reality however I would say that what is called behavioural psychology today did not begin to emerge until the 18th century. This can be principally attributed to Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer. This is a subject in itself and I will post it separately. It is equally necessary to resist a teleological attitude when looking at historical thinkers and writers and attribute to their words modern meanings and understandings. In short, psychology if it is to be proven reasonable, must not falsely draw on ancient philosophies as justification for present claims in the same way pure science can. Nevertheless behavioural psychology was laid on a foundation of beliefs in the ancient world and middle world which had as much to do with Athenian Theism (atheism or the denial of God himself) as it had to do with valid philosophical enquiries in an age in which God Himself had already established the shadow of things to come in the full visibility of the nations (Israel).

The distinctions between the four ages I have drawn represent in the first three distinct ages in continuum, both in human history as well as correspondingly in the development of human sciences as opposed to pure science. This gives rise to a fourth age in which we now live and this age is by my reasoning and calling, the age of the revealing of the man of sin. Intellectually it is called post modernism, in occult circles it is the age of aquarius and in biblical revelation it is the age of lawlessness. The connection of the ancient world, the renaissance world and the industrial age is implicit by virtue of empirical knowledge taken from ancient philosophers, renaissance contributors and industrial rationalist and thinkers. Whilst these three ages are uniform with regard to their roots in ancient Greek philosophical thinking and are easily investigated, a conceptual paradigm of thought by reason of their effect and intentions in each age has produced an outcome of distinct effect. This forms a “new” paradigm and needs careful analysis. One could say that this fourth effect or paradigm is the age of the Fullness of Rebellion against God.

It would be possible to say that the ancient world of Socratic, Platonic and Aristotelian thinking was primarily philosophical and emergent empirical-rational, the renaissance world was philosophical, pseudo-rational as well as emergent-individualistic and the industrial world was essentially rational, individualistic and increasingly empirically deterministic. These three constructs which I have developed have given rise to the present post industrial world in which we presently live. Everything has changed in the last 60 or 70 years beyond any possible chronological recognition even taken from the best empirical insights into ancient artefacts and texts. To arrive at an understanding of what is believed today in human sciences and why it is necessary to comprehend in simplicity the three ages as stated; as well as their links in ancient philosophy in particular, and the subsequent rise of philosophical reason and enlightenment, it is necessary to at least observe the relevant links as claimed by academics themselves as well as to demonstrate that the link is more often in the minds of men, than in true knowledge. The assumption here is that the science of humanity had chronological integrity and validity in the same way pure science has.

The Fruit:

This introduction is not intended to have academic merit. It does not have academic merit nor should anyone imagine it to have. Although I have drawn upon a recollection of resources which are themselves academically competent, it is not my intention to present a particular academic view. The sole purpose is to extract an understanding which would reasonably amount to a way of looking at generalised theories. The motive is to claim that human sciences are not fact in the same way pure science is fact. It is to simplistically draw from the example of pure science the chronological continuity of its substance in human societies across the ages. This is something which cannot be done or said of human sciences other than by reason of the underlying paradigm which philosophy has provided. Human sciences affect our thinking and therefore behaviour, beliefs about life and self, more than is easily understood. In the end it is to reference this world of darkness and thereby draw attention to the kingdom of light by exposing the fraudulence of this world and to declare the wonderful truth and validity of Christ and His Kingdom.

Every element of the visible and invisible universe belongs to God. It is only in the vanity of men’s minds that this world is light and in this light, (which is in truth darkness), blackest darkness has taken a fuller position in this age, which asserts that man is the centre and God is completely excluded from this process. If this was simply a matter of understanding the world in which we live, it would be of little merit and would be better set aside in favour of a heart desire to know God’s will and to comprehend His purposes. Indeed for this man and many others as well, it is already set aside in favour of truth. If such an enquiry however serves to give rise to a need to be taught of God, it will produce a life of obedience. In this we will see that even the very fabric of our bodies and minds are flawed and cannot comprehend God or His ways. We may observe angels and have visions yet these too will not produce obedience or prove a faithful outcome.

