For the word of God is alive 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. Heb. 4:12.
While marrow supplies life (blood cells that carry oxygen) to the body, our joints provide the flexibility to give it motion; each one dependent on the other, and yet separate and unique. As an allegory, this is a critical division to understand. Often we speak of the soul as being that spiritual entity within that seems to lead and confirm a right pursuit or action; (i.e. down in my soul I knew it was right). The spirit however is often credited with the same action; as we rely on the Spirit of God to direct our paths. Yet, the purpose of this illustration is to make a distinction between the two rather than merely using loosely selected words. Because the Spirit of God gives life to our spirit, consider the marrow as a representation of our spirit, and the joints as our soul.
The activity of the spirit of man is to commune with God, to receive direction, correction and share in fellowship with Him. The truth of God’s word is received by our spirit and transferred to the soul as a sense or feeling of conviction. Recognize though, that it is not the soul that initially receives truth but the spirit. The soul on the other hand serves the great purpose of choice and decision. Often referred to as the mind or heart, the soul is the last in line to directing our activities. Once a decision is made, we respond with actions that reveal the choice to either act on or reject the conviction we have felt…“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved”. Rom. 10:10.
But here, within the soul much conflict arises. As I have stated, conviction is experienced to some extent as a feeling. Yet, because truth and conviction are always working together, the feeling that is sensed is not merely a momentary happiness, sorrow or intrigue, but a deep certainty of an ongoing direction or course of action. The conflict however, occurs when what we are prone to believe, although contrary to biblical truth, is presented as the preferred option. In other words, “this makes me feel so good, it must be right!” But time and time again, we follow the inclination of our heart rather than the truth and conviction of the Spirit, and before we know it we’re drowning in flowers, puppy dogs and all that’s nice, but have no Godly foundation to support our wayward hearts.
Discernment is the key, and practice and prayer are the means by which we learn which door the key was meant to open. If we are willing to commit ourselves to the conviction we receive, the Spirit of God will lead us into all truth. Our soul then will be transformed from a will to pursue its own destiny, to a humble, yet determined mind to know God.