The Soul of Man Vs the Spirit
Is there a difference between the spirit of man and the soul of man? If there is a difference, how does one tell them apart? Both the soul and the spirit of man are spiritual in nature unlike the body. However, let’s examine four differences between the soul and the spirit; the situation; the function; the accountability and the death.
The Situation of the Soul and the Spirit of Man
The order of the spiritual components of man is described in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. From the inside out, we have the spirit, the soul and the body. The spirit is the inner most man but the soul is the inner man because the outer man the body takes its cue from the soul. This arrangement of spiritual components is the same for every human being save and unsaved. However, there is an observable difference between how the soul and the spirit of the saved person operates versus how the unsaved operates.
The conscience of man is closely connected to his soul. Imagine man is like a scale with two sides. The centre of the scale supports and balances the weight on both sides. These weights are out behaviors both good and bad. The support between both sides of the scale is the conscience of man. One side of the scale is acceptable behaviors to the Lord God. On the other side is our everyday behavior. Our conscience in the middle informs us when our behaviors are different from that which is acceptable to God.
However, the restored or unrestored state of the soul determines the sensitivity of the conscience of man. An insensitive conscience reacts slowly if any to the soul. The Scriptures describe them as ”conscience seared with a hot iron.”
On the other hand, the restored soul ensures the Believer always have “a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” This “pure conscience” regulates the behavior of the Believer.
The Function of the Soul vs Spirit
Another area where the spirit of man differs from his soul is in their functions. I have written about this elsewhere on this website. Please read more about the function of the spirit of man at your leisure. Read the function of the soul too. The function of the spirit is different from that of the soul.
The Accountability of the Soul of Man
The spirit of man is not accountable to the Lord God for its sins, neither is the body. However, the soul must give an account to God for the sins of man, Ezekiel 18:20. In other words, the soul will stand in judgment before God to answer for the deeds of the spirit, the body and for itself. The soul will answer for all decisions of man.
When a man sins it is his soul that sins. Similarly, when a person is saved it’s the soul that’s saved. The Lord revealed that the soul that sin shall die. This is nothing like the death of Adam but eternal separation from God in hell, Proverbs 23:14.
Only the Lord can kill the soul man can’t kill it neither can Satan, only God, Matthew 10:28. The one place the Bible tells us that the soul died was in hell. The spirit on the other hand never dies. There is no reference in Scriptures of the spirit of man dying. Death for the body is a departure of both the spirit and soul together.
The Spirit of Man Emanates From the Same Breath of Life Which Produced the Soul
Being the inner man the soul has same visible features as the body. John the Divine saw, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held,” Revelation 6:9. The only way he recognized these souls, they are identical in appearance to their bodies. Therefore, by seeing the souls of the people killed he could identify each soul. The spirit does not possess this feature.
Finally, there is no reference in scriptures describing how and when man receives his spirit. However, there is a place, a time and a description of how man became a living soul. Nevertheless, the spirit of man emanates from the same breath of life, which produced the soul, Genesis 2:7.
In closing, depending on the operation and or function the spirit of man can have other names. However, the soul is consistently described as soul through Scriptures. Man is God’s only creation with a soul. Neither animals nor angels have souls. Ultimately, the soul of man is to be aware of himself and his environment but the function of the spirit of man is to know and communicate with his God.