So far we’ve reviewed how each person has a heart, mind, soul and body. These four parts correlate to the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of life (reference Mark 12:30). Let’s now focus on the spiritual aspect to see how it affects, interacts with and depends upon the other three aspects.
The Significance of the Spiritual Aspect
The spirit is your vertical window that enables your awareness of God and who He is. By your spirit you can establish an intimate relationship with Him, communicate with Him and worship Him.
God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and He is eternal (Revelation 1:8). Because of this life-giving element that He gave you, your spirit is also eternal. You will live forever in one of two eternal destinations: heaven or hell. God leaves the final choice to you.
If you accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Lord and Savior, your spirit is reborn (John 3:3,7). This rebirth overrides the spiritual death that has been passed along to all humanity by Adam’s sinful disobedience (Romans 5:12). Those who accept Christ will spend eternity in heaven with God.
Since it serves as your moral framework, if your spiritual foundation is not firmly based on the truth of God’s Word, you will be unstable in the other aspects of life (James 1:8). The moral standards, ethics and religious beliefs of the spiritual aspect establish the guidelines for a wholesome and interdependent life.
Spiritual Interaction with the Other Three Aspects
A fulfilling life requires fully developing maturity and balance in all four aspects. As you mature, you will find the spiritual aspect plays a large role in your relationships.
A mature and balanced spiritual aspect provides the moral basis for the decisions you make in life. By having the mind of Jesus (Philippians 2:5), you approach life’s choices from His perspective. You align your relationship standards with the morality found in God’s Word. This includes where to go on a date, what to do on a date, and what type of physical involvement is acceptable before marriage.
A mature and balanced spiritual aspect helps you express only those emotions that are appropriate for the specific relational stage of your life. Using God’s Word as your spiritual guide helps avoid unnecessary emotional distress and imbalance.
A mature and balanced spiritual aspect helps you understand your body is the temple of God and should be used to honor Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
God’s Word confirms all sexual involvement must wait for marriage (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:9). It also assures us there is no need to be embarrassed, timid or fearful of sexual interaction within marriage. “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
A morally strong spiritual aspect governs relational behavior. It affects the mind by controlling thoughts, fantasies and lustful ideas. It affects the soul by controlling intense passions, strong desires for connection and powerful feelings. It affects the body by controlling your physical behavior, affection level and what is said and done while dating.
How the Spiritual Aspect Affects Relationships
This should be one of the first topics of any dating discussion. If a potential “date” is not a Christian, spiritual compatibility does not exist, and it is unwise to pursue a relationship beyond casual friendship.
The difference between believers and unbelievers should be as noticeable as night and day (1 John 1:5-7). This spiritual difference results in different priorities, beliefs, values and convictions. And opposite eternal destinations.
Paul warns Christians not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Using this relational metaphor, imagine a kangaroo and a lion attached together. Though joined, they will have very different agendas. They’re not headed in the same direction. They’ll not pull the same weight. The strain on each will be noticeable.
Spiritual incompatibility may also apply to two Christians. If one person is dedicated and passionate about his faith while the other is only casually interested, their differences will create relational strain.
No matter the physical attraction, intellectual commonalities or emotional chemistry, if the spiritual aspect is not compatible, efforts to build true and lasting relational harmony will be ineffective (Psalm 127:1).
Spiritual Development and Maturity
Here are some ways of demonstrating growth and personal maturity in the spiritual aspect:
- Establish a personal relationship with God. This involves being spiritually “reborn” by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (John 3:3,7). This decision is far more important than when, how or who to start dating.
- Read God’s Word daily. Apply what you learn to your life. Living according to God’s Word helps you stay morally pure (Psalm 119:9).
- Know what you believe and why you believe it. A solid understanding of your faith helps answer any questions, doubts or temptations you may encounter. As Christians, we are to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” regarding your faith (1 Peter 3:15).
- Have a well-defined set of dating standards that align with God’s Word. Along with not dating an unbeliever, this is your commitment to stay sexually pure prior to marriage. We are to “be holy” in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15). Establish your moral boundaries before you start dating—then stick to them.
- Maintain a positive self-image and acceptance as one of God’s valuable, handmade creations. This helps to avoid the “smooth talkers” who prey on the vulnerabilities and insecurities of others (Proverbs 7:21). Protect yourself against their subtle attack by basing your self-worth on what God says about you. You are His wonderful creation (Psalm 139:14). You are incredibly loved as one of His children (1 John 3:1). You are an heir to His coming kingdom (Romans 8:17). You are a child of the King of Kings! (Revelation 17:14).
Next time, we’ll look at how the intellectual aspect plays a key role in providing the other three aspects with sound reasoning and decision-making ability.
Read the rest of the series and find the wisdom you need for a lasting relationship.
Used with permission and excerpted from Nate’s book, Matched 4 Marriage—Meant 4 Life.