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The Dividing of Soul and Spirit

Open BibleBy Kenneth W. Hagin

Are you having trouble distinguishing between the voice of your re-created spirit and the voice of your soul? Your spirit and soul are two different entities, but only God’s Word can separate the two. As you begin renewing your mind with God’s Word, you will position yourself to follow your heart—your spirit—with confidence in every situation of life!

 

Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful in fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Certainly, if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, you will go to Heaven one day. But it’s quite possible to live out your entire life on the earth and fail to fulfill your destiny and receive the rich blessings God has planned for you.

 

The only way you can successfully run the race God has set before you (Heb. 12:1) is by learning how to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit as you listen to your heart, your re-created human spirit. Learning to be led by the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God is the most important lesson you’ll ever learn in life.

 

When I say, “Listen to your heart,” what “heart” are you supposed to listen to? Even in the world, people sometimes say things, such as, “I mean it from the bottom of my heart” or, “He has a big heart.” They understand that these phrases don’t refer to the physical heart, the physical organ that pumps blood throughout the body. They know there is more to man that just the body.

 

The Bible teaches that man possesses a spiritual heart as well as a physical heart. In fact, there are more than 800 references in the Bible to man’s heart, and very few of them refer to the physical part of the body. Most of these references refer to the unseen center of man’s being—the inward man (2 Cor. 4:16; 1 Peter 3:4). When I say, “Listen to your heart,” I am referring to listening to your spirit, the inward man.

 

Of course, it’s true that at times, your physical senses give you information that you should listen to and heed. For instance, if you touched a hot stove, your sense of touch would tell you, “Take your hand off that stove quickly!” And you need to obey that!

 

But I’m talking about listening to your heart, or spirit, in situations for which there may be no solution in the natural or in the physical realm. Your physical senses might tell you, “Run from this problem!” Or your mind might tell you, “There’s no way out!”

 

But in those kinds of situations, you need to receive the Holy Spirit’s direction and stand on God’s Word without wavering. Successfully following God’s plan for your life depends on what you choose to listen to—your physical senses or the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you just listened to your physical senses or to your mind, you’d eventually lose your peace and joy and forfeit the victories God intended for you to have.

 

For instance, if you focused your attention on what you heard on the news, you could become depressed thinking about all the problems in the world around you. You could begin wondering, How are we ever going to make it?

 

But it doesn’t matter what your mind or your physical senses tell you! It doesn’t matter what the news media says! Regardless of what the circumstances look like, the Word of God is still true. And if you would get quiet on the inside and begin listening to what your heart, or spirit, is saying, the Holy Spirit would minister the truth of God’s Word to you.

 

We are spirit beings, but the Bible also teaches that we each possess a soul and we live in a body.

 

1 THESSALONIANS 5:23

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole SPIRIT and SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

It’s easy to distinguish our body from our spirit or even from our soul, because the body is the part of us that’s visible and contacts the physical, tangible realm. With the body, we contact the physical realm. With our spirit, or heart, we contact the spiritual realm. And with our soul—including our mind, will, and emotions—we contact the intellectual and emotional realms.

 

But what about distinguishing our spirit, or heart, from our soul? It’s much more difficult to distinguish between our spirit and our soul, because they are intangible, unseen parts of our being. Yet it is vitally important that we learn how to correctly distinguish between the two. If we don’t, we won’t be able to successfully listen to our heart and be led by the Holy Spirit in the situations and circumstances of life.

 

Hebrews 4:12 shows us not only that the spirit and soul are separate entities, but that they can be divided or distinguished.

 

HEBREWS 4:12

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to THE DIVIDING ASUNDER OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

 

The Word of God “divides asunder” or separates the soul and spirit of man because they are two separate and distinct entities. There would be no need to divide them if they were the same. For instance, if you tried to separate water from water, you would find it is impossible. You cannot separate something from itself.

 

But two distinct entities can be separated. For example, when water and dirt are mixed together in a container, the muddy water is still basically made up of two different elements: water and dirt. If left undisturbed, the mud would settle to the bottom of the container. The mud could be separated from the water, because dirt and water are two separate entities.

 

Similarly, although the spirit and soul are intertwined within the nature of each of person, they can be separated from each other because they are two separate entities. But they can only be separated and distinguished by the Word of God.

 

The truth is, you can only follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in your spirit, or heart, if you are continually renewing your mind with the Word of God (Rom. 12:2). You become more sensitive to God and the things of God when your mind is being renewed with the Word.

 

If you will continually fill your mind with God’s Word by reading, meditating on, and speaking the Word, you will begin responding to circumstances in line with the Word rather than from your physical senses or from your emotions—according to the way you used to think. So just stay faithful to daily receive the Word into your heart and mind (James 1:21), and it will become easier and easier to listen to your heart with confidence, following the Holy Spirit’s leading in all the situations and circumstances of life.