Spiritual Transformation Demystified

Hal Warren's picture

God exists in three different forms simultaneously (the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) (Deuteronomy 6:4. John 17:21.Luke 3:22) (4).  Man was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27); consequently, man has three parts: the spirit, the soul, and the body (1 Thessalonians 5:23. Genesis 2:7). God is the Father of all spirits (Hebrews 12:9).  Therefore, when we were conceived God gave us a spirit that was alive.  Alive meaning a spirit that could go into God’s presence.

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The Apostle Paul who wrote the book of Romans refers to when his spirit, that was given to him by God at conception, later in life died (Romans 7:9,10).  Remember that spiritual death is separation from God not ceasing to exist.  Spiritual death means you cannot go into His presence and when you leave the physical body you must be incarcerated in Hell (Matthew 10:28.Luke 16:20-31).  Again, we are all born with a spirit that is alive unto God but when we understand that sin leads to death (the law of sin and death) and chose to sin anyway – we separate our spirit from God (i.e., we die spiritually) (5). Unfortunately, all of us that have full use of our minds will do this before we die physically resulting in the death of our spirit and subsequent separation from God our Father (Romans 3:23).

Furthermore, being born with a spirit that is alive unto God is why those that are mentally challenged and young children - both of which never understand the law of sin leading to death - can still go to heaven when they die physically.  They have never died spiritually and are still alive spiritually unto God (i.e., they have a spirit that can go into God’s presence) (6).

However, when we have chosen to separate from God via sin, we will need a new spirit to bring us back in fellowship with Him (Ezekiel 36:26). The GOoD news is Jesus died on the cross at Calvary so that we could freely have a new spirit by just believing and submitting to His Lordship! (1)(Romans 10:9,10)  Consequently, we are given a new spirit when we are born again.  This new spirit is not an immature spirit but rather a perfect spirit (Hebrews 12:23).

Again, our new or reborn spirit is perfect and indeed must be to serve its intended purpose – to be the Most Holy Place of the New Testament!  Remember that the Most Holy Place was where God dwelt on Earth in the Old Testament. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit (1) comes to live in our reborn spirit that is located within our physical body (Romans 8:9).  The Holy Spirit is so holy that even His name reflects this attribute.  Consequently, it would be impossible for Him to reside in a less than perfect spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). It is God the Holy Spirit within us that causes us to walk in His Word (Ezekiel 36:27) (7). 

Another thing that we are given in the new birth besides a new spirit is a new spiritual heart. Realize the heart and the spirit of man are not the same thing.  I am referring here to the spiritual heart and not the physical blood pump.  The words for heart and spirit are different both in the Greek of the New Testament and the Hebrew of the Old Testament.  Furthermore, the Word of God is the only way to examine the differences between the soul and spirit of a man.  Upon dividing the soul and spirit for study we find the spiritual heart of man (Hebrews 4:12). We are given a new spirit and the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ - Romans 8:9) comes to live within us (Ezekiel 36:26,27). I believe that the mystery has been hidden for those that are seeking to really KNOW God and not just about Him and that we discover these truths by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-16. Proverbs 25:2. Ephesians 3:3-5.2 Peter 3:15,16. John 3:10)

The spiritual heart is the soil or incubator of our thoughts and intents (motives) and is what science calls the subconscious mind (Mark 4:15).  It is the hidden person, inner man, or real you (1 Peter 3:4).  You can fool people with your soul but your heart reflects who you are in reality. Remember, God looks on the heart because it is the real you (1 Samuel 16:7).

However, the heart of man is changed by what we give attention to with the soul (Proverbs 23:7. Matthew 6:21).  The soul of man is the center of our mind, emotions, and will.  The words that we say from our soul via our body go into our spiritual heart for good or for bad (James 1:26).  Furthermore, whatever you think about is being stored or treasured in your spiritual heart (Matthew 12:34).  When these thoughts become predominant in your spiritual heart then your behavior changes.  These predominant thoughts then manifest themselves as our intents or motives.

Furthermore, we understand spiritual truths with our spiritual heart (Matthew 13:15).  It is with our spiritual heart that we believe not with the soul (Romans 10:10). Our spiritual heart is the soil for the Word of God (Matthew 13:19).  A tender heart is like good soil, and a hard heart is like rocky soil. However, we can break up or plow the soil of our heart by prayer (Hosea 10:12).  That is why those that spend much time in prayer understand much about the Word.  They are spending time preparing the soil of their heart for the seed of the Word (Jeremiah 4:3. Hosea 10:12).

