// Kenneth W. Hagin
WE ARE SPIRIT BEINGS, and God communicates with us through our spirit (Rom. 8:16). The Bible teaches that we each possess a soul and live in a body (1 Thess. 5:23). With the body we contact the physical realm. With our spirit, or heart, we contact the spiritual realm.
The soul includes the mind, will, and emotions. Therefore, we contact the intellectual and emotional realms with the soul.
It's easy to define what our body is, because it's the part of us that's visible. It contacts the physical realm—the realm we can touch and observe.
It's more difficult to distinguish between our soul and spirit. We can't see or touch either of them physically. But it's important to understand the difference between them. If we don't, we won't be led by the Holy Spirit. Instead, we'll be led by our soul in the situations of life.
A Clear Distinction
Many theologians believe the soul and spirit are the same. However, the Bible makes a clear distinction between the two.
Paul said in First Thessalonians 5:23 (NLT), "May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again."
We see that the soul and spirit can be separated by God's Word: "For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow" (Heb. 4:12 NLT).
The Word of God can "cut between," or separate, the soul and spirit of man because they are different. There would be no need to divide them if they were the same. You cannot separate something from itself. A container of water divided into two parts still equals water.
When dirt and water are mixed together in a container, the muddy water is made up of two different elements: dirt and water. If the water sits for awhile, the mud will settle to the bottom of the container. They're different, so they can be separated.
Similarly, although the soul and spirit come together within the nature of each person, they can be separated from each other. They are two distinct entities.
Your Spirit Becomes New
When you are born again, your spirit becomes new, not your mind or body (2 Cor. 5:17). The old life disappeared and a new life began. Where? In your inward man, the hidden person of the heart (1 Peter 3:4 NKJV).
Our soulish thoughts and emotions don't change overnight. If our souls became brand-new, Paul wouldn't have told us as believers to renew our minds with the Word of God (Rom. 12:2 NIV).
As you receive the Word into your heart and mind, your mind is renewed and undergoes "extensive changes." You are transformed into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Your soul is restored and you begin to think and operate in line with the Word. This helps you keep your spirit in control of your body and emotions. It enables you to live right before God continually.
If you're not renewing your mind, you'll probably respond to situations the way you did before salvation. It will be much harder to resist the temptation to sin.
You cannot follow God's plan for your life without renewing your mind with the Word. A renewed mind makes you more sensitive to the things of God. You'll be less likely to respond to circumstances from your emotions or reasoning.
Just stay faithful to fill your heart and mind with God's Word. By doing this, your soul will continually be restored, or saved (James 1:21; Ps. 23:3). It will become easier for you to follow the Holy Spirit's leading.
[Editor's note: This article was adapted from Kenneth W. Hagin's book Listen to Your Heart.]