The Physical vs. the Spiritual :: By Bud Hancock

Spirit, Soul and Body

I have heard a human being described thus: I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body. The Words of God recorded in Genesis 1:26a, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So. Whatever His makeup is, we must be also somewhat like that.

God’s most important attribute is that He is a Triune Person, three Persons in One, known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is as much God as the other, with each having His own personage and personality.  This explanation of the Godhead tends to confirm the triune nature of man being a spirit, having a soul and living in a flesh and blood body.

The Flesh and Blood Body

I recently had a brief medical wellness check done and, during that time, I was asked many questions by the attending nurse; one of those questions had to do with my most recent complete physical exam, which admittedly is two years overdue (I’ve been busy). After her scolding regarding the need for the exam, and my grudging agreement, we discussed the many small details of the preparation needed for the scheduling of the exam and then settled on a convenient day and time.

As I drove home, I was thinking about the physical exam, how long it takes, the fasting requirement, the drive time to and from the doctor’s office, the wait for my appointment, etc.  Although it is neither a painful process, other than having blood drawn, nor a terribly time-consuming one, it is nevertheless somewhat inconvenient. For instance, the exam must be scheduled at the doctor’s convenience, not the patient’s.

But, with so many diseases that attack our physical bodies, and the aging process that tends to make us more susceptible to many of them, it is necessary to use accept the inconvenience and allow the experts to use all the tools available to stay ahead of them, and the complete physical exam is a valuable tool in the fight to stay healthy. The technicians and physicians who conduct the exams are experts, trained in the use of the equipment as well as the reading of the accumulated data.

The patient needs only to submit to the exam since a doctor cannot force him to undergo it. The physician has many amazing technological marvels in his tool bag with which to diagnose physical problems.  Some of these tools can see into the deepest recesses of the human body, searching for any hidden abnormality in need of treatment.

It’s almost as though the machines have a life of their own, with matching intelligence. Of course, we all know that they are merely the creation of the minds of men who have studied the physiology and anatomy of the human body for many years, and the result of their study has brought about the technology that physicians now use daily.

The Outcome of the Physical Exam

The bottom line is that the physical exam is a way for a doctor to test the various systems of the physical body to ensure they are all working properly, and as designed by the Creator. After a physical examination is complete, the doctor will usually meet with the patient, having all the diagnostic data and info, to determine whether any change in behavior is needed and recommended to maintain, or regain good health.

If the data shows that the patient is in serious need of some lifestyle change, say due to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, etc., the smart patient who desires to “live long and prosper” (I love Spock!)  will make the needed changes and work to change his lifestyle. These are decisions left up to the patient since the doctor who performed the exam has no right, or responsibility, to try to force the patient to change.

At that point, it becomes the full responsibility of the patient to decide whether to heed the doctor’s advice, or continue with his unhealthy habits.  To refuse the sound advice of a qualified physician is to risk the consequences of living an unhealthy lifestyle.  Such a decision could produce serious, even fatal, results.

The Spirit Person

As I mulled this over, I thought, we are always talking about the physical exam, a procedure which, if done correctly covers (or more appropriately dis-covers) the true condition of nearly every part of our flesh and blood bodies.  Many people place a very high priority on having them done regularly, especially those who want to live long, healthy lives.  But, how often do we give any thought to having a spiritual exam.

This is a rather foolish omission on the part of all of us, since the spirit part of us is the life force of our entire existence. Once the human spirit departs, the body will simply fall over, lifeless, and begin to decay back into the dirt from which it came. Thus, it should be as high a priority to have a complete spiritual examination as a physical one, and, on a regular basis. In fact, God has stated the value of examining ourselves.

In 2 Corinthians 13:5a, Paul said: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves”. The word examine (Strong’s 3985 Greek), used by Paul in this scripture, means “to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself”.  The Holy Spirit is urging all believers to use self-examination to prove the health of the spirit, just as a doctor uses his examination to prove the health of the body.

But this begs the question: Just how does a person undergo a thorough spiritual examination to discover any hidden spiritual problems? Doctors have an array of astounding machines that seem able to pierce the darkness of the physical body and see into it.  Is there a way that a spiritual exam can be done as thoroughly?

Well, God has already provided the answer to these questions.  In the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Just as a patient submits himself to a physician for the probing, poking and x-raying, procedures which can show up hidden problems at the physical level, the Word of God can do the same with the human spirit.  The key word to the success of both the physical exam and the spiritual exam is submit. Both exams must start with a willful submission to the expert in the field of examining a body for problems.

The physical exam is done using machines that are programmed to do certain functions, but there is no life in them; they are only machines. On the other hand, the expert conducting the spiritual exam is the actual Creator of both the human body and the human spirit. Who better to search for and uncover hidden flaws in the human spirit?

A doctor will consult with his patient after the exam is completed and provide possible solutions to any problems uncovered. The spiritual examiner—The Word of God, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, will also consult with the patient and guide him to the answers needed for a solution.  Jesus promised His disciples: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13)

Submitting to a thorough spiritual examination by The Word of God provides direct feedback from God the Father. What better guidance can a person get?

The Outcome of the Spiritual Exam

Sometimes the most difficult part of the physical exam procedure is finding a doctor that one  can trust with his or her healthcare. One needs to be able to trust that the doctor’s priority is the patient’s welfare. Since doctors are all human, it can be a daunting task to find one that fits this requirement

However, the Lord Jesus Christ—The Word of God, is a living person who is both God and man.  He is totally trustworthy and cares for each of us far more than a human doctor ever could. He will work with The Holy Spirit to provide every answer to every spiritual problem uncovered during an exam.

His primary function is to provide a way for us to connect with our Heavenly Father so that we can experience the same life that the Father has.  But, just as with the physical exam, the patient must be willing to accept the results of the spiritual exam and make the changes needed that will return one to true spiritual health.  This will require having a humble spirit, ready to repent and change.

A life lived in good physical health is wonderful and makes it much easier to experience true happiness and prosperity, but, without true spiritual health, the physical life produces nothing lasting. Doctors recommend a thorough physical exam once every one to five years, depending on age. Your body will usually let you know if there are problems that require more urgent attention; learn to listen to it. The conscience will usually let you know when spiritual problems are present; learn to listen to it as well and make the decision to submit to a thorough spiritual exam as often as needed. Unlike human doctors, the spiritual doctor is always in and available.

Footnote: All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).