Our three conscious minds
Dec 20, 2011
Modern scientific research is showing that our thoughts and personality (who we are) are not necessarily centered in our brain. Thoughts appear to come from two sources, which biblically can be seen as soul and spirit.
It was in 1982 that I personally began to notice the distinction between the mind of my soul and the mind of my spirit. I "knew" things that my soulish mind did not believe from a doctrinal position. So the natural question was this: What part of me was thinking outside the box, outside the parameters of the mind that I was familiar with?
This occurred at the start of my quest to hear the voice of God for myself. I came to see that both the soul and the spirit had minds of their own. Later, I came to understand that both of these were distinct from the mind of my body, commonly known as the brain. In essence, I was a tripartite being: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23), and each of them had its own conscious mind.
Our brain runs the nervous system of our body. But there is also something known as "cellular memory." This means that certain functions of the soul's mind (the carnal or natural mind of Scripture) are embedded in the cells of our organs--other than the brain. Hence, when doctors do heart transplants, the recipients of the new heart often experience changes in their personalities, habits, and many have memories that the heart donors had before they died.
Some examples of these can be read here:
My guess is that memories are stored in the DNA of each cell. When a heart transplant is done, the DNA of the donor is transplanted into the recipient, and with it comes certain memories and personality traits. These memories are perhaps shared by the DNA in the heart with the other DNA throughout the recipient's body. Certainly, it appears that the heart DNA shares its memories with the recipient's brain. Hence, I make a distinction between the brain--which is the body's mind--and the biblical "natural mind"--which is the soul's carnal mind.
In the second chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul discusses the distinction between the mind of the soul and that of the spirit. Of the brain, Paul has nothing to say, unless we mistakenly identify the soul with the brain. Paul holds up the Greeks as an example of dependence upon the soulish mind as the source of divine knowledge. Paul claims that the mind of the spirit is the true source of divine knowledge.
Greek culture and religion did not appear to make a clear distinction between soul and spirit, believing that the soul was spiritual. They taught a dichotomous nature of man: body and (spiritual) soul, whereas Paul used the sharp sword of the Word to divide soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). He also personified both soul and spirit, picturing them as inner "men." The soulish "man" is the first Adam; the spiritual "man" is Christ in you. So he tells us in 1 Cor. 2:14-16,
(14) But a natural [psuchikos, "soulish"] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are supernaturally appraised. (15) But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. (16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
To the natural mind that we received from Adam, that is, the mind of the soul, the revelation of God coming through the spiritual mind is utter foolishness. For example, when God told Moses to put a tree into the bitter waters of Marah (Exodus 15:25), the solution appeared to be quite foolish to the natural mind. But it worked, not because the tree possessed some acidic qualities that neutralized the alkalinity of the water, but because the tree was a type of the cross of Christ, which makes the bitterness of the heart "sweet."
In other words, the tree provided the solution by spiritual laws, not by "natural" laws. Both are, indeed, natural to God, and both sets of laws will be commonly known, understood, and utilized in those who receive the revelation knowledge of the Spirit of God via one's own human spirit. When these spiritual laws are utilized, miracles will be commonplace and soon be regarded as "natural" and a part of normal life.
There are times when one's spirit separates from the soul in what appears to be an odd midpoint between life and death. People call this an out-of-body experience. Some receive training to learn how to do this at will. Others experience it spontaneously through trauma, near-death experience, or by some other kind of shock.
Sometimes such an event can actually transport the body along with the soul. In such a case, it is not a true out-of-body experience, but is a full translation of both body and soul to another location. For example, the pastor of the local church where I attend (and often teach) was once a passenger in a car that was hit head on by a truck. The driver of the car, his friend, was killed instantly, but a split second before the impact, he found himself standing by the side of the road, watching the accident occur in front of him.
Such a case does not show the distinction between either body and soul or soul and spirit. It seems to be more a case of direct divine action. However, many others have left their body during surgery, and they have watched the doctors work to bring them back to life. In such cases, I believe that it is their spirit (mind, consciousness) that separates from the body/soul that is dead. Those who have returned from such a state sometimes report seeing their surroundings, parents praying in the next room, and other things that would be impossible for them to observe while lying dead on an operating table.
Whatever we think about such things, one thing seems clear: there is a difference between the body and whatever conscious mind has separated from their body. Some would call it the soul, but I believe it is the spirit that has separated from the body. The soul is in the DNA and dies with the body.
Simple observation shows that the body dies and is put in the tomb. The Bible makes it clear that the soul does not survive the death of the body, for "the soul that sins will die" (Ez. 18:4). There is no biblical statement, however, that proves the death of one's spirit. In fact, when we look at our great Example, Jesus Christ, we see that His body died and was put in the tomb (Matt. 27:60), His soul died and went to "the unseen" or the place of no perception, which is the literal meaning ofhades (Acts 2:31), and His spirit returned to God (Luke 23:46).
Death is a return, and each of our three-part being returns to its point of origin. Obviously, much more could be written about this, but our present point is to show the distinction between the three levels of consciousness that we, as people, possess.
The human spirit is our connecting link between heaven and earth. It is continually conscious of the realm of spirit, and those who enjoy a direct connection with Jesus Christ may receive direct revelation from Him at all times. It only requires learning to hear His voice and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, to whom our spirit is joined by the second baptism.
This does not mean that non-Christians are devoid of receiving revelation from Christ. Saul was not a believer when Jesus Christ revealed Himself on the Damascus Road in Acts 9. There are countless reports of divine appearances to those who do not know Christ as we do. All men possess a spirit and thus have access to God whether they realize it or not.
Dr. Stephen Jones