It’s common for many members of spiritual disciplines to designate the spirit as pure and the body or
the material world as not pure, or contaminated. However, it cannot be that simple, when you consider almost every religion has spiritual entities that are both good and evil. If both good and evil spiritual entities exist, it stands to reason that all that is spiritual is not necessarily pure.
But what about the spirit of a human? Among some Christian groups is the belief that once you accept Jesus Christ your spirit is pure, although the body and soul are not pure. Those not having accepted Christ are not spiritually pure, as their spirit belongs to Satan. It seems to be an all or nothing belief that is not necessarily accurate.
“Blasphemy,” some may shout, “once you are saved your spirit belongs to Jesus Christ.” That is true but let’s see what the Apostle Paul had to say about it.
2 Corinthians 7
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. English Standard Version (ESV)
In this passage, Paul is writing to the believers in Corinth, not to unbelievers. This clearly demonstrates that the spirit of a believer in Christ can have his spirit defiled and it is up to the believer to cleanse himself.
One example of those with spiritual issues or defilement would be the Pharisees, scribes, teachers of the Law, and Sadducees who rejected Jesus. It seems it was easier for those of unclean or sinful flesh, (examples: crooked tax collectors and harlots) to accept him than for the so-called religious crowd(1). Keep in mind many reverently believed in God.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul writes:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. English Standard Version (ESV)
Once again, Paul is writing to believers, not unbelievers. If Paul prays that a person’s spirit be kept blameless, that indicates the spirit is capable of sin or defilement.
The best argument against the spirit not being pure is in changing definitions of words,” Paul meant this by his writing instead of that.” Does that really win the argument? Does our pride, our legalism, our self-focus, our self-righteousness, our bitterness, and our hatred come from the flesh or of the spirit?” It’s true we feel it in the flesh, but could it originate in the spirit before manifesting in the flesh?
By Paul’s definition, it appears to be the spirit(2). Thinking otherwise may lead a person to think they are purer in spirit than they really are. What is the eventual cost? We don’t know, but we do know the Pharisees, and scribes believed they were pure. They eventually had an innocent man murdered. We also know that we reap what we sow. We know that what we plant spiritually will affect us in mind and body.
Believing we are pure in spirit, seems to be impure in itself; pride is often listed as a spiritual sin. Saying our spirit is pure may flatter the self, but it appears to be inaccurate, self-righteous, and perhaps dangerous. We simply may not be as pure as we think.