Part 3
Bible Study

Renewing the Mind

We finished the previous lesson by considering the fact that God has and is providing abundant life for us as believers but the key here is us knowing how to access this. To live in abundant life we need to understand what the soul is and realise that we can never truly succeed unless our soul prospers first.

In 3 John (2), John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”.

John understood that the prosperity or our whole life, as well as the health of our bodies, hinged on the condition of our soul. It’s what is in us that controls what comes out of us and ultimately what our experience in life is. John is simply saying, when your soul prospers, your life will prosper.

So let’s firstly look at what our soul is made up of.

  1. Our Mind – reasoning and thinking processes.
  2. Our Emotions – feelings.
  3. Our Will – decision and choosing processes.

These things make up our soul and to a great degree determine, how you and I experience life. We could say that we will prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers, or we will struggle and be weak, even as our soul is weak.

RENEWING THE MIND KEY #9

Your soul, mind, emotions and will must prosper before you life will prosper.

Hosea 4 (6) tells us, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because  you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priests for me”.

Lack of knowledge and then the practical application of the same ( wisdom ) keeps many Christians captive and holds them in a life of mediocrity. One of the greatest areas of lack of knowledge is in the area of the soul with many believers thinking that soul and spirit are the same and still others not really understanding the need to develop our soul.

1 Thessalonians 5 (23) says, “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”.

Paul not only prays that we are preserved entirely, he goes on and lists the different parts of what makes us human beings.

Hebrews 4 (12) goes on and brings more clarity to the distinction between soul and spirit when it says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division or soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.

Here we see that the word of God is the final authority in all of the issues of life and is able to distinguish what is from God (spirit) and what is from man (soul). So this is how it looks:

             SOUL                            SPIRIT

             Joints                            Marrow

             Thoughts                      Intents

                            Of the Heart

The writer to the Hebrews relates Soul – Joints – Thoughts. Our soul is the connector for our spirit and body. It brings the spiritual world and the physical realm into relationship so that we can live as a spiritual being in relation to God and function in a natural world. As we hear things in our spirit which are born of the Holy Spirit, we also hear those things in our soul. Sometimes we just know or other times we will feel like something told you or that the Holy Spirit has spoken to us. This is the process of the soul connecting to the spirit and body as a joint.

Then we see the soul is related to thoughts. This is a major tool and function of the soul. Our thoughts are directing our decisions, actions and feelings every day and these thoughts take place in our soul.

In Hebrews it says that our spirit is related to marrow and intents. Marrow is the life giving force, where blood is created in the bones. The Old Testament tells us that “Life is in the blood”. Intents are the deep desires  and purpose of our heart and both of these are a description of our spirit.

When we understand the difference between soul and spirit we can see how it is possible to be born again and going to heaven ( our spirit is saved ) and yet still live a mediocre life here on earth because we have paid little or no attention to our soul. Thats why Paul wrote in Rom 12 (2) be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” and then goes on to say, “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.

This helps us understand scriptures such as Proverbs 23 (7) “ For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”, or Mathew 22 (37) “You shall love the Lord you God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind”.

When the scripture refers to the heart this is referring to the spirit and soul which combined make up our heart. That is why the Mathew verse starts with love God with your heart and then breaks it down into soul and mind – these being the areas that we have control over.

RENEWING THE MIND KEY #10

The soul and spirit of a man make up the heart of man.

2 Corinthians 4 (16) says, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day”. Paul is not referring to the spirit here as this has already been preserved and perfected when we are born again. He is referring to the heart ( combination of soul and spirit )which is being renewed as we walk with God. In other words if we are walking with God the soul side of our inner man is transformed to become more like him. So our physical body may well be ageing and decaying but our soul is becoming more alive and more like God.

This is why maturing as a Christian means to be led by the spirit and not by the flesh. The flesh is constantly leading us down a negative path, worldly desires, carnal thoughts and bound by circumstances. Whereas being led by the spirit pursues Godly thinking and outcomes. This why when we go to pray or read the word of God there is a battle, our spirit says yes, our flesh says no and in reality the one that wins is the one we feed the most.

So what we can say is that a prosperous soul is the one that hears and chooses to follow his spirit man and then we are promised that we will prosper, and live in health in every realm of life. The result is abundant life which is more than enough for you and everybody around you. 

RENEWING THE MIND KEY #11

The prosperous soul hears, and agrees with the spirit.

Often I hear believers say, Im not sure if i am saved or maybe I have lost my salvation. Usually these people are controlled by their flesh and find it hard to obey and or walk in the Spirit. As a result they feel unsaved, but in reality their spirit is saved its just that their soul is not being renewed. This is because they have a weak soul that is not prospering.

Let’s look at 8 things that make up a poor soul and consider how these 8 things can be turned around to make up a prosperous soul.

  1. Having a lack of knowledge of the word of God – Hosea 4 (6).
  2. Being controlled by the desires of the flesh: can’t control spending, lusts, food or whatever – Rom 8 (5).
  3. Being weak, indecisive, or double minded – James 1 (8).
  4. Fantasising on negativity, and not being able to control your thoughts – 2  Corinthians 10 (4-5).
  5. Refusing to change, defending past behaviour, and excusing yourself – Proverbs 9 (7-9).
  6. Spending all your life on natural, earthly, material things – Colossians 3 (1-2).
  7. Allowing emotions to control attitudes and behaviours – Ephesians 4 (22-24).
  8. Allowing fear, anger, bitterness. gossip or negative thinking to consume you – Philippians 4 (8).

RENEWING THE MIND KEY #12

Through the word of God and sincere effort, the poor soul can be made prosperous.

Now let’s turn these 8 negatives and weaknesses into 8 strengths.

  1. Being hungry to learn and change – Mathew 5 (6).
  2. Having a mind that meditates on God’s word and follows its precepts – Psalm 1 (1-3).
  3. Having a disciplined mind that will agree with the Spirit – Romans 8 (6).
  4. Focussing on Godly thoughts and attitudes – Mathew 6 (33).
  5. Confessing your faults openly and seeking change – James 5 (16).
  6. Having a mind that is set on things that heaven and God are involved with – Colossians 3 (1-10).
  7. Having control over feelings and emotions – 2 Corinthians 5 (17).
  8. Having a pure, positive, happy attitude towards life – Philippians 4 (8).

NEXT TIME: We will look at the power of truth.

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