Grievously, the churches themselves are saturated in worldly thinking, whilst believing that God Himself is unconcerned and even pleased with our efforts. Until we understand that the world is the darkness and the light is Christ Himself, in us by faith, we may never see the imperative to repent of that way of thinking, which to our natural minds seems quiet reasonable and profitable. Even though we are light in this darkness of the world, and if Christ by the Holy Ghost is indeed in us and we have a living faith and a new spirit, we may still nevertheless walk in the darkness of our natural minds and never truly know how to walk in the light of Christ. This is not judgement, but discernment. It is not condemnation, but a desire to show mercy and the love of the Father through Christ. It is my assertion that the key to understanding in a reasonable mind the deeper truths of faithful sonship, requires the understanding of the truth that a man is made of three distinct yet unified parts. These are Spirit, Soul & Body. The world which we have so easily loved denies this and its denial is implicitly woven into every fabric of western civilisation so that from our first breath we have been taught it. In this sense having been taught of the world we may still walk as of the world and not dress in readiness for the Lord Jesus and His coming kingdom in visibility.

The Hope:

There is coming a day when it will not be necessary to even speak of this world at all because some at least will speak so as to provide an end time compulsion to obedience and true faithfulness according to God’ calling. Until that hour comes we have to settle for the crumbs. May the fullness of time soon be upon us so that we may all know the liberty of the sons of God and the true substance of our purpose and present calling in Christ Jesus as servants and not lords. If we cannot set aside our affection for that which is enmity with the Father in heaven, we will suffer loss. If we do not receive by way of a heavenly witness the true condition of the flesh and its implications for being yet taught by the prince of the power of the air, we are already suffering loss. That loss of ours is more Christ’ loss because He loved us even unto death. Simply speaking the truth will not produce its fruit without obedience. Knowledge will not produce obedience at all. Only the revelation of God will convince us that this world and all its men are wrong unless they have spoken according to that which is true according to God and not the ruler of this present darkness. All the men we need to take note of in simplicity are written in the Scriptures and if we read what they were able to write by God’s grace and purposes, we will have sufficiency. In that knowledge, our own spirits will bear witness with our mind and our mind will agree to the putting to death of the body by the removal of Christ’s own body on the cross. If not then our very mind and body will be yet evidence of our once father of disobedience and rebellion even yet working in us.

Knowledge is vain if it is not met with a mind of obedience in truth.

 2012/12/7 16:55

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

This is a great subject to study. Thanks for bringing it to the forum. Several years ago, I was greatly helped with this subject by the writings of Watchman Nee. I got interested because a new Christian asked me "what is the difference between the soul and the spirit". I had to study A LOT to come up with somewhat of an understanding in order to try to answer the question.

So many topics as that are very deep, and require much study for even a tiny grasp of understanding of the subject. None of us with our finite minds ever reach a full understanding of such infinite things ... we just grope for understanding and God gives us grace! Lordoitagain.

Thank you for your encouragement brother. One of the things I have gained from the ministry of SermonIndex has been the realisation that revival when it comes is all about God Himself. Revival I now see clearly will bring a compulsion like no other. It will also separate men. For those who cannot resists the compulsion of God in such a time it will be an incompressible blessing and a time of true wonder and praise of God and Christ. I prefer that to any amount of reason, yet reason cannot be dispensed with in a reasonable mind of Christ until that hour comes. Nee was a great teacher he had such a gift to state profound and difficult things reasonably and well grounded in Scripture. The only deep concern I have in all of this is the realisation that some men really can and do resist God. That is truly fearful.

 2012/12/8 4:39

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

Saving or loosing the soul!

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds. Matthew 16:24-27 ASV.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:24-27 ESV

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Matthew 16:24:27 NASB

Before we can begin to make sense of these three passages of Scripture, representing three translations of the bible (ASV, ESV & NASB) there is one thing which we have to be able to believe. Are we saved by faith and faith through good works? What does the Scripture mean when it speaks of “being saved?” Finally what is salvation? This may seem like three questions but they are in substance the very same answer and therefore carry the same meaning.

Biblically salvation is not a thing or an experience. It is essentially a life relationship with God through Christ. More accurately salvation is Christ Himself. To believe that we are saved must of necessity mean that we have believed into Christ Jesus. It must mean that we have believed with such power that as a consequence God has imparted the life of Christ into us and at the same time we ourselves become “in Christ”. The power which makes this possible is faith to believe in Him. It is a gift from God and it has life changing consequences. The life which is changed is our own life, but it is more than just a change of mind, or a feeling or even a matter of our own will because in that instant we have agreed with the witness of God that we are sinners and that Christ died for us and was raised from the dead.

