Wednesday, July 27, 2011

God knows man through man's spirit; for believers, most intimately by His indwelling Spirit

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? (1 Cor 2:11a)

Man is tripartite, i.e. he is body, soul and spirit. Read my separate article, “Man is body, soul and spirit”, for understanding.

The soul, the real you
Who is the “real” me or “real” you? When we say, the real me or real you, in effect, we are referring to our souls, for you are different from me because our souls are different; the elements of reason, emotion, and desire or passion which together made up the personality, are different for you and me. The real you is NOT referring to the physical you, or the real me is NOT referring to the physical me.

Our spirit differentiates us from animals and plants
In a way, we know very little about the spirit of ours; we only know that, unlike the animals and plants, both of which, have body (form) and soul (life or incorporeal essence), we have been given a spirit, on top of the life principal (soul) and form (body), meaning we are a very different life-form from animals and plants.

The thoughts of Man come from his soul
Because the soul comprises personality elements, the thoughts of a man, come from his soul (the personality elements of animals and plants are perhaps different, and so, although animals and plants are of souls, their souls are different from souls of men). How come we can be that sure, personality is of the soul? I think no one would argue with us when we have implied that personality is quite separate from the body, form or flesh; but why do we say they are of the soul? I believe it is NOT wrong to say we can look at animals which are of NO spirits, and yet with “personality”, and extend it to Man, and accordingly, say man’s personality is coming from his soul makeup.

It is the spirit of Man, additionally, knows the thoughts of Man
The thoughts of a man come from his soul. The soul, therefore, knows its own thoughts. I believe it is ridiculous to say that the soul of a man does NOT know its own thoughts. Therefore, I believe what verse 11 above was really saying was this: apart from the soul of a man who knows the thoughts of that man, another who knows is, NOT another man, but the spirit of that man, and that spirit is within him. This spirit of man is NOT referring to the Holy Spirit; as I have already pointed out in my tripartite man article above, Man has a spirit – he is created, body, soul and spirit (tripartite); his spirit was given him by God at the time of creation of Man.

Any clue how God knows the thoughts of Man?
Verse 11 above establishes for us that, it is the spirit of the man that knows the thoughts of the man (the soul). But how does God know the thoughts of man? Did the Bible leave us any clue? To me, this verse helps:

The spirit of man is the candle {or lamp} of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (Prov 20:27, KJV)

I believe this is the interpretation of this proverb verse: Because the spirit of man knows the thoughts of man (1 Cor 2:11a {our opening verse}), it (the spirit of man) becomes God’s eyes of understanding of the man (the soul). Through the spirit of man, God is able to look into the innermost part of Man’s seat of mental faculties (historically, the core of the soul was understood to be in the innermost part of the belly of man). This is how God knows the very thoughts of man. God does NOT need a man to be a believer, to have the Holy Spirit in him, to know the thoughts of the man. Because Man is with a spirit, God who is spirit, is able to know the thoughts of all men, right from the beginning of creation. Therefore, I can say, as a Man, God knows me through my spirit.

The Fallen Man and the Regenerate Man (a believer)
Is there a difference for the fallen Man and the regenerate Man? Where then does the Holy Spirit fit in? This is what Romans 8:27 says:

And he {God} who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Rom 8:27, KJV)

The exposition for this verse is like this: First, we need to understand what the “heart” is, here. The Greek word used was G2588, "kardia"; and its meaning is similar to “innermost part of the belly” as used by the Hebrew, like in the Prov 20:27, we saw earlier. It is the very centre of the soul where the elements of the soul like reasoning, emotion and desire or passion are centered. So, when it was said here that God who searched the centre of the soul, it was actually referring to God who searched through His lamp, the spirit of man, to know (the thoughts of) the man; He (God) knows the mind of the Spirit. The Spirit here was referring to the Holy Spirit whom God placed in our heart, the same, very centre of the soul. Where does it say, in Scripture, that God placed the Holy Spirit in our very centre of our soul (“heart” or “innermost part of the belly”)? It was written in 2 Cor 1:22 and Gal 4:6 –

{God} set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor 1:22). Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6)

The heart here, in both the verses, was the same “heart” G2588 (kardia), we saw in Romans 8:27. A point to note is that frequently, when Scriptures referred to the heart, it is NOT referring to the physical heart – the biological pump!

