Why We Have A Spirit
Our spirit was created by God so that we can contact and receive Him. Our body and our soul have their own specific functions only our spirit has the ability to contact God. We can see this from numerous verses, including John 4:24:
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.
In order to contactor worshipGod, who is Spirit, we must use our spirit.
The way a radio functions is a good illustration of our spirits unique ability to contact and receive God. When a radio is turned on and properly tuned, it can receive the invisible radio waves in the air and interpret them.
Our human spirit is like a radio, and God is like the radio waves. Our spirit is the part of our being that corresponds to what God is, so we have to use our spirit in order to contact Him.
Soul In The Old Testament
The following word is used in the Old testament for the word soul.
< 05315> Meaning: a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion
From a cursory glance at the usage throughout the Bible, the word soul means a living being or person which is both the body and the spirit.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.
But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people
Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones He delivers them from the hand of the wicked
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonahs head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, Death is better to me than life.
In the previous passages we see that a soul is a person whose body is killed and loses life or his spirit.
Is The Soul Talked About In The Bible An Immortal Part Of Human Beingsor Is It Something Else Entirely
The Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, repeatedly makes reference to the “soul.” Mainstream Christianity generally teaches that this soul is an immortal component of human beings that upon our death, it is released from our bodies to spend eternity in either eternal bliss or eternal torment, depending on our conduct in this life. But a closer examination of the word shows that this is not the case.
The only Hebrew word translated as “soul” in the Old Testament, nephesh, is also translated elsewhere as “creature” or “being.” All three words are synonymous, whether we look at God’s creation of “an abundance of living creatures ” in the sea (Genesis 1:20Genesis 1:20And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
We Can Feel Things That Arent Emotions Or Thoughts
Many trichotomists say that they have a spiritual perception or awareness of Gods presence that affects them differently than their ordinary thinking processes and emotional experiences.
They ask, If I do not have a spirit that is distinct from my thoughts and my emotions, then what is it that I feel that is different from my thoughts and my emotions, something that I can only describe as worshiping God in my spirit and sensing his presence in my spirit? Isnt there something in me that is more than just my intellect and my emotions and my will, and shouldnt this be called my spirit?
Why this doesnt support trichotomy:
Christians have a spiritual perception or inner awareness of the presence of God experienced in worship and in prayer. At this deep inward level we can also at times feel spiritually troubled, or depressed, or perhaps have a sense of the presence of hostile demonic forces. Often this perception is distinct from our conscious, rational thought processes. As we discussed above, Paul realizes that at times his spirit prays but his mind does not understand .
Animals Have Souls Too But Only Humans Have Spirits
Some trichotomists argue that both humans and animals have souls, and that the presence of a spirit is what makes us different from animals.
Why this doesnt support trichotomy:
We certainly have spiritual abilities that make us different from animals: we are able to relate to God in worship and prayer, and we enjoy spiritual life in fellowship with God who is spirit. But we shouldnt assume that we have a distinct element called spirit that allows us to do this. We can use our minds we can love God, read and understand his words, and believe his Word to be true. Our souls can worship God and rejoice in him. Our bodies will also be resurrected and live with God forever.
We dont have to label a part distinct from our souls and bodies in order to be different from animals. Our souls and bodies relate to God in ways animals never can. What makes us different from animals is the spiritual abilities that God has given to both our bodies and souls .
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Paul Suggests That There Are Unspiritual And Spiritual People
1 Corinthians 2:143:4 speaks of three different kinds of people:
These categories seem to suggest that there are non-Christians who are of the flesh, unspiritual Christians who follow the desires of their souls, and more mature Christians who follow the desires of their spirits. Doesnt this suggest that soul and spirit are different?
Why this doesnt support trichotomy:
Paul certainly distinguishes a person who is natural from one that is spiritual in 1 Corinthians 2:143:4. But in this context spiritual seems to mean influenced by the Holy Spirit, since the entire passage is talking about the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing truth to believers. But the passage doesnt imply that Christians have a spirit and non-Christians dont, or that the spirit of a Christian is alive and the spirit of a non-Christian isnt. Paul isnt talking about different parts of man at all, but about being influenced by the Holy Spirit.
Spirit In The Old Testament
The following word is used in the Old testament for the word spirit.
< 07307> Meaning: breath, wind, spirit
This is the life within the person.
Thou dost hide Thy face, they are dismayed Thou dost take away their spirit, they expire, And return to their dust.
His spirit departs, he returns to the earth In that very day his thoughts perish.
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
The word spirit also means the mind, desires, and will of the person.
It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.
For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.
The previous passages show that the spirit of man is his life, mind, and will.
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We Should Think Of The Soul And Spirit As The Same Thing
If we hold to a view of dichotomy that upholds the overall unity of man, it will be much easier to avoid the error of depreciating the value of our intellects, emotions, or physical bodies. We dont have to think of our bodies as inherently evil or unimportant. There is a continual interaction between our body and our spirit, and they affect each other: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones .
Seeing the soul and spirit as synonymous terms for our complete immaterial being reminds us that Christian growth includes all aspects of our lives. We are continually to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God . We are to be increasing in the knowledge of God , and our emotions and desires are to conform increasingly to the desires of the Spirit , including an increase in godly emotions such as peace, joy, love, and so forth .
Our Cooperation With Gods Saturating
How can we cooperate with Gods intention to saturate our whole being with Himself?
