An Enlarged Spirit

An Enlarged Spirit

I started composing this post while half asleep this morning. You know, that lucid state where your mind is active, but you’re not yet awake?

A random image formed in my mind’s eye. I believe it came from God. I pictured a man’s spirit floating like a vapor, contained by his body. His spirit actually looked compressed—as if created to be much larger than his human body.

Our physical bodies serve as temporary housing for our spirits. That much is obvious. But what captivated me this: while we’re here on earth, God wants us to develop a large spirit, full to the brim, and even overflowing.

The Bible talks a lot about humans having a soul, a spirit, and a body. These terms are commonplace throughout Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 distinguishes our souls as something different from our spirits, though some use these terms interchangeably.

John Paul Jackson teaches that the soul is our mind, our will and our emotions. Our spirit, on the other hand, is where wisdom, conscience, and communion with God are found. And of course, our body is our body.  Without going into any complex theology, I do believe two important things:

First, that the soul needs “saving” and healing. A sin-sick soul displays what we are without God.

And second, that we experience God mostly through our spirits. God is Spirit and communes with us through our spirits.

Why are these two points important? Because, to the extent that our souls are damaged and our spirits remain undeveloped, we don’t have very good “receivers” in terms of hearing God.

Think of a small transistor radio with a cracked speaker, making a tinny noise. Compare that to a Bose stereo system giving off the full range of symphonic sound. Both receive the same invisible radio waves, but the quality of the receiver is vastly different.

The soul’s need for redemption and restoration is the subject of countless books and sermons. But few talk about the problem of an underdeveloped spirit—our main avenue for hearing God’s voice.

Jackson maintains that the soul often rules over the spirit as we try to live the Christian life. In our spirit, we know we’re supposed to turn the other cheek, but the soul overrules, and we slap back. The goal in our spiritual life is to bring the reverse. In order for that to happen, the soul needs healing, but the spirit also needs growth. Ultimately, God wants our spirits to have dominion over our souls.

This morning, God showed me a picture of a man with a large spirit.

I have met people like this. Perhaps you have too. The aroma of Christ is about them. They are not ruled by their passions, and they don’t lean on their own understanding. They listen for God’s voice in critical moments of choice. They exude kindness, peace, patience, goodness and self-control. They’ve pursued life in the Spirit–connecting with God in vital ways.

Maybe these ideas shed some light on a very mysterious verse…

“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” –Luke 8:18

In other words, the more we listen for God, the more He speaks. The more He speaks, the more we develop our spirits. And a larger spirit subdues the soul.

The less we listen, the less He speaks. Our spirits stay undeveloped. and we can end up stuck in a soulish response to life.

What do think? I’d be interested in your thoughts…


  1. Terri Klippert Beal :

    Susan, this is wonderfully and simply stated. Thank you – less of, ‘us’ and more of, ‘Him’? It brings up so much for me like – the battlefield is in the mind: God tells me NOT to do something, then I start to think and make up reasons to do it anyway – leaning on MY understanding…it takes such FAITH to BELIEVE what God is telling me, especially if it doesn’t make sense – march seven times around my house? Give away my last dollar? Send flowers to an enemy? Not fight back when my reputation is being threatened? Sounds crazy…but is it? Maybe to the soul, but not to the Spirit. Thank you for the simplicity of this vision – I think that is why we are called to come to Him as children. Children are black and white, they haven’t learned how to think in those ‘gray areas’ where we often get caught trying to figure things out for ourselves…our souls make decisions complicated, but our Spirit simply knows and believes and obeys. And then! We see the blessings of God unfold. Otherwise? We see the fruits of our souls unfold, which in my case, has lead to a ton of heartache. Your visions are beautiful illustrations God is giving you – a snapshot of His Glorioius Word. xo

    • Terri…Thank you for your thoughts here! Yes, I think children are uncomplicated and show us simple faith!

  2. the difference between soul and spirit has always been a difficult one for me. so then, soul is personality? and spirit is the foundation of the person, so does the soul stand on the spirit? then there is the heart and doesn’t the spirit dwell there. then in heb. 4:12 god says the word can divide asunder soul and spirit. does that mean they are closely joined? and the word is discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart. this, susan, for me has ALWAYS hurt my brain! it’s a puzzle, but gives me great hope for dogs! since dogs must have souls due to having huge personalities. and so do other animals. they don’t think in terms of being sick and asking for repentance, they just have to be a “shoe in”. god knows when one of his birdies falls. he KNOWS!! and it cares for the birds of the air??????? well, i have gone off on a tangent. thanks for way in to thinking about god’s love this morning.
    suzee B

    • Suzee…indeed there are mysteries! But as I read Scripture, helped by the teaching of John Paul Jackson, our soul is our human carnal being that needs “saving” and healing. It is our mind, our will, our emotions, and our hearts. (The Bible says our hearts are desperately sick).
      Our spirit on the other hand is the eternal part of us created in God’s image. It leaves our body at death. It contains our conscience (our sense of right and wrong), wisdom from above, and is the way we commune with God as our spirit intersects with His Holy Spirit. The stronger this connection, the more our spirit grows up to the stature of Christ. So when our soul wants to slap somebody, our spirit is stronger and turns the other cheek.
      Much of the development of our spirit happens in moments of choice. Jackson says God wants us to have many private victories making the right choices (to love instead of hate, to pray instead of whine, to give instead of hoard etc.) because each victory either strengthens our spirit which is the goal—or—it strengths our soulish ways which are human and carnal and often self-serving. Hope that helps some! Don’t know about animals!!
      Love, Susan

  3. Susan, I agree with you. We need more voices pointing us toward a dialogue with the Living God. A small point: I like to think that the more we listen, the more we hear; the less we listen, the less we hear. In our life with Him, God always speaks. God desires a relationship and constantly takes the initiative. He is always ready to speak to us and deepen our relationship. If we don’t hear him, it may be that our receiver rather than His transmitter is broken. As Francis Schaeffer said, God is There and He is not Silent.