"And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.  And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground."  (Luke 22:41-44. NASB)

Jesus was in agony, fighting His human fear of what He was about to go through.  In my essay on "Courage", I said I believe it takes far greater courage toovercome your fear, than it does to have no fear to start off with. Having no fear, often means you've had no chance to consider the consequences of what you are about to do. Jesus had twenty or more years to consider the consequences.  His sacrifice was a demonstration of courage in the ultimate sense of the word

But still, in my human and inquisitive mind, I have often wandered about this passage. In my inexorably logical way of thinking, I put two and two together and didn't come up with four.  Why was Jesus afraid? What was He afraid of? The first most rational answer, popping up like an enthusiastic Jack-in-the-box, is that crucifixion isn't a recommended pastime for anyone.  But then my reason jumps in and says thousands of people were crucified by the Romans. The two thieves crucified either side of Him were still able to have a conversation with Him early in the piece. Jesus was God in human form. He had an advantage over those thieves. He knew He was going to be resurrected before three days were up.  

If God approached me with a proposal that my death on a cross would save millions of people from eternal damnation, with the proviso that I would only have to stay dead for a mere three days, I think I would volunteer!  (Of course there is no way my life would be worth such a reward!) Those who have seen the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" will have some appreciation of the physical pain Jesus went through.  But still, having been through a bone marrow transplant, I recall coming out of hospital, saying I would never go through that again!  Today, I'm not quite sure why.  The memory of physical pain leaves so quickly.  Once I was up there on a cross, I figure, it would be all out of my hands. The limit of human pain tolerance would kick in and I would probably faint. But even if I stayed fully conscious, hey, once it is over, look at the benefits!

I was dogged by an insistent prompting that where Jesus' death was concerned, there had to be more to it. Somehow I wasn't getting the whole picture.  The bit that bothered me the most was that Jesus died in six hours.  Normally, death by crucifixion was a slow, agonising way to die, taking three days to kill the average man. Sure, Jesus had been flogged extensively, but He was a strong man. He hadwalked all over the Holy Land for three years. His legs would have been particularly strong. There seemed to be no reason for Him to die so quickly.

I think it would be profitable here, first, to explore crucifixion itself, and why it is such a horrible way to die.


Crucifixion was selected by the Romans to make an example of those who defied their rule, gaining compliance through fear. They bullied their way, hanging thousands on crosses lining the main roads.  If they'd had access to flashing neon signs, they would have read: "See what happens, if you don't do what we say?!!"  

The person crucified would have both arms tied to the crossbeam while it still lay on the ground. A huge cast iron nail was hammered through each wrist and a single even bigger one through both feet at once.  Whilst agonisingly painful, this was nowhere near enough to kill in itself. Maybe infection or starvation would have eventually done the trick, but the Romans were experts in torture.  They stood the cross upright in a hole, starting a slow process of asphyxiation.  In order for a person to be able to breathe, he has to be able to expand his chest diaphragm. For that diaphragm to expand, it must be free of pressure. The way the arms were spread loosely, the only way to relieve the pressure was to push up with the feet, taking the strain off the arms. 

Death by crucifixion was a long process of repeatedly pushing against the massive nail through the feet, thereby allowing the lungs to operate, finally yielding to death when the strength to push up ran out.  

A dear friend in her seventies, Estelle Knowles, suffered polio in the fifties and became totally dependent on a respirator.  Before she died, she wrote her life story, "I shall lack nothing", (the title taken from Psalm 23, NIV), an inspiring account of the Lord's provision. When the muscles of her chest failed to allow the lungs to inflate, a machine called an "iron lung" had to take over, forcing oxygen into her and allowing carbon dioxide out.  Facing a future of total dependence on a machine, her strong faith, combined with her intrepid determination, somehow mustered her resources and she began an unbelievable process of learning to breathe using her stomach muscles. Under close supervision, the respirator would be turned off until she was turning blue and near death. It would then be turned back on, only to start all over again when she recovered.  It was like a repeated drowning, surrounded by air, desperately looking for some dormant muscle to kick in.  (I am vaguely reminded of a line from the poem of the 'Ancient Mariner': "Water, water everywhere, but not one drop to drink!") After nine months, finally some ill-defined muscles had had enough, and began to operate! She learned how to breathe on her own for some hours straight, but could still only sleep while in the machine.

