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Insanity - Appendix 1

The Physical and the Spiritual

Scripture when speaking of the heart of man is usually speaking of it as the source of Man's thinking, rather than simply his physical heart. "Out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). It is the inward side of man rather than the outward. "For he is not a Jew who [is] one outwardly, neither that circumcision which is outward in flesh; but he [is] a Jew [who is so] inwardly (in what is hidden or secret); and circumcision, of the heart, in spirit" (Romans 2:28/29). However, there are some passages where there is clearly a reference to Man's physical heart. For instance, we have: "My heart throbbeth, my strength hath left me" (Psalm 38:10). This was the effect of God's chastening, it was such that his physical heart was adversely affected. Again we have: "Thy heart shall throb, and be enlarged" (Isaiah 60:5). This, though no doubt metaphorical, alludes to a

favourable effect on the physical heart.

We have a similar thing when bowels are spoken of. The lower parts of the body are indicated and not just what are called bowels today (the intestines). Food is spoken of as being in the bowels (Job 20:14), but also offspring are said to originate in the bowels (2 Samuel 16:11). However, the word bowels also has a non-material use. Thus we have: "His bowels burned for his brother" (Genesis 43:30). Then we have bowels of compassion spoken of in the New Testament (Colossians 3:12). Emotions are what are in mind in these examples. They can give us feelings in our stomachs (such as butterflies), just as other emotions can make our hearts go pitapat. For this reason Scripture no doubt speaks about emotions using the names of physical organs. However, it is clear we have spiritual hearts and bowels as well as material ones.

When we speak of our minds we may be thinking of our brains, but most likely we are not just thinking of the physical organ, but the thoughts and feelings that are in our heads. The word brains is not found in Scripture, but the word mind appears many times. Our brains are in themselves physical things and return to dust as do our bodies when we die. However, it is clear from many passages of Scripture that those who have died still have thoughts (see for example Luke 16:19-31). Our brains are necessary, if for no other reason than that there must be a connection between our thoughts and our bodies. Our conscious thoughts govern the movements of our bodies, speech etc. Without brains there would be no means of communication between our thoughts and our bodies. Some people know what they want to say and do, but cannot carry out their thoughts, not because they are physically impaired but, because they have brain damage as the result of an accident, stroke or whatever.

Scripture also speaks about the head. This may be our physical head (Genesis 40:16; 1 Corinthians 11:4), someone who is above us (Numbers 1:4; 1 Corinthians 11:3) or it may be that the word is used in a metaphorical sense (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 7:16). The general idea is of what is above which governs or influences us. It may refer simply to what is physical, but it may have reference to what is spiritual, particularly so in the New Testament. In the Old Testament there is much about what is physical - the tabernacle for instance. The wars were physical things. However in the New Testament there is much more about what is spiritual - the tabernacle is a spiritual one (Hebrews 9:11) and the warfare is spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The same kind of things can be said about the spirit and the soul. The spirit may be simply physical breath (Job 27:3), but it may refer to what is immaterial, whether our own spirit (Psalm 77:6) or God's spirit (Psalm 143:10). The soul (or life - the word is the same) may refer to physical blood: "The flesh with its life, its blood" (Genesis 9:4) or it may refer to the self (the ego). This latter will be seen if we compare Matthew 16:26 "his soul" with Luke 9:25 "himself".


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