Are We Spirit Or Soul?
April 26, 2002
Q: "I have read books and heard tapes from different sources say that, I am a spirit, that has a soul, who lives in a body. However, could the following statement be more accurate? I am a soul, that has a spirit, who lives in a body? The reason I ask this is because, if we say that our spirit is God-conscious, our body is world-conscious, and our soul is self-conscious, are we not saying that our soul is … us? (Also because of what it says in Gen 2:7)."
A: In response let me say there is no doubt that all of us tend to relate more to our soul than our spirit. The soul reflects all of the unique attributes that we call "personality." It contains our memories, our emotions, and our reasoning faculties. In many ways I would have to agree with you that it certainly seems that our soul is "us." Sometimes it is so very hard to distinguish the difference between what is being generated by our soul or by our spirit. That's why the bible says,
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
A good example is when we are experiencing symptoms of a cold. We're sneezing and coughing, every joint aches, our energy level is down. From our soul everything we perceive as "us" wants to say, "I am sick." Then God's Word comes and compares our natural soul's thinking with the mind of Christ. The Word says, "By His stripes, I am healed." That's the truth that proceeds from our spirit. The Word of God has to divide between our spirit and our soul so we know which one we are to operate out of. Man is made in the image of God. Nowhere in the bible are we told that God is a soul. God is a Spirit.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Man likes to think that his soul is the strongest part of him. The truth is, the spirit of man is the strongest part of him. The truth of that statement is proven by the dilemma of the unregenerate man of Romans 7. He has been given God's written Law, understands it in his soul (understanding) well enough that he tries to obey it, but he finds out that he cannot. Why not? Because there is something at his core that is stronger than his soul. At his core he is a spirit. For the unregenerate man, his spirit is infused with the law of sin and death. He may overpower the sin nature resident in his spirit for a season through the strength of his willpower, emotions, and understanding (the soul) ... but inevitably, over time, the spirit will dominate the soul once more and he will find himself again "doing what he doesn't want to do, and the good that he wants to do ... he finds that he cannot."
What is the answer for such a dilemma? The new birth! A new spirit given to us by the grace of God when we are born again. What part of us is born again? Our soul? No ... our spirit is the part of us that is born of God. We are a spirit ... at our core! Paul described this process as,
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
It is the "SPIRIT OF LIFE" that makes us free from the law of sin and death. We had to have a new birth ... in our spirit! The part of us that is spawned of God is our spirit ... our new nature! Our soul is in the process of renewal, but it is to be the servant of the new nature, not the boss of the new nature. Our soul is to serve our spirit as we yield to Jesus Christ, not the other way around. Notice how James phrases this exhortation to people who were already born again:
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Who is the "your" in that sentence? James makes it clear that the soul is something "you" possess. It is "your" soul. The soul is the possession of the spirit man. Jesus made a similar comment when He said,
Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
Again I have to ask, who is "ye" in that statement? "Ye" is the spirit man. Even though we have a harder time relating to the spirit than to our soul, the truth of the matter is ... we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body.
Note: A good companion teaching is "Servants Upon Horses"
Concerning the reference to Gen 2:7 - Gen 2:7 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.
God reached on the inside of Himself and "breathed the breath of life" into Adam, and he became a living soul. Was it soul … or spirit that gave Adam "life?" From the New Testament, James says,
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
It is the spirit which gives us life … not the soul! Adam became a soul who was alive by the power of God's spirit breathed into him in Gen 2:7. Adam was made in the image of God. Again, God is a Spirit, and at his core … man also is a spirit!