Crucifixion is like having your 'iron lung' turned off.  To save yourself from 'drowning', you must ignore the pain in your feet and straighten your legs, thereby allowing used air to escape from your lungs and fresh air to flow back in. A drowning man, in his utter desperation, will cling to anything, even to the point of taking his potential rescuer down with him.  The human instinct for survival knows no surrender.  When my doctor told me I was dying of leukemia, at first I welcomed the opportunity to escape this world, but soon a little voice inside urged me to live.  Suspended on a cross, a man cannot simply remain hanging until unconsciousness brings death.  Every fibre of his being screams for just one more lung full of air.  And then he pushes himself up, scraping the skin of his back on the rough timber.  Mercifully air is sucked in.  And then his body sags again, forcing compression of the lungs, and bringing excruciating pain shooting from the wrists.  But he hangs there until his brain threatens to explode, screaming for oxygen to keep it operating. The leg muscles are cramping, unable to find relief in a different position, as they are fixed in place.  But the brain wins again. And the legs straighten just a little. The lungs gasp for a grudging measure of life. And the process continues over and over, until the legs just won't obey anymore. It is an excruciating cycle, a futile battle for continued existence. The fight is not motivated by a vain hope for rescue, but by pure instinct of the flesh.  Very slowly bodily fluids diminish, strength runs down as the body uses up life-giving essentials, the heart begins to falter under a crushing pressure and vital organs begin to break down.

On average it took three days. Plenty of time to scare a lot of people into submission.  

But the Pharisees made an arrangement with Pilate after Jesus' crucifixion.  During religious festivals such as Passover, moaning victims on crosses were hardly edifying material. So they were given permission to break their legs in a gesture of mercy, bringing certain death within minutes.  When they came to Jesus, breaking His legs wasn't necessary. He was already dead. To prove it, they stabbed a spear into His side, and blood which had already separated into its red and white components flowed out. 


Jesus didn't hang there for three days.  And his legs didn't need to be broken. A quarter of a day had killed Him. I have heard people argue that the flogging He received had already sapped His strength.  I find that implausible.  He was strong.  Flogging would have taken some of that strength, but not enough to have Him die in six hours.  Neither does it explain why He was so upset in the garden of Gethsemane, (near the Mount of Olives), showing the first and only signs of human weakness.  "If it be possible, Father, let this cup pass from Me". If that prayer had been answered, I wouldn't be writing this today. In fact, I wouldn't be a Christian and there is no way I could ever become one. Only Jews would have a remote chance of eternal life, providing they could get their hands on enough spotless animals to sacrifice. For Jesus to be that upset, He must have known something about His crucifixion that was unique.


After much prayer and reflection, I have concluded that He knew what he had to go through, and that it wasn't just the 'average' crucifixion, (bad as that was).  Jesus was facing three unbelievable challenges that no other human had ever faced, or would ever be called upon to face:

1. The chief priests and scribes mocked Him, challenging Him to come down from the cross if He really was the Son of God (Matthew 27:41-43). The truth is that Jesus wasn't limited, the way I would be if I were on a cross. If Jesus had wanted a band of angels to come and save Him, I believe all He would have had to do was ask. Can you imagine the temptation, like a drowning man grabbing onto anything he can, to give in at that last moment? As the natural instinct to survive took hold, it would have taken almost superhuman willpower to resist that temptation.  Yet He overcame that temptation in His human strength.

2. Isaiah 53:5 tells us, "He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed." Verse 4 reads, "Surely our griefs(or sickness) He Himself bore, and our sorrows (or pain) He carried." NASB.  

I believe He literally carried our pain on that cross. He literally suffered my leukemia when He was up there, and endured my bone-marrow transplant, and all the grief I felt over the years. He felt the agony of a drowning Estelle, as she struggled for her next breath without mechanical assistance. He felt the pain in your back, the arthritis in your neighbour's joints, your sister's migraine, as well as my mother's indescribable torture of multiple myeloma. He knows first-hand the mental anguish of the murdered child's parents, and the bewildering isolation leading to youth suicide.  He experienced first-hand the cruelty of selfishness, the blindness and deafness of all mankind, the senselessness of war, the crimes against humanity; all while He was hanging there, His life slipping away under the weight of it all. 

3. All of His life, Jesus had never done or said anything, unless it was told to Him by the Father. (John 5). His life was the ultimate demonstration of submission to another's will.  The prospect of being separated from the Father was bad enough, but forsaken by Him was something else again. And it didn't stop at being forsaken.  All the sin of the world was heaped upon Him while He was on that cross, making the Father turn His face away from Him in disgust. Verse 6 of Isaiah 53 reads, "But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."

All the sins of this world, and the sum of its consequences, were heaped upon Him, a single, sinless, human being, deserted by His Father at the time when He needed Him most.  He was totally innocent, yet convicted and executed.  He didn't deserve to die, and is a perfect example of why the death sentence should forever be abolished.  Man's justice system is far from just.  Now I know why Jesus begged to be excused if it were at all possible, in a one-off demonstration of His humanity, (something He immediately took back in the same sentence). Now I know why He agonised over the prospect of what was about to befall Him.  And now I understand why He died in six hours.


