The Spirit, the Soul, the Flesh, and the Holy Spirit

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In the last Sunday, we talked about how after Peter preached to Cornelius, in Acts, chapter 10, that while he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the words from Peter.

Which brings up the question, what is, or who is, the Holy Spirit.

The Bible speaks often about the human soul. The human spirit. And also, about the flesh. And on top of all that, the Bible says, that a person can be filled with the Holy Spirit.

So how do we make sense of this?

I have a book here, by W. Ian Thomas. The title of the book is, “If I Perish, I Perish.”

Now, W. Ian Thomas takes the book of Esther, found in the Old Testament Bible, and he reveals to his readers an allegory, contained within the book of Esther, which explains, I think, most clearly the relationship between the soul, the spirit, the body, the flesh, and also, the Person of the Holy Spirit.

An allegory is simply describing a subject under the appearance of another subject. And in an allegory, you will see the use of symbols that describes an object, and gives it meaning.

So for example, a lion symbolizes courage, and strength, and power. A snake can symbolize subtlety, and craftiness. And when an author takes many symbols, and relates them in a story, and communicates a message in a hidden way that the reader must decipher in order understand, then you have an allegory.

And so God, in His Bible, has used a real historical account, and has given to us an allegory, full of symbols and rich meaning. And this allegory in the Book of Esther will help us have a more clear understanding of the relationship between our soul, our spirit, our body, and our flesh. And even the role that the Holy Spirit can have in our life.

So let’s begin.

Now the Bible says in this first chapter of the book of Esther that King Ahasuerus reigned from India to Ethiopia, over 127 provinces. And this king sat on his throne in the palace. And he made all the important decisions in regards to his kingdom.

As a king in his palace, Ahasuerus will represent for us the soul of man. For it is within the palace that decisions are made, policies declared, and laws published.

And this King reigned over 127 provinces. And this kingdom will represent the human body.

For, throughout all the land, from the largest city to the tinies village, the conduct of the people, and they way they behaved was affected by the king’s commands.

And likewise it is within the soul that human behavior is determined, for it is within the soul that decisions are made, plans conceived, and the will exercised to bring the body into action.

The human will, and its actions, is under the direct influence of the mind, and of the emotions. Whatever influence it may be that controls the mind, and controls the emotions, will ultimately control the will, and the actions of the body.

Now our text says that this King promoted a certain man, named Haman the Agagite, and advanced him, and set Haman above all the princes, and over all the kingdom. He was second, only to the king himself.

And so Haman the Agagite will represent what in the New Testament is called the flesh.

And not the flesh as simply the human body. But the flesh in the sense as that sinful element of our human nature. Our default nature to steal, or lie, or fight, or covet. Our default nature to go against God’s commandments. In this, we mean the flesh.

Now, in Esther, chapter 9, verse 24, we read:

24 …Haman (…) the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them…;

So Haman is called here an enemy. He is someone who we would say, is evil. And you will notice from the beginning of our text, that this Haman is already deeply entrenched, deeply rooted, within the palace. He is firmly established in the king’s affections, and enjoying his complete confidence.

For our texts reads, that the king “advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes”.

And so Haman had constant, unhindered access to the king from within the palace. And in Haman’s own way, he could color the king’s thinking, stir the king’s emotions, and with his evil influence mold the king’s decisions.

And so throughout the whole kingdom, the character of this wicked man made an impact upon the whole nation.

And the king commanded, that “all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bow, and pay respect to Haman:”

And so all the king’s servants bowed, except for one.

Our texts reads: But Mordecai bowed not, nor paid him homage. (Mordecai did not pay Haman any respect)

Now Mordecai will represent for us the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, God himself, able to live inside a person.

And our text says that Mordecai sat at the king’s gate, but he was outside the palace. He did not have access to the king, nor did he have any influence over the king’s decisions.

Yet Haman had direct and constant access to the king, being inside the palace, and could easily influence his decision making.

So we have here two people, who are opposed to each other. Like two magnets trying to be pressed together, they naturally repel each other. And so is it the same with our flesh, and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says:

17 For the flesh (has its desires) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

Now, in our text, Haman recognized Mordecai to be his archenemy.

Haman, who is called an Agagite, was from that ancient tribe of people, the Amalekites, who in the Bible is recorded as being the ancient enemy of the Jewish people.

And in like manner does God also have an ancient enemy, which is Satan, who works through the flesh.

And so this is a picture of man in his fallen condition. With his soul controlled by the desires of his flesh, which Satan works upon. And sitting outside of the Kings palace, sitting outside of the influence of the human soul, is the Person of the Holy Spirit.

This allegorical story begins, with the wrong man in, and the right man out. And the question becomes, how do we get the wrong man out, and the right man in.

This, in essence, is what the gospel, the good news, is all about.

