There is so much here that I just did not know where to start. I even chose about 10 different titles. So I’ll start the way the Holy Spirit showed it to me. I had only recently finished the As God Sees It article. Before you read this you need to read that article, especially the section “The stench of sin”. You need to grasp that Jesus separates us from our sins and presents us holy and righteous to His Father. This article just shows that God has got the rest covered from then on. He does this by giving us a new incorruptible body. This might not seem that dramatic until you see how the combination of Jesus and the Father makes a complete, perfect, and eternal victory over sin.
Apart from Jesus, no one is perfect. Even the apostle Paul made that clear of himself. So I won’t be perfect when I get to heaven. I know myself – things go well for a while and then something happens and the cracks in my holy facade show through. Do I have to exemplify? Don’t we all? What will happen then? Sin cannot exist in God’s presence.
I think that this question plays on the minds of a lot of unbelievers. Some think that it’s just too good to be true. How could the death of one man get me – grossly imperfect as I am – into heaven? Well that’s what “As God Sees It” is all about. But then there is the follow-up statement, “and even if Jesus crucifixion can get me into heaven, I would soon show my imperfection and be chucked out”.
This awareness of our imperfection leads some people to strive to perfect themselves by obeying the law. But that is what the Old Testament proved cannot work. Then others seek to compensate by good works – another failure. Are you getting discouraged? Recall Romans 8:1:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
But by recognising our imperfection we see our need for Jesus and our thankfulness turns us to God.
So what does happen if I sin in heaven? The problem here is that the question is wrong. You see, God has set things up in heaven so that I will not sin. How can I be so sure? ...I’ll get to it, but I need to show you a few more things first.
I am a son of God and part of the bride of Christ. I have been both adopted in, and married in to His house. By the two most powerful unions of the Bible, by son-ship and marriage, the One True and Faithful God, the God of Heaven and Earth, has declared me as His. He will never eject me from His heaven. So it seems pretty likely that He will have set things up so there will be no problems. So as you read on, what I suggest from several different angles is something that you should want to see.
I was listening to the book of Romans on a tape and I was getting frustrated as Paul kept referring to “the body”, mainly in chapters 6 to 8. I rarely sin with my body, that is actually do things that are wrong. It seems that I spend much more time battling with sin as desires and in the mind and emotions. So why this preoccupation with the body and the flesh. Here are some exerts:
Needless to say the Holy Spirit then opened my eyes to something:
Well, guess what boys and girls – when we get to heaven we get a new
incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:42), and sin will not be able
to work through it, provided of course the stench of our sin had been washed
away by faith in Jesus. Note that many translations, including NASB, talk about a
perishable body, but the Greek word used here, phthora
Putting it another way, we remain part of Christ and through the marriage covenant Jesus rules over our bodies (1 Corinthians 7:4). I think that is a pretty good guarantee that sin will never get hold.
So Jesus separates us from our sins in this world – in our current bodies, and presents us as perfect to His father. Then God gives us a new body that will never sin again. How simple is that?
This reinforces a point that I like to emphasise. Our time in the universe, away from the full presence of God, has just one purpose – to give us time to freely choose God. Love must be a free choice. Jesus has dealt with sin in this world and God the Father has it covered in Heaven.
Here is a really simple picture to show how it works:
This diagram is a pretty good fit to a lot of scriptures. You will come across scriptures like 1 Corinthians 6:15 stating our bodies are now members of Christ, and so you might wonder how sin gets in. Well in fact that is a great scripture to show how it won’t in heaven. But keep in mind this is a view of how it works to show that we can be confident that we won’t sin in heaven. It is not the total picture of the way things are in this world. Like a parable it just gives one view. But wow, what an encouraging view. Sin cannot get hold in our new incorruptible body!
I felt that I should show some more detail of how sin works through the body. But in the end you will have already rejoiced to see the simplicity of what God will do through our new bodies, or you are looking for an excuse to make it hard on yourself and stay captive to sin. I think you could write a book on this. If you want to see the simplicity of God’s way here then you will, even without any examples. If you don’t then you won’t, no matter how many examples I give. So just a few points will suffice:
OK, can you see how the victory Jesus won on the Cross was complete? Even though I don’t see myself as perfect; nor is the church perfect; nor is the world even heading in the right direction – yet Jesus’ victory was complete because belief in that alone is enough to get us sinless before the Father, and then in heaven there will be no more sin. The victory is salvation – getting us into heaven.