Jesus talked about us taking up our cross, right from the beginning of His ministry. This means He was aware for a long time that the outcome of His ministry would be certain crucifixion.  It also means that He totally understood what would be required of us, for us to truly enter into God's plan. What has been difficult to grasp for many of us, is what is involved in taking up our cross.  What part of us is to be 'nailed to a cross' in a comparatively mild parallel of His own excruciating experience.  This cuts right to the core of our Christian belief system, and what it means to be 'born-again'.

To reach understanding of the concept of 'taking up our cross', we first need to understand the way man has been designed, comprising body, soul and spirit, a "tripartite" creature, complex and 'wonderfully made' with a very specific purpose in mind.


Difficulty arises because different words can have multiple meanings, and often the only way to determine true meaning is context. Because I believe it is absolutelycritical to understand the true meaning of tripartite man, in the context of the scriptures and our Christian walk, I have gone to extra lengths to go back to the original text. 

A search of the web shows most of the doctrine relating to the understanding of tripartite man (body, soul and spirit) comes from teachings by Watchman Nee, expounded by Witness Lee; (and I think they have missed the mark to some extent). Many of their ideas seem to have their foundation in Platoism, particularly regarding the way three separate roles are assigned to each of the soul and the spirit.  Whilst Plato wasn't necessarily wrong in everything he believed, I am determined to get my teaching from the Lord, rather than from some Greek philosopher. Their (Nee and Lee) ideas distinguish soul and spirit in a Jekyll and Hyde typology, the spirit being the good guy, constantly battling with the soul as the bad influence. They portray the human spirit as the place in man where we contact God (correct), but they also claim that somehow it is there to 'contain' God, as if our finite spirit could somehow hold the Holy Spirit. No, our human spirit can only be enveloped by the Holy Spirit.  Later, I will explain why this distinction is so important, illustrating the principle with Venn diagrams towards the end of this essay.

For an in-depth study of the scriptures that have convinced me of the principles presented here, I attach Appendix ‘A’ to this essay.  I researched numerous scriptures, as it would be easy to get an unbalanced perspective with just a few.  (In an earlier version of this essay I presented all these within the body of text and it was a bit of a put off for some readers). 

In doing this research, I discovered something rather interesting: If the word 'psuche' (translated variously as soul, life, heart, and mind) does not plainly mean 'soul', there actually is no clear word in NT Greek that means 'soul'!  I also discovered that the Greek word for 'spirit' is the same as for 'Spirit', so where translators choose a lower case 's' or capital 'S', it is a guess based on context and their level of understanding. 

Hebrews 4:12 talks about the Word of God (Jesus is the Word), being sharper than a two-edged sword, even to the dividing between psuche and pneuma (soul and spirit), so there is no doubt they are two distinct entities. Nevertheless, they are working in such very close cooperation with each other, it will take divine power to separate them.  The surrounding passage is talking about entering the Sabbath, or God's rest, or the Promised Land, however you might want to express the idea.  We have a choice: either we stay in the wilderness (for forty years or more!), relying on our own spirit and living our own life, or we can enter into His rest, the Promised Land, by letting Him, in the form of the Holy Spirit, take over and live through us. The sword is so sharp, it can discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

In Revelation 1:16, the two-edged sword is portrayed as coming from Jesus' mouth, ready to use in judgment. It comes again in Revelation 19:15, to 'smite the nations' in judgment.  It is not half obvious the sword is intended to be used in judgment. And I believe that judgment will finally separate our human spirit from our soul. If you then find yourself "spiritless", obviously you are destined for the lake of fire.  However, if you find yourself enveloped by the Holy Spirit, you are headed for eternal life and a wedding to beat all weddings!


In Old Testament times, the ritual of circumcision was an Old Covenant symbol and a prophecy of us taking up our cross under the New Covenant.  Circumcision was a symbolic ritual, which had, at that time, certain hygienic benefits. Sexually transmitted diseases were avoided when the place for the diseases to harbour was cut off. (They had no regular access to soap and running water).  The circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29) refers to the cleansing of our soul by cutting off the old sinful nature.

“And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” 
(Colossians 2:10-14).


“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” 
(Romans 8:10)

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16)


Numerous scriptures establish that the human spirit has two functions: It is a life source and it serves as a spiritual body. (See Appendix ‘A’)  It provides the energy and motivation for everything we do, and it is our means for relating to the spiritual realm. As a motivational force, it is greatly underestimated and consequently deceptively powerful.
So what is 'crucifying the flesh"? What part is to be crucified?  As I see it, we only have two choices: Either we crucify our physical body metaphorically, or we crucify our spiritual body literally. 

