In a previous post, we discuss humankind’s triune nature of spirit, soul, and body.
Now, just as a “whole” person comprises three parts, a person’s soul also comprises three parts: mind (thoughts), heart (emotion) and the will.
With the mind, a person decides whether to live according to the flesh (the sinful nature) or according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-6; NIV):
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
With regards to the heart, the bible tell us that it “is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). In addition, it is out of the heart that comes “evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19, NIV).
The will is the superior part of a person’s soul, capable of overruling the intentions of his/her mind or heart. The Lord Jesus Christ, for instance, was anguished by the thought of His crucifixion (Luke 22:44), but overruled His anguish by setting His will according to His Father’s will (“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”; Luke 22:42).
However, just as a person’s mind (1 Timothy 6:5) and heart can be corrupted, so can a person’s will:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26; KJV; emphasis mine)
For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God (2 Peter 3:5; ASV; emphasis mine)
It is therefore imperative for our souls (mind, heart and will) to be saved — indeed, this is the goal of our faith (1 Peter 1:9; ISV; emphasis mine):
because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Indeed, upon death, while a person’s body decays, and his/her spirit is returned to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV), the person’s soul remains conscious, and ends up in either one of two places depending on the choices that the person has made during his/her lifetime.
On the issue of how can a person secure eternal life, well, the bible instructs us to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 1:9; NIV), and abstaining from sinful desires is the choice that we need to make during our lifetime on a day-by-day basis if we wish to reap eterna life:
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8; NIV)