Exercising our spirit is the key. Not only does our spirit have the ability to contact and fellowship with God, its also the place where He lives in us. We can turn to Him in our spirit to live by His life. By means of our spirit we can also receive more of Christ each day. From this base of His operation in us, He can then spread into our soul. The more we receive Christ by exercising, or using, our spirit, the more God will have a way to spread into our soul.
We can daily exercise our spirit by , reading and even praying with Gods Word to be spiritually nourished, and obeying Him. The more we exercise our spirit, the more we allow the God of peace to continue spreading in us and saturating us. Then well be able to express God to everyone around us.
The New Testament Recovery Version has a number of other enlightening notes on 1 Thessalonians 5:23, including an important one on how God preserves our spirit, soul, and body complete. If you live in the United States, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here. We encourage you to read the notes and the verses they reference to gain a fuller understanding of what weve discussed in this post.
The book The Economy of God is another invaluable resource on the subject of the parts of man. You can read the details in chapters 6 and 7 in the book, which you can download for free from anywhere in the world here.
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What Does God Reveal About Man
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being ” .
“Behold all souls are Mine the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine the soul who sins shall die” .
Genesis 1 tells us that man was made in the image of God . Then chapter 2 reveals a little more detail about the specifics of that creation. God created man out of matter, “the dust of the ground.” The Bible nowhere reveals him to either be or to possess an “immortal soul.” All such ideas representing man as possessing immortality in his being are nonbiblical concepts originating from distinctly nonbiblical sources.
Scripture tells us plainly that the soul is something that can die or be destroyed. It is not immortal! Jesus said not to fear “those that kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” .
What Is A Spirit According To The Bible
Let us go back to Luke 1:46-47. Mary rejoices about Gods love shown through His only begotten son through her spirit. This means that she enjoyed and experienced God through her spirit. The expression of Gods love is through our spirit.
While the soul is the source of our expression through our humanity, it has its limitations and the only way we can experience God is through our spirit. The soul is merely a channel.
Let us go back to our imagery of the parts. The body is the outer level, followed by the soul and the spirit is the core. The expression of love to God paved the way through the soul. We first magnify Gods power and grace, and then we express and experience it fully through our spirit.
The function of the spirit is spiritual. The spirit is the only way to connect with God, and we can only use the spirit if we believe in God and receive Him through our Lord Jesus Christs salvation.
In Romans 8:4, we are reminded by this as stated, In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
This verse demands us to walk with our spirit and that means living a life according to the spirit and not our soul. The way of the spirit is the way of God. The spirit came to us through Jesus Christ. He lived amongst us and became human and for this reason, he has given us the gift of connecting with God through our spirit.
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Where Does The Soul Go After It Leaves The Body
According to Matthew 25:46, we see that those who live unrighteous lives will face eternal punishment, while the righteous will have eternal life. Eternal punishment happens when one goes to hell, and eternal life is lived in heaven. Where a person goes depends on how they lived while on earth. God wants us to live a righteous life, but this righteousness comes from Jesus Christ. It is upon each of us to decide to accept Christ so that we will go to heaven, and live eternally.
Man Is Said To Be Either Body And Soul Or Body And Spirit
Jesus tells us not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but that we should rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell .
Here the word soul clearly refers to the part of a person that exists after death. It cannot mean person or life, for it would not make sense to speak of those who kill the body but cannot kill the person, or who kill the body but cannot kill the life, unless there is some aspect of the person that lives on after the body is dead. Furthermore, when Jesus talks about soul and body he seems to be clearly talking about the entire person even though he does not mention spirit as a separate component. The word soul seems to stand for the entire nonphysical part of man.
However, man is also sometimes said to be body and spirit. Paul wants the Corinthian church to deliver a sinful brother to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus . Paul hasnt forgotten that the mans soul would be saved, too he simply uses the word spirit to refer to the mans entire immaterial existence.
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The 3 Parts Of Manspirit Soul And Body
Human beings are complicated. Each one of us is unique we come from various backgrounds and have different personalities.
But with respect to how God created us, were actually all the same. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that we were all created with three partsa spirit, a soul, and a body:
And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this post well read an extremely helpful note on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version to help us understand these three parts.
Other Religious Beliefs And Views
In theological reference to the soul, the terms “life” and “death” are viewed as emphatically more definitive than the common concepts of “biological life” and “biological death”. Because the soul is said to be transcendent of the material existence, and is said to have eternal life, the death of the soul is likewise said to be an eternal death. Thus, in the concept of divine judgment, God is commonly said to have options with regard to the dispensation of souls, ranging from Heaven to hell , with various concepts in between. Typically both Heaven and hell are said to be eternal, or at least far beyond a typical human concept of lifespan and time.
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Gods Intention For The Three Parts Of Man
Now lets read the last section of the note, which explains Gods intention for all three parts of our being:
In the spirit, God as the Spirit dwells in the soul, our self dwells and in the body, the physical senses dwell. God sanctifies us, first, by taking possession of our spirit through regeneration second, by spreading Himself as the life-giving Spirit from our spirit into our soul to saturate and transform our soul and last, by enlivening our mortal body through our soul and transfiguring our body by His life power .
Gods intention concerning us is that we would contain and express Him. But to express God, we need to be filled with Him. When we believed in Jesus Christ, we received Him and were regenerated, or born again, in our spirit. But He doesnt want to only fill our spirit. Thats just the beginning.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us, The God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly. He sanctifies us by spreading into and saturating our whole being, starting from our spirit, continuing into our soul, and eventually including our body. By being wholly filled with God in every part of our being, God can be expressed through us.