Part 1 – In order for us to understand spiritual things we first start with understanding the natural things. Jesus spoke in parables which were stories of natural things which on a deeper level revealed spiritual truths. The Tabernacle/Temple being a parable works the same way. There are great spiritual truths to be revealed through the Tabernacle/Temple. Gaining access to these spiritual truths necessitates an understanding of the physical structure.
Part 2 – While we reside in this earthly world we live as spiritual beings with a physical body. As Believers we house the presence of God just as the Temple or the Tabernacle once did. We are the Temple. In this life we are the Tabernacle of God among men.
Dividing soul and spirit
Just as the outer court surrounds the mishkan/tabernacle, our bodies surround our inner tabernacle.
We have established that as Believers in Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus we are a living Temple/Tabernacle which houses the presence of God. I think it is safe to say we all know we have a physical body. Our physical body contains a soul and a spirit. But what is the soul, and what is the spirit? The author of Hebrews indicates that the soul and spirit are able to be separated which implies they are not the same thing. The words are not interchangeable.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even as far as the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrows, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Not an easy separation
When a dear friend of mine went for a bone marrow test she said it was the most painful thing she ever had to endure. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells. It is found in the hollow part of most bones. After the skin is numbed, a needle is inserted into the bone, and a syringe is used to withdraw liquid bone marrow.
This is what the nurse told her beforehand: “You will feel a sharp sting when the numbing medicine is injected. The biopsy needle may also cause a brief, usually dull, pain. Since the inside of the bone cannot be numbed You may feel some discomfort. You may also feel a brief, sharp pain as the bone marrow liquid is removed.” My friend said, “On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 15” Anyone who has felt pain like this knows that while it may only be a few seconds or minutes it seems much longer when you are the one having to endure it.
My point is that getting to the bone marrow is not easy. It is a painful process. The sharp two edged sword of the Lord dividing bone and marrow implies it penetrates to the liquid matter within the deepest place (the innermost) of our nature and separates it from the hard substance which contains it. The illustration of dividing bone and marrow is the physical analogy of dividing of the soul and spirit. The soul (bone), the hard substance which contains the liquid (marrow) of the spirit of man must be penetrated in order to reach the spirit contained within.
That Which Separates
The soul is made up of our mind, our will and our emotions. The soul and the spirit are not the same. Yet as we saw in figure 1 above, while they are different elements there are areas where they are enmeshed making it difficult to determine the difference. In Hebrews 4:12 we see that it is the word of God which divides soul from spirit. This is the living word, logos in the Greek, which is a saying, something uttered by a living voice. The point is it is alive. This is not what is the limited to the written scriptures. It is something presently living; something which is communicated in the here and now from God’s Spirit to your spirit. Logos is specifically a communication brought through the faculty of speech. It is alive. Jesus is the living word of God. The Apostle John put it this way in John 1:14:
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
As I mentioned the soul is made up of the mind, the will and the emotions. If we use the image of bone and marrow picture the outer hard bone as that which represents the will and the mind/thoughts. The spongy bone represents the emotions.
The mind, the will and the emotions make up the human psyche. Psyche is a term relating to the subjective aspects of the mind, self, or soul. It is the psychological aspect of humanity as opposed to the bodily nature of persons.
The will is faculty of the brain which a person uses to decide and initiate action. The will is the inclination, or intentionality, and determination. It is the mental power of choosing.
The mind isn’t the whole of our brain. It is the aspect of the brain where thoughts reside. It is the place of reasoning. Our intellect is one aspect of our brain. The mind is where our mindsets, paradigms and beliefs reside, along with what we perceive, understanding, and think. The mind is the place of memory and opinion. In the mind is basically the collection of our thoughts. Our thoughts, like our will, is basically concrete, and depicted by the hard outer bone in the illustration above.
Emotion by definition is a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. It is the affective aspect of consciousness. In other words, feelings. Emotions are what sway us. They have the potential to influence our thoughts and will. Emotions is the part of the brain where our mood, our attitude, and our intuition reside.
Emotions are squishy. Can be elusive, even difficult to identify at times. We don’t always know what we are feeling. We just know we are feeling something. Emotions are not as concrete as thoughts and the will. The emotions can be more easily influenced. Our thoughts are pretty solid in nature. We think what we think. What we think can be changed through education and experience. Emotions have an intuitive aspect. While thoughts are conscious emotions are more unconscious. They are always functioning in the background like the operating software that runs a computer. They are there but we aren’t always aware of them.
The soul is not the spirit
The soul is not the spirit. The soul contains a spirit. When we are born again through faith in Christ our spirit is made alive. Only the born again believer has an alive spirit. Before accepting Christ as Savior our spirit is dead. In Christ our spirit which was once dead is made alive. When our spirit is made alive through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit begins the work of the separating soul and spirit. This is the transformation of the soul.
1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
Ephesians 2:1a & 4-5 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
When our spirit is made alive in Christ it inhabited by the God.
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them
James 4:5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
1 Cor. 3:16 Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
God is Spirit. The Glorified Exalted Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit are One. They, a united ONE, and as One God dwells within you as a born again believer. God, in Spirit, inhabits the spirit of the born again believer. The Spirit of God is on the interior, in the innermost part. He dwells in pure marrow, so to speak.
Soul and Spirit are Enmeshed
Our soul and our spirit have aspects which are enmeshed one with the other. In those places within our humanity it is impossible for us to separate out which is spirit and which is soul. The spirit is so intertwined with the intuitive aspect of the soul that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between the two.
According to the author of the book of Hebrews, only the living word of God is supposed to separate soul and spirit. The apostle Paul recognized that the word of God is a sword of the Spirit. [inserted -definition of rhema -Greek for word used in this context]
Ephesians 6: 17 …sword of the Spirit, which is the word [a spoken word, made “by the living voice” ] of God.
Only the Spirit of Truth has the ability to make the distinction. We as believers are to simply accept the Spirit of Truth when He speaks.
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 16:13-15 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to separate the soul from the spirit. It is not our job to try to figure it out with our intellect or human understanding. It is a work of the Spirit within the inner life of the Believer. While we are in this world we are subject to this constant continual work of transformation by the Spirit of God.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Cor. 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
More about this innermost work in Part 4