THREE PARTS OF MAN: BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT
Human beings are the only things in the universe we can know from the inside out. Everything else we know only by external observation. We do not merely observe human beings; we ARE human beings.
Were it not for this inside information, we would see only what we DO and not what we ARE. With our inside information, however, we can distinguish three distinct parts of our being: BODY, SOUL and SPIRIT.
- BODY = Physical shell
- SOUL = Mind, will and emotion
- SPIRIT = Connection with God
OUR TRINITY ALLOWS US TO CONNECT WITH GOD
PLANTS have a body, but not as complex as the body of an animal or man. Plants don’t have a soul or a spirit.
ANIMALS have a body and a soul (mind, will and emotion) – which can be verified just by kicking a dog! – but not as complex as man, and prompted by little more than instinct to survive and reproduce. For animals, body and soul are temporal (last only for a while). Animals don’t have a spirit.
MAN alone has body, soul and spirit. Our body is temporal, but our soul and spirit are eternal. Our spirit provides a connection with God. We’re the most complex creature on earth, possessing the ability to join with God in wonderful spiritual adventure that continues beyond physical death.
TRINITY IS WHAT MAKES MAN UNIQUE
All other creatures on earth function only within God’s physical design plan. But man functions also within his spiritual design plan, a whole exciting realm of life unknown by people who refuse to regard themselves as more than a higher animal.
It’s man’s trinity – a small version of God’s trinity – that sets man on a plane higher than the normal live-and-die patterns of physical life.
As a human being, we live simultaneously on three different planes of existence – (1) physical, (2) rational/emotional, and (3) spiritual – yet each of us is a single being. God is not through with his design and creation of us; he’s just pausing now for our response (see Topics 3 and 32). If our decision is to have a relationship with him, after death he’ll give us a better body, stronger mind, and heightened spiritual consciousness, and we’ll live in new (to us) dimensions of time and space.
OUR SPIRIT IS THE LEAST UNDERSTOOD PART OF US
Our BODY is the easiest part of human life to understand because it’s physical. It can be seen, touched and measured. The amount of available knowledge about every aspect of biology and medical science is overwhelming.
Our SOUL (mind, will and emotion) is more difficult to comprehend because we can’t see it, touch it or easily quantify it. Even so, the mind, will and emotion have been subjects of exhaustive research. The libraries of the world contain countless volumes about how we process and retain information, how we make decisions and pursue goals, and how we love and hate.
Our SPIRIT is the most difficult to comprehend because it’s not subject to formal research or measurement. We can’t talk about it easily because we don’t even have an adequate vocabulary for it. Relatively little is said about our spirit, other than superficial aspects we know as attitude, commitment or zeal. For most people, our spirit is a very deep mystery.
In God’s design plan, everything has a purpose, and that raises an important question every thoughtful person will want to consider: Why did God design us with a spirit?
The next Discovery tells how our spirit can be infused (filled, permeated) by God’s spirit, and why this is the key to our happiness.
Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.
The word ‘spirit’ in the Bible with small ‘s’ means human spirit, with capital ‘S’ means Holy Spirit.
I Thessalonians 5:23
We have body, soul and spirit
Can kill body but not soul
Even Jesus committed his spirit to God (Father)
Relationship with God is via spirit
Human spirit is connection with Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit communicates with human spirit
Spirit willing, body weak
I Corinthians 5:5
Body destroyed, spirit saved
For help, see Topic 29.