In the first instance this changed life is a spiritual change. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” So in the first instance it is our spirit which is changed. It is changed by being made alive. We were once dead in trespasses and sins and then we became alive to God and Christ by the Holy Spirit working in us. The life which our spirit received at this instant is not simply a spiritual life but it is the very life of Christ Himself. Yes our spirit is made “alive” but it is made alive by Christ Himself indwelling us by the Holy Spirit. From this moment we are no longer separate from God, alone and without hope, we are in a life relationship with God in Christ and Christ henceforth lives in us.

If we agree with this claim then we also have to agree that it is the power of faith to believe which results in our being born again and thereby being saved.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:6-13 NASB

In this passage from John chapter 1 this “being saved” is expressed in a different way, yet it is the same in meaning as that which we all agree with. The word “right” in this passage in the greek is exousia (ἐξουσία). In english it is the root of the word excused or permitted. “I needed to be “excused” in order to believe.” It could also in context of the passage be said “I needed a reason to believe.” The reason is the “true Light”. Or it could be said “I needed the “power” to believe.” Or it could be “I needed the “light” to believe.” Finally it could be said “I needed “faith” to believe.” In literal translation the word exousia (ἐξουσία) means “being given the right, ability and power” to become something else. This something else is “to become the children of God.” This means “born of God.” Lastly the qualifying condition to receive this power is “receive Him” and “believe in His Name.”

In view of all this wonderful reality we would have to ask what Jesus intended us to mean by His words in the passage from Matthew 16:24-27. After all Jesus is telling us that we have to lose our lives in order to find our lives. Not only this but Jesus is telling us that if we save our lives we will lose our lives. If you think about this these words of the Lord don’t appear to make any rational sense. How can a person who seeing His light and believing in His Name, resulting in being saved, then just lose their lives because they have saved their lives by faith. Please try to understand this brethren, believing in Jesus is not something which God Himself forces on anyone. He desires it, He longs for it as it were, and He makes it possible, yet in the end He requires a response from the “man.” This response may be many things outwardly but inwardly it must be a “will” and a desire to receive Christ according to God’ will, by a power of faith given to make it possible to actually receive Him. Therefore how reasonable is it when Jesus said “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it?”

Perhaps one reason why we are disinclined to look into this too much is because these words of the Lord are preceded by the words “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” they are also followed by a sort of explanation as to what might be at the root of the difficult meaning of “lose” and “save”. “For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?” Then just to give the flesh that little push over the edge we read “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.” To the natural mind there is no doubt that these verses about cross bearing, gaining the whole world and the Son of Man rendering unto everyman according to his deeds, just doesn’t work for the flesh. It shrinks back and looks for any meaning other than the implication in the words themselves.

To make sense of this we need only remember that though we are born again it is the spirit that is born of the Spirit. The natural mind doesn’t get born again. It has to be renewed. The whole encouragement of the Lord is predicated on a willingness not only to believe in Him, but a willingness to follow after Him (Lit: to go the same way) and this means the cross and not seeking to gain the whole world, and it means loosing ones life in order to find it again. The only thing we really need to understand is how do we lose our lives and what does it mean to find it again?

The words which are difficult in all of this are life, save and lose.

Matthew 16:24-27 Novum Testamentum Graece

τοτε ο ιησους ειπεν τοις μαθηταις αυτου ει τις θελει οπισω μου ελθειν απαρνησασθω εαυτον και αρατω τον σταυρον αυτου και ακολουθειτω μοι ος γαρ εαν θελη την ψυχην αυτου σωσαι απολεσει αυτην ος δ αν απολεση την ψυχην αυτου ενεκεν εμου ευρησει αυτην τι γαρ ωφεληθησεται ανθρωπος εαν τον κοσμον ολον κερδηση την δε ψυχην αυτου ζημιωθη η τι δωσει ανθρωπος ανταλλαγμα της ψυχης αυτου μελλει γαρ ο υιος του ανθρωπου ερχεσθαι εν τη δοξη του πατρος αυτου μετα των αγγελων αυτου και τοτε αποδωσει εκαστω κατα την πραξιν αυτου

The word “life” mentioned 5 times in verses 25 and 26 is psuche (ψυχην). It is literally the mind, emotions and the will. The word “save” in verse 25 is σωσαι from the root word sozo (σώζω). It literally means to preserve ones soul. One variant of the root word means healing or wholeness. The word “lose” in verse 25 is απολεση and comes from the root apollumi (ἀπόλλυμι). It means to be destroyed. Given that the thing which will be destroyed pertains to the psuche or soul then it speaks of having ones mind disturbed or else ones emotions disturbed or being dealt with contrary to what you yourself would want at that moment. In context when Jesus returns do you have a mind to be with Him in His kingdom, to enjoy the kingdom and do you want (will) to be in the kingdom? The word “find” in verse 25 is ευρησει from the root heurisko (εὑρίσκω). It literally means to discover something. To put it into context. When the Lord returns do you want to discover that you are rejected from entering into the kingdom or do you want to discover that you are welcomed as a faithful servant? The English word heuristic comes from this greek word and it means to find by discovering or searching.