Did you notice that at each step God did it! All I did was say yes and go along with His way.
We don’t have to achieve some prerequisite level of perfection in our own strength. The completeness of this victory is what Satan wants to hide from us, because then we lose site of the grace and mercy of God where-in is the power to set us free. As soon as we see salvation as dependant in some way on ourselves, then our faith is eroded because we see lots of imperfections in ourselves. And it’s that very faith that actually enables us to walk free of sin and pleasing to the Father. That is why we need to grasp the completeness of Jesus victory.
Are you still struggling with sin working in the body? What was Jesus victory on the Cross? It was that he carried our sin to the grave in his mortal body. Jesus’ spirit was direct from God and so he was the son of God, but his body was borne of the Virgin Mary and so was fully man. Though he never sinned and sin had no hold on him, yet his body was the vehicle by which the sin of the world was dealt with. So whether or not you feel like sin works through your body, you have to admit that God seems to see it like that.
In 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Paul clearly lays out how our natural, earthly, mortal, corruptible bodies are replaced by spiritual, heavenly, immortal, incorruptible bodies. When I read this again after writing much of this article, I wonder if every other Christian had not already seen what I am saying and I am just catching up.
Does anyone know of any law in heaven that I can break? If there are no declared laws then I cannot sin. In the Garden of Eden, at the beginning, there was only one law – do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Guess what, that tree is not in heaven! By the way – doesn’t knowledge of good and evil sound like knowing the law that declares right and wrong. There will be no law in heaven to break, so there cannot be sin.
I know that that is nearly impossible to grasp. Christian teachers that teach obedience to the law just cannot grasp it either. They cannot let go of the big stick and trust that the grace of God transforms us and sets us free of the power of sin. The law is done away with, well, all but that of love. If the law is done away with, or fulfilled by Jesus if you like it that way better, then there is none left to carry over into heaven.
Someone will surely be struggling with this. They will do what I sadly do at times and find some way to twist it to blame God. They will say, “Why didn’t God give us these perfect incorruptible bodies that are invulnerable to sin here in this world?” Do you see how we now blame God for Adam’s sin and implicitly our own sin? This is just the way Adam blamed Eve and then blamed God for giving Eve to him? Yes, Eve was deceived, but Adam freely chose to accept the fruit. That is where the door was opened to sin. Adam was made perfect but Adam made a free choice that opened the door to sin. We can now make a free choice to accept Jesus and close the door to sin forever. Jesus himself made the choice to always please his Father, and in so doing saved us, well me at least and any of you reading this that also turn to Jesus.
Here is another excuse to try and reject the beauty of what I have portrayed. Some one might say that, “Satan was an angel in heaven and sinned and was cast out of heaven and hence you can sin in heaven!” But see it this way – Satan made a choice to rebel, even having seen the full glory of God. His fate is the Lake of Fire. This universe has given me a place and time to freely accept God. Now I’ve made my choice. When I stand in heaven and see the glory of the Father and the Son, will I change my mind and choose the Lake of Fire? We make our choice here and now, before we enter heaven. This is where we cross from death to life (John 5:24).
I keep talking about a free choice. It is free because Jesus has paid the price. Anyone that adds anything to the completed work of the cross is saying that the price Jesus paid was not enough. They are cheapening the grace of God! “Free” does not mean that at some time it won’t cost you something or even everything. “Free” means that no one can take away your right to choose.
Initially I did not want to put heaps of scriptural backing into the Body, Soul, Spirit, model of a man that I present here. I felt it was fairly self evident, and when you look at certain scriptures, it is. But because these terms are used in different ways at different times and because there are other terms like, the flesh; strength; the mind; the emotions; and the heart, then you have to remember that it’s just a model or view and not a definition or rule. So I’ll show some support of these three layers, not just in regard to us, but in the way God seems to work many things.
But if you have grasped how our new incorruptible body guarantee us a complete victory for all eternity, then don’t feel you have to delve into the detail that follows. (However I was blessed to rediscover some cool scriptures as I put this together.)