To literally crucify the physical body obviously is not the intention. Mass suicide, with no one left to spread the good news, is totally contrary to anything Jesus told us. To metaphorically crucify the physical body, I see as going back to circumcision as a ritual, something Paul strongly warned against (Rom.2:25-29, Gal.5:1-6).  Alternatively, there would have to be some exercise of the will, somehow overcoming the chemical reactions and impulses running amok in our physical make-up.  But the will is part of our immaterial make-up, either part of the soul or part of the spirit.  So it makes sense to me that something in our immaterial make-up has to make a crucial sacrifice that achieves an overcoming breakthrough.

Crucifying the soul, (that part of the human being that is his or her personality), even if it were possible, would produce masses of boring, monotonous, uniform and characterless Christians roaming the earth like zombies, hardly persuasive testimony for joining the movement.  And to be totally honest, (and I can only speak for myself), if 'taking up your cross' means crucifying your soul, I have not been successful in doing so for even one minute in my entire life as a Christian.  I believe God actually loves the enormous diversity of His creation, and that is why He wants to save our souls.  Neither Paul, nor Barnabas, founding apostles of our faith, had crucified their soul, otherwise the clashing of personalities in Acts 15 would not have been possible.

One of the most vital doctrines in the Bible, recording Jesus' own words and cutting to the chase of what our Christian walk should entail, comes from the passages from Matthew 16:24-26 with similar references in Matt.10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33 and John 12:25.  I'll quote it again, this time from the NASB:

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life [psuche]shall lose it; but whoever loses his life [psuche] for My sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul [psuche]?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul [psuche]?"

It is actually outrageous that any scholar should even contemplate translating all four underlined words in two different ways, life and soul.  It is overwhelmingly clear that Jesus was attaching identical meaning to the word 'psuche' each time He used it in two consecutive sentences. To their credit, the ASV and RSV use 'life' in all four instances.  However, 'life' doesn't adequately convey the meaning of 'psuche'.  I used to think it was because there was no exact English equivalent. I now think it is because none of the translators had fully grasped the spiritual implications.  'Psuche' means 'soul' in as close an understanding we can reach of that part of man. If 'psuche' does not mean 'soul', there is no adequate word for soul in NT Greek.

Let me offer my own paraphrase of this passage, which I think accurately reflects what Jesus was saying:

"Whoever wants to be My follower must give up his own agendas, and dedicate his future to Me. He who tries to save his own soul will surely fail.  But he who surrenders his soul to Me will surely save it. For what will a man benefit if, in the end, he loses his soul?  And what price could he possibly possess or accumulate to secure the salvation of his own soul?"

It is God's intention to save our souls. He loves the wonderful diversity of His creation, amply demonstrated by the fact that no snow flake is identical, no fingerprint the same.  It is the great variety of personalities that makes Him love each and every one of us individually. He has established only one way to secure the salvation of those souls, and that is through Jesus and His blood sacrifice. 

How do you stop trying to save your own soul?  By giving up its life-source, the human spirit. It is a daily sacrifice we are called upon to make, for as long as we live on this earth.  The true Christian walk consists of our soul, via our human spirit, daily making contact with the Holy Spirit, then putting our own human spirit on hold and asking the Holy Spirit to take over. It is the soul that makes the decision which spirit will live today.


I think it would be beneficial here to consider just what constitutes the 'mind'.  There are 15 different words in NT Greek that have been translated as 'mind' in various verses.  Obviously the physical brain has a large part to play in the function we consider to be the mind or intellect of a human being. 

Take away the ability to process thought, and the mind becomes severely disabled.  A person suffering from Alzheimer's loses their connection to the real world. A person suffering amnesia finds that memory is an essential link to who we are. Education has a huge impact on the way we process new information. The electrical signals and neurotransmitters travelling along nerves in the brain cannot be ignored as a vital part of what we understand to be the mind of man.

I believe that the physical brain function and the immaterial personality of the individual intricately weave together body and soul. Part of that woven product is the mind.  On that basis, it is highly likely that the human spirit is also intricately woven into this thing we call the 'mind', and actually is the polluting element responsible for ungodly thinking.  The 'renewing of the mind' Paul refers to in Romans 12 is not an instantaneous effect, but rather a process that starts on the day we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.  "The mind of Christ" will be the subject of a later essay.


“… our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:6.)
“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” 

(1 Corinthians 15:44)

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Because the human spirit is our way of relating to the spiritual realm, a spiritual body, crucifying it makes sure we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit for relating to the spiritual realm. Suddenly masses of other scriptures start to make sense. For a list, see Appendix ‘A’.  

(Note that the concept of being totally enveloped by the Holy Spirit is expressed in a number of different ways. These include 'one Spirit', 'one Body', incorruption, immortality, as well as the analogies of a tabernacle, tent, holy temple, heavenly places, building, house, bread, clothing, and the 'whole armour of God'.)  