In order to get the wrong man out, and the right man in; In order to exchange the evil influence of Haman, for the gracious, loving, influence of Mordecai; it is going to have to involve the king making a radical change of government within the palace.

And such a change of government within the palace is going to have far reaching consequences throughout the kingdom.

Our text says that Haman was made known that Mordecai was a Jew. And Haman conceived a plan to destroy Mordecai, and all his people.

Haman tells the king:

8 …There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are different from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to tolerate them.

9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver (and) bring it into the king’s treasuries.

So Haman approaches the king, and he speaks with subtlety. He speaks with craftiness. And he speaks with temptation.

In pleasant words, Haman speaks favorable things to the king’s ear. Haman makes a case that there are people who do not keep the King’s laws, and that they need to be destroyed.

But in reality, the Jews were living peaceably within the Kingdom.

But Haman, with craftiness and sly words, tells the king that these Jewish people have laws that are different than his laws, and that they do not keep the king’s laws.

And this is what Satan does. He will take a truth, and he will twist it just enough, to deceive you and trick you, and get you to do something against God’s commandments. To do something evil.

Had Haman told the King of his true motives, and his true plans, the King would have never supported it. And so also, if Satan made known to you his true intentions, you would never give him any room of influence over your life.

Now in our text, here is how the King responds:

10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman…, the Jews’ enemy.

11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.

So the king would have been eager to eliminate any rebellion against his authority. And so he tells Haman, to keep his silver, and to do to the people as he best saw fit. And so he gives Haman his ring from his hand.

When the king gives Haman the ring from his hand, he is vesting all power to Haman, to do all that he wants. Haman, in effect becomes ruler over all 127 provinces of the Kingdom, being second only to the king himself.

And this is the picture of the unregenerate soul of man. Of the fallen condition of man as described in the Bible. We are ignorant, and unaware of the truth, just like the king.

And we have blindly given all authority and power to our flesh, through which Satan works upon, to secretly accomplish his own purposes. And all of the desires that our flesh wants, we allow it to be fulfilled.

That is why the Bible says in Galatians, to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. And Again in Romans: make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Now our text continues:

12 …there was written according to all that Haman had commanded … (letters) … (and) in the name of (the king) was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

13 And the letters were sent (to) all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, … and to take the spoil of them for a prey (or for a plunder).

And so our text says that Haman commanded the letters to be sent, and in the name of (the king) was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

And so also, is Satan trying to accomplish a work in you. Satan has his own wicked plans against God, and he is trying to do it, and accomplish it, in your name.

That is why the Bible says: have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Bring to light the works of darkness, and make them known. Because when it is known, then you will reject it.

And this is what needs to happen in our text. The wrong man needs to get out, and the right man needs to get in. Somehow, the king needs to be reached, and be given the right information. Only then, will he be able to make an informed decision. Otherwise, the king will be responsible for Haman’s actions.

Now we are ready to introduce our next symbol in this allegory.

In this book, the main character is Queen Esther.

And Queen Esther, will represent for us, the human spirit, just as king Ahasuerus represents the human soul. These two are wedded as one, but they are two distinct persons.

And so is it also, with our soul and spirit. They appear as one, and act as one, yet they are distinct and separate from each other.

And in Chapter two, we read about Esther before she became queen.

We read, that she was a beautiful woman. And when her father and mother died, Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, took Esther as her own daughter. So Mordecai adopted Esther into his family.

And this here is a picture of the Holy Spirit being received by a person, and the spirit of that person being received into the family of God on the basis of adoption.

The Bible says in Romans 8:15:

15 …you have received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.

Now, I want to make clear, that there is a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. When you receive the Holy Spirit, the Bible says you are sealed. You are forever counted as a child of God.

Much like how Esther was forever counted as a child of Mordecai. Esther, as a child, could rebel, and disobey, and Mordecai would still call her his child.

And likewise, a person can have the Holy Spirit inside of them, and that person can still do bad things. The Bible says you can grieve the Holy Spirit. That you can quench the Holy Spirit.

And in contrast, a person can also be filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in the power of God, performing many good and righteous works.

And when Esther was adopted by Mordecai, it became Mordecai’s responsibility to educate her, and take care of her. To guide her steps in the right direction. To discipline her when she went off course. And to equip her with skill and talents that she could serve the world with.

And in the same way does the Holy Spirit help us.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will guide you into the truth. The Holy Spirit will bring all things to your remembrance. The Holy Spirit will teach you … what you ought to say.

The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit will give you gifts and abilities. That He will equip you with gifts and talents that you can serve God with.

Now, our text continues:

1 When Mordecai perceived all that was done (all that Haman had done), Mordecai tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;

Sackcloth and ashes were used in Old Testament times as a symbol of humility, mourning, and, repentance. Someone wanting to show a repentant heart, or a mourning heart, would often wear sackcloth, sit in ashes, and put ashes on top of his head.

