Mankind and Animals Have Souls, but Mankind also was given a spirit by God. I beleive our spirits are actually a little breath of God, Himself, breathed into us at birth. God's Holy Spirit can fan the flames of our spirit if we are open.
The Soul of man and animal is what constitutes personality, his emotions, feelings, preferences, etc.
The Spirit is that part of God in every human that can keep growing, or can be extinguished in us--- depending on how indifferent we are or not to our spiritual health. When the Creator speaks to us, He actually is speaking to our spirits,---and our spirits then inspire our souls. By allowing our selfwill to listen to God's voice, we are not only nourishing our spirits, but the soul and then the body also get the "trickle down" effect, as they enjoy perfect balance as a result of the spirit being in contact with it's SOURCE of energy-(God)
Sometimes we can be soulish people and not spiritual. We can confuse our soulishness as spirituality with good intentions, but our actions come from the human soul in us that is not under the complete Union with God.
Examples of this are when we flatter someone even though we don't mean it, for ulterior motives, Giving lots of money and gifts to make ourselves feel good about our selves- when God had not led us to do this, etc.
Below is a sermon of different people in the scriptures that were enlightened on the vast difference between their well intentioned souls (which loves to imitate the spirit) and their spirits while in commuion with God:
“Living in the Territory of the Spirit”
John 21:15-19 Judges 21:25
Job 27:5-6 Matthew 16:13-23
Job 42:5-6 Job 1:1
“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (John21:17-19).
“I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
Is it easier to live in the territory of the spirit or that of the soul? The answer is, not surprisingly, the soul -- but why? Why do we find it easier to live in the territory of the soul, especially when we know that to live in the territory of the spirit is pleasing in God’s sight while to live according to the soul is not? The fact is the soul in each of us does not want to be subject to a higher power. The unredeemed soul is selfish and longs to be independent. This is not to say the soul denies God altogether. Rather, the soul wants a relationship with the Lord as long such a relationship can help advance its will and plans.
This is confirmed in the words of Jesus to Simon Peter in the resurrection. In the gospel of St. John we read the following: “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go’ (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, ‘Follow me’” (John 21:15-19).
Notice the emphasis on when the words ‘young’ and ‘old’. Jesus is not referring to chronological age, but rather to Simon Peter’s level of spiritual maturity. The spiritually immature or ‘young’ person is governed by the dictates of the soul and thus acts independently, that is he goes wherever he wants to go. The spiritually mature or ‘old’ person allows the Lord to lead him to places where, if governed by the soul, he would not have wanted to go. The soul in each one of us is selfish. The soul wants God near as long as it can use God to help accomplish its own objectives.
What about us? How many who profess to be Christians serve the Lord according to the dictates of their own souls? Have we considered the consequences of lives that are led and governed by the logic, dictates and longings of the soul? Consider the Children of Israel in the wilderness and how for forty long years they lived in the territory of the soul – the complained, lamented, murmured and rebelled. They found fault with the Lord and His servant Moses. What were the consequences of this? With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all those of the old generation, those who had come out of Egypt perished in the wilderness. They were indeed “saved”, that is they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt (the world) and the tyranny of Pharaoh (Satan) but never entered the Promised Land, Canaan (the Kingdom). Rather they chose to remain in the territory of the soul and thus died there, in the wilderness.
Those who did enter the Promised Land remained faithful to the Lord for a time. However, as the years passed they slipped back into the habits of their forefathers. Several generations later, during the days of the Judges, this people who had for a time been under the Lord’s authority now had gone back to living in the territory of the soul. Unlike those who came out of Egypt, there were not physically living in the wilderness, but were living in a spiritual wilderness, the wilderness one experiences that lives under the authority of the soul. Consider the final verse of the book of Judges wherein we read: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
The tendency of human nature is not to go on with the Lord but rather to revert to the soul. This is true even of those who are saved and have an established relationship with the Lord. Consider Jesus’ question to the disciples concerning who He was, the response of Simon Peter and then soon thereafter His indication to the twelve that He would soon have to go to Jerusalem to suffer. In St. Matthew’s gospel we read: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do men say that the Son of man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men’” (Matthew 16:13-23).