Total surrender means total protection from attacks by Satan and his cohorts. The problem is that we haven't totally surrendered. Any part of us that hasn't been totally surrendered is a chink in the armour and leaves us open to temptation.

This leads us to that greatly misunderstood subject Jesus calls 'being born again'.  At the time of our first 'conversion', that time when we repent and invite Jesus into our heart, something happens inside and we never look at life or the rest of the world quite the same way again.  But exactly what it is that has actually changed has been debated widely and the subject has caused much division in the church.

"... unless one is born of water and the Spirit , he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit .  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' "  (John 3:5-7 NASB)

There seems to have been a time in the history of the Church, when the meaning of the word 'spiritual' meant only good things in the minds of the congregation. A 'spiritual' man was one who had his mind only on Godly things. In that framework, something weird evolved - a mindset that reinterpreted the plain meaning of some basic scriptural concepts. Forgotten, for a time, was the fact that all evil spirits are far more 'spiritual' than we could ever hope to be.  And the 'spiritual' advisor, with her Tarot cards and crystal ball and astrological charts, is being as 'spiritual' as any human could aim for.  The Buddhist, Hindu, and Occultist, are all having a jolly good crack at it.  And Satan himself is as 'spiritual' a creature you are ever likely to come across.

Being 'born', in its plainest and most obvious sense, means to receive life. Being 'born again', means to receive life from a new source. That means when we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit.  Full stop.  All the assertions, made by various schools of thought, of a 'renewed spirit', meaning a new or renovated human spirit, has no basis in scripture and requires an extensive twisting of the plain meaning of the original text.  Neither does the evidence of experience support it.  If we received a 'replacement' human spirit at the moment of our re-birth, than we would henceforth be back in Adam's original sinless state, perfectly capable of avoiding the commission of further sin. If that were the case, I would have to conclude that none of us have yet experienced re-birth, because I have yet to meet someone who no longer sins.
Either we have not yet been born-again, (something that is scripturally unsound - see Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:3) or there is some other explanation why we still sin. Where did Jesus tell us evil (that defiles us) comes from? "The heart of man"(Matt. 15:18-19).  It is so easy to blame our 'members' for our rebellion against the laws of God ("Sorry Lord, but that's how You made me!"), sneakily putting responsibility for our disobedience back in His court. But ultimately the physical flesh is motivated by our heart, that innermost fallen nature that, even now, still wants its own way.  I believe the ‘heart’ is synonymous with the human spirit.

Being born again is only the start of a process of transformation. It involves learning to surrender things we hang on to, idols we can't give up.  It involves getting to know and trust the new Lord of our life.  It is the beginning of a growing faith, as we allow Him to nurture that seed in our soul. It is the first step in letting Him mould us.  And it is the dawning of a new age of understanding, leading to a willingness to take up our own cross.

I will demonstrate the principle using Venn diagrams:


from unsaved state to total surrender to the Holy Spirit.

On the right is a diagrammatic representation of the physical body relating to the material world
Then imagine that in the spiritual realm everything is "inside out". 

Our human spirit is our means of relating to other spirits, including the Holy Spirit.

Before we have the Holy Spirit's protection, we are totally exposed to assault by Satan and his cohorts.

When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we surrender part of ourselves and the Holy Spirit becomes our new potential life source. We are "born again".

Unfortunately, we continue to commit sin in those areas we have not totally surrendered.
Jesus' role model was one of total surrender to the Father's will.

Our Christian journey consists of gradually surrendering more and more of our own spirit, so that the Holy Spirit can live through us. We share "one spiritual body" with other believers, but only to the extent of our surrender.

I'll say it again. If upon re-birth we literally received a new human spirit, no born-again Christian would ever again be bound to commit sin.  And the repercussions of sin after that would be horrendous, too disastrous to contemplate (Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-27). But none of us, whilst our intentions are good, have reached that plateau, not even Paul himself (Philippians 3:12-14).


What we've been talking about might seem like pedantic mumbo-jumbo to some readers, however I can personally testify that when the distinction between soul and spirit was revealed, reading the Bible was like reading a whole new book.  Our human spirit is both a life-source and a spiritual body. It is a strong motivator for private agendas. It is the part of man that we need to lay down when we take up our cross. 

