What is man 3 – Body, Soul and Spirit

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the body, soul and spirit of man in the light of God’s ongoing work in us.


1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Hebrews 4:9-13

9  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience [as the Hebrews who died in the desert before entering the Promised Land]. 12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Observation and reflection

Context: Remember that Hebrews were written to believers who considered walking away from faith in Jesus due to severe Roman persecution.

  1. Considering the context of the first readers, answer the following verses pertaining to Hebrews 4:12-13
    1. What would this verse mean for them?
    2. What is meant with “word”, “soul”, “spirit” and “division” in the verse above?
    3. Can you see the irony in the metaphor of “word of God” as a “double-edged sword”? [hint: what are the readers afraid of…?] What then is emphasized by the use of this metaphor?
    4. How does the Word active in “discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart”?
    5. How does “thoughts and intents of the heart” relate to “soul and spirit” in this context?
  2. From 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, what do you learn about the Lord’s work of salvation in a believer? [don’t rush your answer]

Personal reflection and prayer

  1. Sin results in destruction and death. Consider any particular destructive sin such as sexual perversion or substance abuse.  In which way can you observe persistent sinful behavior affecting
    1. The body;
    2. The soul;
    3. The spirit? [hint: relationships are inherently spiritual]
  2. Now prayerfully consider your life in the light of the Lord’s ongoing work of restoration; how are you still in need of the Lord’s work of sanctification in
    1. Your body;
    2. Your soul;
    3. Your spirit?
  3. Personalize Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, thanking the Lord that He is faithful and ask Him to restore and sanctify your body, soul and spirit as you have particular needs, and also ask him to preserve you wholly.
  4. What is your particular weakness or area where you are most frequently tempted? Confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to bring his Word to “pierce to the division of soul and of spirit… and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” that you may know and desire what is His will.

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