And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
This scripture details the very beginning of humanity. It gives us a glimpse into our created nature. We are products of two realities:
Earth and Breath
Our bodies are carbon based. Carbon is a key component of all known life on Earth. Complex molecules are made up of carbon bonded with other elements, especially oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. Carbon is abundant on Earth.
But, we are also a product of breath. Whose breath? God’s breath. While we do know that every created creature was made of Earth, we (humans) are the only creature we see made alive by the breath of God. The Bible tells us that God’s breath made us a “living being”.
Being: existence, conscious, nature
So, to know what it means “to be”, we must know more about the breath that brought us to life.
You will notice that the carbon based body did not “live” until the breath of God entered it. Therefore, the true life force of humanity is found in the presence of the breath of God. No breath – no life.
What is this breath?
psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity (unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.
(psyxē) corresponds exactly to the OT /phágō (“soul”). The soul is the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into a person, making them an ensouled being.
So, you could define the breath that made us alive as “soul” which is our individual personality and our sense of self. The Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God. We are made with characteristics that identify us as made like Him.
The Godhead is a tri-part unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Humanity is not just a soul and body, but the Bible tells us that we are also made of three parts:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 5:23 NIV
This scripture speaks of wholeness. The word used for “blameless” here actually means “whole”. We know that the Hebrew mindset attributes the God of peace (Shalom) as the God of wholeness: nothing missing, nothing lacking.
The “spirit” of man, along with the soul make up the immaterial parts of man. The “spirit” is the element that gives us the ability to have a relationship with God. God is Spirit, so to fellowship with and know Him, we must also contain a spirit. The Bible tells us that believers are spiritually alive and that unbelievers are spiritually dead. So, our spirit is present but operating in darkness when not in fellowship with God.
One more important scripture:
For the word of God is alive 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 NIV
This scripture tells us that the soul and spirit are two different entities. It also tells us that the soul and the spirit can agree or disagree.
This is where problems occur for believers! If our spirit is united with Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is saying one thing and our soul, which is our sense of self is believing something contrary, well, we’ve got confusion, double-mindedness, lack of peace, disobedience, you name it!
You see, our sense of self is expressed through our beliefs and our emotions. Our soul can be wounded by life or others. If our soul is wounded, it can carry pain, fear, anger, depression, and beliefs that are shaped by the bad experiences we have been through.
So, the Word of God can be speaking truths about us and we can believe lies at the same time. When we believe lies or are living in internal pain, fear, depression, anxiety, then our soul needs healing.
I believe that this is the cause of much of the difficulty we experience walking with God.
Next time we are together, I want to look at what God has provided to deliver the soul.