No More Pain, Part II

This is part 2 of a three part essay

Part I Here

What the Spirit Discerns

While the mind and body degenerate or become impaired during our days on earth, the spirit of man is not affected by these impairments.

I will admit, there is little known about this train of thought, and what I share is based on my experience with a developmentally disabled child. One who was supposed to live in a persistent vegetative state, according to his first doctors. We were never supposed to be able to communicate with him. However, there is a much deeper form of communication than one based on audible and visual stimuli, which is what the doctors measure. A communication that originates from, and penetrates to deeper places. Our relationship, which was not even supposed to be possible, originated from a different level. There was a mutual awareness and regard between us that built over time.

If we were honest, many of our relationships are fairly shallow and superficial. We can know people for years without ever really knowing them. A true “relationship”, one where we actually “relate” to someone, is more than an intellectual awareness. A real relationship occurs when deeper levels of your being get involved. In this kind of relationship, the eyes and ears and related senses are sometimes relegated to secondary status or maybe even bypassed altogether. There are times between a deeply connected couple when no words are spoken but things are just…known.

How did Samuel know I loved him? It wasn’t because I told him so nearly every day. Nor was it that I stared and smiled at him and kissed him and nuzzled him. Being mostly blind and deaf, there had to be more. Like something was quickening his mind, causing it to respond. Words are just words, and a smile can be artificial. Even a hug can be obligatory and empty. And from the undiscerning viewpoint, there may be no difference between the genuine and the counterfeit. But there is a subcutaneous force that animates those things and lets others know when they are authentic. And it mandates a response.

The spirit may discern things the mind would tend to miss. Being sensory related creatures and so dependent on these carnal senses, they are the default and overshadow the deeper and more subtle provocations. Like the man who is blind has greater discernment by hearing, while a man who sees relies less on his hearing. We rely on and focus more on what we see, hear, touch, and smell than what is spiritually discerned.

1 Kings 19:11-12 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

We look first for what appeals to the eyes, the ears and the touch. The prominent physical discernment overshadows the spiritual. But a healthy spirit is not contingent upon a healthy mind.

Samuel, while being impaired in his mind and senses, could still discern things he should not have been able to. In fact, it is possible that he may have discerned some things better than if he were unimpaired. Our cognitive impairments are not God’s. He is not hindered by what hinders us. Furthermore, His communicative abilities are unlimited and infinitely superior to ours. Would we be so bold as to limit God’s ability to communicate by supposing that because we cannot communicate with an impaired or developmentally disabled person, that The Lord cannot either? And if I was able to reach Sam, would not the Lord have also been able to reach further?

One of my mentors said this:

He (God) takes responsibility for the way we are formed in the womb. In His understanding it is credit, even when in man’s perspective it would be considered to be blame.

“Disability” is a relative term-relative to the human condition and what we consider to be “the norm”. But God is not affected or hindered by what we call a disability. Such disabilities affect only one of the three aspects of a human-the body and its mind. The soul and spirit are unaffected by physical disabilities, infirmities, or injuries, and it is the soul and spirit (sometimes used interchangeably, though distinct) which are the primary avenues of communication and relationship between a human and his Creator. It is a relationship to God that quickens the mind and thus enables it to discern spiritual things.

Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Rom 8:16 And the Spirit himself speaks to our spirits and makes us sure that we are God’s children. (ERV)

An essential difference between a “normal” person and a “disabled” person is that sin is a tendency of the natural man. If that man is disabled, his ability to sin can be diminished, maybe even eliminated, while the spirit remains intact. Since God communicates with the spirit in the man (which is not impaired though the physical mind may be), a disabled person may even be more open to God’s Spirit than a “normal” person since that communication is not hindered by sin.

1 Cor 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

There are many verses that draw distinctions between the body and soul and spirit;

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Who can discern and draw that line that separates the spirit and soul? Or between thoughts and intents? For man, this is difficult if not impossible, but God, who is not limited by our limitations, is able to.

Prov 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear

Prov 18:14 A man’s spirit can sustain him during his illness, but who can bear a crushed spirit? (ISV)

The body, soul and spirit of man may not be directly interdependent, but are distinct one from another. Related, yes, but absolutely distinct. The spirit of a man, if strong and healthy, will sustain him through his physical infirmity. But who can work with a broken spirit? Of the body and the spirit, either one can be healthy and either one can be broken, and without doubt, the worse condition of the two is the broken spirit.

Eccl 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

The “giving of the spirit” referred to in Eccl 12:7 is part of the process of “forming” or “fashioning” spoken of in Job, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

Isa 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things;…

Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The forming or fashioning spoken of in these verses is not exclusively physiological, as these are reproductive processes set in motion in perpetuity. He may guide these processes, but theoretically, they could naturally occur as do the weather patterns we see. He has dominion over them, but set the processes in motion Himself. The formation of a human being in the womb however, is a spiritual event as well. Eccl 12:7 shows that God gives the spirit to the child. And while the body will one day return to the dust from which it was taken (another natural process), the spirit will then return to God, from whom it came. The conception of life, as well as death, are also spiritual events.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into the nostrils the breath of life in order for man to be a living soul.

Eccl 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart,..

Eccl 3:11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart,… (ASV)

“He hath set eternity in their heart”, or the ability to contemplate eternal and thus spiritual things. Resident within our person is the spirit which God gives us-literally a small portion of eternity.

The point is that the body is merely the physical form of the man, and only one aspect of his being (the least significant, actually, for without the spirit and soul, it is merely an empty shell). The man is the living soul. The living soul is the result of God’s breathing into the body the breath of life. At conception, God breathes into a child the breath of life, or places the spirit into the child, which then creates the soul and animates, or gives life to the body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 mentions all three of these aspects of man as distinct.

1Thess 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The soul can be thought of as that which is the essentiality of the man. The place from which his rationale, his will, and his emotions originate. It is this part of the human that relates to, and identifies with God and dictates the course and affections of his life, as well as how he relates to his world. It is the conduit between the “Eternity” which God has set in his heart (Eccl 3:11) and his body that interacts with the natural world.

One day, when he dies his natural death, the body will crumble and return to the dust from which it was taken (Gen 3:19), the spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl 12:7), and the soul will go on to its eternal reward (Matt 25:31-46, Rev 22:12).

Part III

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