Appendix C: The Components of Man

From one standpoint, we can say that man is made up of spirit, flesh, and the knowledge of good and evil.

Our spirit is that part of us that makes us aware of God, and the part through which we can communicate with God, who is also Spirit.

Our spirit gives us identity. Every human being has a unique spirit that identifies that human being in the spiritual world. When the angels need to determine who is who they do not look at our external features but at our spirit. When the demons recognized Jesus they didn’t recognize Him by His external features but by His Spirit (Lk 4:34).

Lk 4:34 "Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!"

Our spirit is not made of material substance but an eternal substance that is not material. It is a unit of moral identity. That is, moral judgments are made per spirit, and the moral destiny (heaven or hell) of a being is applied per spirit. Each spirit finally ends up in either heaven or hell.

Our spirit gives life to our body. Our body dies when our spirit leaves our body.

Jas 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The flesh is a term used to collectively refer to our lusts (i.e. urges to do evil). It is not the same thing as the skin and muscle over our bones, which is also called ‘flesh’. It is because we have a flesh that we can be tempted to violate God’s moral law.

The knowledge of good and evil is that part of us that enables us to inherently distinguish right from wrong (to an extent). That is, a human being who has the knowledge of good and evil is able to inherently have some level of understanding of God’s moral law. The knowledge of good and evil does not necessarily enable us to determine God’s entire moral law, but a part of it.

If a human being does not have the knowledge of good and evil then God does not implicitly hold him accountable for his actions. But if a human being has the knowledge of good and evil then God does implicitly hold him accountable for his actions. That is why God told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die.

As long as Adam and Eve were just spirit and flesh they were not accountable for any of their actions, except the ones that God communicated to them via language. But once they acquired the knowledge of good and evil they were accountable for their actions to the extent that they were able to distinguish between good and evil.

From another standpoint, there is another way that we can look at the components of man. Consider what Jesus said in Mk 12:30.

Mk 12:30 ‘AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’

From this statement we see that man is made up of the heart, the mind, the soul, and the strength. Let us explore what each of these mean.

Our soul is that part of us that includes our senses, our desires, and our feelings.

We have five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The purpose of our senses is to provide our mind with information about the external material world in which we live.

We also have many needs. When our body needs something it creates a desire. The purpose of our desires is to provide our mind with information about our bodily needs.

Our feelings communicate sensory input and bodily desires to our mind. The word ‘emotion’ is a synonym for the word ‘feeling’. When we make decisions solely based on our feelings we are said to be emotional.

For example, when our hand touches something hot we feel hot. Or, when we see a huge truck coming straight at us we feel scared. These are examples of how inputs from our senses are translated into feelings.

For another example, when our body needs food we feel hungry. Hunger is a desire that tells our mind that our body needs food. This is an example of how our bodily needs are translated into feelings.

Our strength is that part of us that receives commands to act and then carries out those commands. For example, when the mind tells us to run, our strength moves our legs, and we run. Or, when the mind tells us to close our eyes our strength closes our eyes.

Our heart is that part of us that makes decisions. It can make decisions that benefit our spirit or it can make decisions that benefit our flesh. If our heart routinely makes decisions that benefit our spirit then we are said to be spiritual. If our heart routinely makes decisions that benefit our flesh then we are said to be carnal.

Our mind is that part of us where input is considered, decisions are made, and action is taken. The input comes in the form of feelings. The action is taken by issuing commands to our strength to do things. Our mind is the place where our heart, soul and strength interact. Our mind also provides us with services like logical reasoning, which can be used when making decisions.

So we see that the heart, mind, soul and strength are the components through which we function as human beings. That is, in one sense, man is made up of the heart, the mind, the soul, and the strength.

Therefore, when Jesus said that we should love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength He was saying that we should please God in how we receive sensory and bodily input, in how we make decisions, in how we carry out our actions, and in how we allow our heart, soul and strength to interact.

You can compromise your mind with alcohol or drugs, and your body with alcohol or tobacco. You can compromise your soul with movies and the books you read and the gossip you hear. Such compromises can affect the destiny of your spirit.

From a third standpoint, man can be thought of as made up of spirit, soul and body. This is seen from 1 Thess 5:23.

1 Thess 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Clearly, the soul referred to here must be the same as the soul referred to in Mk 12:30. Also, the body referred to here must be the same as the strength referred to in Mk 12:30. Therefore, we may conclude that the spirit must contain the mind, and be a part of the heart.

The heart itself can be thought of as being composed of the spirit and the flesh. The spirit influences the heart to make decisions that benefit the spirit, and the flesh influences the heart to make decisions that benefit the flesh. Lk 6:45 says this in another way.

Lk 6:45 "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."

When Jesus said that out of the heart of man come wicked things (Mt 15:19) He was referring to the fleshly component of the heart. That component is unredeemable and won’t be saved, which is why Paul, in 1 Thess 5:23, excludes the flesh when he says that the spirit, soul and body will be preserved complete.

Mt 15:19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders."

Taking all of the above into consideration, when I say that Jesus was "God in identity" I mean that the Spirit of Christ (the Spirit that dwelt in Christ’s body while He was on earth) was the uncreated Spirit of the Son of God. Only divine spirits are uncreated. All other spirits are created spirits. This uncreated Spirit could be recognized by the demons.

In Jesus, the components other than the spirit (the soul, body / strength and flesh) were just like those of other human beings.

In summary, there are three different ways that we can look at man:

  • Man = Spirit + Flesh + Knowledge of good and evil.
  • Man = Spirit + Flesh + Soul + Body.
  • Man = Heart + Mind + Soul + Strength
  • Spirit = Moral Identity + Mind.
  • Heart = Spirit - Mind + Flesh.

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