Even believers with a working knowledge of Scripture often find it difficult to reconcile some Bible verses. For example, various verses raise questions because they emphasize different aspects of our salvation. For me, the breakthrough came when I determined that each verse was relating to either my body, my soul or my spirit. The following topics will illustrate how I think that works. For a more detailed view, use the table below.
Salvation: In some verses, the Bible is clear that salvation is a one-time event and is accomplished by God without human effort. (Jn 5:24; Acts 16:30-31) The salvation here is referring to our spirit and is called “justification.” But the Bible also says we have a role to play in our salvation and gives us something to do when it says, “put on your new self” (Eph 4:24) and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”(Phil 2:12) This verse is asking us to cooperate with God and allow our soul to become congruent with our spirit. This salvation is referring to our soul, and it’s called “sanctification.” The Bible also teaches that our salvation is a future event, which is called “glorification,” referring to the time when we will get a new glorified body. (Rom 8) Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the three phases of salvation. We’re saved, we’re being saved, and someday we will be saved. These three statements are speaking of our spirit, soul, or body. People often incorrectly interpret some verses because they don’t discern which part of us is spoken of. Our spirit is saved, our soul is being saved, and our body will be saved someday.
The Holy Spirit: The Bible says that at salvation our human spirit is replaced by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 3:16) But then it tells us that we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Eph 5:18) The indwelling is in our spirit, the filling refers to our soul, and the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 6:19)
Our mind: The Bible says that believers have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16) However, it also says we must have our minds renewed. (Rom 12:2) We know that Christ doesn’t need His mind renewed and we have His mind. So which is it? In our regenerated spirit, we do have the mind of Christ. But in our soul, we need to have our mind renewed. One way is; “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5)
Truth: The Bible says the believer has a knowledge of all truth. (John 14:17) However, in a later verse, it says that we lack understanding. (1 Cor 13:12) Again, we need to understand our essential makeup to understand that it is both. In our spirit, we have a knowledge of all truth, but our soul (mind, emotions, and will) does not presently have knowledge of all truth.
These thoughts and the table on the next page will illustrate how I reconcile questions about verses that seem to contradict each other.
SPIRIT – SOUL – BODY
1 Thes. 5:23 and Heb. 4:12