During the new birth, God takes away our hard spiritual heart and gives us a new spiritual heart that is tender unto Him.  However, God does not give us a new soul in the new birth.  Therefore, if we do not discipline ourselves (1) to renew the part of our soul (1) called the mind to His Word (1)(Romans 12:2) then our old reprobate thoughts will harden this new and tender spiritual heart making it similar to before we were born again (i.e., conformed to this world rather than transformed - Romans 12:2). (3)

This hardening of a new spiritual heart happens to many Christians and is the reason they backslide to the point that the church might question if they were ever born again. Furthermore, some think that these hardhearted individuals have lost or rather given away their salvation when in reality it is just that they have hardened their new spiritual heart.  Personally, I believe we are going to be humbled when we see many joining us in Heaven that we have written off.  Our God is abounding in grace, mercy-love and compassion and is not looking for perfect performance but rather progress! Even as a parent applauds every baby step a little one makes - so much more does our Father in Heaven (Luke 15:10).

Consequently, we must by the Holy Spirit study the Word and allow it to save (deliver) our souls (Philippians 2:12).  This is the only way that we can keep our hearts pure and thus sensitive to God (Proverbs 4:23. James 4:8). 

Again, man is a spirit, has a soul, and lives in a physical body.  The bridge between the soul and body of man is the human brain.  If the brain is healthy then it functions to provide a two-way flow of information between the physical world and our soul.  If our brain is damaged (e.g. hardening of the arteries, stroke, concussion, etc) then we may not be able to transfer information from the physical world to our soul and vice-a-versa.  For example, have you ever known someone that had a stroke that could not talk to you due to a stroke but still knew you? I have know some that could sing the information to you after a stroke but not communicate it with normal conversation. (2)

Furthermore, what the brain is to the body and soul the spiritual heart is to the soul and spirit.  The spiritual heart is the bridge between the soul and spirit of man.  If our spiritual heart is healthy then the Holy Spirit, who came into our spirit at the new birth, can fill our spiritual hearts. The Holy Spirit desires to fill our reborn spiritual hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5).  To be filled with God’s love is to be filled with God because He is love (1 John 4:16). That is, God does not just love you – He is love Himself! (2)

This filling of our hearts with God after the new birth is what many have referred to as the second experience.  However, we do not get more of God when He fills our heart but rather He gets more of us!  Unlike the one-time experience of the new birth, the filling of our spiritual heart is something that can be done many, many times – thank you Jesus!  However, when our words and thoughts harden our hearts (similar to hardening the arteries of our brain by eating the wrong foods) then God cannot fill us or not fill us much.  Then the world cannot see Christ in our lives.  That is because the Holy Spirit is limited in flowing from our spirit, to our heart, to our soul, to our brain, to our body. (2) God desires us to have pure spiritual hearts so that the Holy Spirit within us can flow like a river through us to meet the needs of others (John 7:38,39. 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13).

GOoD news!  Jesus came in the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the broken of spiritual heart (Luke 4:18,19). Furthermore, our new spiritual hearts can be enlarged to hold an ever increasing amount of God (Psalms 119:32. Ephesians 3:14-19).  This is because the spiritual heart is the part of man that is new but not fully mature when we are born again (Matthew 9:17).

Summary:

During the new birth, we are given three things: a new perfect spirit, a new but immature spiritual heart, and the Holy Spirit tabernacles within our new spirit.  However, we are expected to submit to the Holy Spirit for the renewing of our minds (salvation of our souls) and for Him to initially fill our spiritual heart and for subsequent fillings of our spiritual heart.

Application Prayer:

Heavenly Father I have hardened my heart; consequently, the World is not seeing Christ in me and I am bringing reproach to your great name.  You paid the price for me at Calvary by conquering sin and all of its effects.  I thank you that your word of my redemption is the same today as when you first spoke it upon Jesus’ resurrection.  I thank you now for a heart that is tender towards you, a heart that has been made whole.  Please fill my heart Holy Spirit to overflowing.  Let your rivers of living waters flow out of me so that this lost World may know You are in me and I am in you – that we are one so that the World will know that you sent Jesus!


(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.

