(Hebrews 4: 12)

The ignorance of Christians concerningthe distinction between " soul " and " spirit " is verygeneral, and is a primary cause of the lack of full growth in the spirituallife
 in many devoted and earnestbelievers. G. H. Pember points out as the cause of this ignorance the popularphraseology of " soul and body ", which has caused a deficiency inthe English language. He says that although we have the nouns " spirit andsoul "which are too often treated as synonyms-we have no adjective fromthe latter, with the consequence that the omission of such an adjective hasalmost concealed man's tripartite nature in the versions of the English Bible,where the " Greek word which signifies ` pertaining to the soul ' "is sometimes rendered " natural " and sometimes " sensual "(see I Corinthians 2:14, James 3:15, Jude 19).

Of course Greek scholars know well thedifferent words in the original which stand for spirit pneuma; soul-psuche;flesh-sarx; but to the generality of Christians these distinctions are veiled,with the result that they are unable to discriminate in experience betweenthings that differ, and yet which vitally belong to their peace. The need ofknowledge is becoming of morethan academic importance, for the fallen Archangel, with his superhuman wisdom,knows the make-up of human beings, and is now, as an angel of light, bringingto bear all the power of the knowledge which he possesses, upon counterfeitingthe working of the Holy Spirit, and CREATING IN THE REALM OF THE SOUL suchperfect imitations of the pure life of the Spirit of God indwelling the man'sspirit, that the most earnest Christians are liable to be deceived. It istherefore necessary that the teaching of the Scripture upon the distinctionbetween soul and spirit, should be brought within the range of the apprehensionof the youngest believer, and made as clear as possible from the Word of God.

The writer is not attempting to meetthe need of those who are able to go direct to the Greek Testament, and readfor themselves, but to assist those who must have other help, as they earnestlyseek the aid of the Spirit of God to enable them to grasp the truth, andreceive spiritual understanding of spiritual facts set forth in the Scriptureas necessary for their growth in life and godliness. Let the reader, then,pause at this point, and in an act of faith take the promise of John 14:26-" The Holy Spirit ... shall teach you all things . . . " and John16:13, "He will guide you into all truth " with confidence that theSpirit of God will fulfil His office to the teachable child of God. The HolySpirit is able to teach the believer in experience the distinction between" soul and spirit ", without his ever knowing the truthintellectually; and vice versa, the scholar may see clearly the difference as expressedin the Greek without knowing all that the words mean experimentally-i.e., hemay hold the truth in mental instead of spiritual power, and then it is but theletter of the Word without the spirit. Moreover, the believer who has beentaught experimentally by the Holy Spirit the dividing of " soul and spirit" before apprehending the distinction with his intelligence, is betterable to understand, and " rightly divide the word of truth ", thanthe reader of the Greek who is untaught of God, for back of the words in theScriptures there are spiritual verities which cannot be understood by thenatural man-i.e., the " pertaining to the soul " man (lit. I Cor.2:I4)-and can only be known by revelation.( See I Cor.2:10-12)

But first as to the missing adjective! G. H. Pember says that an attempt is being made to use the Greek word "psychic " for expressing in English the adjective for soul. The word is,however, too " Greek ", so to speak, to commend itself for generaluse. In connection with James 3. 15, Pember uses the word "soulish ",and this seems more nearly to express what is needed. Stockmayer also uses thissame word-" soul-ish "-to signify that which " pertains to thesoul ", for he says in reference to 1 Corinthians 2:14, " the Greektext has it, the ` soulman ', or `soulish-man '. As spiritual is the adjectiveof spirit, so is soulish the adjective of soul ". The word " soulish" therefore might well be generally accepted by English readers as themissing adjective, which will enable us to speak of the " soulish "as well as the " spiritual "(I Cor. 3:1) or " carnal "(fleshy), Christian, and the meaning be understood. For this purpose it will sobe used in the present treatise.

As to the distinction between soul andspirit, Gall points out that not only in the English language is thedistinction made, but in every classic language from Hebrew downward. In theEnglish New Testament two passages only bring out the distinction clearly,viz., Hebrews 4:12 Dividing soul and spirit "-and I Thessalonians 5:23 Sanctifyyou, spirit, soul and body ". These two, however, are sufficient, for theEnglish reader, to see that man is tripartite, and not only " soul "and " body ".

