Spirit is central to understanding the human condition and its salvation. Only there is very little teaching out there on what it is. I have never come across any teachings that explain it to me in my Christian experience. The world is used often and it is because of taking on a new Spirit that opens me up to salvation. Not to mention Jesus says God is Spirit and he is looking for worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit. How can I worship Him in Spirit if I don’t even understand spirit. As such it is important to understand exactly what spirit is.
In doing so we must talk about the triune nature of man, God and the biune nature of angels and animals.
I’ve heard it said that it is a great mystery that God is three but He is One. Its not such a great mystery if you understand the immaterial nature of man. If you understand yourself, you can understand how God is three but one. And if you understand how God is three but one, then you can understand yourself.
Man is spirit, soul, and body. Our body and its faculties are the embodiment of the immaterial parts of us. Our body is the expression of everything we are. Without a body we wouldn’t have expression to what we are. This is a terrible and painful state.
Our soul can be thought of as our mind. The faculties of our soul are our: will; emotions; intellect; desires; imagination; it is the seat of decisions, rational, and reasoning. It is the real man and the personality of him.
Our spirit is life principal. It is simply awareness/consciousness and the power of animation or better put, life. It is awareness in that it has a sense of self and its environment. It is the spirit awareness or consciousness that makes the soul alive and active and powerful to will. It is also the soul's source of perception outlook and attitude before it turns these things into words and considers them.
The faculties of spirit are: memory, instinct, motivation, inspiration (to be inspirited), power, outlook, attitude, perception and wisdom.
I want to talk about instinct for a moment. Instinct is nothing more than knowledge that is imparted Spirit to spirit from God to the creature. True spirit knowledge is wordless. Words are not the native language of spirit. It is of the soul. This is true for a duck that suddenly is compelled to fly south and know exactly the direction to go in and the time to go. It is wordless knowledge and a compulsion/inspiration God has imparted to the duck. The same it is for us. And when we act out of instinct and not out of our intellect, our intellect is letting itself be bypassed and moved by its spirit as inspired by God or its own past experiences (depending on what the case is).
All of these qualities are those of the three aspects of man. Each aspect: spirit, soul, and body, are independent in that they have their own individual feelings and mind about things so to speak. For the body, it would be the brain. What makes this true is that your three different natures can be in conflict with each other. Since your spirit is experiential and memory, it can have irrational fears of things based on past traumatic experiences like a car crash. In your mind (soul) you can decide with word knowledge and reasoning that it is safe to drive in a car and the chances of getting in another wreck are slim. Even though in your mind you understand it’s safe and are at peace about riding in a car, your spirit can totally disagree by becoming agitated with fear flooding your mind with fear trying to stop it from willing your body from getting in the car. You are left saying I don’t understand it, I know its safe but I have this irrational fear that’s making me afraid. The truth is your spirit is in conflict with your soul.
It’s the same with the body. Here is a simple example, after not much sleep and the body is tired but the alarm clock goes off nothing in your body wants to get up or become alert. But dragging yourself out of bed and making yourself open your eyes and making yourself alert when in your body, it didn’t want to get up, but was forced by your will. Then it doesn’t want to become alert, but your mind/soul forces it to. As these three natures can have different ideas and feelings from each other you can say you are three. But since they work in harmony so well to make you a whole person so much so that you can’t distinguish for yourself where one nature ends and the other begins; you can say you are one. So you are three, but you are one.
If you can see how you yourself are three but one, then it would be easy to see how God is three but one. That is since we are made in His likeness. God is Spirit, Father and Word or Son. They equate to our three natures this way. God’s Spirit equates to our spirit. The Father which is the mind of God and the will of God, equates to our soul which also possess those faculties. And the Son or the Word is the manifestation of God, or the embodiment of God. Now you can understand how Jesus can say, if you have seen me you have seen the Father.
Since only man has a soul what this means is only man can actually relate to God in the fullness of His three natures. He made us this way because He made us for relationship. Angels are task oriented by God’s design, man is relationally oriented by God’s design.
For a clearer understanding of spirit let’s look at animals and angels. As I said they are biune beings. Many people equate spirits with spirit beings.
This is not really the case. Spirit is not an embodiment. It takes up no space and has no substance. For example, to be with one in spirit all you have to do is to be consciously aware of him. Another way of saying it is bring him to mind and you are with him in spirit. Some people have an awareness of where there spirit is and what it is seeing. Others can discern when someone is thinking about them and projecting feelings about them.
It's just like in Genesis when it says the Earth was formless and the Spirit of God was hovering or brooding (some translations say; like a mother hen over her eggs) over the waters. Why was that? Because God the Father was thinking of what He was about to do to the Earth. Because of that He was with the Earth in Spirit. We know it was the case that He was thinking about the Earth because after this statement He starts speaking out commands that change the earth.
The point is, spirit has no substance to it, and it can’t even be seen in the spirit realm. That means that angels have a body made out of supernatural substance and it is alive by the spirit it embodies. The angels have two natures; spirit and supernatural bodies. Animals are the same, only they are spirit and natural body. Man is spirit, soul, and natural body. But one day those who are saved will be spirit, soul and supernatural body. It is then the elements of the natural universe cannot harm or effect man. Not cold, not heat, not hunger or sickness. Because those are the things of the natural and our new bodies, like the angels will be not subject to natural elements.