The Difference Between Soul and Spirit

We read about the soul and the spirit, but the question that always comes up is “What’s the difference?” It is difficult for us to determine the difference between our spirits and our souls.

We live in a physical body, but we are spiritual beings, with a soul. Bear with me for a moment. We are body, soul and spirit. Your body is not you. It only something to live in while we are here on earth. It is the flesh that clothes your spirit.

Our soul belongs to God

The soul is your inner-life, your thoughts, dreams, desires and passions. Your soul, however, is not your own. It belongs to God.

We hear about people “selling their souls to the devil.” Your mind turns away from God. You chose to reject Him. So, you see that your soul is one thing you control, because God gave us all a free-will, to make choices and determine what we will and will not believe.

Our spirit concerns our relationship with God

It is your experience of life, your interpretation of events. But you are not your soul. God is spirit and we are created in His image. Our spirit is completely different, because it is about our relationship with God.

It is our connection to our Creator. Our minds might war against the will of God, but even if we deny it, our spirit cries out for God.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

Our mind is related to our soul

When we read “also your soul” in this context we may understand where the Bible says with “your mind,” it is a substitute for saying with your soul. Our mind is directly related to the soul.

Body, Soul and Spirit

We are composed of three parts—body, soul (mind) and spirit. Each is different, with different functions. The Bible acknowledges these entities.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

We understand the body the best

We probably understand the body best, as it is our home for now. Also, we experience life through the five senses—seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching.

All of us observe the world around us through these senses, but how we experience the world is different. On the outside, we have our bodies, followed by the inner parts, the soul and spirit.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

The Soul

Souls are the Lord’s property. He created us. The body can be killed, but not the soul.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

No man can kill our soul. Although they can kill our bodies, they cannot do anything personally to affect our souls.

Souls that sin will experience death

But notice that souls that sin will experience death. God has dominion here. Because every person sins, the prospects are gloomy without a savior. Only Jesus lived a sinless life. It’s always been that way and always will.

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)

But we do have a way out of that doom. Jesus offers us a way to God the Father. We are warned not to get too attached to the things of earth.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

We must turn to God to save our soul

The soul cannot take any of the material possessions to heaven. All of the world’s possessions are not worth throwing away an eternity with God. Riches and comfort are not worth losing your soul for. So we are encouraged to take care of our soul and turn to God.

The soul, at its core, is our mind, our will and our emotions. It can be used to magnify our passions and desires, both good and bad. We can lust for the things of earth, or seek the things of God.

Mary tells that our soul should rejoice in the Lord

Consider Mary’s song in the Gospel of Luke.

And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:46-47)

Her soul glorifies God. She expressed her humanity through her soul and proclaimed His majesty and power. Mary understood her soul belonged to God. She knew she needed a savior. She could express her love for God, through her spirit but only her spirit could express God’s love for her.

Even though God owns our soul, it is still our choice with our thoughts, feelings, etc. It has limitations.

The spirit is entirely different.

The Spirit-being

Again, we are body mind and spirit. Our spirit is the only mechanism to connect with God. It’s function, as its name implies, is spiritual.

We can use our spirit only if we believe in God and accept His gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again to secure eternal life for those who through faith, have believed.

The spirit cries out for God even though our mind might tell God to take a hike. The Holy Spirit works on us to draw us to God.