A martyred Christian from China, Watchman Nee, wrote several books and developed an understanding of the triune nature of man as body, soul, and spirit. In his thinking, the soul is our self-consciousness and our spirit is our ability to know the depth of sin and to know and communicate with God. While many would say this is too much separation and there is not enough in the Bible to verify all his ideas, some of what he said about the human spirit strikes home.
As I read the Bible, I notice verses that speak of the spirit being “dead in sin” in the lives of those who do not believe in Christ. When faith brings salvation, that spirit is made alive.
One verse also says that the “Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
Nee’s idea of soul is our capacity to choose, our intellect, and our emotions. In light of the above verse from Hebrews, having discernment between those faculties (which have been marred by sin) and the faculties of the spirit seem very important.
Another verse also gives support to Nee’s ideas. He believed God saves the whole person, beginning with a renewed spirit that is made that way by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. In salvation, that which was dead to God is made alive. Then our lives are to be governed by the Holy Spirit speaking to and working through our spirit, spreading forth life of Christ to our minds, choices and emotions. This explains some of this prayer of Paul’s…
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Today’s devotional verse is about the power of that sanctified spirit to endure whatever the world throws at us. When the spirit is renewed and operating by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can persevere…
A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)
The Hebrew word for crushed could also be translated as: smitten, afflicted, broken, stricken, or wounded. This is not about a spirit that is dead in sin (that of an unsaved person) but someone who has the life of Christ in them, but something has happened to pummel that life and put it down, inoperable and unable to endure the hardships of life.
That said, besides being alive in the Spirit, God makes me responsible to keep my spirit sharp and well-fed. I’m to do this by reading His Word. I’m also to be sanctified (set apart for God) by keeping myself focused on serving Him and not myself. I am to confess known sin and be nourished by fellowship with other Christians. My spirit is kept healthy by obeying God’s commands. Other verses tell me to “guard my heart, for it is the well-spring of life.” All of this describes how to keep my spirit from being crushed so that I can endure the tough stuff.
I’ve also noticed that this is true for the daily grind also. God gives me the Holy Spirit that my spirit may be kept in tune and wisely responding to the ordinary trials for even those require sanctification, wholeness and purity of heart.