What is man 5 – Guarding your Spirit

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to reflect on the spiritual nature of man, and the effect of sin on it.

Scripture

Malachi 2:13-16

13  And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14  But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.” So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.

Observations and reflections

Context: the prophet Malachi calls for moral reform in Israel about 400BC, specifically focusing on the priests.

  1. In simple words try to define the problem (or sin) which the prophet addresses. [verse 14]
  2. How does God make a married couple one? [verse 15]
  3. What do you learn about the effect of sexual unfaithfulness on the human spirit?
    1. What does that suggest on the nature of sin in general?
    2. What does that suggest of the nature of sexual relationships?
  4. Malachi says the man who divorces his wife “covers his garment with violence” (verse 16) – what does he mean to say with this strong imagery? [hint: read the rest of the verse…]
    1. What effect does divorce have on the human spirit? [verse 16]
    2. Why do you think this happens?
  5. Malachi repeats the phrase “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
    1. From this context, what does “guard yourself in your spirit” mean?
    2. In a more general context, what does “guard yourself in your spirit” mean?

Personal reflection and prayer

“We are spirits having a human experience.”  Relationships are at their core spiritual, and sexual relationships so much more intense.  For more on the spiritual nature of our sexuality read “It’s not just sex

  1. When were you the most acutely aware of your spirit? Reflect on those moments. What made you so aware of your spirit?
  2. In response to Malachi’s this word, how will you “guard yourself in your spirit”? [don’t rush over this]
  3. Reflect on your innocence and joyfulness and hopefulness in your youth; how has your spirit been damaged over the years? Pray Paul’s prayer for restoration and preservation of your spirit: “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.”
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What is man 4 – Direct your soul

The aim of this devotional study is to learn from a Psalmist’s relationship to his soul.

Scripture

Psalms 42:1-11

1  As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

3  My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”  4  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.  5  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

6  O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. 7  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. 8  The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me– A prayer to the God of my life.

9  I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10  As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Observation and reflection

  1. Read through this Psalm again and summarize the following sections:
    1. Verse 1-2
    2. Verses 3-5
    3. Verses 6-8
    4. Verses 9-11
  2. What do you learn about the Psalmist’s understanding of his soul?
    1. Verse 2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”
    2. Verse 3 “I pour out my soul within me.”
    3. Verse 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
  3. Consider the Psalmist’ response to “a cast-down and disquieted soul”

Verse 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God! For I shall praise Him…”

Verse 6 “my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You…”

  1. If the Psalmist was speaking to and directing the state of his soul, how does the Psalmist relate to his soul?
  2. Suggest other words for his “soul” in this text.

Personal reflection and Application and Prayer

  1. Some would say this Psalmist was challenged with depression (cast-down) and anxiety (disquieted). What state emotional states are you more frequently challenged with?
  2. Follow the example for the Psalmist above and
    1. Confess your need for and dependence on God
    2. Confess your emotional state to God (that you are most frequently challenged with)
    3. Direct your soul / emotional state by
      1. taking charge of your emotions and thoughts (verbally)
      2. reminding yourself of God’s power, proximity, promises and personal care for you
      3. reminding yourself of what God has done for you in the past
      4. a resolute decision to praise God
  1. Search and record one or two Scriptures that counters the emotional state you are more frequently challenged with; keep it handy.

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.

Scriptures

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.

What is man 2 – A living soul

The aim of this devotional study is to consider the soul of man that distinguishes him from all other created things.

Scripture

Genesis 2:4-9,15

4  These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. 5  When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up–for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6  and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground– 7  then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.

8  And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9  And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… 15  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Observation and reflection

Note: The word “Adam” literally translated is “red” or “ground”; Adam got his name from the ground out of which he was formed.

  1. Retell this creation account in your own words.
    1. What details are highlighted in this version of the creation?
  2. From this second creation account,
    1. What do we learn of man’s environment?
    2. What do we learn of man’s uniqueness?
    3. What do we learn of man’s task?
  3. What do you understand from the phrase “man became a living soul”?

Personal reflection and Application and Prayer

The Psalmists frequently speak to their souls to console it or direct it towards God, as we see in this well-known Psalm.  Read through this Psalm and learn from the Psalmist’s understanding and relating to his own soul.  Then pray a similar prayer to God, as it applies to your own circumstance.

Psalms 42:1-11

1  As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.

2  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

3  My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”

4  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

5  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

6  O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.

7  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

8  The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me– A prayer to the God of my life.

9  I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10  As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

11  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

BS1 What is man 1 – original intent

The aim of this devotional study is to consider that man was made “in the likeness of God” and the consequences thereof.

Scripture

Genesis 1:24-31

24  And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Observation

  1. What do we learn about mankind in each of the following verses?
    1. Verse 26
    2. Verse 27
    3. Verse 28
    4. Verse 29
    5. Verse 31
  2. Now summarize what you observe in this Text about God’s original intent of mankind (in terms of role/ purpose).
  3. From this creation account, what distinguishes mankind from animals?

Personal Reflection

  1. Man was created “in the image of God” and “very good”.
    1. How should impact your self-image?
    2. How should that impact your relationship with God?
    3. How should that impact your relationship with your neighbor?
  2. Man was created to “have dominion” over everything in earth.
    1. How does that impact your attitude towards your environment and nature in general?
  3. Why are people precious to God?

Prayer

Pray this prayer of David to God, and then pray that God will re-adjust your attitude to the people around you in accordance with His view of them.

Psalms 8:1-9

1  O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens… 3  When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7  all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8  the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9  O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!