Have you ever wondered about what will happen after you die?
Are you curious about the concept of “spirit” or is your understanding vague or unclear?
Then you should continue reading.
In this article I will discuss the following through explanations, charts, and video…
1. The Difference between your Body, Soul, & Spirit.
2. Eternal Life & Death
3. The Importance of Living Spiritually
We often use the words, “soul,” and, “spirit,” interchangeably but the bible clearly distinguishes between them.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
For an easy way to understand the difference, let’s take a look at the chart to the right. This chart was originally designed more than 30 years ago by our founding pastor and teacher, deep in the mountains of Korea where he grew up. He too wondered about the spirit and what happens after you die, and after many deep prayers this is the design that the Lord gave him through inspiration.
I. The Actual Difference
A human being is made up of these 3 basic parts.
1. The Physical Body.
2. The Soul (Mind)
3. The Spirit [spiritual body]
1. The Physical Body.
In the past century we have been able to learn a lot more about the physical body through the advances in science and medicine, but we don’t need to elaborate on it here since you will spend many hours studying it in school. The key thing to keep in mind is that the body seeks only immediate satisfaction. It always avoids discomfort, loves to sleep, easily forms bad habits, and hates to be deprived of food. What we really want to discuss goes outside the scope of physical science.
2. The Soul
“Soul” is a religious term but it includes our mind, from which we derive our thoughts, our mentality, and our heart. The soul is in constant interaction with your body. For example, the physical body let’s us know when it’s hungry and craves certain tastes. These signals are sent to the brain and the mind tries to work out a solution to answer that need. A more developed mind can overcome the immediate desires of the body in favor of long-term health.
There are the parts of our mind that deal with daily life decisions, but there are also the deeper parts of our soul that deal more with our higher level subconscious self. This part of ourselves becomes fully active when our body sleeps and reaches the dream state. Though our body appears to be doing nothing except maybe breathing, our soul is extremely active having its own experiences. Have you ever fallen in a dream that felt so real it physically woke you up? Have you experienced events that don’t make any sense according to the logic of our physical reality? Have you ever had the ability to fly in your dreams? The brain cannot tell the difference between one reality or the other. What happens to your soul in the dream world feels every bit as real as what happens to your physical body in the day to day physical world.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, believed that the symbols we see in dreams corresponded to events in our daily life. The Bible also gives examples of how dreams and visions related to events in history (Gen 40). The inner and outer worlds are deeply connected. Our state of mind is determined by the worries and concerns we experience in our daily life and they often carry over to our dreams in the dream world. The way we see ourselves in our dreams can change quite drastically from day to day because each day our state of mind is often quite different from the previous day. How we see ourselves in our dreams, and what we see ourselves eating, wearing, or doing, gives us a good idea of how well we are doing spiritually. The world we experience in the dream state is actually the first level of the spiritual world.
“Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become character, and character determines your fate. As you think, so you become.”
3. The Spirit
All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. – 1 Cor 15:39-40
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. – 1 Cor 15:44
Just as surely as you have a physical body that lives in the physical world, you also have a spiritual body which lives in the spiritual world. Just as there is both male and female, there is also both physical and spiritual. While you are physically alive in this world the body, soul, and the spirit are all connected.
Your spirit resembles your physical body just like your physical body resembles your parents. The spirit has an extremely heightened sense of touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Your spirit feels things very intensely at the spiritual level which is by far the deepest level. Ultimately the fate of eternity is determined by how well you develop your spirit through your daily life. If you regularly take action on the word of God, take joy in honoring God through expressions of love, and grow into a loving relationship with God, then your spirit will grow strong and healthy. But if you live only to satisfy physical desires then your spirit will suffer from malnourishment and easily succomb to selfish, hateful, or wicked influences.
Having a spirit is what separates us from the animals. It is our spirit that lives forever and desires to know about and connect with God in the spiritual world. It is our spirit within us that desires to be good and to see good done for others. It is our spirit that is righteous or wicked, and ultimately it is our spirit that goes to either Heaven or Hell.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. – Mathew 18:18
Just as you inherit the genes of your parents and learn from the behaviors of those whom you observe, your spirit inherits everything that your physical body does. You can’t take money, fame, or anything physical with you after you die but your spirit inherits the attitudes, tendencies, character, and mentality with which your body lived. In religious terms, your spirit will have either sins or righteousness depending on how you chose to live your life. How you live your physical life will determine your spiritual fate.
Many people ignore the spiritual world. Or, even if they believe in life after death, people live thinking that there is no way to know what will happen after you die. But actually we can know very well and should know what to expect because the purpose of this life is to prepare us for that life. Throughout history there have been countless accounts of people going to the spiritual world and telling first hand what they experienced. Some people are very spiritual and able to tell us what their spirits see in the spiritual world. Those who have the ability to see the spirit tell us that healthy spirits are typically taller than their physical bodies, less blemished, and that their spirit resembles their physical body in appearance much like our physical bodies resemble our parents.
Many people ignore the spiritual world, or even if they believe in life after death people live thinking that there is no way to know what will happen after you die. But actually we can know very well and should know what to expect because the purpose of this life is to prepare us for that life. Throughout history there have been countless accounts of people going to the spiritual world and telling first hand what they experienced. Some people are very spiritual and able to tell us what their spirits see in the spiritual world.
In 1758 there was a famous scientist named Emmanuel Swedenborg who wrote several books explaining in great detail about the spiritual world and what the spirit experiences after death. He was a prolific scientist and inventor until the age of 56 when suddenly he began to experience the spiritual world. He claimed that the Lord had opened his eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell, have conversations with angels, he even spoke to many of the ghosts or spirits of people he had known before they died.
