This question concerns the doctrine of the Spirit, Soul and Body. Many people don’t realize that every person is made of three parts: a spirit, a soul and a body. You can see these three parts in Gen 2:7. God made man of the dust of the earth, which was his body. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, which was his spirit. And man became a living soul, which was, obviously, his soul. You can see all three of these parts in 1 Thes 5:23.
The fact that we are made up of three parts shouldn’t be too hard for us to comprehend. Almighty God, who made us, is a tri-part being: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, 1 Jn 5:7. Therefore, when God said, “let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness,” Gen 1:26, he created man with three parts, just like God has. The body of Adam matches the body of God, which is Jesus. The soul of Adam matches the soul of God, which is God the Father. The spirit of Adam matches the spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit.
When Adam was created, he was made a living soul. But God warned Adam that he would die if he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Gen 2:17, God said, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Though Adam’s body lived to be 930 years old, Gen. 5:5, death began to affect him the day he ate the forbidden fruit. And death has affected all of his offspring from then until now, Rom 5:12, because all descendants of Adam are made in Adam’s likeness and image, Gen 5:3. In Adam, we all die, 1 Cor 15:22.
Death affects every part of our being. Our body dies and returns to the dust from whence it was made, Gen 3:19. Apart from God’s salvation, our soul dies in what’s termed “the second death,” Rev 20:14, Rev 21:8, where it spends eternity in the lake of fire. And our spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecc 12:7.
Thus, according to Eph 2:1, we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” This is why Jesus said to a would-be disciple, “Let the dead bury their dead,” Lk 9:60. Dead men who are physically dead can’t bury dead people. But men who are spiritually dead can and do.
To remedy our problem with sin and death, Jesus came in flesh and blood “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb 2:14. When Jesus died on the cross, his body went into the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, Matt 27:57-60, Jn 19:38. His spirit went back to God when Jesus said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” Lk 23:46. And his soul went into the heart of the earth, Matt 12:40, where Abraham’s bosom, Lk 16:22 (aka, paradise, Lk 23:43) was located, and where hell, Acts 2:31, still is.
When Jesus rose from the dead, his soul came up out of the lower parts of the earth, Eph 2:8-10. The Holy Spirit was in Jesus Christ, once again, Jn 20:21-22, Acts 1:2. And he now has a glorified body, Phil 3:21, which will never die, Rom 6:9-10, and which is currently seated at the right hand of God in glory, Acts 1:9, Rom 8:34.
Thus, through believing in the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, people can be saved from sin, death, and hell. When we are saved, we are given eternal life, Rom 6:23. And all three parts of our being are affected by God’s eternal life. We now have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, Jn 14:17, Rom 8:9. The second death no longer has any power over our soul, Rev 20:6. And we will be given glorified bodies, just like the Lord Jesus Christ, when he returns, Phil 3:21, 1 Jn 3:1-2. God has to raise our dead body and change it into a perfect body that will live forever. This he does at the rapture, 1 Thes 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:50-55. Therefore, Jesus has solved every evil aspect of sin and death affecting our tri-part being.
At the moment we are saved, God also does some very important things to our body and soul. These things reveal why we are eternally secure after we get saved. They also reveal how we can live a life pleasing to God.
- The Holy Spirit spiritually circumcises “the body of the sins of the flesh” away from the soul, Col 2:10-12. This spiritual circumcision keeps the sins in the body from being imputed to the soul.
- The Spirit crucifies our body on the cross with Jesus, so that we are “crucified with Christ,” Gal 2:20; Rom 6:6. Thus, we are dead to sin, Rom 6:2. This begins the process of the body’s continual death, 1 Cor 15:31. As long as we reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin we can keep from obeying sin, Rom 6:11. However, when we don’t live a crucified life, we really struggle with yielding to sin, Rom 6:12-16. As Gal 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
- The Spirit baptizes our soul into the body of Christ, 1 Cor 12:13, since the soul’s former body is now “dead.” Our soul, then:
- Becomes a literal part of the flesh and bones of Jesus, Eph 5:30
- Is seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph 2:6
- Is free to marry Jesus, as the bride of Christ, Rom 7:1-4; 2 Cor 11:2
- Is sealed by the Holy Spirit, Eph 1:13, 4:30.
- Thus, when we physically die, our soul is immediately “present” with the Lord, 2 Cor 5:8.
As you can see in this study, every part of Adam’s being was affected by death when he sinned. And every part of our being, spirit, soul, and body, is likewise affected by sin and death. Yet, when we are saved by Jesus Christ, it is possible for Paul’s prayer to be answered. He prayed that “your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thank you, Jesus!
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder
Note: For a little more information on this question, see the study Created in God’s Image, Gen. 1:26-27 in the Sunday School Archive.