Upon being born-again, we receive the Holy Spirit. From there on, our Christian journey is a continuing learning and growing curve, where the Holy Spirit changes us and moulds us into that part of the bride for Jesus He wants us to be.  As we allow Him, He works His way into our human spirit, helping us to improve contact with Jesus on a spiritual plane and making it easier for us to 'crucify self' on a daily basis and 'lay down our life for our brothers'.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

He works His way into our soul, to change us for the better. We don't stop being ourselves, or lose our personality, like someone possessed by an evil spirit.  Everyone will continue to recognise us.  All of us will only change for the better, the Holy Spirit bearing fruits that will last into eternity: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

His presence within will become evident in our physical body, shown in the actions we take, the words we speak and the attitude we have towards others. Thestarting point of that journey is determined by the level of surrender and commitment we make at the time of receiving Christ.

An evil spirit, if it is given the opportunity, will force itself on us. And as I said before, the human spirit is a very strong motivator for selfish agendas. However, everything in God’s process of transformation is achieved with our consent. Never will the Holy Spirit force us to change. In the spiritual realm, only Satan and his crew force themselves on people. Where God is concerned, anything we do is only meaningful if it comes from our heart and we genuinely want it. As a result,the speed of our transformation is totally under our control. For some, a lifetime is not enough.  For others it takes decades.  And then there are just a few, so poor in spirit, that a couple of hours can bring incredible transformation, and place the kingdom of heaven at their fingertips. 

Total surrender of our past, present and future is called for. The past includes our hurts, preconceptions and psychological walls. The present covers our comfort zones, addictions and reluctance to accommodate change. And the future relates to our personal agendas, goals and dreams. All of it needs to be hung on a cross, in favour of His will and eternal purpose. Until we achieve that total surrender, we will be open to temptation and deception; and we will continue to get a flawed perception of God's will.


"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!" Paul told the Galatians.  And it is a challenge to all Christians. Jesus, by means of the Holy Spirit, can live through us!  In order for that to happen, we need to be prepared to die. The way is self-crucifixion. And let's not kid ourselves: it will hurt! But the pain doesn't even come close to what Jesus suffered.

Are you prepared to die for Jesus; to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters in Christ; to stop living for yourself and dedicate yourself to His eternal purpose? At the start of this essay, I thought I would volunteer for crucifixion, if my death for three days would save millions of people from eternal damnation.  Someone challenged me on this. She felt that most Christians would say 'yes' initially, but when crunch time came, they would back out. She may be right, but I hope she's wrong. Certainly the evidence around us seems to indicate very few of us are prepared to make such a sacrifice. I guess the biggest objection we have is that we are not asked to give three days, but our entire future.  

Or maybe we fear that if we let go of our own last breath, that He won't be there to breathe on our behalf.

It is very clear that we receive the Holy Spirit at the time we repent and ask Jesus to become Lord of our life.  From that point on, we have the choice to let Christ live through us, by taking up our own cross, or to continue to live as before, by not taking it up.  'Daily' is probably a metaphor for 'regularly'. In reality, it is a moment by moment decision. We have the freedom at any instant in time to leave that cross lying where it is, or drop it, if we were already carrying it.  To be crucified with Christ is the ultimate aim of our Christian walk. Jesus was our role model.  Doing only and speaking only what the Father tells us requires total surrender to the Holy Spirit.  It was what He did, and what we must aspire to do.  

And our own human spirit, that old fallen, sinful nature, that heart of stone, must be left nailed to a cross, the nails driven in by our own hands.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."   
(Philippians 2:5-11  NKJV)



In the foregoing essay, I have concluded that the human spirit has a triple function:


  1. It is an energy source to enable us to survive here on earth without God’s help.
  2. It serves as a spiritual body, used to make contact with other spirits.
  3. It is a very strong motivator for selfish agendas.

I have also concluded that it is this human spirit that must be crucified with Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to take over. I acknowledge this is a controversial subject, however I consider it crucial in our understanding of the true Gospel, and so for those people interested in researching the matter further, I attach my own research as a starting point.

Trying to determine the true meaning of the original relevant scriptures, we are mainly working with the words below, (the numbers are Strong's references, the definitions are abbreviated Strong's extracts).  I am only concerned with the operation of Man under the New Covenant, so I have restricted my research mainly to the New Testament, and therefore the Greek.  The word in bold is how some Bible versions have translated the original Greek.  Many of the Greek words below don't appear in the scriptures I have quoted, but I include them for comparison, to show what words could have been used instead:
1. [4561] Sarx= fleshly part of man, can mean carnal mind or human nature
2. [4983] Soma= body; a physical or spiritual body, even the 'body of Christ'

3. [5590] Psuche = soul or soul-life, vital principle, human nature, heart of man

4. [4151] Pneuma= spirit or Spirit, breath of life, (human spirit or Holy Spirit) 

5. [979]   Bios = physical life, state of existence, 
6. [2222] Zoe = life, all life, vitality, including  animals and plants
7. [5590] Psuche = soul or soul-life, vital principle, human nature, heart of man

