God made man in His image (Genesis 1:26); the Lord God “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The spirit within man is that part which is an image of God who is spirit (John 4:24). The Father is not flesh and blood as man is (Matthew 16:17).
While God is not forming men out of the dust of the ground today, He is forming spirits. Zechariah 12:1 describes the Lord as the one who, “formeth the spirit of man within him.” God is the “Father of spirits” who not only creates the eternal spirit of man at conception but also afterwards disciplines man so that his spirit may be fashioned to be more like his Creator (Hebrews 12:9). Job, whose spirit was disciplined through great hardships, argued that he would not mistreat another, asking, “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15). In a time when we hear about so many taking the lives of others it is important that every man recognize there is an eternal spirit in him and his fellow man. There is an eternal reality awaiting each individual after death. Humans have significant value because they are more than merely transient, physical bodies.
We, as eternal spirits temporarily housed in physical bodies, are to glorify God in our bodies and spirits, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20). Paul prayed that the totality of each Christian would be without blame before God with this conclusion, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Our bodies will soon return to the dust, but our eternal souls are to return to God who gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Heaven must be spiritual, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).
We choose which of these two parts we shall prioritize. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8). The body is not intrinsically evil, but allowing the flesh to hold sway and cause us to violate the law of God is sin (1 John 2:16; 3:4). God has prescribed a right way to fulfill physical desires, but the flesh pulls us to go against God’s will. All that we do in the body ought to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). What we do in the body will be judged by the Lord. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We either pursue the works of the flesh or produce the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:19-22; Romans 7:25).
How wonderful it will be to see God’s face, to be in heaven where our spirits are with God forever (Revelation 22:4). What will it be like to no longer experience death, crying, sorrow, or pain as we do now while in the body (Revelation 21:4)? Certainly, any sufferings we must face during this short life in the body pale in comparison to the glory of heaven (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17). Is your spirit being developed in anticipation of eternity?