Many believers are under the
mistaken idea that when it says, “God spoke” or “the Holy Spirit said” that the
people heard an audible voice. But
if you ask people who clearly hear Him on a regular basis, they will tell you
this is not the case.
Let’s take a look at how humans
function when it comes to interacting with the spiritual.
It is helpful to visualize a
person as consisting of three parts which can be diagrammed as three concentric
circles. Although the Scriptures
usually just refer to an inner and outer man, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 details this
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your
whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord
The outermost circle represents
the body. This is obviously the
physical part of us. It receives
stimuli from the world through the five senses. The middle band is the soul or psyche. Traditionally people think of it as the
mind, the will and the emotions.
It is the basis of our personality. This is where our thoughts reside. It can receive stimuli from both the body and the spirit as
well as generating its own thoughts and ideas. The inner circle is the spirit—that part of the person that
becomes alive when a person becomes a follower of Jesus. This part of us is where the Holy
We can choose to live under the
control of any of the three areas.
- Some people choose to live from the flesh, from their
body. Maybe they are fixated
on food, or on sex. They are
controlled by their bodily desires.
- Many more people live from their soul. Perhaps their emotions control
them. Their lives are
dominated by the emotion of the day and how they feel directs how they
live. Or maybe their
intellect is in control. They
will not believe or do something unless they can understand it and analyze
it, unless there is scientific or philosophic rationale for it.
- We can choose to live from our spirit and allow the
Holy Spirit to be in control of our lives. As we surrender to Him, He
affects every part of our lives including our soul and our body. As we yield our lives more and
more to Jesus, we find ourselves just naturally living more and more in
accord with the Word of God.
For the Christian, the aim is to
live from the Spirit within—that is, from the inner circle. The Bible tells us that it is very
difficult to distinguish between the soul and the spirit. In fact it takes the Word of God to do
so (Hebrews 4:12). We will know if
we are living by the spirit if our lives line up with the Scriptures, but our
motivation in doing so isn’t to keep a set of rules, but to learn to live from
the life of the Spirit within us.