Spirit, Soul and Body

Atheists tell us we’re just electro-chemical accidents, yet most of us instinctively know better, that our lives matter, that we have intrinsic value, that we’re made in God’s image. But what exactly is this image?

God describes us as a trinity: spirit, soul and body (1Th 5:23), comparable to the way He’s revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Ghost. (Mt 28:19) This should come as no surprise; an image is a likeness. But are we a soul with a spirit and a body, or a body with a spirit and a soul, or a spirit with a soul and a body? What, in essence, defines us?

Clearly, we’re not our body (Lk 12:4); we’re much more than this.

Are we then a spirit with a soul and a body? The Psalmist views his spirit as something within himself, distinct from his core self. (Ps 143:4) Stephen, upon his death, seems to view his spirit as something conveying him to Christ, but something he has, not what he is. (Act_7:59)

When God created Adam and breathed into him, man “became a living soul.” (Ge 2:7) The essence of our identify appears to be revealed here: we’re souls with bodies and spirits. Our spirit is evidently formed along with our soul and comprises our spiritual temple, being inseparably linked with our souls, through which we know and feel. (1Co_2:11)

It’s our souls that sin, not our bodies or spirits (Ez 18:4), so it’s our souls which need atonement. (Le 17:11)

We can speak to our souls as ourselves, the essence of who we are (Lk 12:19), the source of our motivations, thoughts and intentions. Death is requiring our soul to leave our body. (Lk 12:20) If we lose our soul (Mt 16:26), we lose our very selves. (Lk 9:25)

So, becoming, growing, improving ourselves, who we are, is in our souls, not our minds or bodies (1Ti 4:8); we evolve through our choices, which mold and reveal us. We’re eternal soul beings headed toward eternity, to only one of two possible ends. We’re designed to be gods (Ps 82:6), but we can make ourselves into fiends. (Jn 6:70) Choose wisely: every choice we make shapes us in eternity.

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3 thoughts on “Spirit, Soul and Body”

  1. If the body and spirit do not sin, other than metaphorically as agents of the soul, then the only sense in which they can be [1] cleansed or sanctified, is in being set apart to God for His use through the activity of the soul, or [2] quickened, made alive, is in being joined to our soul as it is energized by and becomes aligned with God.

    Perhaps this helps to dismiss any kind of sanctification of our spirit which is distinct from the growing holiness of the soul, a teaching which seems to comfort those who have only a ritual experience of conversion to Christ, with no accompanying, ongoing supernatural work of holiness apparent in their souls; who still do not love Him, who willfully disobey Him as a manner of life, who continue to be alienated from Him through their blindness and ignorance. In such souls, hope of eternal life is a lie.

  2. Tim,

    Interesting Study. Hope you are permitted to build upon it. Of interest to you might be, “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Mary’s Soul and Mary’s Spirit are in sync. I also note that when she saluted Elisabeth….. Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Soul And Spirit in harmony, and just by Mary’s salutation Elisabeth receives the Holy Spirit. And Elisabeth is led to prophecy, and she discerns WHO is in Mary’s womb. Mary also evidently discerned her Own Soul and her Own Spirit. What was she, 16 or so? A blessed woman. And an example to both men and woman, that we should discern both our soul and our spirit.

    1. Of much interest to me. I had not considered this text, and I think it is significant. Thank you for sharing.

      Mary does not mention her body, or the physical affect of her rejoicing, as if it is in this sense inconsequential, more of an effect than a cause, our body always aligning with our mind, heart and soul. Perhaps then it is also true that our spirit and soul are always in sync, like a hand in a glove, that the cause of Mary’s spirit rejoicing was the magnifying of God in her soul. And perhaps the Spirit of God embues and indwells our soul (us) and thus our spirit through the soul, rather than being a separate entity within us, or indwelling our spirit only.

      I think this relates to the concept of “our old man,” which I have often wrestled with. Somehow, thinking of the essence of myself as a composite, of separate, non-integrated components, has created difficulty in overcoming sin, as if the “old man” within was somehow a separate being over which I had no control. But if “the old man” is merely a personification of the lies my soul clings to, such that they persist in my mind (intellect) and heart (emotions), and thus affect my spirit (the metaphysical house/container of my soul), then I can identify it and weaken and overcome it by seeking and believing the truth.

      Thus I am a soul, and I can learn to control my soul, myself, the seat of my own will, and exercise my will align my spirit, mind, emotions and body with God, which is the pursuit of holiness.

      Thoughts?

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