I am getting ready to teach a lesson to a group of elementary kids this morning and the lesson is supposed to be about the importance of spiritual health and its role in an overall, healthy lifestyle. In this lesson, we are going to come across the English word “sanctified”. It is a translation of the Koine Greek word, “hagios” and it means to be set apart, different. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be different from the people who do not follow Jesus. This difference is seen in our intellectual life, our spiritual life, and our physical bodies. What does this look like in reality? Let’s turn to the Scriptures to discover the answer.
I. Spirit, Soul, and Body
The idea of humans being spirit, soul, and body is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 5:23)
I do not want to get too technical in the Greek but, these 3 words have a specific meaning in the Koine Greek language.
- The Body (Greek, “soma”)
- The Soul (Greek, “psyche”)
- The Spirit (Greek ” Pneuma”)
Soma is the physical body. Psyche is the mind/intellect. It is what gives us our reasoning skills and sense of awareness. Without the psyche, the human body is dead. The word dead, in a Biblical sense, means to be separated. When the soul is separated from the body, this is what we call death. Pneuma is our spiritual side. This is what allows us to connect with our Creator, who is also Spirit.
As humans, we have a problem from our birth. Because of original sin, we are born separated from God with no ability to connect with Him on our own. God has a solution for us and it is really, really Good News (Gospel means good news in Koine Greek).
II. Spiritually dead
When we are formed in our mothers’ wombs, the body is alive because the soul is in the body. The third part of this trinity is the spirit. Because of original sin, this part of us is dead when we are born and remains dead until a bonafide miracle takes place.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2)
When the Apostle Paul speaks of us being “dead” in our sins, he cannot be talking about the body because it is alive. He cannot be talking about the soul because it is keeping the body alive. It has to refer to the spirit. We know that the body and soul are working together because they produce disobedience to God. We are able to reason before we come to Christ because in Acts 17, the unregenerate Jews in the synagogue were able to reason with the Apostle Paul from the Scriptures. This reasoning led some of them to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved ), (Ephesians 2)
When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, when we trust Him as our Lord and Savior, He causes that dead spirit in us to come alive so that we can connect with God, finally. I told you that it was Good News. This is what the Bible calls being born again.
III. Daily Training of the mind, body, and soul
God has called us to become a part of the body of Christ. Another way of saying it is that we are part of the church. In the Bible, the church is described as a military base that serves two basic functions; to train soldiers and to send them out to the battle field. In our daily training we have to train the soul, body, and spirit. We find this idea of training in all three aspects in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2)
Again, in order to understand this concept, we need to get a little technical in the Greek language. Stay with me because, I promise, it will be worth it.
There are four verbs, two of which are commands, in this passage that we must understand if we are going to be able to understand training our soul, body, and spirit.
First, we will begin with two of the verbs that are not commands and then we will look at the two verbs that are commands.
The Verbs that are not commands:
- Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God.
- Prove/Live out the will of God.
The Verbs that are commands:
- Command number 1 – Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.
- Command number 2 – Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The first verb is “to present” your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God. The verb is presented in the infinitive form in English. In Koine Greek, the verb is presented as a completed action in the past with present implications. It could have been translated, “since you have already presented your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God” now do the following. The Apostle Paul is writing to people who have already accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They had already given up the leadership of their own lives and turned that leadership over to Jesus Christ. In order to be able to obey the two commands that follow, this first event has to have already taken place. Only disciples of Jesus Christ are able to obey the commands of verse 2. Let’s examine those commands now. The first one is “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world“. This is a direct command but in Koine Greek, Paul tells the audience “you have to do this but you cannot do it in your own strength, you do not have the ability, you need an outside source to help you“. If you are not aware and if you are not intentional about your actions, you will automatically be conformed to the pattern of this world. Temptation is all around you. You have a sin nature in you that wants to respond to that temptation and lead you to sin. If you are not intentional about your attitude and actions then, you will cave to temptation and sin. Being aware is not enough. You need help from an outside source to keep you from caving to temptation and sin. The second command reveals the outside source that can help you. The second command is “be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. The way this reads in Koine Greek is “you cannot transform your mind, you can only have your mind transformed from an outside source“. The outside source is what reveals the will of God. In other words, the Word of God is what is going to renew my mind so that I can cry out to God for help and not give in to temptation and sin. Once I understand my need for help and I cry out to God for help, I am able to do what the final verb reveals in this passage. I am able to prove or, in other words, live out the will of God. This will is good, acceptable, and perfect.
This is how you train your soul, body, and spirit daily. Study the Word of God, which will appeal to the intellect. Once you understand, you choose to obey what is written, even if you sin nature does not want you to obey. As you practice obedience to the Lord, your spirit matures, along with your intellect. Is this a daily assignment for you? Are you growing spiritually and intellectually on a daily basis? Are you training your desires to line up with the clear teachings of the Word of God? This is your daily assignment.
May the Lord help us live out what we learn here, on a daily basis!