Sackcloth was a rough material usually made of goat’s hair, making it uncomfortable to wear. And the ashes signified desolation and ruin.

And so Mordecai tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, because Haman had ordered that he and all the Jews of the land to be destroyed. And so Mordecai cried with a bitter cry, weeping for his people.

And this is a picture of the Holy Spirit groaning.

The Bible says in Romans Chapter 8, that:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us (the Holy Spirit pleads to God, on our behalf) with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Esther herself, also being a Jew, was exceedingly grieved by the situation, and she did her best to comfort Mordecai. But Mordecai would not be comforted.

So the picture here is very clear now. Mordecai had come into the life of Esther. But Mordeca, through Esther, had not yet gained access throughout the palace, into the inner counsels of the king.

In the kings inner court, in the palace, Haman wore the ring of authority. This is a picture of the carnal or fleshly Christian.

And maybe this is you.

You are a Christian. You have received the Holy Spirit. You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. He has taken up residence within your human spirit.

You have been born again. But you are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. You are still being led about by the impulses of your flesh.

Your fleshly nature, your old nature, the nature of Haman, still has all the influences over you, and it effects your personality, colors your thinking, sparks your ambitions, and captures your affections.

This, the Bible calls, is the carnal Christian.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food.…

3 For you are yet carnal: for while there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions…

And this is also a picture of the Holy Spirit being grieved.

The king, representing the soul of man, is letting Haman, which represents the flesh, have all the influence throughout the kingdom.

Something drastic needs to happen inside the palace. In the palace, there needs to be a change of government. Somehow, the wrong man needs to get out. And the right man needs to come in. And for that to happen, you have to first let the right man in.

Now Esther has been living in the king’s palace, and no doubt has probably had encounters with Haman. And she probably saw nothing dangerous in Haman. In fact, she might have even taken him to be a good man, and even a gentlemen.

For the Bible tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”. Satan wants us to think that he is good, truthful, loving, and powerful.

For if Satan were to reveal his true nature, his dark and evil nature, it would not be very appealing to the majority of people.

Most people are not drawn to darkness, but are drawn to light. Therefore, Satan appears as a creature of light to draw us to himself and his lies.

And so also, when Haman approached the king, with his decree to destroy all the Jews, he disguised his true intentions in such a way that it appeared to the King as something noble. As an honorable and just duty that needed to be done.

That is the why the Bible says in 1 Peter:

8 Be sober, be vigilant (or be watchful); because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:

So now the next step is for Esther to be convinced of the wickedness of Haman. And so Esther will need good, truthful information.

In our text, we read that Mordecai revealed to Esther the evil plans of Haman, and gave Esther specific instructions on what she needed to do.

And when the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to your human spirit the wickedness of your flesh, just like Mordecai revealed to Esther the wickedness of Haman, this is called conviction.

The Holy Spirit is like a man with a lamp entering a dark and dirty room. And what you have learned to live with in the dark, becomes repugnant, and repulsive, when in the light.

But changing old habits can be hard. And listening and responding to the Holy Spirit can be difficult.

And Mordecai gave to Esther what seemed to be a very simple set of instructions.

“go in to the king, and make request before the King for her people. For the Jewish people.”

This seems simple enough. But she replies back to Mordecai:

11 All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Now this is a picture of the Holy Spirit being quenched. When you quench your thirst, you are putting out your thirst. When you quench a fire, you are putting out a fire. And so here, Esther gives reasons, and good reasons, on why she can not do what Mordecai is asking.

And her reason is, that she might be put to death if she enters the court without being called. For that was the law of the land during that time.

And in our human spirit, we do the very same thing. We might plainly know the right thing to do. Or have clear understanding of what not to do. But obeying the Holy Spirit can be a very hard thing. Especially if it means sacrificing our comfort, or our job security, or even sacrificing our life.

We might come up with excuses. And maybe they are good excuses. But when we do not listen to the leading and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are quenching the Holy Spirit. We are putting out the Holy Spirit, and His influence over our soul.

And so the Holy Spirit will often convict you. He will give you knowledge of the right thing to do, and the right way to go. You will be given a way to escape. Or an open door to go through. But when we decide to live in the flesh, and to not listen to the Holy Spirit, you quench the Holy Spirit.

And the only way to overcome quenching the Holy Spirit, is through obedience.

Mordecai responded back to Esther:

13 …Think not to yourself that you shall escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.

14 For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther feared the consequences of listening to Mordecai, and approaching the King without being called. Because in her mind, it mean for sure death. But until Esther was willing to deny herself, and die to her self, Mordecai would be unable to take the next steps to get Haman out.

That is why Jesus said:

24 …If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

For Esther, if she tried to preserve her own live, and not go before the king, Mordecai assured her that God would find some other way to save the Jews. But that she and her father’s house would perish.

