Today I want to share a portion of my latest teaching on “Deliverance Ministry.” This portion specifically explains how demons affect human beings through the interaction of spirit, soul, and body. The following is directly quoted from the teaching itself:
We need to start with a basic understanding of your spirit, soul, and body. Many have taught that we as humans are triune beings, similar to God because He made us in His image. While I appreciate that teaching, I find that it’s not a perfect analogy, and the Scripture reveals something a little different.
It is true that we have three basic parts: Spirit, Soul, and Body. This is revealed in:
1 Thessalonians 5:23—May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
We have a spirit, a soul, and a body. Your body is the physical part of you; your spirit is the breath of life that God formed in you—the core blueprint of who you are; and your soul consists of your mind, will, and emotions. Your body is completely material, your spirit is completely immaterial, and your soul is somewhere in between.
We know this because scientists are baffled by the soul. They can observe and measure the biochemical reactions and neural activity as a person’s mind, will, and emotions are put into practice; but they can’t figure out how all that adds up to consciousness. The soul is both material and immaterial because it is a blend of both body and spirit coming together.
I want you to imagine the logo for MasterCard Credit Cards. It has a red circle and a yellow circle that overlap each other to form an interlocking leaf-shape in the middle (for the sake of this example, we’ll make that portion orange). Let’s say the red circle is your body and the yellow circle is your spirit. The orange shape in the middle, then, is your soul.
Here’s how it works. In Genesis 2:7, we learn that God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living being. Let’s look at that again: He formed man from the dust—there’s the body. He breathed into that body the breath of life—the Hebrew word here is ruach, which literally means “spirit.” As a result, man became a living being, which could be translated as soul (in fact, the American Standard Version of the Bible actually translates it this way).
The soul is the result of body and spirit coming together. Your mind, will, and emotions are directly affected by the condition of you body and the condition of your spirit at all times. Even though your body may be healthy, if you are spiritually away from God, your soul will be in turmoil. Likewise, even those who are spiritually right with God could have a purely physical sickness or disease in their body that affects their soul. [Consider how cranky we get when we have a lack of sleep!] A healthy soul can typically only be experienced by someone who has both a healthy spirit and a healthy body. Both parts play a role.
So does man consist of three parts? Yes and no. In our example earlier, the picture we imagined had three colors, but it was comprised of only two circles. So yes, we have a body, soul, and spirit; but the soul is merely the result of body and spirit coming together.
This is why the two scriptures I’ve shared so far are the ONLY places in all of Scripture where all three parts are listed or alluded to. On the other hand, verses that compare and contrast body and spirit show up throughout the Bible.
James 2:26 says that “the body without the spirit is dead.” What happens to the soul when we die? Well, without a body and a spirit existing together, there really is no soul. But the truth is that we will indeed have a body in the afterlife, and therefore, we will have a soul.
Consider how Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 that both body and soul are destroyed in hell. First of all, this shows us that hell is a real, physical place where a body can go! But it also reveals something about the soul: If the body is destroyed, the soul must also cease to exist. But this verse says nothing about the eternal spirit that has rebelled against God. It is the eternal spirit that will suffer the agonies of hell after body and soul are destroyed.
But what about those who do not go to hell when they die? The Scriptures give us an answer:
1 Corinthians 15:35-44 & 50-52—But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body….
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (NIV)
As Christians with faith in Christ, we will one day receive perfect eternal bodies for our eternal spirits to inhabit. As a result, we will have an everlasting soul. Heaven will be great because you will have a pure mind, a righteous will, and Christ-like emotions with which to experience all the joys of God’s Kingdom and presence! This is why 1 Peter 1:8-9 refers to the “salvation of our souls!”
Results of Demonic Activity
Now, naturally, if the soul is the result of body and spirit coming together, we shouldn’t be surprised that our souls are affected when an evil spirit is welcomed into the mix. In the same way that your God-given spirit gives life to your body (see Genesis 2:7 and James 2:26), it should come as no surprise that an evil spirit can bring sickness and disease to your body.
This can cause biochemical imbalances, which medical science can observe, diagnose, and medicate, but which they cannot cure. Evil spirits can cause physical problems that affect both body and soul. When a demon comes in, a person’s mind, will, and emotions can be thrown into turmoil and confusion. This affects the condition of their body by throwing off the biochemical balance. It can cause such things as depression, schizophrenia, tumors, deafness, and the like.
Does this mean that every physical and psychological issue is the direct result of a demon? No. But it would be foolish to ignore the fact that many such cases are indeed caused by evil spirits. Extremists either see demons everywhere or nowhere at all; biblical balance, however, uses spiritual discernment at all times. If we have the Holy Spirit empowering us, then we can discern what is natural and what is demonic. The list of what is possible is so extensive that we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to this realm so we can be effective.