What Is the Difference Between My Soul and My Spirit?
July 2, 2021Empowering Influence, God's presence, Spiritual Intimacy
Scripture says the spirit that is in every person comes from God. Our spirit originates with the Eternal One, belongs to Him, and eventually returns to its source. Our physical body belongs to the natural earth and will eventually return to its source. (a) [see end notes for all Scriptures] This is true of everyone even if we are unaware of it. Our spirit and body links each of us to the two realities we can partake of during this life.
The soul of man is often confused with spirit because both are aspects of life that cannot be seen or examined by the natural eye. This is why confusion usually exists. Scripture however says we are a combination of body, soul and spirit. (b) Although connected, each is distinctively different: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit.” (c) So what is the difference between my soul and my spirit?
Understanding the Soul
Each person is equipped with a body and a spirit as sources of natural and spiritual life. (d) Our body is the ‘link’ that allows us to connect and interact with the natural realities. Our spirit ‘links’ us to the spiritual realities and allows us to sense and interact with the unnatural side of life, like the presence of God’s Spirit. (e) God created us as a tripartite combination of body, soul and spirit. When we are referred to as having an outer and inner man, we sidestep the purpose and function of the soul.
When humanity was first created, God combined components from the temporal and eternal realms. As a conscious awareness developed, the soul “became”. Our soul is the accumulation of thoughts, feelings and understandings regarding physical and spiritual experiences. Each good and not so good experience contributes to forming ‘who’ we are and ‘who’ we become. We are a “developing soul” with a body and spirit.
Scripture actually speaks of the soul as our consciousness; the combined accumulation of our mind, will and emotion. Each soul is formed and developed by our conscious involvements. The physical and spiritual experiences we have enable us to be aware of people, places, processes, and of God. It is our physical and spiritual activity that influences our awareness and lends to developing levels of maturity.
While our mind thinks and reasons, our emotion feels and desires. As the activity of our body and spirit are foundational to our developing soul, the activity of our mind and emotion are foundational to the development of our will. Your ‘will’ is a combination of your perceptions, the part that makes choice.
As our choice maker, the will begins to form during early childhood and continues to develop throughout this life, revising and reforming the person we are becoming. Our will is largely shaped by cultural environment, other people’s opinions, educational input, and many good and not so good experiences. Our resolve influences how we think, feel, act and react during ongoing encounters. Surely we can all relate!
We “are a developing soul” with a natural body and eternal spirit.
So how do we sense God’s presence, speak to Him or hear His insightful response? The connective link our spirit provides is a lot like a satellite link that enables a wireless device to connect with another. While a device generates or receives communication, the device is not the link that enables sight and sound. In much the same way, our soul utilizes our spirit to connect with God, enabling our interaction.
Although our spirit links to God, it is our soul’s mind and emotion that perceives and interacts with Him. As with an internet connection, our spiritual senses notify us of an expression, word, insight or direction God is communicating. It is our soul’s mind and emotion that actually interacts, and our will chooses to receive or ignore the input. So we consciously make our requests known, (f) even though God knows before we ask, (g) and we remain open to sense His response.
Please do not confuse your physical brain and its activity with your soul’s mind. Our mind is much more than our physical brain. Just as our physical senses facilitate our ability to see and hear physical activity, the exercise of our spiritual senses enables us to see, hear and perceive what God is communicating. (h) “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (i)
Although our spirit is our link to God, it is our soul’s mind and emotion that perceives and interacts with Him.
Since we all have a deposit of the Spirit of God, giving us life, each of us can sense and receive God’s insight. Our spiritual senses can hear from God while we are in worship, praying, reading, walking, driving, working, playing or in conversation. God can speak to us while we are listening to a preaching or teaching, in night dreams and day visions, (j) and even through an apparent donkey. (k) A lot of our hearing depends on how much we are listening.
Where does inspiration come from? The One who knows all! Inspiration comes to our mind and emotion via our spirit link. While inspiration can be triggered by something we have read or heard, sometimes it can appear out of nowhere, alerting us God is sharing insight. As God inspires, we become aware and receive or dismiss the insight that could improve an understanding, or even become a new product or service.
Scripture encourages us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (m) and to “Be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” (n) How do we renew our mind’s thoughts? By receiving the influential thoughts and inclinations God offers! “For the mind set on the flesh is death (eventually passing away), but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (o)
An active spirit restores and renews our mind and emotions. The more spiritually minded we become, the more we follow God’s guidance and mature into better reflective resemblances (image and likeness) of His heart.
An active spirit restores and renews our mind and emotions.
a) Ecclesiastes 12:7; b) Genesis 2:7; c) Hebrews 4:12; d) Genesis 2:7; e) 1 Corinthians 1:10; f) Philippians 4:6; g) 1 John 5:14; h) Hebrew 5:11-14; i) Psalm 34:8; j) Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28; k) Numbers 2:27-28; m) Romans 12:2; n) Ephesians 4:23); o) Romans 8:6
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder