After we come to the Lord, I know our soul needs a lot of work doing on it by cooperating with or submitting to the Lord, (sanctification and all that) as well as restoration of course, but I have heard that our spirit is made perfect at regeneration (although I believe it can be hurt).
What is your opinion on this??
As is so often the case, I find it really helpful to cover some background first. Some of you may know this stuff well, but I find it useful to get our thoughts in order.
Intro and Background
First of all, did you know you were DEAD?!!!!
It’s true. Have a look at these passages – ask yourself, in what way were you dead?
Eph. 2 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Eph. 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
When it says you were “dead” in your sins – how could you be dead? You didn’t look dead!
How can it say you were dead when you were manifestly still walking about and thinking stuff?
If your BODY wasn’t dead, and your MIND (or soul) wasn’t dead, which bit WAS dead? It has to be your spirit. Or if you like, your non-spirit, cos it was dead, wasn’t it?
So, before you became a Christian, your body and mind were alive, but your spirit was dead.
That explains why it’s SOOO difficult for a non-Christian to understand when you try to explain spiritual things to them. Things that are obvious and easy to understand for you are confusing and clear as mud to them.
So, what happens to your dead spirit when you become a Christian?
John 3 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
It gets made ALIVE! Brought to life by the action of the Holy Spirit on it.
The Holy Spirit couldn’t do that before you became a Christian, because you hadn’t surrendered to God. He did not have PERMISSION to interfere with your dead spirit.
But the moment you surrendered, you gave him permission to come into you and change what needed changing.
And the first thing he changes is your spirit. A part of you that isn’t alive, comes to life.
When you were born as a baby, you changed from being NOT alive (independently that is) to BEING alive.
When your spirit changes from being not alive to being alive, it is as if you have been born AGAIN. Born not of the (physical) flesh, but of the life giving power of the Spirit as Jesus says in John 3.
And the odd thing is, for the Christian, the Bible speaks of the body as being dead, and the spirit as being alive. Rom 8 10
The “aliveness” of your spirit is so “alive” that your (apparently alive) body is “dead” by comparison!
(Isn’t it interesting that this is exactly the opposite way round from the non-Christian who thinks his body is alive but has a dead spirit!)
So, this newly alive spirit of yours. What’s it like? Is it perfect? Can it be corrupted?
Well one problem your spirit has is that it is attached to your mind and body.
Your body is the same one you had before you were a Christian. That can cause problems, let’s say your body was addicted to nicotine before, well it’s still addicted now.
And say you fed your mind with unhealthy thoughts before, well you’ll still be able to remember them now.
So what difference does your spirit-change make?
It gives you a new controller. It is powered by the Holy Spirit, and it has the ability to influence your mind, and then your body.
So, you might fill your mind with good things, as Paul suggests in Phil 4 8
And then you might tell your body to surrender to God’s ways, and refuse to allow it to continue its previous unhealthy ways. Paul covers this in Romans 6 13 and 12 1
So your spirit is influenced by God’s Holy Spirit, and acts as a Godly influence on your mind and body
So, the question asks – is this newly-enlivened spirit perfect?
The simple answer is “No”.
Let’s see if I can give some reasons for this conclusion.
First, despite me using the terms “body, mind, and spirit” as if they are separate things, they are not really separate at all.
The distinction is useful to explain about the dead spirit being made alive, but it can get in the way and cause us to misunderstand other things.
So, for this subject, we need to have a correct understanding of the UNITY of the body, mind and spirit.
This is more akin to the way the Hebrews thought of “us”. They thought of us as one entity, without division within us. It was the Greeks who had the idea that the three parts were separate, (so separate that the things which happened to one part didn’t necessarily affect the other parts).
In fact neither the Hebrews nor the Greeks got it exactly right.
The Hebrews needed to recognise that there IS a separation, here’s evidence:
-the body is physical, the mind and spirit are insubstantial,
-only the body and mind function in non-Christians; the spirit is non-functional till we become Christians,
-the mind and spirit will survive the death of the body and will be united with a physical resurrection body eventually
On the other hand, the Greeks needed to realise that your body, mind and spirit form a completely integrated person and in this life, you can’t actually separate one from the others.
-spiritual problems can affect how your mind thinks
-mental stresses can affect how your body works
-bodily ailments can be distressing to the mind, and weigh down the spirit.
So your question about whether the spirit is made perfect at regeneration is rather “Greek Thought” in its origin.
The fact is, your spirit is YOU! Just because it didn’t function before you were a Christian doesn’t mean it isn’t YOU!
It is ONE with your body and mind (soul). It is completely integrated with them.
So when the Holy Spirit made your spirit spring into life, he enlivened a part of you that is still totally, wholly and utterly YOU!
Now ask yourself – are “you” perfect?
I get the same answer.
My spirit is new, my mind is being renewed, my body is being brought under the authority of the Holy Spirit, but I have not reached the standard of perfection which is defined by God’s holiness. I WILL be perfect one day, but not this side of the grave.
The fact that Jesus has paid for my sin affects my STATUS with God, but the effect on my actual STATE is a more long-winded process: the “be being renewed”, the daily “putting on Christ”.
So if “you” are still contaminated by the effects of sin, that is ALL of you. The moral contamination affects your spirit as well.
Of course you ARE a changed person. In your daily walk you have gone from “non posse non peccare” to “posse non peccare”.
You’ll find an explanation of what this means in the question “Jesus as a Man” and Post no 7 of the answers to that, but just to remind you I’ve posted part of the answer below:
I find it easier to grasp what happens when I use the Latin words – see if you do.
Here’s the Latin first, English and explanation next:
NON = NOT – same word, pretty well
POSSE = POSSIBLE – our word comes from the Latin
PECCARE = TO SIN – we get our word “impeccable” from this, meaning “without fault”
So we pass from “NOT being able NOT to sin” to “being able NOT to sin”.
This means that although you haven’t lost the contamination of moral imperfection from the Fall, nevertheless, it IS now possible to walk in complete godliness on a day by day basis.
On the other hand, Paul warns us that we can contaminate ourselves further if we live in an ungodly way:
2 Cor. 7 1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Incidentally, the word ”perfecting” here, is “epitelountes” which is one of those wonderful Greek “continuous” present participles. It means “go on (continually) with the process of bringing perfection into your life”.
It DOESN’T mean you suddenly become perfect, then you can relax and enjoy being perfect ever after.
As an addendum, I thought I’d post some useful references, some of which I’ve used above:
Matt. 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Jn 3 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
Rom. 6:8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Rom. 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Rom. 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
1Cor. 6 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1Cor. 14 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
2Cor. 7 1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Col 2 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
1Th. 5:22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Heb. 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Heb 11 23b You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
1 Pet. 2 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
1 Pet 4 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.