What are the ingredients of Mankind? Paul gives six virtues that men of God should pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.
In many religious and philosophical traditions, the soul is the spiritual essence of a person, which includes one’s identity, personality, and memories, an immaterial aspect or essence of a living being that is believed to be able to survive physical death.
So, again we ask ingredients?
Could we say 1 part heart, nearly 5 liters of blood, 1 mind, 1 spirit… but this doesn’t come close to describing the recipe of Mankind – my favorite recipe!
In Christian theology, the tripartite view (trichotomy) holds that humankind is a composite of three distinct components: body, spirit, and soul. It is in contrast to the bipartite view (dichotomy), where soul and spirit are taken as different terms for the same entity (the spiritual soul).
Paul uses the term inner man several times in his epistles (2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16). Romans 7:22–23 says, “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body.” The “inner man” is another way of describing the spiritual aspect of a person. The “outer man,” by contrast, would be the visible, external aspect of a person.
Human beings were created by God with a spirit, soul, and body (Genesis 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It has been said that we are not bodies with souls; we are souls that have bodies. The body—the “outer man”—is our physical housing through which we experience the world. Our bodies function primarily through the five senses and by meeting innate needs that drive us to eat, drink, and sleep. Our bodies are not evil but are gifts from God. He desires that we surrender those bodies as living sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1–2). When we accept God’s gift of salvation through Christ, our bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 3:16).
Our souls are the personality centers of our beings from which our mind, will, and emotions operate. With our souls we choose either to listen to and obey the lusts of our flesh or the desires of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16–17; Romans 8:9; Mark 14:38). The soul of a person is the courtroom where life decisions are made. It is the seat of the self-life and the fountain from which character traits such as self-confidence, self-pity, self-seeking, and self-affirmation originate.
Our spirits contain the inner man about which the Scriptures speak. Our spirits are where the Spirit of God communes with us. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). It is within our spirits that we are born again (John 3:3–6). The “inner man” contains the conscience upon which the Holy Spirit can move and convict of sin (John 16:8; Acts 24:16). Our spirits are the parts of us most like God, with an innate knowledge of right and wrong (Romans 2:14–15). First Corinthians 2:11 says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
Romans 12:1–2 implores us not to be conformed to this world’s way of thinking; rather, our inner man must be transformed by the “renewing of our minds.” This mind-renewal comes about as we allow the Holy Spirit free rein within our “inner man.” He begins to change our actions and desires to match His. Romans 8:13–14 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Romans 7 details the often painful battle between our flesh and spirit. Our spirits, having been reborn by the power of God, long to obey and follow Jesus. But the flesh does not die an easy death. Romans 6 explains how we can allow the inner man to triumph over the flesh. Verses 6 and 7 say, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Until we consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), the soul and body battle with the spirit for supremacy. We continue to live in a state of defeat until we die to self and allow the Spirit to have full control over every aspect of our lives, both inner and outer man.
It is God’s desire and design for human beings that we live always directed by the born-again nature, which is in step with God’s Spirit. But our fallen natures want to rule, and so a spiritual battle rages. Romans 7:24 poses a question that every dedicated follower of Christ asks: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Verse 25 answers that question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The extent to which we surrender that inner man to the control of the Holy Spirit is the extent to which we walk in continual victory over our fallen flesh.
It all started with “dust of the earth…” The Lord God formed Man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and Man became a living being. Dust can be made up of pollen, bacteria, smoke, ash, salt crystals from the ocean, and small bits of dirt or rock, including sand. Dust can also contain tiny fragments of human and animal skin cells, pollution, and hair. When its windy outside, you can see dust particles blowing through the atmosphere.
The Benefits of Dust
Dust gets a bad rap. We chase it out of our homes, or we think we should. So why a meditation on the benefits of dust? Even in the Bible, of the 100 references to “dust,” almost all of them are negative.
But not all. The very first mention of dust in the Bible is mind-blowingly positive—in Genesis 2:7 we read that God formed the first person, Adam, from dust, and God blessed him.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
And again, in Psalm 103, we hear about dust, as we read that God remembers that we people are dust—were it not for God, who is kind and merciful, we would remain senseless, clinging, reality-obscuring specks of dirt, useless specks needing to be collected and discarded, so as not to mar the beauty of Creation—God’s handiwork. Listen to how the psalmist speaks of God and of us—the dust—in Psalm 103:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
God does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is God’s love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has God removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of all people is like grass;
we flourish like flowers of the field;
the wind blows over flowers and they are gone,
and their place remembers them no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
We are dust. We are small and seemingly insignificant on the cosmic stage, and even on the earthly stage—it doesn’t take all that much to obliterate dust—but God has compassion for his dust, takes pity on his dust, on all who recognize that they are actually dust and not God. And so, we are dust with benefits.
We are dust created in the image of the Creator.
We are dust created in the image of the Creator, dust with the breath of life in us, dust with a pulse, and a mind, and a purpose beyond sitting on whatever surface we have been blown to by the fickle winds of life. We are dust that has been forgiven for acting like dust, as we obscure God’s beauty, God’s wisdom, God’s ways in this world. We are redeemed dust—saved from that life of obscuring—saved for a life that praises the Lord with every dusty fiber of our fragile being.
We are beloved dust. God loves this dust, and therefore makes us good dust—dust that blesses, rather than obscures; dust that points to our Creator—to the God who raises dust to a cosmic art form in the creation of beloved humans. You and I are dust, for sure, and we need to remember what God always remembers—that we are indeed dust—so that we will not forget God. But we will remember the God who holds our fragile lives in the palm of God’s almighty, loving grip, today and always, until we lay down our tired and dusty bodies in death, and God brings us Home, where our dustiness will fall away in the new Heavens and Earth that we await beyond the grave.