Soul, Spirit, Body…Stuff Humans are made of




Wednesday 06/06/18 

Message – …Stuff Humans are made of

Series: Thru the Bible

***Video is HERE***

The Whole Man: Spirit, Soul & Body

There are three prevailing beliefs concerning what makes up a human being and only two which can in any way claim to be scriptural.

These views are called:

  • Monism – is a pure naturalism and is a product of a humanistic worldview. Human beings are only physical – composed only of natural stuff.
  • Dualism or Dichotomy – is the belief that man is comprised of two parts – spirit & body. This is NOT to say that they do now believe in the soul of man, only that the soul is separate and different than the spirit. To them, the soul is a part of the spirit, not separate from it as is the body.
  • Trichotomy – The belief that humans are a tri-part being comprised of Spirit, Soul & Body.

Why is this important? Because a MAJOR doctrine is challenged and some are rendered impossible IF we are simply a two part being.


The Dichotomist believes that since the scriptures often use the two terms spirit and soul virtually interchangeably, it follows that they are simply two words for the same thing…and there are many scriptures which are pointed to as proof of this perspective. I will only offer a few here for time’s sake.

In Genesis 35:18, it is “Rachael’s “soul” that departs upon death”, yet in John 19:30 we read that Jesus bowed His head and “gave up His spirit” and Stephen, as he was being stoned to death, prayed “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).

In 1 Kings 17:21, Elijah prays for the “soul” of the dead child to return and when it does the child comes back to life. Yet in James 2:26 we read that “the body without the spirit is dead” and Ecclesiastes 12:7 says that it is the “spirit” that returns to God at death and is associated with God’s very animating breath in Genesis when man became a “living soul”.

Now to be clear, the words are NOT the same even in their own language. In Hebrew you have Nehfesh – meaning soul and Roo-akh meaning breath or wind or spirit of a rational being. In the Greek you have Pneuma – meaning a blast of air – a spirit, the animating and vital principle of man and your have Psuche is the soul of man – his mind will and emotions.

However, the Dichotomist looks at the verses we just read and says, “see these are simply two different ways of saying the same thing otherwise these passages would say that their spirits and souls departed upon death”.

However, the Trichotomist would say that both comprise the inner part of man and therefore both are implied even when not specifically stated.

So the question is, are there places which mention both as being different and separate? The answer is Yes and several!

“May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The Dichotomist Argues from a Tested method of interpreting scripture:

I taught this to you before and it stands true nearly 100% of the time. If you run into one or two passages which stand out as different from all other passages concerning the same topic, you should interpret those one or two passages in the light of the bulk of scripture.

This is a VERY solid rule. However, it does have it’s shortcomings.

For example: If you were to come upon a very old treasure chest while scuba diving and where to find hundreds of european gold coins inside, and all the coins had a minted date of AD1500, except for one coin which was dated at AD1575 – you could not conclude that the ship was sunk before the AD1575 even though all but one coin was dated AD1500.

Naturally there are other mitigating factors to dating treasure chests and sunken ships, but you get the analogy. While our rule of interpretation stands true most of the time, it is not always 100% true.

I believe this is one of those cases – and the evidence is not seen in the use of the words Soul and Spirit in the same verse or even in the use of the words at all – but in a scriptural doctrine which cannot be true IF human beings are ONLY made of two parts.


The difficulty for the Dichotomist:

So, as far as I can see, the only serious difficulty the dichotomist has is – how can our spirits be 100% “of God” and yet still have desires for evil?

This is NOT a problem for the trichotomist.  

If we are a tri-part being…spirit…soul…body, then the choices we make are not directly controlled by either our flesh or our spirit, but is that part of us which exists B-E-T-W-E-E-N the two which is influenced by both and is that part of man with which we make our choices to serve either good or evil.

This is hinted at in several places without specifically mentioning “Spirit, soul and body” all at one time, but it IS given an indirect reference.

For example – Gal. 5:16-19, 22-25 NKJV

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust (springing from the) of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,…etc.

(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (24) And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Now before I go through this passage with you – just make a mental note that Paul uses different terms for the products of the flesh and the spirit. The flesh has works, but the spirit bears fruit. THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Now this passage can be difficult to understand as well if you do not pay attention since both the Holy Spirit and OUR REBORN HUMAN SPIRIT are mentioned.

The flesh part is clear enough…but, “Walking in the Spirit” is a reference to walking after the impulses of our reborn human spirit as led by the Holy Spirit. This is seen clearly by Paul pitting to two against one another – works of the flesh vs. fruit of the spirit. The Holy Spirit does not bear fruit – we do! So the “spirit” here is OUR reborn human spirit. So we can see the flesh and now we can see the spirit, but where is the soul? Well in this passage it is in the “want to”.  The phrase, “…these two are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you WISH.

Paul brings up the entire soul in Romans 7 by mentioning the mind, will AND the emotions.

Let’s look at that passage. Turn to Romans 7, beginning in verse 7.