The " soul " (psuche) andits functions

The next point for consideration isthe question, What is the ` soul' in distinction from the spirit, and what areits functions ? " Here some quotations from other writers will help usbefore we turn to the Scriptures, to discover what the Apostle means by the" dividing of soul and spirit ", and thus more clearly understand howspirit, soul and body " can be sanctified, and preserved blameless untothe coming of the Lord.

Tertullian, one of the Fathers whowrote in the early centuries of the Christian era, calls the " flesh"-or physical being-the " body of the soul ", and the soul the vesselof the spirit ". The soul stands between the spirit and the body, for" direct communication between spirit and flesh is impossible; theirintercourse can be carried on only by means of a medium " *-the "soul " being that medium.

The " soul was the meeting place,the point of union between body and spirit ", also writes Dr. AndrewMurray. " Through the body, man-the living soul (Gen.2:7)-stood related tothe external world of sense "; through the " spirit he stood relatedto the spiritual world ".

Pember explains the function of eachvery clearly when he says, " The body we may term the sense-consciousness;the soul the self-consciousness; and the spirit the God-consciousness ".Again he says, the body " gives us the use of the five senses "; andthe soul, the " intellect which aids us in the present state of existence,and the emotions which proceed from the senses ", whilst the spirit is thehighest part which " came directly from God, and by which alone we apprehendand worship Him ".

Dr. Andrew Murray accords with this,when he writes that the gifts with which the soul was endowed when man became a" living soul ", were those of " consciousness, self determination,or mind and will "; and these were to be but the " mould or vessel" into which the life of the spirit was to be received. Dr. Murray alsosays " The spirit is the seat of our God-consciousness; the soul of ourself-consciousness; the body of our world-consciousness. In the spirit, Goddwells; in the soul, self; in the body, sense ".f

Again, Pember writes concerning thecreation of man, and how the tri-partite being was formed-" God first moldedthe senseless frame, and then breathed into it the ' breath of lives ' (Genesis2:7. The original is in the plural)," and this " may refer to thefact that the inbreathing of God produced a two-fold life-sensual (in themeaning of pertaining to the senses) and spiritual...." He adds, in afootnote, that possibly the meaning of the use of the plural in the "breath of lives ", is that " the inbreathing of God became thespirit, and at the same time by its action upon the body, produced the soul".

Briefly, we see that all these writerspractically define the " soul " as the seat of the personality,consisting of the will and the intellect or mind; a personal entity standingbetween the " spirit " with its openness to the spiritual world, andthe " body "-open to the outer world of nature and sense-having thepower of choice as to which world shall dominate or control the entire man forinstance, when Adam walked in the garden of Eden, the spirit breathed into himby God dominated his " soul "-i.e., intellect, mind, will-and throughthe vessel the " soul " shone out in, and through, the earthlytabernacle of clay-the body-making it luminous with light, impervious to coldand heat, and able perfectly to fulfil the object of its creation.

The Fall of Man

But-alas, that a " but " hasto be written-man fell, and after a time the result was seen as described bythe Lord Himself in His words, " Every imagination of the thoughts of hisheart was only evil continually " (Genesis 6:5, R.V.). The " Fall" apparently began in the intellectual department of the soul, for it issaid that Eve saw that " The tree was to be desired to make one wise" (Genesis 3:6 R.V.). The appeal of the serpent was not made to the vesselof clay, or the outer man, for the body was then perfectly dominated by theSpirit; but it was directed to the intellect and understanding of man, andbased on a lawful desire to advance in knowledge and power in the unseen realmof another world. " Ye shall be as God," said the serpent, not "ye shall be as the beasts ", created by God ! The temptation wasKNOWLEDGE, and the very knowledge which probably God meant to give in dueseason, but grasped before its time, and out of God's will.

The words of the Apostle Paul in ICorinthians1 19, are therefore very significant in connection with this aspectof the Fall, for the " word of the Cross " is said by the Apostle tobe the power of God to " destroy the wisdom of the wise ". Since sinentered through the avenue of the intellect, salvation comes by a Cross whichdestroys the fallen " wisdom " by the very acceptance of its message,for the preaching of " Christ crucified " is to the wisdom of men" foolishness "(I Cor. 1:18-25) Thus God, in His wisdom, providessalvation in a way which deals with the cause by which the Fall came about !Therefore Paul writes, " If any man thinketh that he is WISE among you ...let him become a fool, that he may become wise, for the WISDOM OF THIS WORLD ISFOOLISHNESS WITH GOD " (I Cor. 3: 18,19 R.V.)