(2) Open attached short PowerPoint Show (Spirit Soul and Body.ppt with four slides) to have an animated aid to understanding the connection of the spirit, spiritual heart, soul, brain, and body. Left click to download the file and left click to advance through it. If you do not have Microsoft PowerPoint installed on your computer you can download a free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft here. I recommend it as picture is worth at least a thousand words.

(3) In Romans 12:2 The word for "transformed" in the Greek could be described as the change a caterpillar makes when turning into a beautiful butterfly.

(4) Deuteronomy 6:4 states that God is one and John 17:21 states that the Father and Son are "in" each other. However, Luke 3:22 and Acts 7:55,56 describe them as existing in three different persons and places simultaneously. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 describes them as having different functions. So how do we reconcile this seeming difference? Unfortunately we have mental models or paradigms that help us to understand God that are oversimplified and incomplete. For example, Neil Bohr’s oversimplified model of the atom with electrons existing in discreet fixed orbits can be used to explain many things that we observe at the atomic level. However, this model has been shown to be inaccurate by quantum mechanics leading to the more recent electron cloud model of the atom. In my mental model I see God as three distinct persons that are so united in purpose and thought that although they exist separately they also live as if they are one being. Similar to water that can exist separately as a solid (ice), liquid (water) and gas (water vapor) simultaneously at the triple point (0.01 °C,  4.56 mm Hg) yet is still one due to the fact that these are all different states or forms of water.  

(5) Our mental models limit us. While indeed Psalms 51:5 states that we are born in sin it cannot mean that our spirits are fallen at conception (Romans 9:10-12). That is, how can God who is zoe (i.e., everlasting life) Himself create a fallen spirit at conception? (Hebrews 12:9. James 1:17) In my mental model the fallen nature of Adam is passed to our children via the male's DNA (hence one reason for the virgin birth of our savior Jesus Christ) and due to the legal rights Satan obtained by Adam's fall* over those that have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. This means to me that we are predisposed to sin and if we are of mental ability to know the difference between right and wrong and choose wrong we join our spirit with that of Satan (Romans 5:12,13.Ephesians 2:2) and thus die spiritually to God (i.e., we are then separated from God). Furthermore, while there was one sin that separated Adam and all of his descendants from God there are many sins that occur daily. Mankind does not fall anew when we sin but rather we enter into the fall of Adam just like Jesus does not get crucified again when we accept Him as our personal Savior and Lord but rather we enter into His all sufficient victory on the cross where He paid the price for Adam's "sin" of rebellion (John 16:8,9) which subsumed all subsequent sins of the human race (1 John 2:2).

(6) Can a human go to Heaven without being born again? Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) and Enoch (Genesis 5:24. Hebrews 11:5) did. Let us be precise - Jesus said no one can come to God the Heavenly Father except by Him (John 14:6). Jesus did not say that no one could come to Heaven except by Him. In fact Satan went to Heaven on several occasions without being born again (Job 1:6,7.Job 2:1,2). I do not pretend to have all the answers on how we are processed when we go to Heaven. However, I believe that those that are not able to mentally choose Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior while on Earth in a human body will go to a part of Heaven called Paradise (i.e., the Garden of Eden) because they are innocent similar to Adam and Eve before the fall. However, they cannot go into God the Father's presence at this time because they never accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior while in a human body (John 14:6.Luke 10:22). Furthermore, this means that they are not part of the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Perhaps they will return to live on Earth in a non-glorified human body during the 1000 year reign of Jesus on Earth and will then get the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord or rebel (Revelation 20). Nevertheless, the Bible is clear that if we have the mental ability to choose Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior yet refuse then we will go to Hell upon our death and ultimately spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (John 3:16-18.Luke 16:19-31.Revelation 20:15).

(7) The Holy Spirit is given to those born again as a free gift; however, I do not believe that we give Him all of ourselves immediately. The process by which we learn to give Him all of ourselves is simply obedience (Acts 5:32) resulting in sanctification. Furthermore, while the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as He wills I have found that He does not manifest the gifts very long to those that are not growing in His fruit (Galatians 5:22,23). We do not have to earn anything but rather we have a part to play in cooperating with God (James 2:14-26).

Lastly, I am blessed that we are approaching these differing views with the motive of building one another up and not tearing each other down (Proverbs 27:17.Acts 18:24-28.Acts 17:11).


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