Rom 7:7-25 NKJV, “(7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I (SPIRIT) would not have known (SOUL) sin except through the law. For I (SPIRIT) would not have known(SOUL) covetousness unless the law had said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” (8) But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire (SOUL). For apart from the law sin was dead. (9) I (SPIRIT) was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I (SPIRIT) died. (10) And the commandment, which was to bring life, I (subjectively) found to bring death. (11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me (SOUL), and by it killed me (SPIRIT). (12) Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (13) Has then what is good become death to me (SPIRIT)? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me (SPIRIT) through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. (14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal (FLESH), sold under sin. (15) For what I (SPIRIT) am doing (FLESH), I (SPIRIT) do not understand (SOUL). For what I will to do (SOUL), that I do not practice (FLESH); but what I hate (SOUL), that I do (FLESH). (16) If, then, I (SPIRIT) do (FLESH) what I (SPIRIT)will not to do (SOUL), I agree (SOUL) with the law that it is good. (17) But now, it is no longer I (SPIRIT) who do it, but sin that dwells in me (FLESH). (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will (SOUL) is present with me (SPIRIT), but how to perform (FLESH) what is good I (SPIRIT) do not find. (19) For the good that I (SPIRIT)will to do (SOUL), I (SPIRIT) do not do (FLESH); but the evil I (SPIRIT)will (SOUL) not to do, that I (SPIRIT) practice (FLESH). (20) Now if I (SPIRIT) do (FLESH) what I (SPIRIT) will (SOUL) not to do (FLESH), it is no longer I who do it (SPIRIT), but sin that dwells in me (FLESH). (21) I find then a law, that evil is present with me (SPIRIT), the one (SPIRIT) who wills (SOUL) to do good. (22) For I (SPIRIT)delight (SOUL) in the law of God according to the inward man (SPIRIT). (23) But I (SPIRIT) see another law in my members (FLESH), warring against the law of my (SPIRIT)mind (SOUL), and bringing me (SPIRIT) into captivity to the law of sin which is in my (SPIRIT)members (FLESH). (24) O wretched man that I am (WHOLE PERSON)! Who will deliver me (SPIRIT & SOUL) from this body of death (FLESH) ? (25) I (SPIRIT)thank (SOUL) God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind (SOUL) I myself serve(SPIRIT) the law of God, but with the flesh (FLESH) the law of sin.”


So Who is “I”?  

I would argue that this is the spirit of the man. That part which Paul says, “If I sin, it is no longer I who does it, but the sin that remains in me, for I know that IN ME (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells.”  That part of man which is incapable of “producing sin” is the spirit man..that is “who the man actually IS.” So it is also true, that because the born again man’s very essence (which we express in the possessive due to the limitation of language) is divine in nature. His soul however, which is where we think, understand, feel and desire is still subject to evil’s sway.

This is why in James 1:21,  BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS are told to receive the engrafted word of God which is able to save our SOULS and in 1 Peter 1:8,9 it tells us that the end result of our trust in Christ is the total transformation or salvation of our souls.

THIS is the crux of the matter. According to 2 Cor. 5:17-18, at least ONE part of us is already 100% LIKE GOD.

“(17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (18) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”

In fact 1 Cor. 6:17, says that once we are joined to the Lord we are ONE SPIRIT with Him.

Now in regard to this part of us that is 100% like God and is one “spirit” with Him….NO Christian with any shred of common sense would tell you that this part of Man Paul is talking about is the human body. Even without a Bible – we all know instinctively – and by experience that evil is IN our FLESH. So if our flesh has evil IN IT and our soul is still in the process of being saved…what part of the Christian is 100% LIKE GOD? If we are only a two part being…the soul simply being part of the spirit – this is a SERIOUS theological problem! If even just the little toe on the human body is infected – the entire body contains infection and it COULD spread. Even so, if the soul is part of the Spirit, and the soul is subject to evil…then it could corrupt our spirits as well – taking us from God permanently.

Peter goes on to establish this reality of the soul being a separate part in verses 13-16,

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (14) as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; (15) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (16) because it is written, “BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

Interestingly enough, this is why it is possible to be the church of Christ and He still stand outside of the door of our hearts knocking. He is ONE with our spirits, but is not always one with our souls – they are still BEING saved.

Now, to be certain, I could go on and on about this, the examples are practically limitless which decidedly throws the weight of evidence in favor of Trichotomy. But I will address one other major passage – found in 1 John chapter 3

1Jn. 3:1-10, “(1) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (2) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (4) Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (5) And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. (6) Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. (7) Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. (8) He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (10) In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”

There are two ways of translating (and therefore understanding) 1 John 3:9. The passage reads like this…

“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”~ 1Jn. 3:9

The wording for “cannot sin”, can be taken to mean that the child of God cannot sin habitually…meaning a life-style of unrepentant sin…and this kind of true on one level, in that while it is not impossible (as is seen in 2Cor. 13 when Paul was addressing believers who had continued in sin for over 2 years and had never repented), it is something a Christian has to be determined to do – in that the Spirit of God within them (as well as their new nature) fights against such continued behavior and THAT I believe is more at the root of what John was saying here.

More than any other writer, John always seems to point more to the spiritual, than the flesh and this passage is no different.

Notice that John does not argue that a Christian cannot sin because it is difficult to do so, or because it runs contrary to their nature. He says that they cannot sin because the seed of Christ remains in them.

Again…John does not say it is difficult – he says it is impossible. These words are rather strong in the Greek – it literally means – not capable of happening!

The words, “the seed of Christ” and “born of God” are the keys that unlocks the meaning of the word “sin”. You see this word sin tells us nothing other than that it is absolute in nature, but beyond that – nothing else can be learned. However, when the reason why a child of God cannot sin in the way the Apostle is meaning is due to his regenerate state and the fact that Christ’s nature remains in him – it reveals the point John is making. This verse essentially means that the child of God cannot produce sin as a fruit of their new nature – and the reason is not due to a hatred of sin, but due to their spirit’s new nature which is 100% like Christ. Now ALL THINGS are of God!

There are several other places in the New Testament which reveal this absolute new man or new creation, while not denying the need for our souls to be conformed to His image. This I believe is the greatest proof of the existence of a soul which exists separate from the spirit, yet directly connected with it in function.

This is also why sin is not unpardonable. The decisions towards sin come from the soul which is NOT 100% yet, but is in a process of salvation. Any questions?


Next week we will pick back up in our series of ‘Thru the Bible” in Leviticus chapter 7…

There is more information in the audio/video of the actual message. I hope you listen, learn and enjoy!



I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!