Part 2 – Spirit or Soul?…Why You Need to Know the Difference

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”.. (II Corinthians 5:17)….

We had a new dimension added to our life when we received Jesus – even life in the spirit.  We who were dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-6) have been made alive in our spirit man.. alive from the death that came into man’s spirit in the garden (Genesis 3) when Adam turned from God to serve another master.

But now we’ve been born again – made new in Christ Jesus… It’s a new dimension that we have the capacity and the need.. to learn to walk in…. We have the need to LEARN about the things of the spirit because it is new for us when we receive Jesus… We’re born of the Spirit of God – but we still live in a flesh and blood body that has been ruled by our soul in conjunction with our five physical senses… But now we have the capacity in our born again spirit to get to know God and the things of His Kingdom.  We now have the capacity to learn to “be led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14).  It is a new walk for us .. in the Spirit to spirit relationship which God the Father designed our born again spirit to have with His Spirit/aka the Holy Spirit…We can’t do it without Him! 

Because… I Corinthians 2:14… states unequivocally that “the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God.. for they are foolishness unto him..neither can he (the natural man) know those things.. because they are spiritually discerned.” (natural = psuchikos – the Greek word for SOUL).

When we try to understand spiritual things and the Kingdom of God with our mind/reason/intellect (all of which belong to the soul of a man) – we will not succeed – for  as Jesus so very clearly explains to us in John 3:3-6.. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God… Because.. that which is born of the flesh IS FLESH!… and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  You MUST be born again!”

Indeed many of you reading this post have been born again/aka “born of the Spirit”.. But you do not understand what happened to you and you are still trying to figure it all out with your mind and reasoning (which is of the soul).  I understand that because for the first ten years after I received Jesus as my Savior.. I struggled with that as well.  I struggled to understand more about this new relationship and I longed to hear the voice of God to answer my questions and to give me direction when I had an important decision to make.  Once in a while I did hear.. and that made me hungry to hear and to know more….

I knew that something incredible and supernatural had happened to me but I didn’t know what it was .. beyond the fact of knowing that God was truly there and that He is wonderful…. But as long as we are trying to understand spiritual things with mental abilities – (i.e. our mind, intellect and reasoning factors) – we won’t grow in Him as He intended.. For God is a Spirit…(John 4:23, 24) and He seeks a Spirit to spirit relationship with you and me.. Because as Isaiah 55:8 & 9 tells us.. “His thoughts are not our thoughts – and His ways are not our ways – but as the Heavens are higher than the earth .. even so are His ways and thoughts higher than our ways and thoughts”…. But He gave us a way to get to know Him and His ways…

God gave us His Word to tell us about Himself.. and the history of man’s relationship with Him.  God’s Word is not a common book.. nor is it a fairy tale….  I can affirm that BECAUSE I KNOW the interaction that I (and many others) have with Him through His Word and by His Spirit…

But because I also know the struggle a person can have if they do not understand the spiritual rebirth that took place in them when they received Jesus into their life.. I desire deeply to share with anyone who is hungry enough to listen! …  because I’ve come far enough in Him in the last 38 years that I don’t even think twice about what to do when I have a problem or a big decision to make… I RUN TO HIM!!  I ask for His help/His input…. and with joy I can tell you that He never fails me… I KNOW He hears and will answer my prayers – even as He has always purposed to do for anyone who truly turns to Him.

But He leads us and speaks to us by His Spirit…to our spirit…. He gave us a hearing ear in our born again spirit.. and He also gave us a “witness” of the truth (and of error) in our spirit man.  Your spirit man was made to feed on the Word of God (I Peter 2:2)… and to be led by the Spirit of God (aka the Holy Spirit/the Comforter/the Spirit of Truth – John 14 – verses 16,17 & 26)…

You and I were made to be taught and led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14)… and that is the only way we are going to understand the promises of His Word and the provision that He has made for us…. How very much He wants to help us even now….

And that my friends – is the biggest reason I can think of to understand the difference between your soul and your spirit!… Because your spirit (not your soul) “is the candle of the Lord.”

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When you have the time – I urge you to read the first part of this post about the difference in a person’s soul and their spirit… See February 29 post under “Recent Posts” on the right side of my home page.

“Spirit” and “Soul” – Are We Talking About the Same Thing?..

I used to think that the “spirit and soul” of a person was one and the same… but are they truly the same thing?  I Thessalonians 5:23 informs us that we are “spirit, soul, and body” – three parts to our being…. and in line with that.. we see in Hebrews 4:12 that the soul and the spirit are two different parts of our being – and – can be separated to distinguish between the two…

The spirit and the soul of a man are indeed two separate parts….For the soul of a man is “home to his mind or intellect,  plus his will and his emotions….. The spirit is the part of a person in which the spiritual rebirth takes place when he or she chooses to receive Jesus as their Savior… In John 3:1-8 Jesus attempts to explain being “born again”.. telling us in verses 5 -7 ..that.. “except a man be born of water and the spirit – he or she cannot enter into the Kingdom of God… (Because) “that which is born of the flesh is flesh.. and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit… Therefore I say unto you … you must be born again.”

(This spiritual rebirth is necessary for man to be in right relationship with God again – because when Adam partook of the forbidden tree in the Garden, he did not die physically but spiritually.  You may read in more detail about this in Romans 5:12-21).

My purpose in writing this is not to “split hairs” – but to share what helped me tremendously once I saw and understood..that.. indeed there is a difference between the soul and the spirit… As I mentioned earlier,  I Thessalonians 5:23 informs us that – as an individual – you and I are spirit, soul, and body… That’s three different “parts” to our being… The “body” we can see and comprehend.. But many people wrestle with understanding the difference between the “soul” and the “spirit” of a man….

What IS the difference between the spirit and the soul?….

  • With my body… I contact the natural/physical realm.
  • With my spirit… I contact the spiritual realm….  John 4:24 tells us that “God is a Spirit”… and that “true worshippers will worship Him “in spirit and in truth”… He seeks those to worship Him.. who have been born of the Spirit/aka born again (or “saved” as some prefer to say).. Being Himself.. a Spirit .. God seeks this Spirit to spirit relationship..
  • With my soul… I contact the emotional and intellectual realm – and relate to them in conjunction with my 5 physical senses… i.e. what I see, hear, feel, smell, and can touch.
When we do not understand the difference in our soul and our spirit – we will try to figure God out through our mind/intellect and what we are “feeling”/our emotions…  And thus we have a much more difficult time understanding His Word… and often wonder why we don’t hear Him speaking to us – as John 10 tells us that we will…. “My sheep hear My voice.. and they follow Me because they know My voice”.. verses 3 & 4…. But it is with our spirit (not the soul/mind) that we “hear” His voice…

As Proverbs 20:27 tells us.. “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord”… and in I Corinthians 2:9-14… we see clearly this Spirit to spirit relationship which God designed to use to reveal things to us by His Spirit…. It is necessary that our spirit first be born again as Jesus said in John 3:1-8 ….  because as verse 14 in I Corinthians 2.. says.. “The natural man  (referring to our mind/soul) – receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.. for those things are foolishness unto him… neither can he (the natural man) know them because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED”

Though we “walk in the flesh”… we began our relationship with Him in the spirit (Galatians 3:2,3)… It is a Spirit to spirit relationship… And because God designed it that way.. you and I should not ignore those verses in His word that speak of spiritual things….

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More to come in Part 2 about distinguishing the soul from the spirit of man.