It needs to be said that we don’t have the natural ability in ourselves either to believe into Jesus and we don’t have the natural ability to follow after Him either and go the way of the cross. Even if we catch sight of how precious these things are we really don’t want to be found having fabricated the whole thing ourselves. The heart itself is wicked and more deceitful than we are able to know or comprehend (Jeremiah 17:9). Our only hope lies in yielding ourselves in obedience to Christ Himself and allowing Him to work in us according to His perfect will and good pleasure. In this we will become rich participants with Christ beyond our present comprehension and in that we will find ample satisfaction for our souls when we find ourselves with Him in His Kingdom where He is King of Kings and we are become the manifest sons of the living God.

We clearly need to be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven when Christ returns. We know from Revelation that this kingdom of our God and Saviour will be for a thousand years. That’s an awful long time to wait until you finally get to comprehend if your name is written in the Book of Life if you find yourself rejected and in distress of your soul when Christ returns. There are two types of gain in the Matthew passage. They are gaining the whole world or gaining the kingdom. Choose now which you desire. Will it be your own prosperity, comfort, pleasure and satisfaction of the soul; an easy life of self interest. Or else choose the way of the cross, deny yourself and gain the kingdom.

If health, wealth and prosperity still sound good to you then may God have mercy on you even as we should all ask for mercy and an opportunity to serve faithfully according to God and not a man. Amen and Peace.

 2012/12/13 1:34

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3:5-8. ASV

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8. ESV

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8. NASB

Clearly it would be foolish to seek to assert that their is a distinction between spirit, soul and body if I were to only look at one part of this dichotomy and neglect all the parts. Similarly it would be foolish to assert that not being mindful of this distinction may carry profound consequences for believers if the dichotomy is not fully made reasonable.

απεκριθη ιησους αμην αμην λεγω σοι εαν μη τις γεννηθη εξ υδατος και πνευματος ου δυναται εισελθειν εις την βασιλειαν των ουρανων το γεγεννημενον εκ της σαρκος σαρξ εστιν και το γεγεννημενον εκ του πνευματος πνευμα εστιν μη θαυμασης οτι ειπον σοι δει υμας γεννηθηναι ανωθεν το πνευμα οπου θελει πνει και την φωνην αυτου ακουεις αλλ ουκ οιδας ποθεν ερχεται και που υπαγει ουτως εστιν πας ο γεγεννημενος εκ του πνευματος John 3:5-8 Novum Testamentum Graece.

The words which I want to look at from this passage in John are: water, born, flesh, spirit and Spirit.

The greek word for water in this passage υδατος which comes from the root hudor (ὕδωρ). It is translated water and is used in a number of ways, but it is always literally representative of the elemental substance, water. The English word Hydro comes from the greek root. Contextually it may be used to denote the fact that whilst still in the womb we were sustained in water. Just as the physical heart is surrounded by amniotic water so we see that when the Lord was “pierced” blood and water (John 19:34) flowed through the wound, speaking that His amniotic sack had been pierced in order to “pierce His heart” for our sakes. It is also used in the context of the Lord’ baptism with water by John. It is the same elemental water which was used when we were baptised with water.

There are five references to being “born” in this passage from John chapter 3: 5-8. The 1st (v5) γεννηθη comes from the root gennao (γεννάω) it means “is born”. The 2nd (v6 i) γεγεννημενον is “what is born”. The 3rd (v6 ii) is also γεγεννημενον. The 4th (v7) is γεννηθηναι and means “to be born”. Finally the 5th (v8) the greek is γεγεννημενος which is translated “who is born”. Clearly all of the syntactical usage is derived from the root with morphological variants which are semantically implicit in the English usage but not necessarily carried in the English usage. The root however is the same in meaning as the word genesis and speaks primarily not to an individual, but of the beginning of something as well as “something” after the likeness of its beginning. This does of course apply to individuals but its contextual and semantic emphasis means it could be written “all humanity is of the flesh of Adam, but to enter the kingdom of God a man of Adam needs also to be born of the Spirit of God as well”.

