The Old Testament temple with its three different parts is an image of man. It consisted of an outer court, the holy place and the holy of holies. These represent our body (flesh), soul and spirit, respectively. The Bible teaches that man is three-part. However, the three parts always operating as a whole. Man is further created in the likeness of God who also is three-part, but the three Persons function as an undivided unity in intent, will and expression.
Until the veil that divided the holy place from the holy of holies was rent in two our identity was basically a soul identity. Such an identity is never fixed, but is fluctuating and under the influence of varying conditions. Most of us long believed our soul was our true self until we by the Spirit’s enlightenment discovered that our center, our spirit, was fixed in God who is changeless and immutable.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebr 4:12).
It is not for us to chop up ourselves, but in order to exchange our soul identity with a spirit identity where the self is truly located in a union with the true Self, the word of God teaches us the difference between soul and spirit.
The wisdom that Solomon asked for came to expression when he threatened to split the baby in two with the sword. The one who loved the baby and who was its true mother wanted it to remain whole. The other woman involved in the dispute wanted it split in two. Wisdom hence is to perceive spirit, soul and body as a seamless whole. Jesus’ robe was one seamless piece – an image of how He functioned as a whole person.
In the context of our personhood Jesus gave us a very telling picture of man being as a lamp.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
The lamp or vessel was made from clay. Man is likewise made from the dust of the earth, and God is the potter molding the clay as He pleases. For the lamp to function and give off light it had within the wick, which is a fibrous fabric. This is an image of the soul and its inner weaving or mesh of feelings, reason, emotions, likes, dislikes etc.
The lamp is filled with air until the air is replaced with olive oil. John wrote: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). It is the Holy Spirit who fills the vessel and gives it life. The oil was to flow through the fibers of the wick and its different components to its outer point of ignition – ignited by the love of God – giving off the light of Christ to the world we live in.
The lamp analogy accurately shows how the entire man is involved in expressing the indwelling Christ. Not least our souls are now rightly used by the Spirit to out-picture or manifest the life of Christ which otherwise would have been hidden. To put the lamp on a stand means that we are now free to embrace our souls as a merit and not a liability. To know this effectively dispels any notions regarding that we have to change in order to fit into some kind of pattern or mold. We are free to be ourselves. Don’t hide your precious self and expression “under a basket”, Jesus is in effect saying.
That Jesus has filled the entire temple is vividly pictured in the Old Testament. It was the priests who brought the Ark of the Covenant, which is a type of Christ, into the temple. The Ark was made from wood and overlaid with pure gold. The wood represents the humanity of Jesus, whereas the gold represents his deity. The gates to the Outer Court were to be opened so that the priests could carry the Ark through the Outer Court to the Holy Place. Then the doors to the Holy Place were opened to bring the Ark through the Holy Place to be placed behind the Veil in the Holy of Holies typifying that we are one spirit with Him by the Holy Spirit.
It is also noteworthy that the distinction between the soul and the spirit is spiritually discerned like Hebrews 4:12 states, and Paul said the same thing: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).