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 soul. (Genesis 2: 7 KJV)
The spirit of man is the candle [lamp] of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (Proverbs 20: 27 KJV)
Just in case you’re reading Part Two without having read Part One, let’s review: We began with a physical object, a light bulb, and added, by means of wire and a switch, a source of power, or energy. When the electricity flows through the bulb, a third thing is generated, which we call “light.”
When God, in the verse from Genesis above, formed the man of the dust, He simply used the natural resources, the elements, of this physical universe to make what we would recognize as a corpse; a perfectly good body, but without life. Then, into this body, God “breathed” the “breath of life,” or literally, “living breath,” which means, as far as I am able to understand it, that God deposited into that body of His own spirit, which caused the body to live and function. Just as the presence of electricity causes a light bulb to function and produce light, the combination of flesh and spirit causes the flesh to function, each part or member producing its individual function. The eyes, for instance, produce vision, the ears hearing, etc., and the organ we call the brain functions to produce “soul.”
In the New Testament, “spirit” is called by the Greek word “pneuma,” which we normally translate into modern English as “spirit,” but it’s a bit more complex than that. “Pneuma” is translated into at least four English words in the New Testament: breath, wind, spirit, and ghost. I bring this up for a reason. You may already know that I’ve spent my life as a health care professional, and I can tell you from decades of personal experience that when the spirit, or life, has departed from a physical body, no amount of air, or breath, pumped into the body will produce life again. Often in a crisis situation someone may be rescued from the brink of death, by means of medical and mechanical resuscitation, but once the life is gone, it is gone. God did not animate Adam’s body by simply blowing air into his lungs. It took the expression of the supernatural, eternal, spirit, breathed from God’s own Spirit into Adam’s body, to bring animation to lifeless flesh.
Debates and discussions on the subject of the triunity, or three-fold nature, of man has been going for a long time, and promises to end no time soon. One prevalent view is summed up in a saying that has been popular for quite some time, at least in the circles I move in, that goes like this: “You are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body.” If my opinion means anything, I think this may be a fine place to begin your study, but it would be a tragedy to stop there. I don’t think you “are” one part of the three. I believe that God made you a triune being, and without all three parts, you would cease to be a living person.
I’ve always thought it odd that we exist in three parts, spirit, soul, and body, but when we die, we separate into two parts, the physical body which we bury in the ground, and a spirit which, according to Scripture, “goes back to God who gave it.” But this makes sense if we understand that the soul, where decisions are made and thoughts are thunk, is the product of the union of flesh with spirit. When that union is dissolved in death, the soul is no longer present. This, I think, is at least partially what the Scripture means by: “As a tree falls, so shall it lie.” If you’re going to make eternal decisions, you must make them now, while your lamp is lit.
Again, these discussions have gone on for some time, and we won’t exhaust the subject here. But if my teasing has awakened in you a desire to get more deeply into this fascinating study, then allow me to make a couple of suggestions. Dr Lester Sumrall has written a series of small booklets entitled The Total Man, in which he goes into some detail about the operations of the triune human being. This is easy reading, ideal for the casual reader interested in laying a solid foundation for future study.
If you’re looking for what will be for a long time to come the definitive work on the subject, you must go to Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man. Nee published this marvelous work in three volumes in 1928, and it stands today as the reference work of choice for serious students. It is available now in a single volume, and your Christian library will not be complete without it. I will warn you, Nee is not for casual readers. I personally know of few people who have read The Spiritual Man in its entirety. Most of us use it as a reference work, like an encyclopedia.
Copyright Â© July, 2008
by David L Henderson
David L Henderson is a career Respiratory Therapist, with some Christian preaching, teaching, and writing experience. Find out more about him at http://www.myspace.com/stenoch (It’s pronounced ‘Saint Enoch’). Follow him at http://twitter.com/stenoch and read more of his writings, or request his booklet, The Serpent’s Tale, about the fall of Lucifer and the origin of sin, available free in PDF format by request through the MySpace site.
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