And then he encourages Esther: who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Mordecai tells Esther, who knows if God has made you Queen, and prepared you, for this very moment.

There comes a point in every persons life, when you have an important decision to make. To go right, or to go left. To obey, or to disobey. To believe, or to not believe.

And notice for Esther, her time to make a decision was limited. She would not have a year to think things over, for she could not even be sure that she would be alive in the next few days. She had to make a choice now!

And in our text, Esther responds to Mordecai. And tells him:

16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

Esther says, if I perish, I perish. If I die, I die.

At this point, Esther has died to her self. She did not need to give away her beautiful dresses, she did not need to renounce the luxury of the palace, or give up her crown. She only needed to obey the instructions from Mordecai.

Esther was now alive to God, and dead to self and all self-interest.

Willingness to die to yourself is the price you must pay if you want to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is no power within yourself to overcome your flesh. But when you obey the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is fully able to handle your flesh.

And here is a true Biblical principle.

When you hear the gospel. And you hear, that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for your sins. When you believe this, and believe that Jesus was raised to life on the third day. God will accept you. He will forgive you of your sins, and he will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And after you receive the Holy Spirit, there are two directions you can go in.

The Bible says: to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.

And if Christ is still on the cross, then self, that is, your flesh, is still sitting on the throne of your life. You still have your flesh wearing the kings ring. Wearing your ring. But if self, if your flesh, is put on the cross, if you die to yourself, like Esther did, then Christ is sitting on the throne of your life.

And Paul encourages us in Romans:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

When you put yourself on the cross. When you die to your self, and to all your old fleshly ways, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice.

And Paul continues:

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

And this is the invitation that is available to you now. God does not only want to save you from the consequences of your sins and Hell. Which, indeed, is important. But he also wants to live in you now.

He wants to work through you. He wants reveal himself to you. His presence is waiting to empower you.

You, like Esther, can be a chosen vessel of which God carries out his blessings. God can work in your life in ways you never thought possible.

God might better equip you as a teacher, or a businessman, for the purposes of bringing others into the Kingdom of God.

God might give you the gift of words, so that you can speak truth to your neighbor, and help save a soul from eternal destruction.

God might equip you to be an amazing doctor, and help you find a cure to a disease, so that you can save many people alive. And your work will be a testimony to them of the love Christ.

The possibilities are endless, of what God is able to accomplish in your life. All you have to do, is yield yourself to Christ. Yield to the love of Christ. Humble yourself before him, and empty yourself, let Him fill you with His righteousness, with His Holy Spirit. And obey Him.

God will work a work in you that you never thought would be possible.

And we read in our text that God was able to perform a mighty work, working through Esther, to bring deliverance, and blessings, to his people.

When Esther walked into court of the king’s house uncalled, God gave Esther favor in the sight of the king. And the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. And Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter. And her life was saved.

And the rest of the book goes on in detail of how Mordecai was able to gain influence over the king through Esther.

And we see Haman, much like the flesh, not easily giving up what he once used to control.

But in process of time, Once the king understood the truth. Once the queen was able to effectively communicate the true nature of Haman, Haman was put out of the kingdom.

And Mordecai was brought in. And the king gave Mordecai his ring, giving to Mordecai all power and authority, being second only to the king himself.

And so a drastic change of government eventually took place inside the palace. Old laws were nullified. New laws were established. And the Jewish people were saved. And there existed peace throughout all the land.

God want’s this change of government for you. We all have in us this nature of Haman, which is our flesh, fighting for control and influence over our soul.

Satan, working through your flesh, is masquerading as an angel of light, trying to deceive you, and convince you, that you are performing some good and noble work.

But in reality, Satan, like Haman, has his own wicked plans against God. And he is simply using you to accomplish his own evil purposes.

So the Bible tells us, be sober. Be vigilant. Be watchful.

The Bible says, to put on the whole armor of God.

And the first piece of armor that is listed in the armor of God, is the belt of Truth. You need to equip yourself with Truth.

A General in a battle field has no chance of winning a war if he is receiving bad and faulty intelligence from his soldiers.

And so you too, you need to equip yourself with Truth. And the Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide you into the Truth. Satan is the father of lies, the Bible says. But the Holy Spirit will guide you into the Truth.

So I encourage you:

Invite Jesus into your life. Believe that Jesus is who He says He is. When you do, Jesus promises, that he will come into your life. He will take up residence inside of you. And He will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you also, on your own time, read the book of Esther. It is not too long. Only ten chapters. And also, pick up a copy of this book, “If I Perish, I Perish”, by W. Ian Thomas.

The author goes into greater detail of the allegory and symbols found in the book of Esther that I think will give you a richer and deeper understanding about the relationship between the soul, and the spirit, and the body, and the flesh, and Person of the Holy Spirit.





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