Man is a tri-part being. What does this mean? It simply means that there are three components that make you who you are—spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In other words, you are a spirit, who has a soul, who lives in a physical body. The spirit is the core of you. In fact, it is the real you. This is the part of you that is “born again” when you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. To be born again is to have a spirit that is recreated from a sinful state to a righteous state. Being born again means that you no longer possess the sin nature. It is a complete renovation of your spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your born-again spirit is perfect, whole, holy, pure, and identical to the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is sealed with the Holy Spirit and cannot be penetrated by the enemy (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Your recreated spirit is ready to enter heaven.
Your soul is the part of you that includes your mind, will, and emotions. It is where your personality, memories, thoughts, desires, and psychological responses come from. It is the place from which you think, feel, and make choices. This part of you still carries the residue of the sin nature. It is, in fact, the place the enemy attacks first by making suggestions to see if you will take the bait. The soul must be renewed every day, and you do this by meditating on the Word of God on a consistent basis, until your thoughts, emotions, and choices begin to line up with the Word.
The key is to make a conscious decision to allow your soul to be constantly focused on the things of God and the Word. Your recreated spirit is already in alignment with the desires of God, but your soul is not. It is your responsibility to take control of your soul.
The dilemma most Christians find themselves in is struggling with feelings of guilt and shame. They also doubt their identity in Christ. As a result, they go through mental and emotional battles with their flesh. Please understand that just because your soul battles to have its way does not mean you are not a Christian! Even the apostle Paul went through personal battles in his soul (Romans 7:19-25). However, these battles did not alter the divine transformation that took place in his spirit when he accepted Christ, and neither can your soul-battles change your identity once you are born again. You are one with God when you accept Jesus, and that is an eternally completed work (1 Corinthians 6:17).
A Christian’s struggle with sinful thoughts is simply the soul’s experience with temptation, but it has nothing to do with your spirit’s perfection in Christ. Your soul must be renewed day-by-day. All of us are still growing, but are 100 percent righteous as we develop in our walk with God. Don’t allow the battles of your soul to cause you to doubt your identity in Christ. Instead, allow them to be indicators of your need to focus your attention on the Word of God so that your soul can begin to be transformed and renewed to reflect the reality of Christ in you.