Man: Spirit, Soul, and Body

by Ken Alexander  


Man is a triune being (spirit, soul, body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23), just as God is a triune being (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). We will examine each aspect of natures below. However, we must realize from the outset that, although all humans have these natures, most of humanity is not living with the three parts according to the divine intention. Our spirits, as our only means of communicating with God, who is a Spirit, are often buried beneath our soul or body so that the spirit has very little domination in our lives.

Our true life, the only source of life, is our spirit’s communication with God through His Spirit. It is the spirit that should dominate the other areas of our lives here on earth and in the age to come. Our soul life and our bodies must come under the dominion of our spirit; today for most of us the opposite is true to the point that most are not even aware of the spirit aspect of their nature. We are happy when the soul and body are satisfied by the many means available-religion, legalism, worldly goods and money, our intellect, happy or sad emotions, food, lust, pleasure of all sorts and anything temporal we see around us. In truth we are never fully satisfied with these pursuits as the feeding our souls and bodies does nothing but temporarily satisfy our craving human natures. The spirit is eternal. It is on the spirit, not the soul, that we must feed. We cannot know God through our souls, only through our spirits.

We will begin our discussion with the soul and body, and address the spirit last. An understanding of the soul and body is necessary to more fully understand the role of our spirit.


The soul is the seat of all of our functions as humans. It contains the emotions, the intellect (unless we have the mind of Christ), our individuality, our desires, our will and is in fact the switchboard for expression either as fallen man or, more perfectly as an expression of our spirit. It is in a sense mutable; it can be controlled either by our earthly desires or our spirit. When controlled by our earthly lusts, the Bible calls the soul the “flesh” or “flesh nature”.

In Romans 8:3-4 Paul says: “[God] condemned sin in the flesh [our unperfected souls] in order that we do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. In Galatians 5:16-23, he distinguishes between the deeds of the soul (flesh) and the deeds of the Spirit:

Deeds of the Flesh: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

THE SPIRIT: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

In Romans 8:14: “For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are the Sons of God” or put in another way all those whose spirit is dominating their soul and body have the ability to hear God and walk in His ways.

By our minds we cannot know God the Spirit. “For the mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” and get this “because the mind set on the flesh is HOSTILE to God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even ABLE to do so” (Romans 8:6-7).

This is not entirely our fault. Beginning with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, God subjected creation to futility, a cursed, futile state, separated from God (Genesis 3:17-19). Paul notes this by saying: “For the creation was subjected to futility not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it” Romans 8:20). Futility in the Greek (called vanity in the King James Version) means nothingness, worthlessness, emptiness, objectless, useless, perverse, foolish, idle, vain and false. Everything we see with our physical eyes and participate in on the natural realm is temporal (temporary) and under the curse of futility.

However, the creation was subjected to its futile state “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). And who are these children (Sons) of God? They are those who are led by the Spirit. Those whose souls and bodies do not dictate the course of our lives but whose spirits dominate, subjecting soul and body to the will of God. We can be those spiritual Sons here and now, in this earth. Many taking part in the first resurrection will not die but be resurrected (Matthew 16:28; John 8:52; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27).

The seed of life is sown as a corruptible soul and is raised an incorruptible spirit. When we enter into knowing Christ only after the Spirit we will have a body that directly responds to the spirit, just as the body now responds to the soul and vice versa. There is a body of the soul and there is also a body of the spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 15:42-45).


Like our souls, our bodies must also be subjected to and led by the Spirit. It is the body that ultimately expresses what is in our soul or spirit here on earth and in the Age to Come. Even in resurrection we shall have a body. “It is sown in a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (Romans 42-43).

In 1 Corinthians 15:44-46 Paul goes on: “So also it is written [in Genesis 2:7] that the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam [Christ] became a life giving Spirit; the first man is from the earth; the second is from Heaven”.

The body plays a major part in expressing the spirit. It expresses the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians Chapter 12). It is a vehicle for exercising worship. We form relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, we communicate verbally. Christ himself came in an earthly body, although His was obviously in subjection to the Spirit. The Spirit can even quicken our mortal bodies. “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN YOUR MORTAL BODIES by his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:10).

The body is limited when subjected to the soul. The soulish body feels and reacts to stimuli occurring in the world around us; to the emotional, not Spirit, level. It is limited in time, space, and ability to move from one place to another quickly. The spirit body is absolutely unlimited; it could be a million miles away instantly, and tune in immediately to anyone, anyplace. Phillip was translated to Ethiopia in an instant; Elisha could even hear the enemy King’s battle plans discussed in his bedroom; Elijah and Enoch were translated to the Spirit realm, never experiencing death; Paul was caught up to the 3rd Heavens; Jesus would appear or disappear as He willed. Imagine having even earthly bodies that can do these unbelievable things!


