Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Of Soul and Spirit



Question: “Bob, you write that we are triune beings: spirit, soul, and body. Yes, I certainly agree! What is your understanding of the soul? Perhaps you might write about this one day. Possibly be helpful to other people, as well as to me, as we contemplate our triune natures.”

Here are some random thoughts.

Our soul is a great servant but a terrible taskmaster.

Since Adam’s choice, our soul has been in inner conflict with ‘the knowledge of good and evil,’ ie duality (sidenote: for knowledge think ‘Adam knew Eve’. Knowing here is an immersion that becomes a part of our soul’s DNA rather than mere head knowledge).

With our choice, Jesus, ‘the last Adam,’ who is ‘a life-giving spirit,’ we receive a new nature, a whole nature, a spiritual life-giving nature that supersedes our dual fallen nature whenever we ‘abide’ or dwell in it.

Again, When we receive Jesus, ‘the life-giving spirit,’ it’s like a seed of the spirit sown into our spirit. We are joined, which is why it’s called new birth. This is ‘the why’ behind what Paul says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

With the ship upright, our soul can catch the winds of the spirit in her sails, and propel us forward. When we engage the spirit to lead us, the confusion, the chaos, the ‘it’s complicated,’ of our soul dissolves. Our inner order is restored when our spirit leads.

In the Magnificat, Mary declares: And Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…”  Here the New American Standard gets the Greek verbs right. Our soul magnifies what our spirit has already experienced.

Our problem arises when we go to our default setting and ask our soul to do what only our spirit can do.

We must be awake and aware,  ( being mindful’),  to choose to let our spirit lead. Our soul runs on automatic. When our soul, without our spirit’s lead, is trying to be spiritual it turns to laws, rules, and systems to make it happen. Our soul cannot be spiritual. It wasn’t designed that way. The soul is our spirit’s servant to help us to work out what’s present in our spirit.

To put it another way, Soul work is the integration of our spirit’s transformation into our everyday life.

Here’s the scoop: Our soul runs on automatic while our spirit works by engaging.

This is why we ‘die daily’ to our ‘old man’, to our fallen self, so that we can live to our new self, our spiritual self.

When we ask our soul to do what only our spirit can do, we end up with a religious mess.

Our soul slowly becomes redeemed, healed, and restored as we engage our spirit to lead. Spiritual maturity is not our goal, abiding is.


Photo by: Hidetoshi Kikuchi

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  • mountainserenity .

    Thank you, Bob. The integration of soul and spirit is such important work. Many Christians get stuck in Legalism because the soul has not yet been healed and transformed. Healing goes deeper and deeper as we yield to the Spirit.

  • Awesome Laura! That blesses my heart.

  • mountainserenity .

    I’ve re read this today, Bob. Thank you.

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