Eve, moreover, fell through yieldingto the very temptation which had caused the fall of Satan himself, for he hadsaid " I will be like the Most High . . . " (Isa. 14:13,14) Thetempter knew how to attract Eve, by suggesting to her something higher than shepossessed, for she was limited by a body made of dust, but had a soul capableof appreciating knowledge and growth, through the higher part of the tri-partitebeing.

The full effect of the downfall we donot see until years afterward, when the record of the condition of the raceshows that the road down was rapid, for the " wisdom " which gaveknowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden reached its ultimate in duecourse, in a complete sinking into " flesh ", so that the part ofman's tripartite nature which he had in common with the animal creation,obtained the upper hand. Then it was that God looked down upon the fallen race,and said, " My Spirit shall not abide in man ... for in their going astraythey are flesh " (Gen. 6:3) And so it is, that not only has " deathreigned " over the fallen race of Adam, but every human being born in thelikeness of the first Adam is of the " earth, earthy ", and isdominated by the flesh instead of the spirit; the soul, which is thepersonality of " himself " (see Luke 9: 23) a slave of the flesh andthe earthly life, instead of being a handmaid of the spirit.

Thus the condition of the unregenerateman is now (I) his human spirit severed from God, fallen and alienated from Hislife (Ephesians 4: 18) " without God ", separate from Christ(Ephesians 2: I2), and incapable of fellowship with Him; (2) thesoul-intellect, mind, will, self-consciousness may rule over the body, or (3)the body in its desires and appetites may be enslaving and dominating the soul.But while the human spirit is thus " dead " to God, and in darkness,it remains as full of activity as mind or body. In some instances the spiritpart of the unregenerate man may be so large in its capacity that even in itsdark condition, it dominates the soul and body. Then the man may be said to be" spiritual ", in the sense of possessing more " spirit "than others, who are mainly soulish or fleshly. These are the ones who seekintercourse with the spirit-world apart from the Holy Spirit of God, and become" mediums ", capable of exercising " occult powers ", suchas clairvoyance, etc., bestowed upon them by satanic means, for unless thehuman spirit of a man is regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, itis in accord with the fallen spirits of Satan, and governed by the prince ofthe power of the air, the spirit which now works in the children ofdisobedience (Ephesians 2: 2, 3).

We see, therefore, that the fallenspirit of man-bereft of God at the Fall-sank down, so to speak, into the vesselof the " soul "; and the " soul " again sank down into thefleshly body, under what Paul the Apostle calls " the power of the flesh", so that in the unconverted " the soul, manifested sometimes inintellectuality, some times in sensuality, often in both, reigns over them withundisputed sway. This is what Jude wishes to set forth in his 19th verse, whichshould be rendered, ' These be they who separate, men governed by soul, nothaving spirit’.

Fausset very clearly brings out thisin his commentary on this passage, for he writes, " In the three-folddivision of man's being ... the due state in God's design is that ` the spirit'. . . should be first, and should rule the soul, which stands intermediatebetween body and spirit, but in the ... natural man, the spirit is sunk intosubserviency to the animal-soul, which is earthly in its motives and aims. The' carnal' sink somewhat lower, for in these the flesh, the lowest element ...reigns paramount ".

In regeneration it is the darkened andfallen " spirit of man, which is quickened again and renewed ".  This is the meaning of the Lord's wordsto the " Master in Israel ", to whom He said, in spite of all that heknew in intellectual religious knowledge, " Ye must be born FROM ABOVE" (John 3:3) and later on to His disciples, " It is the Spirit thatquickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing " (John 6:63).

The way that the new life from above reachesthe fallen spirit of man is shown in the Lord's words. " The Spiritbreatheth where [He] listeth ... so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8 R. V. m.); and the cause of the Spirit of God quickening thespirit into new life, is given in John 3:14 as the death of the God-Man uponthe Cross in the place of the sinner, that "whosoever believeth into (lit.Greek) Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

The Cross and the Fall exactly andperfectly correspond -the one as the remedy for the other. First by the death,of the Saviour on the Cross, the sin had to be put away, and the way madepossible for the Holy God to pardon the sinner, and secondly the sinner must begiven a way of escape from the bondage of soul and body into which he hadfallen. The tripartite nature of man could then be again adjusted, with thespirit once more in domination, and the body acting merely as the outward andmaterial vessel-the instrument of the spirit through the soul.

This way of escape is made clear inmany parts of Scripture where we are shown the death of the sinner with theSaviour. Its mode of application for deliverance we shall see later on, as weconsider the full meaning of the Cross.


Table of Contents

Chapter 2