Friday, February 24, 2006

Spirit And Soul, What's The Difference?

Have you ever wondered what is really different between our spirit and our soul. As we all know man is made of three parts but how do these parts function and what are the particular aspects of each one?

I have been puzzled for years by the seeming lack of understanding in this matter among my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. How is it that we understand so little of the way in which God has designed our being and how it operates in the fallen and regenerated state?

I recently came across an awesome message explaining the various aspects of man's tripartite makeup. If you have time I would definitely encourage you to listen to this message linked below. It immensely blessed me as pastor Adrian Rogers succinctly and simply explained the way to live a life that is in line with God's plan.

It is entitled, "How to Practice the Presence of God".

18 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'As we all know man is made of three parts but how do these parts function and what are the particular aspects of each one?'

Not all of us do. I am a Dichotomist and hold man to be composed of body and soul. The spirit is not a distinct component, but rather an aspect of man's nature.

The Bible does not consistently distinguish between soul and spirit, therefore it is reading too much into certain Pauline texts to conclude that man has a tripartite nature.

Trichotomy, the dividing of man into three components is popular today, particularly among Charismatics and Dispensationalists, however, the domminant view in Protestantism historically is Dichomtomy.

For a good presentation of the Dichotomist view, read Henry C Thiessen 'Lectures in Systematic Theology' (a Dispensational work).

More recently Wayne Grudem and Millard Erickson, popular systematic theologians have also defended the Bipartite nature of man.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jim said...

Matthew, to be honest this idea of Dichotomy is completely new to me. I did not have the slightest idea christians actually considered themselves bipartite?

I am shocked and somewhat dismayed. :(

I would be curious to hear your take of this message that was preached.

God bless,
Jim

Kc said...

Jim I too suspect imago Dei indicates a three part being however I suspect the spirit and soul to be of the same "grouping" just as the head is part of the body. From a scriptural perspective of redemption we know the soul is quickened upon rebirth and the body will be glorified at the resurrection yet there remains another aspect of man that, by common usage of the word, must be sanctified and will be judged at the Judgement Seat of Christ. I have struggled to identify or name this part and as yet I'm not satisfied. Is it the "life" of man or is it our "essence". Whatever it is, it is as uniquely ours as is our soul and our body.

Jim said...

Kc,

Let me share a few thoughts. When God made man He breathed into him and man became a living soul. However when man sinned the Bible says he died in the same day. What died was his ability to communicate spiritually and enjoy communion with God. Hence his spiritual nature was degenerate. This part of of man is known as his spirit.

When man was first made these two parts of his nature were intertwined and inseparable. However after man's fall his soul became the leading part of his being. He no longer was subject to the Spirit's leading.

Jesus Christ came as the life giving Spirit to breath life back into our spirits and restore us to fellowship with God. Unfortunately our mind was also damaged by sin and therefore it's thoughts do not line up with God's thoughts. Therefore we need the mind to be renewed and this happens by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and growing in grace and life. We cannot be changed without the abiding in Christ and hiding His word in our hearts.

The "essence" you mention is simply our soul and it's individual expression. God desires to saturate our mind with His thoughts and conform us to the image of His Son in our very nature. This requires us to obey the Spirit's promptings and walk by faith.

We will be judged by Christ as to how we built in our lives, whether we used the carnal (wood, hay, stubble) or the spiritual (gold, silver, precious stones).

All the things we think we are "doing" for God will be judged and the motives laid bare. Sadly there are many Christians who are doing their own thing apart from the Spirit's anointing and leading. They may delude themselves into thinking they are building something, but that day will declare each man's work when it is tried by fire.

As the scripture says, mans look on the outward appearance but the Lord weighs the heart. Let us pray that we will not be found wanting.

Thanks for visiting again and may Christ richly bless you.

Jim

Kc said...

Jim thanks for the reply. Very intresting thoughts. Your understanding is very similar to that of the Witness Lee & Watchman Nee. Are you familiar with their doctrine? I think I align more closely to the traditional perspective on soul and body but differ in adding our life as being a third part. If in this life we will lose it then we will gain it in the life to come. I suppose if I perceived our life as a possesion then I would be a Dichotomist as well however the fact that it is only redeemed by grace through faith leads me to perceive it as ontological.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I am perhaps a little surprised that you are unaware of the Dichotomist position, Jim.

Do you not own a systematic theology book?

Not wishing to imply that you are at all ignorant. It is very useful to study systematic theology.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I listened to that message.

He said some sound things, but much of what he said was built upon the presupposition that man is constitutionally Tripartite.

I also disagree with His contention that Adam was meant to be indwellt by God. That seems to me to violate the distinctiveness of the Christian experience. Only believers in the Dispensation of Grace are indwellt by the Holy Spirit permanently.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I agree with Dyspraxic - I can't believe I just said that!

