So far in our series on renewing our minds, we have learned that in order to be transformed, we must constantly "put off" all the garbage in our own thinking and "put on" the Mind of Christ. We have also briefly touched upon what the Mind of Christ is and why it's so very important to understand and to implement in our everyday lives.
Over the next few months, I'm excited about doing a series on how the Mind of Christ works in us. I would like to present a visual picture of just how the Spirit of God produces His Mind in us. But in order to do this, however, we must first understand what our spirit, our heart, and our soul are and how they differ. Then we'll be able to come back and see how the Mind of Christ fits into the whole picture.
Difference Between Spirit, Heart and Soul
When I began studying the First Commandment years ago ("Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and with all thy mind"), I ran to many of the pastors that I knew and I asked them what the difference was between our heart, soul and mind. Many of them simply told me, there is no difference - all these words essentially mean the very same thing. Many books today concur and we see sentences like this one, "If a person listens to his soul (which is his heart and mind), he will have...." And, like this one, "Sanctification is the process of changing the heart (that is, the mind, emotions, and will or actions)." With explanations like these, it's really no wonder so many of us are confused about these terms.
My question to the pastors twenty years ago and to these authors of today is: "Why did God use three different Hebrew words and three different Greek words in the First Commandment to express the very same thing?" It doesn't make any sense. God is very precise and He doesn't use different words unless there is something unique and special meant by each.
Since that time 20 years ago, I've learned a wonderful way to determine the real Scriptural definition of any word in the Bible. You take all the places that that Hebrew or that Greek word appears, write them out and come up with a composite definition. In other words, you let the Scripture define itself. This is evidently how the old theologians and scholars used to do it.
So, this is exactly what I did. I took the over 800 words rendered "heart" (leb in the Old Testament and kardia in the New) and found that our heart is consistently said to be: evil, deceitful, hardened, impenetrable, prideful and non-circumcised. This is why the Bible tells us that we desperately need to be born again and receive a new heart - a clean heart - a heart to know (yada) Him. A heart filled with His Agape Love and upon which His Word is inscribed.
Then, I took the over 400 words rendered "soul" (nephesh in the Old Testament and psyche in the New) and found that our soul is consistently said to be: troubled, trodden down and weary. The Bible says that our soul lusts, sins, and that the enemy persecutes it. It can be cut off, destroyed and left in hell. But, if we ask God, He will rescue it, deliver it, save it and redeem it. He is the One who heals our soul and then fills it with intimate knowledge of God (oida).
What fascinated me about this study was the consistency of the Scriptures. Whether we are talking Old Testament or New Testament, God never delivers, saves and redeems our heart, He always gives us a totally new clean one-a heart to know Him. In like manner, He never gives us a new soul, He delivers, saves and redeems our old one.
So, there are some major difference between our heart and our soul. They are not the same thing at all! And it's critical for us to understand these differences, first of all, so we can love Him properly, with all our heart and soul. And secondly, so we can understand ourselves. Do we have a heart that knows (yada) God? Is our soul filled with intimate knowledge (oida) of God? Scripture warns us that a people who do not understand, will fall. (Hosea 4:14)
We Are the Temple of God
Twenty years ago, in my quest to understand what my heart, mind and soul were, God led me to Hosea 12:10. In this Scripture, God tells us that He often uses similitudes (word pictures), analogies or illustrations to help us better understand His Word.
One of these "similitudes" or word pictures is 1 Corinthians 3:16 which says, "Know [oida] ye not, [do you not have intimate knowledge] that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Also, in 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul says, "...for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
Paul is making an analogy, a comparison, or a word picture here in these Scriptures by saying that our body is a temple and this temple is now the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Where did the Holy Spirit (or the Shekinah Glory) dwell in the Old Testament? The Bible tells us that God's Spirit used to dwell in the Holy of Holies of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Now, however, Scripture tells us that God's Spirit dwells "...not in temples made with hands," but in the Temple of our bodies. (Acts 17:24)
This statement that we "are the Temple of God" actually occurs seven times in the New Testament. Seven times is enough to indicate that the Holy Spirit is pointing out something very important and we had better take note.
Also, in the Old Testament there are 52 chapters that talk about the physical Temple of God. Again, this should indicate to us that something is very important here!