In the Old Testament, the temple has three areas:
These paces were not concentric but the priests had to enter the temple through the courts and then into the holy place and then, just once a year, into the holy of holies. Now I don’t want to say that these were symbolic of the Body, Soul and Spirit, because there is tremendous symbolism involved in this pattern laid down by God. But can you see how these three places directly relate to our makeup:
Paul’s expression “the third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2 is understood by viewing heaven as three parts. The first two are obvious and straight out of Genesis 1:
From these we deduce that in addition to the natural visible world and God’s heaven, there is this middle battle ground that is invisible but contested by spiritual beings, including us who have authority in Christ. So we see a picture of:
I don’t want to say that these map to body, soul and spirit but we clearly see the battle ground as being between the natural (body) and the spirit as my diagram suggests.
The King James and New King James versions often use the word “soul” where most other versions use “life”. For whatever reason, I have noticed that we also tend to use these words interchangeably. Then there are other references in the Bible where “soul” is used in most translations and you get the feeling it is talking about a man’s life in general terms (Job 33:28, Psalm 49:15, 1 Peter 1:9, Revelation 6:9). So I simply accept this duality.
There are yet other places where “soul” could be life or could mean just the mind/emotions. In some places the Psalmist especially will express his downcast soul yet recalls The LORD’s faithfulness. So it seems that his spirit/heart is holding true but he is referring to his emotional state. But I don’t see such references as applying to the body as well, or to the life. So when “soul” is used and it is not referring to one’s life in general, then it tends to never include the body. (Psalm 25:1, Psalm 43:5, Psalm 62:1)
At times in my articles I have referred to our eternal soul and/or spirit to emphasize that these are eternal but that our bodies are mortal. (Of course our bodies will also be replaced by eternal bodies.) But the Bible itself only talks about eternal lives. None the less I find this entirely consistent with the Bible’s use of the word “soul”.
In Mark 12:29-30:
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love The LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ ”
This specifies four layers: heart; soul; mind; and strength/body. Jesus is almost certainly quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. But this gives only three layers:
4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, The LORD is one! 5 You shall love The LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
In Mark it specifies soul and mind while in Deuteronomy it only specifies soul. But I accept that soul can refer to mind plus emotions and so I see no problem with the model.
I just searched for “soul”. There are hundreds of verses involved here. I suggest a search of say NASB, NIV or NRSV, but not NKJV to exclude many references to “soul” where it is really just referring to a life in general. I found some beautiful scriptures along the way. I have included some here that clearly distinguish the heart, soul and or body.
Heart, soul, and body:
Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 16:9, Psalm 84:2, Psalm 103:1, Luke 10:27.
Heart and soul:
Deuteronomy 10:12, Psalm 33:20-21, Psalm 73:21, Psalm 108:1-3
Body and soul:
Here are some scriptures that refer to our spirit. I have included them in full because it is important to see how the centre of our being can be seen as either our heart or our spirit:
The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it? (Proverbs 18:14)
The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the innermost parts of his being. (Proverbs 20:27)
At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; ... (Isaiah 26:9)
For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of those whom I have made. (Isaiah 57:16)
...Thus declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him (Zechariah 12:1)
And Mary said: “My soul exalts the LORD, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)
Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:12)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
It’s important for me to know I have a spirit. God breathed a spirit into Adam. The breath of God is also the Spirit of God. It was passed to Eve because she was created from Adam. All their descendants inherited this spirit and that includes you and me. At times our emotions and mind can seem pre-occupied and weighed down by this world. But I know that I have a spirit that came from the eternal God. I am not a mere man, just flesh and blood but a spiritual man with an eternal spiritual destiny. The only question is where will that eternity be spent – with, or away from God? That’s a choice I made and hold onto every day.
Once you grasp that we have our own spirit then you can see how God is able to impart attributes to this spirit in scriptures like:
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2)
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)
Or even better, when we have the Holy Spirit dwells within us then He seems to work at that deepest level, incomprehensible to our mind and emotions:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (2 Corinthians 5:4-5)
God exists in three parts, even three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. God even refers to Himself in the plural as “us” in Genesis 1:26:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;...”
I do not think it wise to relate these persons to body, soul, and spirit because each person of God is fully individual in His own right. However one of my other articles has a section “God reflected in our Anatomy” which does draw striking analogy between the God-head and our physical bodies.