Healing Body, Soul and Spirit
The Bible describes our three part nature and then assures us that the Lord desires that we be fully restored ('kept blameless') in all three areas of our being. These three parts of our being aren't separated in water tight containers. Jesus created us with seamless, elegant connections between all three. This has tremendous implications both for recovering health and for maintaining it. In addition, it gives us three quite different, legitimate pathways for receiving healing from the Lord.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
From the Natural to the Spiritual
When you think about health and healing what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Your body, right? For most of us that is where our thinking about healing begins. This is entirely appropriate, because the Lord has arranged things in such a way that He uses the physical realm to enable our blinded eyes to see things of the not-so-visible realm of the spirit. Everyone knows what it is like to be physically ill at times, if only due to a minor headache or cold. These we experience and understand even in childhood. Disease of the soul is more problematic.
Soul is a word not widely used in the modern world, but it simply indicates a person's inner life of intellect, emotion and will. Sin attacks a person in each of these three areas of the soul; therefore, we stand in need of restored health for our souls. Usually, however, we have to grow up a bit before we can make a connection between problems of thought or emotion and a need for restored health and healing in a person's inner life. Eventually, we learn to draw an analogy from the body and think of mental and emotional problems as a form of illness. Even addiction is often referred to as a disease - a disease of the will, an inability to make healthy choices and to make them stick.
But what of the spirit? By its very nature the spirit defies easy identification, since it lies beyond the power of our five senses to explore. Neither can it be experienced directly by the soul, unless God intervenes. Without the Word of God to explain things, we would hardly know our spirit was even there! Indeed many scientists are convinced that it isn't; and they have their doubts about the soul, too. Don't count it out: The human spirit is the key player on the field, even if its presence is largely undetected. The 'sickness' of our spirit is the true source of all diseases of body and dis-eases of soul, just as the health of our spirit is the true source of all recovery of health in body or soul. At this level we will have to stretch the analogy from the body beyond what we put it to at the soul level in order to gain eyes to see what God sees.
God sees sin in us as we see a life-threatening sickness in our bodies: it is a corruption of the goodness of our created being; it is pervasive, touching everything about us; it is deadly; it reaches to the core. Just as sickness can take the body down into death (and us along with it) and negative thoughts and emotions can destroy the inner life of the soul, so sin crushes life out of the spirit. In fact this had already happened to us and we didn't even know it! Before we were born again by faith in Christ, our spirit was captive to death, cut off from a life-giving connection to the Living God, blinded and enslaved by the god of this world. Seems like we would have had a clue! At most I suspect that we had a sense we were disconnected from God and wanted to find a way to bridge the gap: This sense of loss made us seekers and that's a good thing. But did we have any idea how far our spirit had fallen into a living death? It just seemed normal...Thank God, Jesus is fully able to help us by healing body, soul and spirit!
Just as the Lord uses the natural process of disease to teach us about the sickness of soul and spirit, so too He takes our understanding of sin from the natural through to the spiritual. Weren't the first sins that we learned about outward and physical: stealing, lying, adultery, murder, etc.? Over time we began to recognize the reality of sins of the inner life: unforgiveness, bitter judgments, lust, pride, envy, etc. Our analogy comes into play yet again: Just as dis-ease in the soul can produce disease in the body, so too these sins of the soul often lead to the outward sins involving the body. Yet, the real culprit, the deadliest sin of all is the one embedded in our spirit.
The Deep Sickness at the Core of Our Being
What is this most deadly sin-sickness? It is the turning of our innermost life from God to self. In this we followed 'our father' the devil who infamously declared his independence (and therefore rebellion) from God with a series of defiant 'I wills': 'I will ascend... I will sit on the throne... I will sit on the mount...' This deep sickness at the core of our being was inevitable, once sin broke our connection to God. No longer able to behold the Lord with sighted eyes, we lost the ability to carry His true Image within our hearts. Our hearts and minds have been veiled by the god of this world ever since. Into this spiritual vacuum we inevitably began beholding (focusing upon) ourselves! Read more on this at Spiritual Healing.
Next Healing Essential
Three Paths to Healing If we don't understand the realities we are dealing with, much heartache or wasted effort can result. Since our God has placed hierarchy and order in creation, we will move most powerfully into His purposes, if we stay attentive to the boundaries He has set.
pdf Healing Essentials (43-page eBook)
pdf Healing Body, Soul and Spirit (this article)
Interested in Going Deeper?
Consider taking our free eCourse for Healing. We have designed a complete series for personal transformation, 'Matters of the Heart,' to help Christians gain emotional freedom and inner healing. In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!
 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural [physical], and then the spiritual. 1 Corinthians 15:46
 'How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15
 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6