The Temple of Solomon
I believe Paul is making a correlation (in the two above Scriptures) between Solomon's Temple, which used to be the dwelling place of God's Spirit, and our bodies that are now the dwelling place of His Spirit. I believe he is saying that in some mystical way, Solomon's Temple was a model, a blueprint, or a type of the believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Now, the reason I refer to Solomon's Temple and not the other temples is because Solomon's was very "special." 1) It was the only Temple where all the detailed plans (not only the construction of the Temple but also the furniture) were given to David by the Spirit of God (see 1 Chronicles 28:12,19). 2) It was also the only Temple in which God's Spirit "dwelt permanently" until the Temple was destroyed. And lastly, 3) It was the only Temple in which the Ark of the Covenant rested. None of the other Temples contained the Ark.
So, in order for us to understand ourselves better (what our spirit, heart and soul are) and for us to understand God's Word better, I would like to compare the layout and structure of Solomon's Temple way back in the Old Testament to our bodies that are now the Temple of God. Then we'll come back and see how the Mind of Christ fits into the whole picture.
In this article we'll concentrate on the physical Temple of Solomon and all its rooms. Next month, we'll see how each of these areas corresponds to our own spirit, heart, will, soul and body, and we'll focus on the spiritual significance of each. Then, in the following articles, we'll come back and explore in-depth the hidden chambers of the Temple and how they relate to our own "innermost part." And, prayerfully, we'll begin to understand why it is so critical for us to renew our minds daily.
It's imperative for us to allow the Spirit of God the freedom to expose, cleanse and fill these secret recesses of our soul with His Word. We must always replace Satan's lies with God's Truth.
So, fasten your seat belts! Over the next few months we are going to cover a lot of ground. But don't panic, we are not going to go into all the minute details of the Temple, but only just enough to understand ourselves a little more clearly, how we operate and why we hide and bury the things we do.
Using the Temple as a model of man is not a new idea. Charles Scofield (of Scofield Bible fame) wrote a book back in 1915 called New Life in Christ, in which he expressed some of the same ideas. Also, Watchman Nee in his book, The Spiritual Man (1940), uses the same Temple analogy.
Blueprint of Solomon's Temple
Let's begin by looking at CHART 8, which is the Temple Elevation View. As you can see, the main sanctuary sat up on a raised platform and consisted of the Holy of Holies (A) in the rear; the Holy Place in the middle (B); and the Porch (C), with its two pillars in the front (D), facing the Inner and Outer Courts (F) that were on an even lower level.
Be sure to note the side wings on either side of the main sanctuary (E). These were secret, hidden, wooden chambers that were supposed to be used for storing the priests' worship items used in the Holy Place and also for storing the historical records of Israel. (We'll see in a moment, however, what was actually stored there.)
Now look at CHART 9, the Floor Plan View.
Looking down upon the actual floor plan (or blueprint) of the Temple, you can see that the main sanctuary consisted of the Holy of Holies (A) in the rear, the Holy Place (B) in the middle, and the Porch (C) in the front.
Important: Note that the Porch not only included the golden vestibule (or entry way) just inside the main sanctuary (C), but it also included the two bronze pillars outside the Porch (D). These two pillars had proper names, Jachin and Boaz.
Jachin means "by His counsel" and Boaz means "in His strength." (These two architectural structures will become vitally important as we further study the internal architecture of man and how the Mind of Christ fits into this picture.)
The Temple sanctuary itself, you can see, rested on a raised platform (G). Surrounding the sanctuary were again these secret hidden chambers (E). As we said, these chambers were supposed to be used to store the priests' worship items for the Holy Place and their historical records.
However, it was here in these secret recesses that the priests actually stored their own personal idolatrous worship items, thinking that since they were hidden and out of sight, no one would see and no one would know. (You might find it interesting to read Ezekiel 8:6-12 and hear about some of the things that the priests actually stored there. Read also Ezekiel 14:3-7, Jeremiah 17:1 and Isaiah 29 about the "idols, sins, plans and purposes" that were engraved upon the hearts of the elders and the people of Israel who thought to themselves, "no one will see and no one will know.) Maybe you can already guess what these secret, hidden chambers correspond to in our own internal architecture.
Stepping down seven steps from the Porch, we find the Inner Court (H), where the priests did the Inner Court Ritual in order to cleanse and atone for their sins, and on an even lower level, the Outer Court (I).
This has been just a quick perusal of the physical architecture of Solomon's Temple. Next month we will focus on the spiritual significance of each of these areas. As God has said, we are the temple of the living God...He will dwell in us and walk (move about) in us; be our God, and we shall be His people. (2 Corinthians 6:16)
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This article has been excerpted from Chuck and Nan's new and expanded book, Be Ye Transformed (now in its second printing).