Welcome to week 2 of Spirit, Soul, and Body! Last week we learned that God made us triune beings and studied our spirits. If you haven’t read that post yet, I recommend doing that before you move on to this one.
We are learning about our souls today. I am so excited to dive into this! I think this is one of the least understood areas for Christians, but has enormous potential to set us free and keep us healthy.
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,'” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV).
How in the world are we supposed to love God with all of our soul if we don’t know what that is?! Here is what we need to understand about our souls:
- Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The word “soul” comes from the Greek word “psuché“. It is where the words “psyche” and “psychology” come from. It means, “a person’s distinct identity (unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.” It is all of the stuff that makes us who we are. Our temperament, personality, thoughts, and feelings come from our soul.
Last week we learned that the word “spirit” in scripture is synonymous with “heart.” In the same way, the word “soul” is synonymous with “mind, will, and emotions.”
- Mind: what we think.
- Will: what we want.
- Emotions: what we feel.
“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am— praise His holy name,” (Psalm 103:1 VOICE).
2. Our souls are being saved. Remember the Robert Morris quote from last week? “The spirit is saved, the soul is being saved, and the body will be saved.” Our spirit is saved the moment we invite Jesus to be our Lord and savior. But our soul is “being saved” because it needs to go through the process of sanctification. That process never ends until we die. God is always transforming us and making us look more like Christ.
Our minds, wills, and emotions desperately want their own way. Because of the fall (Genesis 3), we aren’t naturally programmed to choose God’s way. We are bent towards sin and have to be trained and corrected to line up with His standard. That process takes place in our souls:
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV).
“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you],” (Romans 12:2 AMP).
3. Our spirit has authority over our soul. Knowing that our soul is our mind, will, and emotions is extremely helpful when we also know that those elements of our personality do not get to define us. They help shape us and give us our God-given individuality, but God’s Spirit in us is what defines us.
I am a firm believer in being vulnerable and sharing (with a trusted few) what is going on in our lives. Thoughts and emotions aren’t meant to be swept under the rug or ignored. They help us to figure out what is going on and where we need to focus our attention. Healing comes from confessing them and bravely asking for prayer (James 5:16). BUT… When we allow our mind, will, and emotions (which can be negativity manipulated by the enemy) to become our identity, we are not living the life that Jesus paid for. We are over-comers and victorious through Christ whether we feel like we are or not:
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31 NASB).
“But despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us,” (Romans 8:37 TLB).
“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory,” (Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV).
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13 ESV).
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus,” (Romans 6:6-11 NLT).
I know that’s a lot of scripture, but we need to see what God says about us so that we build our identities upon His truth.
“God’s Word is perfect in every way; how it revives our souls! His laws lead us to truth, and his ways change the simple into wise,” (Psalm 19:7 TPT).
It is totally normal to experience negative feelings and thoughts as we go through difficult circumstances, but we are responsible to make sure that we don’t stay there. I used to say this quote all the time: “It’s ok to not be ok.” But then realized that so many of us camp out in our “not ok-ness” and make it our home. The truth is, it is totally ok for us to not be ok but it’s not ok for us to stay there! Say that 10 times fast! 🙂 We have to train our souls to line up to God’s Word and boss our feelings around. My pastor actually just wrote an amazing book about this. You can preorder it now here.
You can’t research the soul and not look at King David’s life. The Psalms are a beautiful example of him being honest with God about how he was doing, while at the same time, pulling his soul into alignment:
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water,” (Psalm 63:1 NLT).
“So I say to my soul, ‘Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me.’ Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!” (Psalm 42:11 TPT).
Here is how I train my soul:
- Journaling – without taking the time to ask myself what I am thinking and feeling, I just go and go and then burn out. I have learned that I have to stop and acknowledge what’s actually happening in my soul so that I can take it to the Lord. David’s example shows us that God can handle our mind, will, and emotions- He made them after all! He just expects us to submit them to Him. Journaling helps me to process where I am and then ask God what He has to say about it. I encourage you to journal and ask yourself, “How’s my soul? What do I think? What do I want? What do I feel?” Then see what God has to say about those things. Feel free to print off this journaling guide and use it in your time with Jesus.
2. Telling myself “No” – don’t throw things at me! I know this isn’t fun! If a part of our soul is our will, then we have to make sure that our will isn’t spoiled. I have a very strong-willed daughter and I learned early on with her that, if she feels like she is in control, she will walk all over her authority figures. Our wills are strong and prone to bucking authority too. It’s good for us to recognize that we are not in control and really don’t know better than everyone else. God is in control and He knows what is best. Do you catch yourself wanting to look at things that aren’t good for you? Tell yourself “no”. Do you want to gossip so that you feel empowered? Tell yourself “no”. Do you want to wallow in self pity? Tell yourself “no”. We don’t just get to do what we want. Remember that we have authority over our souls and can tell them what to think, want, and feel.
The world teaches us to let our feelings and thoughts rule us- that we should change who we are based on what we feel. That’s simply not God’s way. Our feelings lie to us and are constantly changing. God’s Word should set the tone and it never changes. Our souls have to be trained to be healthy.
There are a couple more points that I would like for us to cover about our souls so, we will continue our study next week. Today laid a foundation for you to understand what your soul is and that you have authority over it. Let’s choose to train our souls and walk in freedom.