Monday, December 1, 2008

Help Explore the Next Line of Thought

There are two words I find valuable in articulating the state of being in-dwelt by the Living God:

Soul and Spirit.

How do you think about these two words in relation to faith?
Are they synonymous?
Are they related but inseparable?
Are they distinct from one another?

I hope you will comment.


Anonymous said...


I was teaching a class Sunday and could reach and grasp loving God with all my heart and with all my mind but I was lost and could reach nothing when it came to loving God with all my soul.

BTW your grandbabies are great!!!


Carey said...

The Spirit of the Lord is absolute perfection in the Universe. My human soul and yours--individual entities--are not the same as the Spirit of the Lord.
Numerous accounts in the Bible describe events or circumstances in which God manifests a part of his Spirit to accomplish a specific function in His creation. (Gen 1:2, Ex 35:31, Ps 104:30, Is 11:2, Zch 12:10,Mt 1:18, Lk 4:1, Jn 20:22, Acts 2:4, 1Cor 12:7, Ga 5:25, Rev 2:7, to name just a few.)
In heaven, where the Father and Son are manifest, the Spirit of God retains a coterie of the seven Spirits of God (Rev 4:5)which are intimately linked to the presence of Christ; they are sent "throughout the earth."
In his revelation to us, then, God categorizes the workings of his Spirit among the beings of the earth into seven (7) differing expressions.
Our individual souls are born at conception, when mother/father chromosomes are combined in the physical world; this holy union of man/woman then affords each individual soul a home in which to hang while in this world. From that point on, in time, the individual soul lives, surviving the loss of physical body in death to enter heaven (or not!) for all time henceforth.
The extent to which that individual soul can function with the Spirit of God, while on earth, determines that soul's individual identity (chosen or not!) If the Spirit of God does not accept the individual soul, then it goes to...uh...the other place.
Faithin Jesus is the determinant that places each one (soul) of us in one category or the other: saved(retained for God's use by his Spirit) or unsaved.
This is potent food for thought, Wildwood; thanks for serving it up!

ded said...

Hey Charles!

Thanks for dropping by. Those grandsons are quite the addition to the family. Holding each of them is like holding the original in many ways but I cannot yet put the feeling into words.

You said, ...but I was lost and could reach nothing when it came to loving God with all my soul.

I think you express what many brethren experience. Your comment is evidence we have not given nearly enough discourse to the topic. I do not think God intended this to be a mystery for the believer.

I remember a time when you spoke to us all of idols and pulled examples out of a bag. I think idolatry occurs in the soul. Idolatry is neither a function of the heart alone, nor the mind in separation. I humbly submit, if you would see the place where you seek to resist idolatry and worship God, you will find yourself centered in the middle of your soul.

ded said...


Thanks for your insights and bringing up the "seven" spirits.

Honestly, I haven't tried to understand what that reference might mean more specifically. I will ponder your take on it a bit before the Lord.

I appreciate having new perspectives to chew on. I can alway count on you for just that!!

Jimazing said...

ded - This is a really good question. Before writing my comment, I purposefully skipped reading the comments that are already there (which is difficult since they are just off to the left in my peripheral vision) because I have something in mind, but I could easily be swayed.

I sort of think of my spirit as the feeling part of me. My soul is like the personality part of me. It is what makes me, me. I also think of it as the part of me that transcends my body. The soul is what will keep going when my body quits for good.

Now I'll check the comments to see if I got it right :)

Steve Sensenig said...

I have a strong tendency to see those two terms as synonymous. I know others draw a distinction between them (and I'm pretty sure you do), but I just have trouble getting my brain around the distinction. Paul uses them both in the same sentence on at least one occasion, if I recall correctly.

But, to me, they are one and the same. Both soul and spirit refer to the non-material, non-physical part of who I am.

At least that's what I feel in my spirit... Or is it my soul? ;)

craig v. said...

From the little I remember from classical Greek, the difference is that the spirit is what animates or makes alive and the soul is who we are (specifically, as others point out, who we are apart from our body). I agree with Steve, though, that in the New Testament this distinction gets blurred. The concepts do seem very close, at least to me, since what animates me is me.

On a related note, I was looking at a word study last week that showed that the Hebrew word for spirit, which can mean either wind or spirit, usually means wind when used in a destructive sense and spirit when used in a constructive or creative sense. This seems to fit the idea that spirit gives life.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to understand this for a long time and will still continue to look for more clarity in understanding about the difference or the characteristics of both the soul and spirit. I believe there is a distinction and it is important to understand them. Just because it may seem foggy or out of reach doesn't mean that it can be unknown nor is unimportant.
Recently, I was reading an article on the new birth in Christ. The author made a distinction that I found very interesting. He noted the up until Jesus' death and resurrection the primary focus was on the conversion of the soul from bad to good, from evil to righteous according to the law, which fits in the frame of life derived from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But after Christ rose who now is a life giving spirit, who comes to us when we believe in Him and is united with our spirit thus we become born again which is much deeper than being converted in the sense of just changing our minds. I apologize if some of what I am saying is brief and raises more questions. I don't desire to try to type what I understand so far it could be long and drawn out since I am an overwriter. Anyhow our spirit becomes born again by receiving the life of Christ and now we can choose to live by His life which is now partaking of the tree of life, which I believe is done in our soul (mind, will, emotions-who you are) We must choose to rely on His life within our spirit and not on our life or ourselves (soul) to try to please God and be righteous on our own. Since I probably am not doing the best job at explaining I would like to put a couple of links to those I believe have done a better job if any are interested. Go to and read the two articles on the right called birthing part1 and part2. Also, check out a free e-book located at
Hope this helps.

ded said...

Jim, Steve, Craig and Anonymous,

I appreciate your reading and contributing thoughts. Each of you gave me food for thought.

I hope I can squeeze out some time this weekend to write a post on the topic. I need to write Christmas cards, split wood and do school work, too. And of course, hold the baby!

Josiah said...

The best reference I have found in the scripture for the seven spirits of the Lord is in Isaiah 11The Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, council and might, wisdom and understanding.

Here is some of my creative thinking about how the number seven might also be represented in our human make up.
body joined to spouse - 2
soul: mind, will, emotions- 3
spirit joined to the Lord-3
totaling seven

more thoughts:
could the spirit correspond to the Holy of Holies, the soul the inner court and body the outer court.

Josiah said...

misprinted the spirit joined to the Lord which is 2 not 3
of course the mystery of the trinity could also be explored as it lives in and with us.

Carey said...

Although Anonymous was not pleased with his(her) statement regarding this matter, I find this quote to be profound: ..."our spirit becomes born again by receiving the life of Christ and now we can choose to live by His life which is now partaking of the tree of life, which I believe is done in our soul (mind, will, emotions-who you are) We must choose to rely on His life within our spirit and not on our life or ourselves (soul) to try to please God and be righteous on our own."
I believe this says it very well, actually. Thank you, Anonymous.