How often do you contemplate humankind as more than mere matter and particles, more than the dust of creation? When was the last time you thought of yourself as a living soul? And what does putting greater awareness on the existence of your soul enable in your daily life?
The soul and the spirit are two words that can be used interchangeably. They identify animated creatures, especially (though not exclusively) human beings that are dependent on God for life itself. Our skin clothed the spirit when we came from our mother’s womb, and naked we shall return.
At the same time, it is fair to separate soul and spirit–hence the “dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12)–but trying to make sense of this very real division amounts to trying to demarcate the line between the emotions and the intellect. There is a real distinction that actually exists between the two, but where one begins and the other ends will remain somewhat elusive. Conclusively, we might say that the soul and/or the spirit is distinct from our physical tabernacle.
The integration of body and soul is captured when we conceptualize the creator of heaven and earth as “the God of the spirits of all flesh“:
“And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?” (Numbers 16:22).
The soul is the life-bearing entity of the human person, and remains distinct from the body. The soul is where desires, emotions, and the will reside.
- Mary rejoiced in her spirit of the good news.
- Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and yielded his spirit on the cross.
- Paul was present in spirit, but absent in body.
- We can pray in the spirit. God has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound mind.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
Life itself is body and soul in unity. Our whole being can be called our soul, and for this reason we should see our body and soul more as an integrated whole and less dualistically.
There is more unity than division between body and soul. Just as Jesus Christ is an embodied soul and besouled body (Barth), we have one heart. One heartbeat.
“Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13)