For the remaining 28 years of his life, he wrote and published 18 books explaining in scientific detail and analysis of the experiences that we will all go through after we die. So if you thought it was impossible to know about what takes place after you die, you’ll be happy to know that actually many have already experienced it and given first hand accounts of what actually takes place after the physical part of your life comes to an end.
War of the Wills
The soul is the mediator between the body and the spirit and it constantly gets pulled in either direction. The body has its own wants and needs, and the spiritual body too has its own will and desire. The body wants to eat and sleep, but the spirit wants learn the Word of God and grow. The spirit wants to go to church, but your body wants to sleep in. I’m sure you have experienced this. This is the battle for your soul where ultimately your mind must regularly decide whether to take the physical path or the more spiritual path.
Death is Separation
No one should expect to live much more than 100 years. Ultimately everyone will die physically (Hebrews 9:27). What should really concern us is spiritual death. When the author of this Bible study was a teenager, there was a period of time in his life when he served elderly people up until the end of their lives. There were times when people would die very gracefully with an overwhelming sense of peace, but there were also times when people passed grinding their teeth in utter fear. He was very spiritual so he could see that their physical body died the very moment their soul and/or spirit began to leave their body. In this way death is a sort of separation.
It is far more accurate to define death as the decay, corruption, or the inability of something to fulfill its purpose. Things are dying as they move into further and further states of decay or corruption. It is dead when it is finally discarded, removed, or rendered useless. Just as human beings discard objects as trash the moment the object outlives its usefulness, our spirit too is considered to be dead when we fail to fulfill the beautiful purpose for which God created us. This is the second death mentioned 5 times in the book of Revelation.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
The spirit does not cease to exist but goes to the domain of death in Hell where it suffers separation for eternity. It was this separation that God referred to as death in the Garden of Eden. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were able to speak freely with God, but after they ate the fruit their spirits died and they went on to live extremely physical lives outside the heavenly domain of the garden.
Ultimately our purpose is to fulfill the Heaven of Love eternally in Heaven with our creator. But if in the course of our life we lose that connection with God, then our relationship dies. Like a marriage that ends in divorce, once we sever that communication and go our separate ways, then our spirits die.
Even if we look at the parables Jesus told in the bible like the story of the prodigal son, we’ll see that Jesus’ concept of death is consistent with the rest of the bible. When the prodigal son returned to his father in the story, his father said, “Let’s celebrate because my son was dead, but now he lives.” His son had not physically died, but what the father was referring to is their relationship.
When a young follower asked Jesus to wait for him to fulfill his family responsibility and bury his father Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their dead” meaning let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. It sounded harsh but Jesus knew that the family’s only chance at spiritual life was for this young man to follow him without delay. Jesus also said, “My words are life. They are spirit and they are truth.” So always Jesus was teaching about the spirit and eternal life. This is what the bible most often refers to when it says “life” or “death.”
But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world
When the bible refers to physical death it is very specific saying how the person died or by what cause. The bible is a spiritual book that gives us direction on how to live well both physically and spiritually. The reason the bible is so valuable is because it is one of the few books in this world that clearly explains to us about life from this most critical, spiritual point of view. It is absolutely critical that we learn about the spirit while we live here in the body.
II. The Spiritual Life
Lastly, let’s look at another chart our teacher created to explain how physical life relates to spiritual life. The effect of one on the other can be compared to the importance of nourishing a baby as it forms in the womb for 9 months. If taken care of properly in the course of that 9 months that baby can leave the womb and live for give or take around 90 years. This life we live in the earth is also a sort of womb for our spirit to grow. If we develop our spirits well then it can go on to live a healthy spiritual life for all of eternity. Our eternal fate all depends on how well we live this life. So even if it is short, how we choose to live this life is critical.
Self-sacrificial love, believing that there is meaning to life, and fulfilling the will that God predestined for us are the intrinsic motivations that inspire humanity and help us to aspire to a greater good. Selfish love makes people fiendishly take advantage of one another and hatred makes us deliberately hurt others as well as ourselves. In the physical world there are the limits of time and space which allow us not to commit the sins that so easily come to mind. There are also the fears of shame and embarrasement that keep people from acting on their wicked impulses and innermost desires. But in the spiritual world there are no such limits. That’s why John wrote in 1 John 3:15, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” People who act purely out of selfishness and hate their brothers cannot go to heaven. People who do not truly love God cannot live with God. Just like people, God treasures those who fulfill the purpose in which He created them.
Temporary things like money and physical life are ultimately meaningless. They are simply a means to an end. The purpose of this life is to first establish your mental and spiritual love and go on to live an eternally meaningful life of true love in the spirit.
Live for the Spirit
The key to solving the problems of life is you have to learn about how to live properly. You have to study about it. Learn from the bible how to be more spiritual. Establishing a day to day relationship with God is absolutely necessary for you to live a happy, successful life. Jesus showed the ultimate example of love, and though he lived a short life, it was a meaningful and eternally successful life. Develop a relationship with Christ and when you die you can go to Heaven knowing true eternal love. Do not go down that terrible path of suffering but instead choose the path the the Lord has already prepared for you and live a much greater life. We’re here to shed light on that path, and help you live the physically, mentally, and spiritually satisfying life. So continue to learn, and begin the path that leads to eternity.
This is the first of an entire bible study series where we explain about Heaven, Hell, Salvation, the Resurrection, and the Second Coming. Be sure to let us know if you are interested in learning the next lesson…
Life After Death Part 2: How to Develop Your Spirit
[Update] This article has become quite popular. We are getting about 5,000 visits a month these days, and we have been getting a great number of requests for further lessons. We would like to begin experimenting with online bible study groups, but we are still in the early planning stages. If you are interested in learning the entire bible study be sure to apply online!