On the sixth day of creation God fashioned a special being, Man (Genesis 1:26-27). This creature was unique in the entire universe because he was made in God’s image, or His likeness. He was also created to contain God’s own Life; Man was meant to be a vessel (Eph. 5:18b). Picture a glove which is made in the image of a hand but is also meant to contain a hand. This is Man. He was designed for a distinctive function.
God made Man as a container, a container that has three parts (I Thess. 5:23). The first step God took was to create him out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). This was the body. The body is what contacts and grasps the things of the physical world. We interact with the material world around us through our body: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. It is the outermost part of the human being.
The next step was to breathe into Man the breath of Life. In the Hebrew language the word “breath” also is translated as “spirit” (Prov. 20:27; Zechariah 12:1). So, the “breath of life” that God breathed into Man was actually Man’s spirit. If we could see the human spirit with our eyes it would look very much like a clay jar (2 Cor. 4:7). It is the spirit which is capable of containing God’s Life because it was placed in man by God. The human spirit is the God breathed vessel for the divine Life. This innermost part of man was made to contact and receive directly from God. A man’s spirit is a portion of the spiritual realm residing within Man. Because God is Spirit, Man was given the ability to correspond with Him in a spiritual way. Man has the means to worship God in spirit (John 4:24).
The result of God breathing a spiritual organ, the human spirit, into Man’s body was that he “became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). In other words, a soul is the outcome of the spirit. In God’s order of creation spirit comes before soul. The spirit was intended to give life to the soul. The spirit was meant to be the source of Man’s living. Man was designed to be God centered. The soul was purposed as the consequence of God’s breath, our spirit. Just what is the soul?
The soul is the mental faculty of Man. It is the ability to think, feel, and choose. Man’s soul is what is in contact with the psychological world around him. The soul has three compartments. One of these compartments is the emotion (Deut 14:26; Song of Songs 1:7, Matt 26:38); in our emotions we feel love, desire, hate, joy, and sorrow. Another compartment of the soul is the mind (Josh. 23:14; Psalms 139:14; Proverbs 19:2). In the mind we have thoughts, opinions, concepts, reasoning’s, and ideas. The third part of the human soul is the will (1 Chron. 22:19; Job 6:7; Job 7:15), where we make our decisions. All of our sentiments, passions, and feelings issue out of our soul. When we are considering something or reasoning about something; this is from the soul. And when we choose to do something; we are operating in our soul. The mind, the will, and the emotion are the three parts of the soul. If you evaluate all of these qualities you will be tempted to say: “This is the sum total of who I am!” Actually, this is very true in some ways. The soul life is really the center of the human life. It is who man is and how he interacts with his environment around. The soul life is the human life.
Man was designed by God as a tri-part being. He possessed a body, relating to the physical world; a soul relating to the psychological world; and a spirit relating to the spiritual world. Each “organ” of man’s being is necessary in order to interact appropriately. Imagine trying to use your sense of hearing in order to smell a rose; or applying your taste buds to distinguishing colors. This is ridiculous! You have to use the right function if you are to experience life fully. This is also true of the tri-part man.
While the soul is the center of human activity, the spirit is the center of Divine activity. God intended that man’s spirit, filled with His own Life, would be the source of living. Therefore God Himself in man’s spirit would be the wellspring of man’s being. The soul, or human life, was meant to be dependent on the spirit, or God’s Life. The soul was destined to draw its energy and action from God. Human thoughts, feelings, and dispositions were to be subservient to God’s abiding existence within. Man was not designed to be informed by his opinions or emotions but rather by his spiritual experience.
Human kind was provided with a glorious earthly body. Man’s body was capable of engaging the world at large. He could taste, touch, and handle using the instrument of the body. This shell was made to house two “organs”. Outwardly was the soul. The soul is made up of the mind, the will, and the emotions; it is the basis of human life. Further inward at the very center of man is an invisible “organ”, the spirit. The human spirit is the container and communicator of God’s Life. It was made to be filled with divine Life; this is its only function!
We may picture Man as a sort of radio. A radio has three primary parts: an outer shell, a transmitter or speaker, and a receiver. The outer shell is like Man’s body; the transmitter or speaker is like Man’s soul; and the receiving unit is like Man’s spirit. Each component has a specific function. One is meaningless without the other. However, there is a real order to the radio. The shell is for the speaker and the speaker is for the receiver. The only reason the transmitter piece exists is to express that which has been received.
The body is for the soul and the soul is for the spirit. The only reason the soul exists is to express that which has been received in the spirit. We must see that the soul was always intended to be subservient towards to the spirit.
God’s original intention for man was that he be a whole creature. Man is whole only when his spirit is the center of his being, when his soul is dependent, and when his body is capable of being directed at will.
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