For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. (Philippians 1:21-25)
Paul is talking about physical death. Of course, the real Paul, the inner man, is not going to die. He’s going to go on living either way: departing and being with Christ, or abiding in the flesh.Paul said he hadn’t decided yet. “I’m hard pressed,” he said, “between the two. I want to go on and be with Christ, which is far better.” (If Paul had just said it would be better, that would have been wonderful, but he said it is even better than better!) Then he said, “Yet I know to abide in the flesh, is more needful for you.” If Paul was present in the flesh, he could teach and minister to these people. That was more needful for them.
Notice that Paul is making the choice. He didn’t say, “I’m going to leave it up to God, and whatever God chooses, I will accept.”
We have more to do with deciding to live or die than we have thought!Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1. Thessalonians 5:23)
It will help your spiritual growth immeasurably to know the difference between your spirit and your soul. Many people believe that “spirit” and “soul” are the same thing. Even preachers believe this! They preach about the soul as if it were the spirit.
But they can’t be the same thing. It would be just as scriptural to say that the body and the soul are the same, as it would be to say that the spirit and the soul are the same. But Hebrews 4:12 says that by the Word of God, soul and spirit can be divided.
To help you understand the three dimensions of man, go through this process of elimination:
Man is a spirit. The spirit is the part of man that knows God. Man possesses a soul—the intellect, the senses, and the will. And man lives in a body.
Make the following confession:
The real me is an eternal spirit being. I am a son of God. I am a child of God. With my spirit I make contact with my Father in the spiritual realm.