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May 23, 2024


human soul
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Human soul
Original drawing by Dr Clarence Larkin (Rightly diving the word, p86)

The human soul is the life in man on earth. Though the soul of man itself is one, permanent and universal, it manifests itself in various ways. This is what we describe as attitude, behaviour, character, personality or intelligence. Without the soul, man is nothing but a lifeless body.

The human soul has the mind and heart and its conscience as its components. The soul is responsible for our intellect, knowledge, decision, memory, emotion, desire, imagination, reason, affection, will. The soul is the second or the middle part of man. The soul is in-between the spirit and body, so it has a connection with both the spirit and body and it is able to interact with both the spirit and the body. The soul is the intermediary agent or the receiver and the converter of instruction into action. This action could be due to instruction coming from either the body/flesh or the spirit. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the spirit is life and peace – Romans 8:6.

When a person is not born again, that person is dead spiritually. To be dead spiritually means that person has lost connection with God who is his maker and source. That person has lost connection with God who is a spirit and the father of spirits. God communicates with man through his spirit, so the man who is not born again cannot hear God because he is dead spiritually. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27. “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” – John 8:4. All the person who is not born again usually hears is what his flesh or the world is saying. So his human soul relies mainly on his flesh or the world for information, instruction, direction and action. The person who is not born again lives by the flesh/sin, which leads unto death, and not by the spirit because his spirit is dead because of sin.
However, when a person is born again, he is a new creation born of the spirit and not of the flesh. He is born of God who is a spirit and not of his earthly father who is flesh and blood. For you have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23 (note that God’s word is spirit. For it is written in John 6:63 that the words I speak to you are spirit and they are life). The regenerated person is now an adopted child of God who has also come to adopt the nature of his heavenly father on this earth. So the bible says …as He is, so are we in this world – 1 John 4:17. Again, it is written in Psalm 82:6 that I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high.
Furthermore, when a person becomes born again, his human soul becomes illuminated. He (his soul) has two responsibilities in this situation. The first responsibility is to stop obeying the instructions of sin in his flesh. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires – Romans 6:12. The second responsibility is that he has the option and the duty to take instructions from his spirit because his spirit is now alive to hear God. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. – Romans 8:12-14. 
But how can he (his soul) take instruction from the spirit if the spirit has no information within itself from which he (the spirit) can instruct? So the born again person has to feed his spirit mainly through the study of God’s word and prayer. He is able to do that with the help of the Holy Spirit. This practice will gradually lead to a renewal of the mind.
Hence, from God’s word which is spirit, the soul picks information or instruction and acts upon them. And when this happens, that person will then be living by faith through the spirit unto righteousness. “… Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. – Romans 6:19-22.
The human soul is able to interact with both the spirit and body because it shares some properties of both spirit and body. The human soul is like a mediator between the spirit and body. This reflects the nature and role of our Lord Jesus “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”Philippians 2:6-8. Jesus Christ was a hundred per cent God and a hundred per cent man. So he is able to intercede for men like us and mediate between God and men because he has the experience of both sides. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” – Hebrews 4:15.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5.
The closest thing I can compare the human soul with is the air. Air is material like body in the sense that it can occupy space. It is also like spirit in the sense that it is invisible. Again, though the soul is invisible like spirit, it can be measured and seen like material stuff through the actions of the human body or human behaviour (Behaviorism is a theory under materialism in philosophy). This approach is a reductionist approach in the sense that the soul has been reduced to physical actions.
Breath and the cry of babies
The soul is the life and the result of breath in man. The bible says – and God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul – Genesis 2:7. So the soul leaves the body upon death. Your soul is your life on earth. It is what makes you a living thing/being on this earth.
When a baby comes out of the womb, it receives breath and starts breathing. This breath is the breath of life. It is what makes the baby a living soul. That is why babies are expected to cry at birth and when they don’t, they are made to do so by stimulation or through other means. The cry is important because it also helps to activate the lungs of the newborn baby. So there is life in the air we breathe. That is why human beings die when they stop breathing. The breath makes us living souls. As living souls, we are able to communicate our emotions, since the soul is responsible for our feelings. The cry of babies is their way of communicating their feelings. It also shows that they do poses a soul and the soul is what gives us consciousness.

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Richard Owusu


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Richard Owusu

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