We have met the spirit in the preceding sections. But what is the realm of spirit and how can we recognize it? How do we walk by it? We must understand that our spirit is a distinct part of our nature, as viable as our souls and bodies. It is controlled easily by our will. In other words, if we cause our spirit to be focused on God, in time it will connect with His Spirit and you will be aware of it. The spirit works according to laws, just like our human bodies and souls. In the natural plane, if you touch the stove, you will be burned. It is a law. You cannot walk through walls; it is a natural barrier. But the Spirit works by laws also.

Some Spirit laws are applicable also in the natural. For instance, if you seek hard and long enough you will find what you want. If you want to be rich, just seek that goal and eventually you will attain it. If you want to be successful in life i.e. the good job, big house, expensive cars, be persistent and you will. Whatever you set your mind on, and persistently pursue, you will find. If you seek after an understanding of your spirit, and do not give up, you will find it.

We all have a human spirit within us but it remains unquickened and in a sense asleep. It becomes apparent when we accept Christ as our Savior. The spirit itself is unlimited; when our spirits are free, they can go anywhere. Sometimes we feel distant because our spirit is free and not necessarily connected with our bodies. We’ve all heard of out of body experiences; this is nothing more that our free spirits leaving our body for a moment. Most of us, however, are not aware of our spirits.

Our conscience is neither spirit nor God. “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14). Since we all have a conscience, and it rules our moral sense of things, there could be 6 billion separate consciences dictating as many moral values and human concepts as to what is right and good. Moral standards are nothing more than deep-seated opinions that govern our sense of right and wrong. Unless our consciences are sanctified from these dead works (our human moral values mean nothing) and brought into the living works of Jesus Christ, we will not obtain what God wants for us; our consciences are a barrier to knowing God.

Many Bible scholars apply their entire lives to the study of God’s word by their intellect. However, the mere study of the word by the human mind does not come to know God; the effort is a dead work (John 5:39). The Pharisees of Christ time were the most religious appearing people of the day, similar to some of our ministers of today. Yet Jesus said they were “of their father the devil” (John 8:41-44).

Neither do our human emotions lead us to God. Religious movements were based on emotional expression purportedly an expression of the Lord. The Spirit has its own set of emotions: love, joy, peace, longsuffering etc. It may express itself as dancing in the spirit as David did, or it may be quietly communing with Him.

In order to come into an awareness of God’s Spirit one must want it. They must feel emptiness in this life and want something more. They may have tried different religions or philosophies, but to no avail. A meeting with God is a personal experience; He is your personal Savior.

One method to become aware of Him is to wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31, King James Version). It is like meditation but meditation involves being passive and letting anything that presents itself into our consciousness. Waiting on the Lord is aggressive; the body is still in meditative but your spirit is focused on God. If you do not know how to focus your spirit, use your imagination and express a faith that it will happen. This is called the fervent prayer of listening. If you are presenting some problem you have in life, believe you will receive an answer directly from God.

If you do this often enough you will suddenly be aware of a still, small voice in the background of the clutter of your mind that rings of truth. Elijah had such an experience. While on Mt. Horeb (Mountain of God) he experienced:

“And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and STRONG WIND rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an EARTHQUAKE; but the LORD was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake A FIRE; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him” (1 Kings 19:11-13). We look for God to appear in great and mighty occurrences but many times God is not in the great things. He shows us things of the Spirit with a voice like a whisper.

As you develop this intense listening skill, that voice will become louder and louder until you are aware you are actually hearing from God himself. As this progresses, suddenly the things of the Spirit will become more important to you and you will began to manifest in your daily life what is being revealed to you. Finally, the Spirit will begin to dominate your desires, thinking, actions etc. You will be living by the Spirit, being led by the spirit. He becomes your priority, your first love. When the Spirit becomes first in your life, everything else you need or want will be given to you anyway. However, our wants and needs will change the more the spirit begins to take dominion in our lives.

Sound scary or spooky? It isn’t. It’s wonderful. You are still in control; it’s not like some mystical experience where you are carried away from yourself. You still have your free will. God wants freewill offerings; otherwise we would be like the angels, born to do his will. If you follow the spiritual walk, you will not only have fulfillment in this life but in the Age to come, resurrection life (Luke 18:29)

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