What Romans 8:27 was implying is this: For non-believers, God knows the thoughts of man through His lamp, the spirit of man. How does a Gentile able to come to become a believer? In the Apostle Peter’s words: “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them {the Gentiles} the Holy Ghost {Peter saw the manifestations}, even as [he did] unto us {Jews}.” (Acts 15:8, KJV). The Apostle was saying God knew the heart of the Gentile. In the manner that it was used here, Gentiles basically refer to non-believers, for the Gentiles then, were the ones NOT knowing God (the Jews taken to know God, for they were God’s people). So, I repeat, for the non-believers, God knows the thoughts of man through His lamp, the spirit of man.

For believers, whom He had placed His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in the very centre of man’s soul, God knows through the Holy Spirit, through the latter’s communion with the man’s spirit. Because the Spirit communes with man’s spirit at the very centre of the soul, the Spirit knows the thoughts of the man (or the meditations of his heart {G2588}), and is therefore, able and does intercede for the believers (or saints) in accordance with God’s will. For believers, God knows directly through the (mind of) indwelling Holy Spirit because the Spirit intercedes or petitions to God (concerning the saint’s condition, his spirited soul condition).

Just as our spirit knows our thoughts, the Holy Spirit also knows God’s will
As a side, the Apostle Paul also explained how the Holy Spirit can know how to intercede for the believers according to the will of God. In 1 Cor 2:11, he said this:

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:11)

Just like the spirit of man would know the thoughts of a man, it is the Spirit of God who would know the thoughts of God, and therefore, the will of God. And by knowing the will of God, the Spirit knows how to intercede for the believers, on knowing the condition of the spirited soul of the believer.

What understandings did we receive? We now know firstly, Man is NOT just soul and body, Man is with a spirit given by God at Creation. In other words, Man is a spirited soul (if you still do NOT get this, read the Tripartite Man article). The elements of the soul combined to define the personality of a person; the soul is the person. The soul, of course, knows its own thoughts. Next to it (the soul), is the spirit of man who would know the thoughts of the soul or man. This fact is used by God to know the thoughts of man; the spirit of man is used by God as His illuminating lamp to know the thoughts of man. So, for any man, even if he is NOT a believer, God can know his thoughts by “tapping” Himself into the spirit of the man. In addition, for a believer, God has placed His own Spirit at the very centre of the soul, called the “heart” or the “innermost part of the belly”. Because the Holy Spirit has been placed there, and He (the Holy Spirit) interacts with the man’s spirit, the Spirit knows directly the condition/thoughts of spirited soul, and He, the Spirit, does intercede to God (Father God), concerning the believer, according to God’s will, which the Spirit would know, since, like the spirit of man would know the thoughts of man, the Spirit of God, too, know the thoughts of God, and therefore, His will. Because of the Spirit’s petitioning according to His knowledge of the man’s spirited soul, God therefore, knows the condition of the spirited soul, visa-vis’ His (God’s) will.

There is just no way, a man can hide his thoughts from God. God is the knower of hearts.

And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all [men], shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, (Acts 1:24, KJV).

The “which knowest the hearts” (G2589 - kardiognōstēs) means knower of hearts; thus the Lord is known as the knower of hearts.

What is the significance of these understandings?
Which is more intimate and immediate, the Spirit of God coming to know by tapping in, from outside, or the Spirit of God knowing directly from within? For non-believers, the Spirit of God does NOT indwell them, He (the Spirit) works from outside in; for us, believers, the Spirit indwells us, and works from within. Because of the immediacy and intimacy, the thoughts of a believer, “hit” God immediately and strongly, be it, in offending or honoring way. And so, we have this, written for us, believers, in Scripture:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph 4:30)

Anthony Chia, high.expressions The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity (Ps 94:11, KJV). If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart {H3820 – “leb”, equivalent to centre of soul}(Ps 44:20-21, KJV). Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him {God} to whom we must give account (Heb 4:13, NIV).

PS: An article to come: What God wants to do, apart from knowing.

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