Man is made of three parts: body, soul and spirit. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In reading the Bible, this has become gradually clearer to me.
Reading the Bible is not physically gratifying. I do not feel the same after reading the Bible, as I do after going through a good workout, after eating a big meal, or when waking up after a good night's rest. After reading the Bible, I am still hungry, if I haven't eaten, and still tired, if I haven't slept. And, I am still not sore... like I would be after some exercise.
Reading the Bible does not feed my soul. The Bible is not the most beautiful song I've ever heard, the most touching drama I've ever seen, or the most intellectually-stimulating composition I've ever read. I've heard songs which have more powerfully stirred up my emotions before, whether love or hate. I've seen dramas which were more heart-wrenching and touching. I've read works, studied formulas, and worked on problems which have hurt my head more.
Yet, after reading the Bible, there is a part in me that is satisfied, a part of me that is happy. There is a part of me that says, "Amen". It is clearly not my body or my soul that loves the Bible, because my body would much rather be eating, working out, or sleeping, and my soul would prefer to be listening to music or watching TV. But there is another part of me which treasures what God wants to tell me; a part which wants to be as close to God as possible; a part that wants to stay with God. This part compels me to read the Bible. This part of me compels me to wake up early in the morning to pray.
While it is obvious that the body and the spirit are not the same, the difference between the soul and the spirit is much harder to discern. But, it is critical to discern what is of the soul, and what is of the spirit, because those who worship God can't worship Him in the soul, but can only worship Him in spirit. Correction, those who worship God properly must worship Him in the spirit. But to try to worship God is something anyone can do in any part of their being. Cain offered vegetables to God, and a woman in the book of Judges offered silver to God for the making of an idol. In addition, Saul, in the book of Samuel, spared that which was devoted to destruction in order to offer it to God, prompting God to speak through Samuel, saying, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?"
Job is a picture of the importance of knowing our spirit. The men engaged in discussion in this book were all in the realm of right and wrong and of logic, all of which are mental exercises in the soul. Reading it, I found myself agreeing with what they had to say. But, the question left unanswered throughout the whole book was, why did God allow Job to suffer, despite his seeming perfection? If they had found the answer, then why did God appear to Job, in the end, declaring, "Who is this who darkens mens' counsel?" This is something beyond the realm of the soul. It is something of the spirit, requiring spiritual enlightenment. I, being in my soul, could not grasp what God was trying to say, namely that one could attain to outward perfection and still be lacking something important.
Written on June 17, 2011