Mark 12:30 "and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."

What about adding heart, mind, and strength to soul and spirit?

Jim said...

Kc, yes I am familiar with those two brothers and their theology.

I think the life you are referring to is our soul life. That is where we operate from. To lose our life simply means to live for Christ rather than for self, He will richly reward those who faithfully deny themselves and put Him first.

Revelation clearly tells us that in order to overcome three things are necessary; the blood of Christ, the word of our testimony, and not loving our life even unto death. Those conditions will merit an overcoming of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I look forward to more fruitful discussions in a spirit of respect and godly love.

In Christ,
Jim

Jim said...

Matthew, I must confess some ignorance towards the terminology of theology. I think this is exactly what Daniel's recent post was about; that there can be theologians who are not born again. They have made the bible an intellectual exercise rather than realizing that the Holy Spirit is required for revelation.

I fear much of christianity today places the mind of man above the light of the Holy Spirit's shining.

One of the things I appreciate about the bloggers I have met is their diligence in studying the Word of God, that truly is commendable. I desire as well to study to show myself approved. However my hope and prayer is that I will never replace Christ as the center of my worship with the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual perfection.

Thanks again for your comments.

Jim said...

Matthew,

Adam was perfect in everyway. He had no blemish physically, no psychological scars or inhibitions, and no spiritual blindness preventing any communion or fellowship with his Creator.

Did Adam possess eternal life? Obviously not in the sense that we as Christians do, otherwise he could not have died spiritually. However, in a very real sense Adam was in complete fellowship with God. Christ's desire was for a bride and this would only be accomplished through Himself becoming the life giving Spirit to indwell His saints that would ultimately constitute His bride.

God bless,
Jim

Jim said...

Mark 12:30 "and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."

What about adding heart, mind, and strength to soul and spirit?


Jonathan, please allow me the pleasure of a slight chuckle, he he! To see the day that you agree with Matthew is truly a blessing.

As for your question from Mark, please let me share a few thoughts.

First of all, we must realize that our soul constitutes who we are as a person and is comprised of three main parts; the mind, the emotions, and the will.

What separates us from the rest of God's creation is that we were created with a spiritual capacity.
The reason that you believe in a dichotomous man is because you have not seen the clear deliniation between the soul and the spirit.

Actually our "heart" is a combination of the soul and one aspect of our spirit which is the conscience. So when the bible talks about our heart condemning us not it refers to our conscience being free from any guilt of sin based upon our mind's understanding of the laws of God.

So the reason Jesus gives the order He does is to show the following: In order to truly love God our conscience must be pure. Secondly a pure conscience will allow our entire soul (mind,emotions,will) to fully give itself to that goal. Then the mind which is the leading part of our soul can use it's full faculties to comprehend the truths of God as revealed through His creation and His word. Finally we will be willing to give the full strength of our body to the task of truly loving God.

Fallen man has a conscience but his conscience is not subject to the Spirit of God. Thus he is incapable of true fellowship with God. That is why Jesus said that true worship must be in spirit and truth. When the Spirit indwells our spirit we are thus able to fellowship with God as He designed.

Jonathan, the greatest men are not those who are most educated but rather those who are most humble. Moses was the meekest man alive and God was pleased to speak face to face with Him.

I would love to speak more with you on issues from God's Word. I truly love fellowship but am hestitant to be contentious for I do not find it leads to godliness.

God's richest blessings on you and your family. You are blessed beyond measure brother.

In Christ,
Jim

dc said...

Hi Jim,

First of all, thanks for dropping by one of my blogs. It's always nice to meet another who's "pursuing fellowship in spirit and truth".

I tend to agree with your views with regards to the distinction between spirit ands soul. We touched on the same matter in our study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians last month, in particular how our hearts need to be established blameless in holiness and to be sanctified wholly with our spirit, soul, and body preserved complete. I blogged about it here.

Have a read when you're free and let me have your thoughts on same.

In Christ,

David

Joe said...

Pfph! Pfph!

That's the Georgia way of blowing away gnats.

Jim said...

Joe, I'm sure there is some profound wisdom behind that saying? Could you expound?

God bless,
Jim

Jim said...

David, welcome here. I appreciate your comments and desire for fellowship. May Christ truly be honoured in all our discussions.

Grace and peace,

Jim

Sidharth said...

1 Thess 5 is very clear about the distinction. The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions.

The spirit is the part that can commune with God. A person who does not know Yeshua is dead in his/her trespasses. Yet he is able to think, to reason, to have feelings, to choose etc, this is because of the part of him called the soul.

Sidharth

Jim said...

Sidharth, thanks for your comment and for stopping by.