8. [2588] Kardia = figurative heart, the centre of feelings and emotion
9. [4641] Sklerokardia = hardness of heart
10. [5590] Psuche = soul or soul-life, vital principle, human nature, heart of man

11. [2907] Kreas = meat
12. [4561] Sarx = fleshly part of man, can mean carnal mind or human nature

13. [363]  Anamimnesko = memory, recall
14. [1106] Gnome = like-mindedness, agreement, opinion
15. [1271] Dianoia = understanding, imagination, deep thought
16. [1771] Ennoia =  moral thoughtfulness
17. [1878] Epanamimnesko = remind, 
18. [3563] Nous= intellect (needs renewing, yet also used for the mind of Christ), 
19. [3661] Homothumadon = single-mindedness, unanimity
20. [3675] Homophron = like-mindedness, 
21. [4288] Prothumia = willingness, pre-disposition, also [4290] Prothumos
22. [4993] Sophronio = sanity, soberness
23. [5012] Tapeinophrosune = humility, modesty 
24. [5279] Hupomimnesko = remind, remember
25. [5426] Phroneo = have an opinion, 
26. [5427] Phronema = carnal mind, mental inclination, 
27. [5590] Psuche = soul or soul-life, vital principle, human nature, heart of man
Below, where I quote scripture, I will place one of the numbers 1 to 27 behind the relevant word, so you can judge for yourself what you think the verse is saying. 

In doing this, I discovered something rather interesting: If the word 'psuche' [translated variously as (3) soul, (7) life, (10) heart, and (27) mind] does not plainly mean 'soul', there actually is no clear word in NT Greek that means 'soul'!  I also discovered that the Greek word for 'spirit' is the same as for 'Spirit', so where translators choose a lower case 's' or capital 'S', it is a guess based on context and their level of understanding. 


Different Bible versions make different guesses. So can we determine truth from these scriptures?  I'll let you judge for yourself.  Please read them all, as it is so easy to get an unbalanced view of truth by reading only some.  The aim is to determine when the Bible is talking about the human spirit and when the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately, we are trying to determine which part of Man should be crucified with Christ.

The following scriptures are from the New King James Version.  I will quote many; there are probably many more.  Remember that any place where the translation says 'spirit', it is the translator's guess, and it could just as easily mean 'Spirit'(see meaning (4) above). :

Matt 5:3.  Blessed are the poor in spirit (4), for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matt 10:38-39. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life (3) will lose it, and he who loses his life(3) for My sake will find it.

Matt 15:18-20. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart (8), and they defile a man. For out of the heart (8) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

Matt 16:24-26. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life (3) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (3)for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (3)? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul (3)?”
See also Mark 8: 34-37, Luke 9:23-25,  Luke 17:33, John 12:25.

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit (4)indeed is willing, but the flesh (12) is weak.

John 1:11-13.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh (1), nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (4), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh (1) is flesh (1), and that which is born of the Spirit (4) is spirit (4).

John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit (4).

John 3:34  For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit (4) by measure.

John 4:23-24.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit (4) and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit (4), and those who worship Him must worship in spirit (4) and truth.

Acts 8:15  who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (4).

Acts 8:17  Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit(4).

Acts 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit (4) had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Acts 10:47 Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit (4) just as we have?

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit (4) fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.

Acts 11:16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit(4).

Acts 11:24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit (4) and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

Acts 18:5  When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit (4), and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.

Acts 18:25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit (4), he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Acts 19:2  he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit (4) when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit (4)."

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit (4) came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Romans 4:4-14. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (6). For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body (2) of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live
 (6) with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life (6) that He lives, He lives (6) to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive (6) to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body
 (2), that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive (6)from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 8:1-17. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh (1), but according to the Spirit (4).  For the law of the Spirit (4) of life (6) in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh (1), God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (1), on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh(1), that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh (1) but according to the Spirit (4).

For those who live according to the flesh (1) set their minds (25) on the things of the flesh (1), but those who live according to the Spirit (4), the things of the Spirit (4).  For to be carnally (1) minded (26) is death, but to be spiritually (4) minded (26) is life (6) and peace. Because the carnal (1) mind(26) is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh (1) cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh
 (1) but in the Spirit (4), if indeed the Spirit (4) of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit (4) of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body (2) is dead because of sin, but the Spirit (4) is life (6) because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit (4) of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life (6) to your mortal bodies (2) through His Spirit (4)who dwells in you.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors - not to the flesh
 (1), to live according to the flesh (1).  For if you live (6) according to the flesh (1) you will die; but if by the Spirit (4) you put to death the deeds of the body (2), you will live(6).  For as many as are led by the Spirit (4) of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit (4) of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit (4) of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit (4) Himself bears witness with our spirit (4) that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 12:2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (18), that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit (4) of the world, but the Spirit (4) who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit (4) of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually (4) discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:16. For "who has known the mind (18) of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind (18) of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit (4) of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit (4) with Him.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (4).

