In Search of
the Real You
Considering the soul
By Jon W. Quinn
Sometimes we talk about the soul as if "it"
is different than "me"; as if it were a separate entity. Such is not the case.
When the Bible talks about your soul, it is talking about you. You simply do
not have any identity whatsoever apart from your soul. When you consider how
to "save your soul" you are considering how to save yourself, your entire
being. If your soul is lost, then you are lost. If your soul rejoices, then
you rejoice. Your soul is the real you; and will continue to be forever after
your body dies and decays and one day is resurrected and changed.
Though the Bible places some emphasis on the wellbeing of our physical selves
(i.e. Matthew 6:25-34), its primary concern is for the wellbeing of our
eternal soul. Good thing, too! The physical body is only temporary. There is
good reason that the Scripture teaches that losing my soul is far worse than
losing my life. But let us consider the soul.
The Origin of the Soul
"Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).
The Bible affirms that man is distinct among all of earth's other creatures.
This uniqueness of man comes from the fact that he, alone, is created "in
God's image" (Genesis 1:27). God simply did not impart life to the other
creatures in the same way as He gave life to man. Man has a part of God in him
and therefore is referred to as "the offspring of God" (Acts 17:26-29). Though
all the creatures of the earth are the work of God's hands and God imparted
life unto all, only man can be rightly referred to as God's "offspring".
The soul of man is the result of God personally breathing life into the first
human being. Your ability to love and hate; to reason between right and wrong;
to appreciate beauty and have noble ideals is all due to the nature of your
soul which you have from God. It is a horrible thing to sacrifice one's soul!
Body and Soul
"...then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will
return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The physical body is only a
temporary "house" for the soul and the mechanism through which the soul serves
God or rebels against Him while on earth. The brain is probably the physical
part of the body most closely associated with the soul, for that is where
messages from the physical realm are received though the eyes and ears and the
impulses of the soul are formed into thoughts which are in turn translated
into actions. But it needs to be noted that even the brain is only a physical
tool through which the soul functions in the physical realm; the brain is not
the soul and the soul is not the brain. The soul is spiritual and does not
occupy physical space.
We can see and study the physical part of man, but we cannot see the soul, or
spirit of man. It does not have flesh or bones (Luke 24:39). Though we get our
physical traits from our earthly parents, we receive our souls from God at
conception. This is easily affirmed by noting the conception of Jesus (Matthew
1:18-20; Luke 1:35). For this reason, God is said to be the "Father of
spirits" (Hebrews 12:9) and is the one who "forms the spirit of man within
him" (Zechariah 12:1). When the body ceases to be able to sustain physical
life, the spirit departs and the body is dead (James 2:26). But the spirit, or
soul does not cease to exist apart from the body. And remember, this is the
Biblical Uses of the Words “Soul” and “Spirit”
"...and may your spirit, soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:23). Just like in our
own language, there are many words in both the Hebrew and the Greek that have
more than one definition. It therefore must be determined from the context
exactly which definition is meant. Such is true with both the words "soul" and
Sometimes these two words are used interchangeably, as we have done in this
article. In such cases, they refer to the unseen "real" you that we have
Occasionally though, the Bible uses the word "spirit" to refer to breath or
life force and even animal have spirits under this definition, but they are
not eternal (Revelation 8:9). At other times, the word "soul" is used to refer
to the whole of man including the physical body and not just the unseen part
(Exodus 1:5). But it would be incorrect to say that these words always only
mean "breath" or "lifeforce". Some do so by denying that a person has any
existence at all apart from the physical body. We have seen that the Bible
The Spirit Apart From the Body
"And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, 'Lord,
Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59). Of course, such a request is pointless
if the spirit is merely breath and there is no consciousness in death. Again,
death is the separation of the body and the spirit; it is not the annihilation
of the spirit. Jesus is Lord of "both the living and the dead", which means
those still in the body and those whose bodies and spirits are separated
(Romans 14:8,9). The Bible speaks of death as the putting aside of our
"earthly dwelling" (2 Peter 1:13,14). When this "dwelling" or "tabernacle"
(our physical bodies) is dissolved, we continue to exist and look forward to
the time when we will receive new, heavenly dwellings (spiritual bodies) (2
There are many passages that refer to the continuing conscious state of all
human beings after death. We will save them for a future study. Suffice it to
say that you are a dual being. The part you can see, your body, is only
temporary; take good care of it but do not think you can have it forever. It's
destiny is with the dust of the ground. However, your soul, the real you, will
never cease to exist. Take especially good care of it! Jesus will tell you how
to do so in His word.
From The Bradley Banner 1/13/2013
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway