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The Spiritual Nature of Man

The Bible teaches very clearly that man has a spiritual nature that is distinct from his physical nature. (i.e physical body).

a. Man is a SPIRIT, he has a soul and lives in a body. Hence the spirit within man and the physical body of man are as distinct as a house and tenant within the house. The following references distinguish between spirit and body of man.

cf. Job 32:8; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11

1 Corinthians 6:20 “…glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”. The body and the spirit are clearly defined.

Genesis 2:7 (Literal translation of Hebrew) “And Jehovah Elohim formed a very man of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the LIVING SPIRIT and man was for a living creature.

b. Man is a TRIUNE BEING
The following references show that man is in fact a triune being.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 “I pray…spirit, soul and body are preserved blameless…” Hebrews 4:12 “The word of God is quick…dividing asunder of soul and spirit and the joints and the marrow (body)…”

The Soul and the Spirit are not one and the same. Many theologians have caused confusion by treating them as synonymous. They cannot be synonymous because they can be divided (Hebrews 4:12).

The soul consists of – the will – intellect and emotions. The distinction between them and the body is as follows:

– Man’s Spirit makes him God conscious
– Man’s Soul makes him Self conscious
– Man’s Body makes him World conscious.
– Man’s Spirit contacts the spiritual realm i.e. God who is Spirit
– Man’s Soul contacts the intellectual realm.
– Man’s Body contacts the physical realm.

Admittedly it is very difficult at times to distinguish between the spirit and the soul because they are so closely related, what affects the one affects the other, often what is said of the one is said of the other, yet they are still distinct from each other.

cf. Psalms 35:9 “my soul… shall rejoice in his salvation”

Luke 1:47  “my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour”

Matthew 26.38      “My soul is exceeding sorrowful”

John 13:21         “…he was troubled in spirit”

Some have argued that man does not have a spiritual nature or spirit in his body, by suggesting that whenever the word “spirit” is used in such expression as “spirit within man” or “spirit in man”; the word “spirit” simply means “breath” and at death the breath passes out into space and man is completely dead.

However this is in clear conflict with the Bible. Job 34:15 says “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather into himself his spirit and his breath…”

N.B. Spirit and breath are two distinct things. If the one meant the same as the other then the verse should read  “If he gather into himself his breath and his breath…” or “his spirit and his spirit”.

Notice what nonsense this idea is when the word breath is substituted for the word spirit in the following scriptures:

Acts 23:8-9; Romans 2:29; 1 Corinthians -5:9;; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 6:18
Karl Sabien makes this interesting observation in his book “Where are the Dead?”

“It is a known fact that the matter in our body is gradually and constantly changing. We are not the identical persons we were seven years ago. New cells are continually being added to our bodies, which other cells are continually being removed as waste products. The old cells are gradually being replaced by new ones. After this process has continued for a period of approximately seven years, all the cells have been replaced, and none of the old cells remain. The body, as to actual cells which compose it, has been changed, thus we have a new body in a very short time. This means we have a new brain – an entirely different brain approximately every seven ears.

It is a remarkable fact that while we have a new brain in a very short time yet memories remain. People can remember clearly events that occurred many, many years back. Aged people especially are noted for their memory of childhood days. The brain may have been changed many times, yet with an entirely different brain one is able to remember to the smallest detail events and experiences of previous years. We can also acquire new experiences, but they like those of the past, cannot be erased from our memories – they are indestructible. What is the explanation to this phenomenon? There is but one, namely: there is an indestructible spirit or spiritual nature in man.

Certainly there can be no doubt about the existence of the human spirit. It is the spirit, the real individuality, distinct from the body that remembers and remains long after the body has been changed many times – it carries the memories and survives all other great bodily changes.
This is in perfect harmony with 1 Corinthians 2:11 “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the ‘spirit’ of man which is in him?”
This shows that the seat of knowledge in man, is not in the flesh and bones, nor even in the brain, but in the ‘spirit’ which is in him. It shows that the physical brain not the source of thought and will, and memory. While the brain is unconscious in sleep the spirit can have real experience. It is not the body, but the spirit that thinks, wills, plans, remembers, and holds communion with God.

When a person dies, the brain, eyes, ears, nerves are still the same members – they are still there – yet the brain cannot think, the eyes cannot see, the ears cannot hear, the nerves produce no feeling. Why? Because it was not the body, but the real spiritual nature within the body, that did the thinking, seeing, hearing, and feeling.”

See Thanatology