A-The human spirit
The complexity of the human nature and the many unknown facets of who we are should not discourage us from embarking on a trip, which we know to be very challenging, to say the least. No scientific work has been able, so far, to publish a comprehensive and complete work detailing the human nature without falling short of touching an aspect of it for lack of proper understanding or simply because such is not yet known. We therefore approach the topic of the human spirit with great humility, by building on the shoulders of those who have done more than laudable efforts in researching and teaching on this complex issue. In order to be as accurate as possible, we have decided to rely exclusively on God’s revelation because no other explanation of the human spirit can be more reliable than the one taught by the creator of mankind.
The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is living and sharper than any two-edged sword and can divide the soul from the spirit. From this scripture we see clearly that the distinction between the soul and the spirit is not something obvious because the Bible states clearly that only the living word of God, not just the scriptures can separate the soul from the spirit. This means that both can be taken one for another or even mixed to say the least.
It is possible to know the difference between the spirit and the soul intellectually and lack the experiential knowledge of their differences. It is one thing to know what the spirit is and another to be aware of its operations. As the word of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit becomes alive, we can attain spiritual knowledge and clearly distinguish what is spiritual from that which is psychological. There is no other way around it. We need divine inspiration to understand the operations of our spirit. Where is the spirit located? How about the soul? Let us consider the word of God. Without a proper understanding of the boundaries of the spirit and of the faculties and functions of the soul, one may easily be misled into taking one for the other.
The functions of the spirit
Genesis 2:7 says “God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
There is, however, an interesting fact about the expression “breath of life” in Hebrew because it is used in the plural form in Genesis 2:7 with regards to the creation of man. The word for life in Hebrew is chay[pronounced khah’-ee almost like the English word key] and the plural is chayyim. The Bible says that God breathed “chayyim” into man’s nostrils, clearly indicating many lives, which we believe to be the spiritual, the psychological and the biological. But man became “chayya”, the word for soul which is also used for describing the living animals that God had created. This clearly shows that animals have can express some functions and faculties of the soul but they have no spiritual life.
Three lives, the spiritual, the psychological and the biological were breathed into man and the psychological became the expression of both the spiritual and the biological upon contacting the body of man. The soul, through the body with its senses(thanks to which it gains access to information) is therefore that part which expresses the inclinations and directions of the spirit as it receives instructions from the Spirit of God. Being inspired simply means acting under the influence of the spirit. Every action should originate from the spiritual part of man, but sadly, and more so in our present generation, the demands of the soul and of the body have erected themselves above those of the spirit. This is the condition of the fallen man. Man was fully alive spiritually, psychologically and physically. His mind, will and emotion which are the functions of the soul as well his body with its five senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting) have superseded the spirit which is made of a conscience, a communion and an intuition.
The functions of the spirit of man
Before the fall of man, the spirit, the soul and the body were in perfect harmony. The Bible clearly says, as we have seen that man became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils, meaning that his soul became the expression of his personality. To this effect the body and the spirit are fully joined to the soul which in turns expresses them. The outward manifestations of joy, sadness, anger or bitterness are rooted in the soul which is motivated by the spirit.
The spirit of man therefore constitutes the fueling energy from which the soul draws the power to influence the body. It can therefore be said that the soul is the consummation of both the spirit and the body.
It is not easy to fully grasp what the spirit is. No one has ever seen his spirit or submitted it to a scientific observation. As an entity by itself the spirit of man produces God-consciousness whereas the soul enables self-consciousness and the body world-consciousness. It is necessary to focus our attention on the functions of the spirit as they are revealed in the scriptures.
According to the teachings of the Bible, man’s spirit is composed of three parts. These functions of the spirit are spread out through out scriptural references which identify them separately.in Romans 9:1 and Romans 8:1, the word of God shows that the capacity to discern right from wrong, to condemn or to justify is ascribed to the conscience of man’s spirit. On the other hand, the spirit is also shown to be the only organ which can fellowship with God and thus contact Him as per John 4:24. Finally the book of First Corinthians 2:11 says that the spirit of man is endowed with the capacity to know without relying on perception, reasoning or feeling as the soul does: this is the intuitive function of the spirit which is sometimes called the sixth sense. Let us take a brief look at these functions one after the other(to be continued in Part II).