Simon Peter had a clear calling and a clear revelation of who Jesus was. When Jesus asked the twelve who do men say that I am, Simon Peter answered – clearly and without hesitation – that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. However, this did not mean that Simon Peter’s life was no longer under the influence of the soul. It was but a short time later that upon hearing that Jesus would soon need to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, we are told that Simon Peter not only questioned Jesus on this, but actually rebuked Him. It is undeniable that Simon Peter loved Jesus and that he did not want to see Jesus suffer. However, at that moment Simon Peter was under the influence of his soul and, as clearly and without hesitation as before, declared that such a thing shall never happen to Jesus.
Jesus understood the origin of this ‘good’ suggestion. Did Simon Peter love Jesus? Yes. Did he mean well? Yes. Were his words led by the spirit? No. Jesus understood all this; however He needed to make the twelve understand the reality of what He was to soon go through. In saying the words:
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men”, Jesus was not calling Simon Peter Satan. Rather, He was rebuking the hidden instigator of that seemingly good suggestion.
We see in this example how difficult it can be to discern the soul from the spirit. Had we been present, who among us would not have agreed with Simon Peter? Who among us would not have considered what he had to say as led by the spirit? Despite the fact that Simon Peter had a clear vision of who Jesus was, the predominant influence in his life was the soul.
The soul is subtle. One of the primary contentions of the soul is to assume that as long as I am not doing anything sinful, what I am doing is acceptable in the sight of God. This sort of logic is how the enemy can deceive us. The question should not be ‘What is sinful in this? Instead, the question we need to ask is, ‘Is this right in the sight of God?’
Simon Peter remained in this territory of the soul for a long time. When he was young (spiritually immature and under the control of the soul) he decided for himself what was right and what was wrong in God’s sight. However, the day would come when Peter would extend his hand and no longer insist on being in control.
When we examine the lives of the saints we come to understand that this new day does not come easily or right away. Consider the example of the life of Job. Recall that Job was made to undergo a tremendous trial. Even before his trial, Job was certainly not a worldly sinner. In fact, the opening verse of the book of Job speaks of a man who was blameless and who shunned evil. We read: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who
feared God, and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1).
And yet, despite this noble testimony (the testimony of the Holy Spirit), Job was still living under the control of his soul. When did the transformation come in Job’s life? Was it when he lost all his worldly possessions? No. Was it when his ten children were killed in a windstorm? No. Was it when he was afflicted with a terrible physical disease? No. Consider the degree to which Job held onto his soulish righteousness. Consider the words of Job to his three friends. After seeing Job’s condition these friends concluded – based on the logic of their own souls – that since God does not punish the innocent Job must be hiding some secret sin. Job responded with the following declaration: “Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days” (Job 27:5-6).
Job was still living in the territory of his soul. The Lord then constrained another to speak. Elihu had been present during the entire discourse. He listened to the assertions of Job’s friends and also to Job’s defense. However, during it all Elihu was also listening carefully to God. When the time came to speak, Elihu was led by the Lord to speak. However, unlike the long monologues of Job and his friends, Elihu’s words (that is, God’s words) were brief but profound. We read: “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right” (Job 32:8-9).
Job began to frame his rebuttal. However, Elihu insisted that only one of them speak at a time. Job then was made to listen to the words of Elihu and soon it was no longer Elihu but the Lord Himself who was speaking to Job. The Lord began to deal directly with Job and in time, by degrees, Job was made to understand the nothingness of man. If we are to come to that place where the spirit is in control, the soul must, by degrees, be reduced to nothing.
In the end we see Job liberated from the bondage of his soul. We see him passing from the territory of the soul to that of the spirit. As the book of Job draws to a close we read the confession of the man who once dominated by the soul is now under the control of the spirit: “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
In what condition do we find ourselves in this day? May we pray for grace, and then appropriate that grace, in order not to continue to cling so desperately to the wretched logic and control of the soul. Instead, may we allow the Holy Spirit to do that work in us so that we might come to live under the dominion of the Spirit. In order to begin the walk of the Spirit, we must relinquish the walk of the soul.