On last week’s “Wellness Wednesday,” we did a quick study of the four sides of wellness: Eat Right, Move Right, Think Right, and Live Right.
Like facets of a diamond, all four parts are equally important, and they all influence each other. For example, bad food choices can affect your mood and your movement, while stress can upset your digestion and sleep. Disease in one area of life can have a strong negative impact on the others.
Four Sides of Wellness on a Three-Sided Human
This week, I want to continue with the theme of a multifaceted life, but from a different angle (don’t you typically study diamonds from different angles?). I alluded to it briefly last week, but it’s important to understand that humans are three-part beings: spirit, soul, and body.
There is a common school of thought, especially among secular psychologists and academics, that life is made up exclusively of mind and body, and the spirit is just a figment of the imagination, but that theory fails to explain much of our human experience. It also explains why so much of modern psychology fails to solve human problems: in the same way that you can’t heal a bone by changing your thinking, you can’t solve spiritual problems with mental techniques. I’ll go into more depth with that in a minute.
The best way to describe human life is that you are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body. The body part is pretty obvious – it’s your skeleton, organs, muscle tissue, nerves, and blood system. Your body is born from a woman and eventually dies. It’s how you interact with the physical world. But how do we distinguish between the soul and spirit?
The soul is made up of your mind, will, and emotions. It’s where you think, feel, and make decisions. It’s how you act and react. It’s where you set goals and set the determination to achieve them. It is housed in the synapses of your brain and neurons. Your mind and brain are not the same. The brain is the organ where thought takes place. Your mind is your personality – the sum total of all your life experiences, training, and understanding of the world. (continued below)
MASTER YOUR HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT
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I am so excited to introduce a brand new season of “Fundamental Foods Nights!” We will meet the first Thursday night of each month here at my office on Pine Ridge Road in Naples (right behind the YMCA). Don’t miss any of them! The first one is Thursday, October 6 at 6:15 pm, and we will discuss How to Master the Eight Core Factors of Wellness. This one will set the tone for the whole series. Just bring a dinner dish to share or $10 in cash. Click here to register.
The spirit is the part so many people have a hard time with. Is it a feeling? A thought? A sixth sense? Is it the conscience – a little Jimminy Cricket in the back of your mind that keeps you on the straight and narrow?
Well, sort of.
You ARE a spirit, like God. John 4 says that God is a spirit. We can’t see Him with ou eyes or hear Him with our ears, but people who are attuned to spiritual things can recognize His presence.
According to God’s account of creation in Genesis 2, when God created Adam, it says, “man became a living being.” Let’s peel back the English and look directly at the language the Bible was originally written in – Hebrew. In Hebrew, that same verse says, “and Man became a speaking spirit” – a spirit with the ability to interact with the physical world through spoken words and physical actions. That makes us unique in creation. Angels and demons can’t do half the things we can do, nor can animals.
What Is My Spirit?
I’m now going to try to condense 6,000 years of theology, philosophy, psychology, and eschatology into a couple short paragraphs to see if I can explain this.
There are two realms cooperating around us right now – the physical realm that we can see, touch, and hear; and the spiritual realm, which is invisible but just as real. Your spirit interacts with the spiritual realm just like your body allows you to interact with the physical realm. Spirits without bodies can’t do anything in the physical realm, but they can interact with God, angels, demons, and spiritual activities.
While your mind occupies your brain, some say your spirit resides in your gut, and that’s why you tend to experience spiritual “feelings” in your midsection. The Bible calls it your “heart” and your “bowels” in different translations, so apparently this understanding has been around since the beginning.
Your conscience is a part of your spirit. We sat that we “feel” guilty as if it were an emotion, but in reality, your spirit is letting you know that you have violated something in the spiritual realm, just like your body lets you know when you touch a hot stove.
Intuition is when you pick up on spiritual information that your mind can’t otherwise detect. For instance, your intuition might be telling you to stay away from a business deal, even though everything in the physical and mental realm looks like it would be a good investment. That “hunch” is a part of your spirit alerting you to spiritual issues that your mind and body can’t perceive. People say it’s a part of the mind, but the mind is limited to the physical senses, logic, and emotion.
Why Some People Can’t Figure This Out
To some people, all this talk about a spiritual realm sounds like hogwash. They are entitled to that opinion. In fact, God Himself said spiritual issues won’t make sense to people who are not sensitive to their spirits. In order to discern spiritual matters, you have to be willing to acknowledge that there is a spiritual world and be receptive to signals from that realm. The mind can’t “understand” spiritual issues, so some people reject it. If you reject the notion of a spiritual realm, you will naturally dismiss spiritual things as nonsense (even though they are happening all around you) or explain them away with physical terms. Everyone has a spirit – the difference is whether that spirit is connected to God or not. A spirit connected to God is “alive” or “born again,” whereas a spirit disconnected from God is “dead.”
The scientific community dismisses spiritual issues as “unscientific.” Their reasoning is that, if you can’t explain a situation with the five physical senses and logic, it can’t be real. But rejecting evidence because it doesn’t conform to what you understand is a violation of the scientific method they claim to uphold. It’s like declaring flight is impossible because you don’t believe in the Law of Lift.
If you try to explain spiritual issues with physical and mental/emotional terms, you will always come up short. Psychology has entire volumes of terminology for trying to quantify spiritual concerns into mental terms, but it’s like trying to describe the shape of smoke. Some mental and emotional disorders are spiritual in nature, and if you ignore the spiritual side of mental and emotional issues, your solutions won’t work. For instance, if your fear is rooted in a guilty conscience, no amount of therapy or anti-anxiety meds, alcohol or drugs will relieve you.
Now, all that said, it’s worth noting that there are plenty of people who know there is a God but choose to ignore Him, dismiss Him, or pretend spiritual things don’t exist because they don’t want to be subject to His laws or they are angry at a Christian they know, like their parents. I like the statement: “God doesn’t believe in atheists.”
Let’s (Try To) Summarize
So, that’s me trying to be concise about one of the most complicated and controversial subjects in human existence without getting too deep into doctrine. Maybe a picture will make it clearer. This graphic is taken from theonlinebibleschool.net (click image to enlarge):
You are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body. Your body will die, but your spirit and soul will exist forever. Spirits can’t die. Death as we know it is really like taking off a suit. You’ll lay down your earth-suit and move into eternity as a spirit with a soul experiencing existence on the other side of that transition. How you experience eternity is a subject for another article.
Here’s A Key Takeaway
With all that in mind, one key takeaway is that you are a three-part being and all three parts are woven together so that what impacts one impacts the others. Unforgiveness in your mind causes sickness in your spirit and body. Gluttony is a spiritual issue that creates addictions in your mind and sickness in your body. It’s all related.
This understanding is going to set the stage for future articles for the rest of the year. I hope you’ll join me as we move through several different aspects of holistic health and wellness.
That reminds me: we’re having our first Fundamental Foods Night at my office on Pine Ridge Road, behind the YMCA. It’s going to be a great night as we learn How to Master the Eight Core Factors of Wellness. Join us as we kick off this season’s exciting health series. Bring a dish to share or $10 cash. I can’t wait to see you there.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” —Eric Thomas