(This is the second in a three-part series on the subject of “The Architecture of a Human Being,” By James R. Fergusson.)
We all know every human being has a body, and a mind (as our mental part is commonly known). But, when I heard this verse being quoted and discussed, I suddenly realized I also had a third part, called the spirit. I subsequently came to understand that the term “soul” includes not only mind, or the thinking portion of a human being, but also emotions (or feelings), and will (the ability to make choices); while the term “spirit” covers intuition (the ability to perceive truth automatically without prior thought), conscience (the ability to discern right from wrong), and communion (the ability to experience God’s presence).
The reason we commonly think of ourselves as having only two parts, mind and body, is that our spirits are typically dead. Here “dead” does not mean that the spirit is non-existent, but rather that it is not functioning, rather like a dead electrical battery. We typically have little or no intuition that we can trust, little or no reliable conscience, and no ability to experience the real presence of God. Because our spirits are dead, our lives are very adversely affected.
In modern Western culture, the absence of intuition and communion led to a great emphasis on the mind. This in turn led to neglect of the emotions and the will, which leaves many as emotional cripples, and many with no real experience of freedom of choice. In other words, many of us have souls that are distorted or out of balance. These conditions are manifestations of the overall problem of spiritual deadness. Moreover, we fear (whether we admit it or not) the destruction of the soul along with the body, because we know the body will eventually die and we cannot really conceive how the soul can possibly live on without the body. Only some other faculty would enable us to truly know that it can. Such a faculty would be called intuition. So, if spiritual deadness could be reversed, our souls could be brought into balance and the fear of death could be removed.
The Bible refers to spiritual deadness as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). From this perspective “sins” are wrong actions which are by-products of our efforts to escape from “sin”, the state of separation from the presence of God. This separation is the root cause of spiritual deadness. Spiritual deadness is a very dis-satisfying state, because a key component of our basic make-up is missing from our experience. We try all sorts of things attempting to escape from this state and find satisfaction, but ultimately we are unsuccessful, because the things we are capable of involve only the soul and the body. Moreover, all these things turn out either to be bad (“sins”) or to have only temporary value. In the end they only serve to compound our state of spiritual deadness. Only an end to spiritual deadness, or a coming to life of our spirits, could enable us to find true satisfaction.