(continued from part 1)
Now, here’s the passage that turned the light on for me:
1 Corinthians 15 (KJV)
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul (ψυχή – “psuche”); the last Adam was made a quickening (ζωοποιοῦν – “zōopoioun” lit. “life-making”) spirit (πνεῦμα – “pneuma”).
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual (πνευματικὸν – “pneumatikon”) , but that which is natural (ψυχικόν – “psuchikon” – soulish); and afterward that which is spiritual (πνευματικὸν – “pneumatikon”).
First Adam became a soul (from a mere pile of dust), the second Adam – Christ – became a spirit after being born from the dead (Jesus was firstborn from the dead, but not first raised from the dead, others (e.g., Lazarus) preceded him in the latter). That shift is a huge key to the puzzle!
A few years I realized that what we commonly refer to as “salvation” is not actually a “thing” (as in “object to take and hold possession of”), but a series of transformations that happen to our entire being as one indivisible, atomic transaction (like a bank transaction), all at once (with the exception of a complete instantaneous body transformation / resurrection, which will happen later). And what 1 Cor 15:45-46 highlights is one of the most significant transformations that are part of our born-again experience. When we were in Adam, we were a living soul / being, just like Adam. The word used in v. 45 is ψυχή – “psuche”. When we got into Christ, we became a spirit. The first condition (Adamic) was soul-based, the last condition (in Christ) is spirit-based. The center of our identity and life had shifted from soul to spirit. The soul of Adam was merely “living”. The spirit of Christ, which we now are, is life-making, or life-producing, meaning it’s not just “living”, it is a generator of life-force.
Here’s another scripture which shows that fact about Christ (please ignore the initial letter capitalization in the word “spirit”. That’s my quibble with all translations – I don’t know why translators feel like they must capitalize the word “spirit” some places and not others):
2 Corinthians 3:17
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
(If you read the whole chapter in context, the reason for the definite article “the” before the word “spirit” in the first part of the verse is that since the beginning of the chapter the text has been describing the ministry of the spirit. The definite article verse simply says “Now the Lord is that spirit” (the one that we’ve been describing). KJV translates that article as “that” as well.)
This scripture shows that same fact about us:
1 Corinthians 6:17
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
(Now the word “spirit” is all lowercase, same translation (NKJV). It’s talking about the “same spirit” as 2 Cor 3:17! Why initcap one and not the other? Makes no sense.)
So, step 1 was Adam made from dust of the earth. Step 2 was Adam becoming a living soul. Now we have step 3 – becoming a [life-giving] spirit – applicable to those in Christ.
The implications, and the applications of this truth are numerous.
For instance, if the center of my life and identity is my spirit, then living by the spirit is the same thing as living out of my new identity. Since it’s the spirit of Christ (we are one spirit with him), it’s the same thing as submitting under the lordship (guidance) of Christ. It’s “Christ in me” that should be my lord – so the guidance system while being divine is internal, and not external. And operating out of that new center of my being is life-giving (as opposed to death-producing).
Also, this new understanding uncovers the precise meaning of several scriptures:
19 These are sensual (ψυχικοί – “psychikoi” – soulish) persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Very interesting – the whole letter of Jude is talking about a certain corrupt group of people, and here you see that he is referring to soulish persons who don’t have the spirit (implying the new spirit)! That puts an end to the argument of who exactly he is talking about.
Another one is this:
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 But the natural (ψυχικὸς – “psychikos” – soulish) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The things of God are in the spirit-dimension, this verse is talking about a man that is soul-based. From the above discussion it’s clear that it’s talking about a person not in Christ.
NIV insightfully renders this verse in the following way:
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
(Again, in the phrase “without the spirit” a new God-given spirit is implied. If they didn’t have any spirit at all, they would be dead people.)
And the last one:
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual (ψυχική – “psuchike” – soulish), demonic.