There are two references to the word “flesh” in verse six. The first greek usage (v6 i) is σαρκος which comes from the root word sarx (σάρξ). The second usage (v6 ii) is the root σάρξ itself. Although the word sarx (σάρξ) is used to denote the physical body it is also used morphologically (v6 i) to denote “of the likeness of flesh”. This is the first usage here and semantically carries not only an implication of the substance or physiology of the body, (v6 ii) but the very nature of a man (v6 i). So one could translate this verse “that which is of fleshy Adam is flesh after Adam’ flesh”. In context this verse expressly excludes the spiritual component of a man because the spirit of all men are dead in Adam, after his likeness and therefore all men need to be born again by the Spirit of God in order to become “that which is of the Spirit is spirit” (v6).

Just as the word flesh is used flesh “begotten of flesh” so the word spirit is used in this same way. There are three references to the word spirit. The first is πνευματος and comes from the greek word pneuma (πνευ̂μα). However this first reference (v6 i) speaks of the Holy Spirit. The second usage is πνευμα which in English would read spirit (v6 ii) and would in a prepositional greek form be written “to be spirit”. In the greek it is written πνευματος πνευμα εστιν and would literally be translated “Spirit spirit to be”. To make rational sense of this one would have to give the whole literal transliteration as follows:

το γεγεννημενον εκ της σαρκος σαρξ εστιν και το γεγεννημενον εκ του πνευματος πνευμα εστιν (v6)

“what is born of the flesh flesh is and what is born of the Spirit [to be] spirit is”

The third (v6 iii) reference to spirit in this passage John 3:5-8 is πνευματος. This is the same as (v6 i) in meaning. It speaks of the Holy Spirit.

No where in this passage is the greek word psuche used (soul). What is being spoken about has to do with the condition of all mankind needing to be saved. At a personal level it speaks of an individual needing to have their spirit made alive by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord spoke all of these words and so in them it is possible to see the infallibility of His speech. Just to draw this wonder out a little the word πνει (to blow) is from the same root as the word pnoe (πνοή) of which the word πνοὴν used in Genesis 3:7 in the Septuaginta is translated “blew.” Just as the English “breath of life” makes reference to “and man became a living soul” (Genesis 3:7) here in John 3:8 the word “wind” which blows where it will is the greek word πνευμα denoting spiritual life or the giving of spiritual life. What is lost in Genesis is found by Christ. Even the precise syntax of the Lord’ words in speaking the words “what is born of the Spirit is [to be] spirit is perfect. At that moment the Lord must of necessity speak of that which is “to be” because He was not yet resurrected from the dead. The first man Adam became a living soul, the last man Christ became a life giving spirit.

In sharing this there are personal reasons which inform my understanding according to the flesh of my youth and the wickedness which I ignorantly fell into. This knowledge and the ministry of Watchman Nee which the Lord put into my hand just a few hours after I was saved as well as the years of realising both privately and publicly, in seeking to work out the calling of God, has made me ever more aware of the danger of the times we live in. This reality is true for all who are called and chosen of God, yet despite this reality in all our lives it is still all too easy to fall into deception because of the exceptional day of wickedness which is at the gate.

If the Lord leads me I will return to this thread. Beyond that enough is said here to give anyone an opportunity to seek the Lord about this business of the soul and the spirit as two distinct realities. It is not a reality which unbelievers need have any concern over. They are yet dead. It is something those who are alive in Christ have to work out. Many saints rightly point out that the soul itself is sometimes used in the sarx sense of the word instead of the psuche sense of the word. This is because when the soul itself is governed by the principle of the sinful body (the power of sin) the soul itself becomes like the body. It is only when men and women are driven by their bodies that they easily recognise sin for what it is. Yet when the soul is subjected to the lusts of the flesh, the soul itself will sin. This means the mind and the emotional inclinations and will or volition is brought into slavery once more to the flesh.

The profound danger however lies in a more subtle reality. This is when the soul itself is not denied as a source of power to live as a believer and itself serves to inform and govern both the body bringing it into subjection but denying the power of the soul. This is the root of many spiritual abuses which we all know about and many have experienced. In the end this power of self will behave like a lord and will rob others of their righteous inheritance in Christ. This is a fearful and dangerous place to be. It will result in the strictest judgement of the Lord at His return. Many are there who labour in this way. May the Lord have mercy.

