If you look at 1 Thess. 5:23 you see that God divides a man into three distinct parts: body, soul, and spirit. Through careful study of scripture we can find that the soul is the mind, will and emotions. Even though it is hard to visualize this, our spirit is the center of our being and has other distinct functions. Hebrews 4:12 clearly declares that there is a division between the soul and spirit. But you might be saying, “Why does this matter?”
Well, first, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, also all our soul, our mind and all our strength. If we do not carefully study this we may be disobeying this command, and therefore rebelling against God. If we are, then we will suffer the consequences of our ignorance, instead of living in health and the blessing of the Lord through knowing and following God’s wise counsel and wisdom. There will be no peace in your heart.
So let’s look back at Hebrews 4:12 AMP! “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.”
The meaning is clear, God’s Word pierces past a person’s mind, will and emotions and grips a person, convicting and judging them in the core of their hearts, where the control center of their motives dwell.
For example this is recorded from Peter’s first sermon as he used the Law of God to point out to the crowd their sin of murder and rebellion against God. Here is how it is recorded in Acts, “Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 2:37-38 AMP]
As you see the people responding had their consciences so stabbed that they admitted their sin and immediately wanted forgiveness. Also, they had a new desire to change their ways. From this we can see that the conscience is a function of the spirit; not just emotion, reason, or an informed decision of the mind, nor a combination of the three parts of the soul.
And also notice the key to God’s peace and blessing is the gift of the Holy Spirit. What does this mean?
Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible states men are evil from the core of their being. Jeremiah 17:9 AMP states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?”
The Bible talks about each person as dead in sin, meaning the spirit of that person is completely cut off from Jesus, who is “the way, the truth and the life.” In Rom 7:11 TM we are further instructed, “So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead.” So what comes out of a person with a stone dead spirit?
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” [Galatians 5:19-21]
Just like the orange tree produces oranges, a stone heart produces a hard resistance to the ten foundational commands of God and all the applications of these orders.
When a person has a diseased physical heart, death is certain unless they can somehow receive a gift of someone else’s heart. This is the same exact problem with humanity! There is no way to reform a person, they will never change. Therefore, God must do a miracle and give a new heart and spirit to cure them of their sick spirit. “I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.” [Ezek 36:26-27 THE MESSAGE]
What this means is true and lasting change does happen to a person who receives this miracle from God. It is so radical and life-changing that Jesus taught, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3 AMP]
This is different than many Americans experience who believe in Jesus Christ. Remember believing in your mind [your soul] is not the same as receiving a new spirit! Experiencing the fruitful change of heart is an explosive reality! “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)” [John 7:38-39 from THE MESSAGE]
A born again Christian is living off the heart of Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s Spirit pumping eternal life through the born again spirit and influencing the person’s mind, emotions, and will. God’s mighty grace [the desire and power to do God’s will] is active and powerful giving the miraculous ability to do what God promised, “to do what I tell you and live by my commands.”
John a close friend of Jesus wrote, “All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us.” [1 John 3:24 AMP]
Therefore a real Christian is more than a church attendee, more than an emotionally charged believer who does good works, and more than a well versed religious person. Many Americans have achieved these categories. Just because your mind is full of Bible facts and you firmly believe in them does not mean you will go to heaven. Life giving fruit from God’s Spirit is the only proof of life.
Read the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20] until you see yourself as a criminal who has broken them and deserving of God’s wrath. Read John until you see that Jesus took your punishment. Beg God to forgive you and accept His forgiveness through Jesus’ death.
Peace is the reality of a new relationship with God, once enemies, but instead adopted as a child of God with all the blessing and protection of the Almighty. Remember, peace is not freedom from problems or tribulation, but the calm resolve of the new fruit of God’s heart pumping inside you!
Do you know Him?