The following is a progression of scriptures showing that the real you lives within your body and explains where the spirit and soul of a believer go when the body dies or “sleeps”:
1 Corinthians 2:11 – “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him.”
Paul speaks clearly on the subject of death and tells us that he prefers to leave his earthly tent or body and desires to enter his eternal home in heaven:
2 Cor. 5:1, 2, & 8
- v1: “Now we know that if the earthly tent (our body) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal home in heaven, not built by human hands.”
- v2: “Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”
- v8: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
Also, Paul says to die is gain and it is far better to go and be with Christ:
- Philippians 1:21-25
- v21: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
- v23: “I am torn between the two, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”
Jesus said the body can be killed, but man cannot kill the soul:
- Matthew 10:28 – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
Stephen understood this teaching as he prayed to Jesus to “receive his spirit”:
- Acts 7:59 — “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’”
The Jewish writer of the book of Ecclesiastes also understood this truth:
- Ecclesiastes 12:7 – “And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
Jesus’ words while on the cross of calvary also address this wonderful truth. Jesus said to one of the two thieves being crucified with Him:
- Luke 23:43 – “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And to His Father, before breathing His last breath, Jesus said:
- Luke 23:46 – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, saying that we humans are created in three distinct parts:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23 – “May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus.”
Also, Stephen’s prayer was that Jesus would receive his spirit. Take note that the Bible Book of Hebrews describes ones who are in heavenly Mount Zion, the city of the living God:
- Hebrews 12:22, 23 – “But you have come to Mount Zion, to Heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant.”
In Revelation we hear souls that had been martyred on earth speaking to the Lord (they are alive and well in Heaven):
- Revelation 6:9, 10 – “…I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice…”
Jesus again shows a distinct difference between our spirit and our body:
- Matt. 26:41 – “…The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Paul spoke clearly to the Corinthian congregation that the spirit of God connects with the spirit of believers, giving us the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:10-16). This connection of God’s Spirit with our spirit is spoken of in many places. (John 7:37-39; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; Rev. 3:20; John 3:3-8; John 15-4, 5) Take note of just a few other scriptures that speak about our spirit that lives within our body:
- 1 Peter 3:4 – Peter speaks of a meek and quiet spirit.
- John 13:21 – Tells us Jesus was troubled in His Spirit.
- Mark 2:8 – Tells us Jesus knew or was aware in His Spirit.
- Psalm 51:10 – David prays that God will “renew a right spirit within him.”
When we depart from the earth, our body returns to the ground or “sleeps” but the soul and spirit of a believer in Jesus never dies. John 11:25, 26 – “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’”
Paul said this to us:
- 1 Thess. 5:10 – “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.”
- Psalm 73:24, 25 – “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Who have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
The Lord God speaks appreciatively of the death of His saints:
- Psalm 115:16 — “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
The purpose of this progression of scripture is to prove that God has created us with a body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). God’s inspired Word clearly shows that the spirit that He placed within us has will (Matt. 26:41), has emotion (Dan. 7:15; Acts 17:16) and has intellect (1 Cor. 2:11; Mark 2:8).
These three attributes clearly indicate that the spirit that is within us is not a force or an electrical current but the real you.
This progression also shows us with confidence that when a believer dies, his body returns to the dust, but that his spirit leaves his body and goes to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). Jesus is our assurance (John 11:25, 26; 10:27, 28).
Peter said it this way in 1 Pet. 1:3, 4: “In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you.”
Paul declares the confidence of Christians in Eph. 1:13, 14: “And you were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possessions to the praise of His glory.”
John speaks with assurance at John 5:11-13 that God has given us eternal life. Any who believe and possess the Son of God may know that we have eternal life.
We Christians have received the free gift of eternal life through God’s grace; not through our works (Eph. 2:8-10) and we know that “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.”