Defining terms: Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength

A computer has memory to store data and programs, and a CPU to run the programs. The programs implement algorithms – instructions for how to deal with inputs and produce outputs. The inputs and the outputs are data.

When the computer is turned off, no programs are running. When the computer is turned on, programs take input and produce output.

In a human being, the heart is like a program. The soul provides the inputs. The will represents the outputs. The mind is the computer. The body (aka strength) performs the will. Let’s look at these items in more detail.

The soul has three components: feelings, senses, and desires.

Human beings have two types of feelings: physical (e.g. hunger) and mental (e.g. anger). The latter are called emotions. Feelings feed into the heart directly.

Human beings usually have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. These senses feed into the heart directly, but may also trigger feelings. For example, a grandma seeing her grand-daughter for the first time feels joy.

Desires represent things that a person wants. While feelings and senses may trigger desires, desires can also occur independent of them. For example, you may want to eat an ice cream even if you aren’t hungry.

The heart takes in the inputs from the soul, and outputs decisions. These decisions form the will. For example, you see an ice cream store, and decide to go in and buy one, saying, “I will eat an ice cream.” The will then directs our body (aka strength) to take action – namely, the legs take you to the store, the mouth orders the ice cream, and the hands pay for the ice cream and feed the ice cream to the mouth.

This process of decision making by our heart occurs in the mind when we are awake. Further, the soul and the will are expressed in the mind. Repeated decision making clutters the mind. When we are asleep, the mind does housekeeping to declutter itself and prepare for the next day.

The heart has three things that influence it, or specifically, impact how a decision is made: the flesh, the spirit, and the knowledge of good and evil.

The flesh is that part of us through which we are tempted. Temptation pulls the heart towards wrong, and when we will to do what we know is wrong, we have sinned. As Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount, you sin when you will to do wrong, even if you haven’t actually done wrong. For example, deciding to kill someone is sin, even if you don’t actually kill him.

The spirit tugs the heart one way (towards what is right), while the flesh tugs the heart the opposite way (towards what is wrong). If the spirit wins the tussle, the person is spiritual; if the flesh wins the tussle, the person is carnal. If the decision is more heavily influenced by the soul (i.e. the senses, feelings and desires) than the spirit then the person is soulish.

The knowledge of good and evil enables the heart to distinguish between right and wrong. The knowledge of good and evil makes the heart’s decision affect the spirit. Specifically, when the knowledge of good and evil is present, a carnal decision adversely affects the health of the spirit.

Our spirit gives us identity in the spiritual world – sort of like a social security number. We receive a spirit when we are created. The spirit is also what connects us to God. At the time of our creation, our spirit is connected to God. This connection with God is critical for the well being of our spirit. When this connection is severed, we are said to be spiritually dead.

Upon creation, our body begins to form and grow around the spirit. As the body grows, so does the heart and mind and soul. At some point, the knowledge of good and evil manifests itself and begins growing too. If at any time, the body is unable to host the spirit, then the spirit leaves the body. When the spirit leaves the body, the body is said to be dead, and returns to dust.

As long as our spirit wins the tussle, or the knowledge of good and evil is absent, or otherwise unavailable to the heart (as in the case of a mentally ill person), our spirit remains connected to God. When the knowledge of good and evil is present, and the flesh wins the tussle (even once), the connection of our spirit with the spirit of God is severed, and we become spiritually dead. When we meet God’s requirements for reconnecting our spirit to His, our spirit is reconnected to God, and we become spiritually alive, and we are said to be born again and saved.

Multiple spirits may reside in the same body. The Holy Spirit resides in a person who is born again. When an evil spirit resides in a body, the body is said to be demon possessed.

In the resurrection, those who are saved will be raised in a form where they will have no flesh. Therefore, after the resurrection, we will never be tempted again, and consequently, will never sin again.

God is spirit, and He has the knowledge of good and evil. God does not have flesh, and therefore cannot be tempted.

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them spirit and flesh, but he didn’t give them the knowledge of good and evil. Instead, He allowed them to choose between the knowledge of good and evil and never dying physically, or neither. He gave this choice to the animals too, and to angelic beings too.

The animals chose neither, and therefore live in the flesh and die, and when they die, their spirit returns to God. Since they don’t have the knowledge of good and evil, they do not sin.

The angelic beings (like the seraphim and cherubim) who chose life (i.e. never dying physically) remain in the flesh forever. However, since they don’t have the knowledge of good and evil, they cannot sin. So they can remain in God’s presence forever. They serve God in many ways, including being messengers to human beings, as well as protecting human beings.

Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of good and evil. To prevent them (and us, the children of Adam and Eve) from having the same fate as Satan, God temporarily denied them (and us) access to living forever. This was so that, upon death, he could raise up those who are saved without flesh. At that point, we will be exactly like God – having spirit, knowledge of good and evil, and no flesh. Only then will God allow us access to the tree of life (which allows us to live forever).

Other angelic beings, like Satan and his demons, chose both. They chose living forever first, and then also chose the knowledge of good and evil. For this reason, they are unredeemable. Once they sinned, they were doomed to be separated from God forever. Every one of those angels sinned and became unredeemable.

Satan blamed God for his fall, contending that he fell because of the flesh that God gave him. To prove Satan wrong, God sent His Son, Jesus, in the flesh, just like us. To do this, Jesus had to empty Himself of everything that made Him equal to God. He still remained God in identity, but was no longer God in capability. He lived on earth without sin, proving to Satan that it is possible to have spirit, flesh and the knowledge of good and evil, and still not sin. That is the main theme of the gospel – the good news – that God can send Satan and sinners to the lake of fire.

While on earth, Jesus also paid for the sins of all men – this happened when God forsook Him while He was on the cross. The eternal Holy Spirit was given to Jesus without measure so that He (Jesus) could suffer eternal separation from God in a finite amount of time. Then Jesus died physically, and through His blood, opened a new covenant for the forgiveness of sin. We partake of that covenant by repenting, believing, forgiving and confessing, and when we are in that covenant, God forgives us our sin, and restores His connection with our spirit. This is the other (less significant) part of the gospel.

Copyright (c) 2007-2026, Rosario (Ross) D'Souza. All Rights Reserved
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