The Triune Human Being

Introduction

How does the human being interact with God the Father?  How can a seemingly physical being interact with a spiritual being effectively and with certainty?  I believe that it is necessary to dissect the human being to answer these questions.  I don’t mean to physically cut a person open to see how they operate because that would provide very little help in the spiritual realm.  I do mean to determine how the whole person is constructed and use that to understand how we interact with God and the spiritual realm.

This lesson will examine the triune nature of humans.  Do humans exist as triune beings?  Well, consider, for example, basic materials on earth.  We understand how these materials behave by understanding how they are composed.  The chemical model of these materials consists of the formation of molecules, and of course, there are the atoms themselves.  The behavior of these essential building blocks dictates the behavior of the material at various temperatures and pressures.  I will use the same approach when analyzing humans by breaking humans into three primary parts.  These three parts will be called the soul, body, and spirit.   We will examine the function of these three, how they interact with each other, and ultimately how we as a whole interact with God. Based on our knowledge of these components.

Human Components

Humans are said to be composed of the following three components.

  1. Body
  2. Soul
  3. Spirit

We can’t prove that these three components exist.  However, we use them to distinguish the different aspects of a person. Therefore, we can better understand individuals if we analyze these three aspects separately.

When Satan tempted Jesus, he said the following.

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV) — [4] But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Of course, we need food to power our bodies, and to some extent, our minds.  However, Jesus suggested that we need more than physical food to live. We need the nourishment or spiritual energy that comes from what God says. The food we eat affects our body, emotional state, and even our thinking abilities. So likewise, consuming the word of God affects more than our spirit self. Consider the following verse.

John 6:63 (NKJV) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Jesus speaks the words of God, so when Jesus says something, we know that God is saying it.  So, the word of God is spirit and life.  Life to what?  Well, since the word of God is spirit, then it would seem reasonable that it feeds our spirit (the real you).  Consider also the following verse.

1 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV) For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Here Paul identifies the spirit of man, which abides within him (within the body).

Next, let’s review Genesis 2:7, which says,

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

You may notice that the “dust of the ground” is the body, and the breath of life is the spirit.  We see here that the spirit is the life-giving component of the human being.  Without the spirit (breath of God), the body and soul would have no life force (energy) to operate.  That is why the Bible says that man became a living soul after God breathed life into him.  This verse also introduces a component called the soul.  We will discuss the soul later in this study.  We are currently just establishing the existence of the three parts of the human being.  Therefore, humans are composed of body, soul, and spirit.  There is another passage of scripture that establishes the same.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) — [23] Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Body

The body is the physical component of the human being, and it is our connection to the physical (material) realm and is the house of the spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are probably more familiar with our bodies and the physical world around us than we are with our spirit and soul. The body will function if it receives the necessary nutrients. 

The Soul

The soul is the vital existence of a human being. The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, which means a living being.  The soul contains our emotions, intellect, personality, and essential life. Consider the following passage of Scripture.

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Notice that God formed the man and then breathed life into him. Thus, he became a living being (soul) after God breathed life into him. So, first, he was a lifeless soul, and then he became a living soul. Therefore, we can reason that at the core, we exist because of the life of God. 

The Human Spirit

The spirit of a human designates the life force of the human soul. Consider the following passages.

Genesis 1:26–27 (NKJV) — [26] Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” [27] So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Zechariah 12:1 (NKJV) — [1] The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:

1 John 3:24 (NKJV) — [24] Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

We are fundamentally spiritual beings that live in a body and have a soul. The spirit is the power that energizes our soul and body. The Bible also tells us that every creature God created had a spirit or life force (Genesis 1:30; 6:17; 7:22).

Interaction of Body, Soul, and Spirit

Before discussing the interaction or the relationship between body, soul, and spirit, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss the mind and heart.  These terms are used in the Bible to refer to various things, and therefore is vital to understand what they are.

The Mind

The mind refers to the center of intellectual activity in humans.  The King James translation of the Bible translated many Hebrew words into the English word mind.  For example, the Hebrew word for heart was translated to mind (Numbers 16:28), which identified the idea of the human will. The term “mind” in Genesis 23:8 identified the act of making a decision.  The Hebrew word for soul in Deuteronomy 18:6 identified the concept of desire.  See also Philippians 1:27, Hebrews 12:3, and Acts 14:2.

The Hebrew people did not attempt to separate the human being into components such as body, soul, and spirit. Instead, the Hebrews considered humans to be one entity with no distinguishable parts. Therefore, the heart, mind, soul, and spirit sometimes referred to the same concept regarding humans

The Heart

The heart is the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans. The heart is the seat of the intellect (Matthew 13:15).  It is associated with thinking and reasoning (Proverbs 23:7, Luke 1:66, 2:19; 1 Samuel 9:20, Isaiah 46:8) and the will (2 Corinthians 9:7, Romans 6:17) and feelings and affections.

The heart is thought to be the center of moral and spiritual life, i.e., the human conscience.  The conscience is where our sense of right, wrong, sound, and bad resides.

The Importance of the Heart Model

The concept of the human heart is very important in understanding how we deal with things and how our belief and faith systems work.  Consider the following scripture.

Mark 11:22–23 (NKJV) — [22] So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. [23] For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Notice that it states not to doubt in your heart.  The heart is the core of our existence.  It is the center of the human being and the container of who we are as a person. We may intellectually accept something to be true, but deep inside, we do not believe. This is because the heart and mind are contrary to one another.

Your heart is the real you. You may pretend to be one kind of person, but your heart might be another. Consider the following passage that illustrates this difference.

Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) — [7] For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.

The Body and Human Spirit

The body is dead without the life-giving agent of the spirit.  The spirit gives us life, and it originates from God, the giver, and sustainer of all life.  The body will be able to operate as long as the human spirit remains within it. The spirit can live without the body, but the body cannot live without the life-giving spirit.

The Human Spirit and the Soul

The words soul and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably in the Bible.  The spirit is the life-giving component of humans, whereas the soul is the individuality agent of the human.

Human Development

How do humans develop? Can the mind, body, and spirit be developed? What happens if one human component is neglected? How would that affect the person as a whole?

Soul Development

We can develop our souls by feeding and exercising the intellect. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the results would be good. Some people feed their minds evil things causing their hearts to become evil.

We are influenced by those around us, our environment, and our experiences. Therefore, to have a conscience consistent with God’s ways, we must pursue God and his kingdom. We must govern our lives by the word of God.

Mind and Heart Development

The heart is the individual’s core, i.e., “the real you,” which can change. For example, do you know someone that was evil in the past, but now they are not? What changed them? How did their heart shift from evil to godly? Thus, the heart can change to good or evil.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) — [23] Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Carefully monitor what you expose yourself to because it can affect your heart. Guard your heart by guarding what you hear, what you expose yourself to, what you think about, etc.

Our ethical makeup is affected by the influences of our lives. For example, a person growing up in an unethical environment could become unethical and vice versa.

Conclusion

The human model presented herein consists of the body, soul, and spirit. Each one plays a part in the total person. We found that the spirit powers us to be alive, and the soul makes us who we are as individuals. Both reside in the body while we live on earth.

Knowing these three will help us understand a person, especially when their actions are inconsistent with their words.

The heart is critically important in this model. God looks at our hearts. Our hearts determine who we really are, even if we pretend to be someone else. So, pursue God and guard your heart. Understand the heart and mind may be contrary to each other and that the body is affected by both.

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