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The Soul and the Spirit



Are the soul and the spirit the same? If not, what makes them different? Many believe that the terms "soul" and "spirit" are interchangeable terms, when, in fact, the Bible shows a difference.


We are created in the image of God according to the Bible. Just as our God is a Triune Being, so are we. We are composed of Body, Soul, and Spirit. Let's confirm this fact by considering 1 Thessalonians 5:23,

"Now may the God of Peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

So to be sanctified ENTIRELY and preserved COMPLETE, our total self is involved--body, soul, and spirit.


The soul and the spirit are not the same, as the Bible speaks of a division between the two Hebrews 4:12 says,

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Not only is this Scripture a marvelous revelation of the power of the word of God to change lives, but it shows that the piercing power of the word can divide between the soul and spirit. Thus, they are not synonomous terms, they are different.


We all know what the body is, namely our flesh and bones, circulation and nervous systems, governed by our brain, and dependent on the good functioning of our heart and lungs. It is the physical us.


What, then is the Soul? The soul is NOT the body, nor the spirit, but is everything else these two are not. We will define the spirit next, but in brief, the soul is our intellect, our personality, in fact, our identity. The first mention of the soul in the Bible is in Genesis 2:7, where is is recorded that Adam BECAME a living soul. Notice that Adam did not RECEIVE a soul, Adam became a soul. Many Bible translations interchange the words "soul", "person", and "life", and this is correct since a soul can touch, according to Leviticus 5:2, a soul can commit a sin, according to Leviticus 5:15, and a soul can also eat according to Leviticus 7:18. Psalms 42:2 records that our soul can "thirst for God".


Genesis 35:18 records concerning Rachel in childbirth that

"it came about as her soul was departing, for she died, that she called him..."Benjamin".

So, the soul goes out at death. We would reasonably expect that if the soul goes out at death as the Bible teaches, then if it returns, the person would live. In 1 Kings 17:21,22 Elijah the prophet entreats the Lord to raise a boy from the dead.

"Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let the child's life (or Soul) return to him" and the Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the life (soul) of the child returned to him and he revived".

Isaiah 53:12 records that Christ "poured out His soul unto death." The soul goes out at death according to the Bible.


Some have attempted to prove from scripture that the soul goes out to annihilation. This is false.They use for their so-called Scriptural proof the scripture in Ezekiel 18:4, which reads, "The soul who sins will die". The word "die" in the Bible does not signify annihilation as the cults teach, or so-called "soul sleep" in an unconscious state.

Following our fleshly death and the going out of our soul, we will spend a conscious eternity in one of two places, just as Jesus taught. We go to the grave. Proverbs 23:14 tells us if we discipline our children properly, we will deliver their soul from Sheol or the grave. Prophetically it was said of Jesus in Psalms 16:10

"For Thou will not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow thy Holy One to undergo decay".

So, the grave is not the end, there is yet a deliverance out of it.


The soul departing for Sheol (Hades) could end up finally in the dreadful Gehenna, the Lake of Fire.

"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades (Sheol, grave), gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every one of them according to their deeds."(Revelation 20:13)

The other, much better alternative destination is in heaven. Revelation 6:9 records this scene in heaven.

"And when He broke the fifth seal I saw underneath the altar the SOULS of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained."

Notice, please, that here were persons who had been SLAIN, that is, their bodies had been killed, and yet their souls were safe in heaven. Some cult groups teach that the soul is the body and suffers death. Not so, and not true. Matthew 10:28 reads,

"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell".


It is just as Jesus said of the two classes, first of the goats or the unbelieving wicked, "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life". (Matthew 25:46).

Our soul will spend eternity somewhere. Have you decided where yours will reside?


What now is the SPIRIT that the Bible talks about, and in fact gives prominence to over the soul and body? We should be spirit, soul, and body in that order according to 1 Thess. 5:23.


First off, the teaching of the cult groups that our spirit is merely our breath is ridiculous, and not borne out by a careful examination of Scriptures. What does the Bible teach concerning the spirit of man?

Zechariah 12:1 says this:

"Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him..."

Man does not BECOME a spirit, but HAS a spirit within him. Isaiah 26:9 says this:

"...at night my soul longs for Thee, indeed my spirit within me seeks Thee diligently".

Our spirit is NOT breath, for the spirit of man is capable of thought. 1 Corinthians 2:11 says,

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him?"

Our spirit can also "perceive" just as Mark 2:8 says of Jesus,

"and immediately Jesus, perceiving in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?"

Ephesians suggests that we renew not only our minds, but our spirits. Clearly, our spirit within us is NOT our breath.


The spirit of man is the same as the soul in some respects. We are taught in James 2:26 that our body is dead without the spirit. Furthermore, when our spirit returns, our bodies come alive again. (Luke 8:54,55). Nowhere in Scripture does it speak of the spirit being destroyed or dying as it does the soul. What then happens to the spirit within us at our death?


Ecclesiastes 12:7 teaches that the spirit returns to God on death. For this reason we find that David committed his spirit to the Lord in Psalms 31:5. Upon His death, Jesus cried out, "Father into Thy hands I commit My spirit". (Luke 23:46). The Christian martyr Stephen also committed his spirit to the Lord when he died. (Acts 7:59).


What a good pattern for us all to follow! We can commit our spirits to the Lord upon our death in full confidence, provided we have been dealt with spiritually by the Lord prior to our death. We need to experience personally Romans 8:16,

"The Spirit, Himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God".

We have all been born once physically, but we all need to be born again spiritually. (John 3:3-7). We need the Holy Spirit to inhabit our spirit, and this is what happens when we invite Jesus Christ into our lives, hearts, and spirits. No wonder Paul said to the godly man Timothy,

"The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you". (2 Tim. 4:22).


In conclusion, we state again that we are a triune being of spirit, soul, and body. We are born in the reverse order, but when we are born again through the Spirit of God, we can become as God intended us to be, spirit, soul, and body.

In Scripture, remember, that as the spirit goes, so goes the soul. Even our rebellious body of flesh can be brought into line through the power of the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says,

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

We are not complete unless our spirits are renewed. We will not live abundantly if our spirits are unsatisfied. Come to Jesus today, and be satisfied, spirit, soul, and body.

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