Over the years, in several articles, I’ve only touched on the definition of the human soul. In this paper I will attempt to throw more light on the subject.
Only when God breathed the breath of life (from His Spirit) into man did he (man) become a living soul. This implies that without the spirit part – the spirit into man released from the God-Spirit (part of God Himself) – man would have had no consciousness as a living entity. He would have remained (probably, prostrate on the ground) as a human corpse, but not as one that ever lived. Therefore, in the case of the first man on the planet it was a matter of no spirit, no soul.
It seems clear that the God-given spirit within the first man is what empowered every atom and molecule within his physical body enabling him to commence life as an individual human life form fully conscious of his existence. After all, God is life itself and this was imparted to Adam in that breath of life, making him a God-image man. It is man’s God-given spirit that “cranked” him up to become a living soul.
Unlike Adam, who only received his spirit (and became a living soul) as a grown man, all people after Adam and Eve are fully equipped with spirit and soul at conception and are born with but a rudimentary degree of development as a living soul.
Man’s soul may be regarded as a daily academic journal of his thoughts, words and actions as a conscious, individual human creature – all made possible by his spirit. So the human soul actually forms part of man’s spirit, for without the spirit there would be no soul. In essence, the spirit is the residential address of the soul. One could say that man’s spirit and soul are two parts of a whole. They will never part company, from here to eternity – whether in heaven or in hell.
“Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” Isaiah 42:5
In the above-quoted verse the “breath unto the people” does not refer to the “breath of life” that God “breathed” into man in the Garden of Eden. The “breath of life” was the life-giving power that fired up man’s lungs to start taking in air (“breath unto”) for the purpose of sustaining his physical body. The “spirit to them that walk therein” is what defines the “breath of life”. The spirit is the heart, the very core, of man in his entirety as a living human creature. It provides him with life and enables him to function physically.
The soul of man is an exposé of the content of his spirit. This content of the spirit reflects man’s personality, character, education, knowledge, experience, intellect, wisdom, emotions, memory and as already pointed out – a daily academic journal of man’s thoughts, words and actions as a conscious, individual human creature. Having said that, it is not the soul that exhibits inner emotions and neither does the soul stir up memories. It is the mind of the spirit that performs this function.
The Bible speaks of a troubled spirit; an anguished spirit; a jealous spirit; a hardened spirit; a sorrowful spirit; a contrite spirit; a broken spirit; a steadfast spirit; a hasty spirit; a provoked spirit; a haughty spirit; a humble spirit; a vexed spirit; a patient spirit; a proud spirit; a heavy spirit; a joyful spirit and many more expressions to do with emotions.
We see from this that it is the spirit of man that holds title to man’s emotions and is also the storage vault of the memory files of the soul. The human spirit has a component that is in charge of all spiritual operations. This component is the mind of the spirit, the chief executive officer of the spirit, one could say.
The mind of one’s spirit deliberates and makes decisions based on the condition of the spirit and will act out what it finds through words and bodylanguage. The mind of the spirit and the spirit are as one. They are bosom buddies. When the Bible says, “… be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) it means that you, your spirit with its soul content, should be transformed to a righteous state by an act of the mind of your spirit. The mind, therefore, plays an executive role, hence, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Eph 4:23)
The words that come out of your mouth are the words that your mind decided upon. When the mind of your spirit speaks, it simultaneously instructs your brain to open your mouth so that the words of your spirit may be formed and heard. You get to know someone by what comes out of their mouth.
You are a walking, talking spirit. Your brain is but the amplifier switch of the word of your spirit.
We see then, that you are a mind-controlled living soul and that you would not have been a living soul had it not been for God’s breath of life within you. Your soul, activated by your spirit, is your identity inclusive of your spirit and body. You are known, inclusive of all three, as a living human creature called man.
Your soul counts as a “unit” of spiritual life. Your soul is the overall representation of you in spirit, mind, word and body. You are “counted” as a soul, such as in a census of human population. God counts you as either a saved or lost soul.
In Ezekiel 18:4 we read that “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” After death a sinful man can no longer sin, but he lives on in a certain place (hell) as a consequence of his sinful nature.
Now let’s take a look at Matt. 22:37. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
The above verse gives the impression that the heart (spirit), the soul and the mind are capable of independent functionality. However, it stands to reason that a corrupt soul will have as its companions an equally corrupt spirit and mind, for the three actually operate in synergy with each other. Let’s put it this way. If you (your spirit and soul) are to be transformed “by the renewing of your mind”, then it certainly signifies that all three need to be pure in their love for God. You can give mental (mindful) assent to loving God, but in your heart and soul you fake that love. This means that not only is your mind, as “executive officer”, a liar, but that your mind is also lying on behalf of your spirit and soul.