Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Bible tells us that, as human beings, we have inward parts in addition to the outward members of our physical body. The inward parts are the parts of our inner being. According to the Bible, man is composed of spirit, soul, and body. The body, our physical being, is visible. This is our outer being. But the spirit and the soul, our inner being, are invisible. The soul includes the mind, the emotion, and the will. Along with all these inward parts of our being, the Bible also speaks of the heart and the conscience. We may say that the Bible is a book that deals with the genuine psychology, for it treats in a full way man’s seven inward parts: the spirit, the soul, the heart, the mind, the will, the emotion, and the conscience. These inward parts are the components of our inward being.
At this point I would like to raise two questions. First, what is the position of the heart in our inner being? Second, what is the function of the heart? In our study of 1 Thessalonians it is important that we find the answer to these questions. In this basic book to new believers Paul tells them in chapter three that they need to be perfected in their faith, and they need their love to increase and abound so that the Lord may establish their hearts. Surely Paul’s word concerning the heart in 3:13 indicates something crucial. Why does Paul not say that the Lord would establish their conscience, or that He would establish their mind, will, or emotion? It is very important that here Paul speaks of the Lord establishing the heart.
Throughout the years we have emphasized the spirit, and we have stressed the importance of turning to our spirit. Although we have given a number of messages on the heart, we have not emphasized the matter of the heart as much as we have emphasized the spirit. Now we would ask why in 3:13 Paul does not say that the Lord would establish our spirit or our soul, but our heart.
We know that our being is composed of three main parts—the spirit, the soul, and the body. But in 3:13, the end of the first section of 1 Thessalonians, Paul says, “That He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” However, at the end of the second section, composed of chapters four and five, Paul says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23). Why at the end of this Epistle does Paul mention nothing concerning the heart? What has become of it? What, then, is the relationship of the heart to the three main parts of our being? In order to answer this question, let us consider some verses that indicate the close relationship of the heart to the spirit and the soul.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” This verse speaks of the spirit, the soul, and the heart. Once the soul is divided from the spirit, we are able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The thoughts, of course, are of the mind, and the intents are of the will. According to this verse, the mind and the will are related to the heart, since the thoughts and intents are of the heart. The heart, therefore, includes the mind for thinking and the will for making decisions. This verse indicates that the heart is very close to the soul and the spirit.
Psalm 78:8 says, “And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.” In this verse we see that when the forefathers of Israel were stubborn and rebellious, their heart was not set aright, and their spirit was not steadfast. The spirit is not steadfast whenever the heart is not set aright. This verse indicates how close the heart is to the spirit.
Matthew 5:3 speaks of the spirit, and 5:8, of the heart. Verse 3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” Verse 8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” From these verses we see that we need to be poor in spirit and pure in heart. All these verses indicate that our heart is very close to our spirit and also to our soul.
We have pointed out a number of times in the past that our heart is a composition of all the parts of our soul—the mind, the emotion, and the will—plus one part of our spirit, the conscience. Hence, the heart is a composition of all the parts of the soul and one part of the spirit. Our soul is our personality, our person, our self. The English word psychology is derived from psuche, the Greek word for soul. The soul is the base of all psychological matters. The psuche, the soul, is the “I”; it denotes our being as humans, that is, our personality. This is the reason that in the Bible the number of persons is often given as the number of souls. For example, we are told that seventy souls of the house of Jacob went down to Egypt (Exo. 1:5). This indicates that a person is a soul, for the soul is one’s person.
As human beings, we have an outward organ, the body, to contact the physical, visible world. We also have an inward organ, the spirit, to contact God and the spiritual realm. The soul, located between these two organs, is our person, our self.
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