THE PARTS OF MAN
According to the Bible we have three parts: the spirit, the soul, and the body (1 Thes. 5:23). At the time we were saved, the Lord came into our spirit and we were regenerated (John 3:6), but God cannot be expressed from our spirit alone. Therefore, we have a soul as a vessel to contain and to express God. Genesis 1:26-27 says that we were made in God’s image. This does not refer to our spirit, but to our soul. Because God is a God of love, we have a loving organ in our soul. Because He is a God of thought, we have an organ of thought in our soul. Because He is a God of decision, we have a deciding organ in our soul. God’s image is related to the different parts of our soul. We are beings, not because we have a body or a spirit, but because we have a soul. The soul is our being. Sometimes in the Bible a person is called a soul. Genesis 46:27 says that seventy souls of the house of Jacob went down into Egypt. A soul is a human being, a person. Strictly speaking, it is our soul that is God’s vessel; our spirit by itself cannot express God. God must be expressed through our soul—through our mind, emotion, and will. The way we think should express God. The way we love and hate, like and dislike, should express God. The decisions and choices we make should also express God. In our spirit we do not have the ability to express God. The faculties for expressing God are found in our soul. Therefore, our soul is the vessel. According to the revelation of the Bible, this is very clear. Our spirit is the lamp of God, and our soul is the vessel of God.
Many times we have used the diagram of three concentric circles denoting the spirit, the soul, and the body. The spirit at the center is surrounded by the soul, which is composed of the mind, emotion, and will. The Bible considers the soul with its three parts plus one part of the spirit, the conscience, as the heart. The heart is very similar to the soul but somewhat larger since it includes the conscience which is a part of the spirit. When we were saved, the Lord came into our spirit. However, the Lord has not spread very much into our soul—into our mind, emotion, and will. With some of us the Lord Jesus has not even been able to come into our conscience. He is confined to a small part of our spirit. But at least He has come into our spirit, He has enlightened us, and our spirit is now burning as a lamp.
Before we were saved, our spirit was darkened and deadened (Eph. 2:1, 5). We had no sensation regarding our spirit, and it seemed that there was not such a thing within us. When we heard the gospel or when we read the word of the gospel, something shined within us and we received the light. As this light entered deep within us, we repented and called on the name of the Lord. Immediately, something deep within us was made alive and started to burn and to shine. We did have the sensation that deep within us something was living, burning, and shining. This means that God’s Spirit had come into our spirit to enlighten us and to make us alive (John 3:6).
Although your spirit has been made alive, I am concerned that your mind has not been saturated by the Lord and that He has not penetrated your emotions. I am afraid that in some matters you have rejected the Lord. Some of you have been unwilling to pray because you fear that you will be caught by the Lord Jesus in a particular matter in your mind or emotions. Perhaps during the last few days some sisters have even resisted the Lord Jesus when He tried to spread into their emotions concerning their love of certain things.
All Christians have their lamps burning, but many have no desire or intention to prepare oil in their vessels. They are saved and have the Lord within them. Although their lamp is burning, they should not be at peace. They still have a problem because they are short of oil. They have some oil burning in their lamp, but they do not have the extra portion of oil in all the inward parts of their being—in their mind, emotion, will, and conscience. How wonderful that they have the oil in their lamp, but they still have a big problem with their soul. They have the Lord in their spirit, but not in their soul.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)