Is There Any Difference Between Soul and Spirit?

The terms “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably. But is there any difference between soul and spirit?

Every individual has a body, a soul and a spirit. The body is physical, but the soul and spirit are not visible to the physical eyes. What then separates the soul and spirit?

Our spirit differs from our soul because our spirit is always pointed toward and exists exclusively for God, whereas our soul can be self-centered.

The Bible says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” – Hebrews 4:12.

It, therefore, appears that there is a difference between the soul and the spirit.

What is the difference between soul and spirit?

The terms soul and spirit have been discussed at length in philosophy and literature and the writings of various religions.

The Bible submits that Adam was created from the dust of the earth, and he became a living soul.

The soul contains our senses, feelings and emotions. Through the soul, we are in contact with people. But through our spirit, we are in contact with God.

The spirit is the deepest part of our being. It relates to the spiritual realm, enabling us to contact and receive God Himself.

In simple terms, our soul is who we are – our personality. It is composed of our mind, our emotion, and our will.

7 Distinctions Between the Soul and Spirit

  1. The main difference between soul and spirit is that the function of the soul is to interact with the things around us and the physical world through five basic senses. In contrast, the function of the spirit is to contact and nurture relationships with God.
  2. The soul is the animate life, the seat of the senses, desires, affections, and appetites. The spirit is that part of us that connects to God or refuses to connect.
  3. Some school of thought submits that the soul is a kind of “interface” between the spirit and the body. No one can fault that!
  4. The spirit gives power to life, while the soul is the sense of life.
  5. The soul is the essence of humanity’s being. The spirit is the immaterial part of humanity that connects with God.
  6. In yoga, spirit and soul are used to denote an intangible and deeper self that must be found. However, the soul could be the spirit of the body, whereas the spirit is its own body.
  7. The soul connects man with the world, and the spirit directs him to God.

Your soul is yours, but the spirit belongs to God.

Our spirit differs from our soul because our spirit is always pointed toward and exists exclusively for God, whereas our soul can be self-centered.

We can only experience God’s presence’s joy, comfort and peace through our spirit.

The Soul and Spirit as Explained by Different Schools of Thoughts

Soul and Spirit in Etymology

‘Soul’ was first used in the English language in the poem Beowulf in the 8th century AD. It is thought to have come from the word psyche brought over by Greek missionaries and the word sea, reflecting the Saxon belief that the souls of the dead rested at the bottom of the ocean.

On the other hand, “Spirit” comes from the Latin ” spiritus, ” meaning breath. This reflects the belief that the spirit leaves the body after a person draws his last breath.

Catholicism Definition of Soul and Spirit

In catholicism, the soul refers to your conscious part and the moral and thinking part of you. Your soul is immortal and is the part that will go to hell, purgatory, or heaven after you die.

At executions, the priest publicly asked God to have mercy on the soul of the condemned.
The ‘Spirit’ first refers to the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity. It is the force of God that has come down into each of us. As one develops in the faith, he is said to be growing spiritually.

Explanation of Soul and Spirit in Western Culture

In western culture, ‘soul’ can often be taken to mean someone’s moral consciousness. A cruel killer could be said to have no soul. In contrast, the ‘spirit’ may reference ghosts or other supernatural beings.

It is held that people who die with unfinished business leave their souls to wander the earth until their task is fulfilled.

Soul and Spirit in Eastern Culture

In eastern culture, the ‘soul’ is the part of the person that has dharma, obligation and incurs karma, and debts, throughout his lifetime. The soul is then reborn into whatever shape will help it to release karma. This is a Hindu belief.

The ‘spirit’ is often associated with the animism of Shinto. Natural forces, plants, and animals are inhabited by a life force that is translated to mean the spirit.

In conclusion, a human being is a spirit with a soul that lives in a body.

We hope you have found this article informative. Do well to drop your questions and contributions in the comment section below.


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