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (4).

1 Corinthians 15:22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (6).

1 Corinthians 15:45  And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living(6) being (3)." The last Adam became a life-giving (6) spirit (4).

2 Corinthians 13:4.  For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives (6)by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live (6) with Him by the power of God toward you.

Galatians 2:20.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live(6), but Christ lives (6) in me; and the life (6) which I now live in the flesh (1)I live (6) by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 5:16-18. I say then: Walk in the Spirit (4), and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (1).  For the flesh (1) lusts against the Spirit (4), and the Spirit (4) against the flesh (1); and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit(4), you are not under the law.

Ephesians 6:5-6. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh (1), with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart (8),as to Christ;  not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (3).

Colossians 3:3-5.  For you died, and your life (6) is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life (6) appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Philippians 1:27.  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit (4), with one mind (3) striving together for the faith of the gospel, (this is the only verse I have come across that seems to imply a possible alternative meaning to the word 'psuche' (3), other than  'soul' or 'soul-life'.)

Philippians 3:3. For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit (4), rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (1),

Titus 3:5. not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (4),

2 Peter 1:4. by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

1 John 3:9-10. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.  In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

In the New Testament, the same Greek word is used to describe both the human spirit and the Holy Spirit.  One obvious reason for confusion as to which we are talking about stems from a guess by translators. Their guess is based solely on their understanding of spiritual matters, and many of the translators are merely scholars, having no personal relationship with Jesus.  For example, in the passage from John 4:23-24, the first use of 'spirit' could just as easily and validly be written with a capital S.  We are righteous only because of Christ's covering, not because our human spirit has been replaced.  Only the Holy Spirit can make our actions and words righteous and this is the new Spirit we receive when we are born again.
To give you an example from the Old Testament as well, a prophecy of the New Covenant:

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you." (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NASB)

In my personal opinion, the new 'spirit' here is obviously the Holy Spirit.  Both times the Hebrew word 'ruwach' is used, differentiated only by the word 'My' the second time. The first time, a capital 'S' would be equally valid.  Ezekiel cites what God has told him, then repeats it in more explanatory detail.

The sentence about the new 'heart' is an obvious metaphor to enhance understanding, and also refers to this new Spirit. (There is no way Ezekiel is talking about an actual flesh heart transplant!) The stone/flesh analogy is there to compare a hardened heart to a soft, open, receptive heart.   It is interesting that very often, throughout the scriptures, the word 'heart' is analogous with 'spirit'.


Below are many of the scriptures that indicate to me that the human spirit is a body in the spiritual realm. It serves to make contact with God.  It also makes contact with a variety of other spirits, including human ones and evil ones. Ultimately, if our human spirit is crucified, the Holy Spirit will become our spiritual body, a body shared by all Christians.

John 17:20-23. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Romans 6:6.  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body (2) of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Romans 12:4-5. For as we have many members in one body (2), but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body(2) in Christ, and individually members of one another.

1 Corinthians 6:17.  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit (4) with Him.

1 Corinthians 10:7.  For we, though many, are one bread and one body (2);for we all partake of that one bread.

1 Corinthians 12:11-14.  But one and the same Spirit (4) works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body (2)is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body (2),being many, are one body (2), so also is Christ. For by one Spirit (4) we were all baptized into one body (2) —whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (4).  For in fact the body (2) is not one member but many.

1 Corinthians 12:20. But now indeed there are many members, yet one body(2).

1 Corinthians 15:44. It is sown a natural body (2), it is raised a spiritual (4)body (2). There is a natural body (2), and there is a spiritual (4) body (2).

2 Corinthians 5:1-4. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.  For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

Ephesians 2:6. and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:16-18. and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body(2) through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit (4) to the Father.

Ephesians 2:21-22. in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (4).

Ephesians 4:4. There is one body (2) and one Spirit (4), just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

Ephesians 6:11.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:13.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Philippians 1:27.  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit (4), with one mind (3) striving together for the faith of the gospel, (this is the only verse I have come across that seems to imply a possible alternative meaning of the word 'psuche' (3), other than 'soul' or 'soul-life'.)

Colossians 3:3. For you died, and your life (6) is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body (2); and be thankful.


So which part of Man is it the intention that it be crucified with Christ? God obviously doesn’t want us to commit suicide, so it can’t be the physical body. And He wants to save our soul, so it can’t be that.

To crucify the human spirit, on the other hand, makes total sense. To crucify our own life-source, so that another life-source (the Holy Spirit) can take over and take its place, correlates with endless numbers of Bible statements.