It is also true that the soul is sometimes described in terms of spiritual reality. This too is a simple matter of recognising that when the soul itself is in the obedience of the spirit and walks in it, the soul is itself most beautiful and pleasant. If not and the other reality is prevalent then the soul becomes like a devil.

 2012/12/14 17:06

Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7474


Andrew, long, really long posts...:-)Maybe some Sunday afternoon I can read it all. However, I did read enough to ask you a question.

I heard the following testimony recently and something about it does not sound right. Here it is:

I will call this lady Jane. Jane is suffering from depression and is in therapy online with a Christian therapist. This therapist told Jane that as she reads the Scriptures she needs to note every verse that spoke to ..., write it down, make a list of them. Then, when ever she feels bad she should take another look at these verses. Jane says it helps to lift her depression. This is an ongoing situation.

What thinkest thou?

Sandra Miller

 2012/12/14 20:28Profile

 Re: A Biblical understanding of Sprit, Soul & Body vs The Paradigm of Psychology

Andrew, long, really long posts...:-)Maybe some Sunday afternoon I can read it all. However, I did read enough to ask you a question. 

I heard the following testimony recently and something about it does not sound right. Here it is:

I will call this lady Jane. Jane is suffering from depression and is in therapy online with a Christian therapist. This therapist told Jane that as she reads the Scriptures she needs to note every verse that spoke to ..., write it down, make a list of them. Then, when ever she feels bad she should take another look at these verses. Jane says it helps to lift her depression. This is an ongoing situation.

What thinkest thou? GinnyRose.

From a third party perspective it would be easy to say that Jane is suffering from depression if Jane herself believes she is, because Jane herself may have pressed the point herself to this on-line therapist. I would want to know who told her she was suffering from depression in the first place. I would also want to know whether Jane is really experiencing physical depression or whether she is experiencing anxiety and the attendant neuro-sympathetic responses which give rise to the physical symptoms of depression but which may not actually amount to a physical illness. In short I would need to know if Jane was genuinely physically depressed or not.

Assuming neither position I would simply want to know who Jane really is. Is Jane of the Spirit? Can I share with her wonderful spiritual truths which in hearing them would uplift her spirit! I suppose on the face of it this may be what the therapist has said. “Read the Scriptures and those verses or passages, or else in those moments when God speaks to you, take a note of it”. The business of simply re-reading these or bringing these “relevant” passages to mind may be nothing more than “positive” re-enforcement. It would be good for anyone to read the Scriptures and if they did so faithfully God would surely speak to them. If Jane can’t listen because she is bounded by a profound anxiety or else a genuine physical illness then the first part of reading Scriptures will still do her some good, but the second of re-enforcement would serve no more real purpose than simply repeating over and over again I am not depressed. We may be able to train ourselves but we cant train God!

If the therapist advice to read the Scriptures and then note etc, was more reflective of the “oracular” usage of Scriptures then I would say it amounts to no more than an occultist would do who thought that “the Scriptures” are a good source of knowledge (which of course is true). None of this has to be perceived as sinister, even the word occult in this sense simply means to desire hidden things. Fecal occult blood, for example isn’t sinister it simply means “hidden” blood in ones faeces. It is physical reality if it is true, but without testing for the blood in the faeces it is not seen. Psychology also knows that the mind is “hidden” until it can be physically detected. Chemical changes in the brain and in haematology are real enough. But behavioural psychology at the point of delivery may be nothing more than hot air. If one were to take the statement that the advice having been followed helps then this may be nothing more than operant conditioning.

Expressed in the vernacular it might look like:

“I read the scriptures and God spoke to me through them, wow. Oh no I feel depressed again. Where is that list. Oh yes that verse was good and yes God said this in that moment. Ah I feel good again.”

This is not a cynical way of speaking. It is simply pointing to the fact that what is real (God has spoken) in remembrance does not have to means (God has spoken again) it may simply mean I have learned that (God speaks. I remember that God speaks) and then the mind itself re-enforces the reality (God speaks) to the benefit of the mind and the body itself. This process when pressed through time may make for a delusion. Rather than a list I would say “sister just read the scriptures every day”. This will produce spiritual reality in the end.

I have to say sister this is not spiritual reality. It is psychology. God clearly does speak to men and women through His word. But just remembering those moments, and benefiting from the mercy of God without actually desiring Him more fully to overcome according to His estimation is at best a temporary measure.

Just to say it. I don’t do on-line anything except these posts and this is not a therapy forum. LOL.

 2012/12/15 0:20

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