Proverbs 19:16 “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die.”
When considering the soul I’ve often wondered what part of the human body does the soul compromise?
We know from scripture that people have been created in the image of God. The way we reflect God’s image is by the form in which we were created; body, soul, and spirit.
The soul is important, it characterizes the individual and can be swayed toward God or away from God. The passion of a person is a reflection of their soul. If they desire to seek after God, their soul reveals a heart given in obedience to Christ. A soul that has turned away from God seeks pleasure for themself.
Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
One way to examine scripture is to look at a particular keyword and then reflect on all the places that word is used in. The term ‘soul’ used in Proverbs 19 is the word ‘Nephesh’, it can mean living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, or emotion. The meanings are a description of not just a lifeless entity but describes a living being that interacts, displays passion, and reflects desires.
The first use of this word is in Genesis 1:20 “Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures(Nephesh), and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” This term is a reference for a living creature, whether it is birds or any other animal, when we consider (the entirety of) the creature we consider the nephesh of that animal.
Later in Genesis 1 we see God’s reference to all creatures: vs. 30 “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life(Nephesh), I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”
The focus narrows to not just a creature but a living creature.
On the 6th day of creation we see mankind enter into the story.
Genesis 2:7 “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(Nephesh).”
Mankind did not descend from animals but we do have one thing in common, we are living beings as they are.
Job 9:21 “I am blameless, yet I do not know myself(Nephesh); I despise my life.”
In Job we begin to understand how mysterious the soul can be, understanding the soul seems to be a path of wisdom.
How many people have echoed the sentiment of Job? The moment I think I know who I am, I react to a situation in ways that I surprise even myself. Whether it is positive or negative, my reaction is reflective of my nature and as much as I want my sinful nature to be gone, I can’t shake free from its grip.
Psalm 63:5-6 “My soul(Nephesh) shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.”
Why is David’s soul satisfied with God’s goodness?
As life requires food to live, the Lord brings life to man’s soul—true life is found in the Lord.
Life is more than eating, drinking and making merry, if we only focus on satisfying the flesh we are left incomplete. Our being at its core is spiritual and if we don’t do more to address this aspect of who we are we will be left in want.
The want of the soul will determine the path of the individual.
Ezekiel 18:20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
Condemnation or justification is relegated to the soul of mankind. It is at the core of mankind’s being where the decision is made to follow the Lord in repentance or rebel against God’s eternal judgement. The flesh will perish because it is corrupted, the spirit of mankind reveals the personhood and element of their being, but the soul is what determines the path of the individual.
Psalm 94:19 “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
The heart reflects the emotional center, it reacts to life and can be swayed by great loss or blissful joy. Trusting in the heart is proven foolish since emotions are not a stable measure of sound judgement. If your mind is set on the things of God and your heart is turned toward the Lord in response to whatever comes your way, the soul will draw near to the Lord in trust.
Psalm 84:2 “My soul(Nephesh) longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
At the core of our lives, our deepest desires spring forth. Understanding the need and what is required to fulfill the need is where many go astray. Many attempt to satisfy their needs with superficial pleasure, this creates a sense of frustration and leads to despair. If I look to this world to fill up in me what my soul desires, I am left with a foreboding sense of hopelessness.
Hopelessness is a device of the enemy.
The great schemer will attempt to manipulate a person’s perspective, leading them into a dark hole of despair where it seems there is no escape.
Psalm 42:2 “My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and appear in God’s presence?”
All that we will ever need and all we will ever want or desire is found in Christ alone….there is simply no other route. Our souls need Him—He made us this way. We are not meant to be without Him and we can only be fulfilled by Him alone.
Spiritual expression is not universal in Truth. You cannot practice any form of religion and think that it will fill you up. Attempting to draw from any other source would be like traveling in a dry and arid desert with no water for miles and then settling for the brackish stagnant remains of the first thing you find.
Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.”
You can search the world and travel through every ancient monastery and every hall of learning you find—you will never find what you are looking for if you don’t know what your soul is looking for.
Every religion, every form of “spiritual enlightenment” or pathway of perfect consciousness has a focus on a being who might be at the end of it all. From Allah to Achaman, Shangdi to Shen, Brahman to Bathala the names of god’s are by the millions. The endless attempts at finding a means to the One True God by any other way than through Jesus Christ is a practice in futility.
Why is Jesus so critical to the path to knowing and experiencing God?
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity. The Son is regarded as the second person of the Trinity and the Spirit as the third. The revelation of God to mankind is and was distinctly defined as One God. The three persons of God is what forms the Godhead as revealed through Moses, the prophets, and apostles. The Son is none other than Jesus Christ.
After completing his monumental work called the Summa Theologica (a compendium of theological teachings in the Catholic church, Thomas Aquinas concluded that he had not yet begun to understand ‘God the Father’.
Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
All of Creation was made through Jesus.
John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
The term used for with in the greek is the term Pros. It is where we get the expression of being for something, i.e. pro or con. In a deeper sense it is an inflection of God the Son interfacing with God the Father. It can mean “in view of,” or “in light of, but never “against,” except where the context indicates an active exchange.
There is perfect unity within the Godhead and thus the means to approaching this Just and Holy God can only be provided by Himself. Jesus is that means to that approach. The Spirit of God is who leads you to Jesus.
The perfect peace that a person acquires when coming to Christ is a reflection of the unity that God experiences Himself. The body, soul, and spirit are united with the Spirit of God in salvation and it is the Lord who aligns everything in order.
Every other religion may invoke some form of explanation for God but they all miss the point as to who God is and how we might approach Him. Even the notion that mankind can attempt to reestablish the expression of who God is apart from how God revealed Himself to us is in itself preposterous.
The best means for approaching God, who is far greater than us, is by humility. I like how C.S. Lewis put it years ago…”The way we view ourselves should be founded in the way God views us and not the other way around.” God expresses a part of who He is, it is then up to us to understand what that means for us, and how we might fit that expression into what we know. In other words, if God expressed who He is, we must change our model of God to fit His expression and not what we think God should be.
Jesus was and is the perfect expression of God.
Our relationship with God has been broken by sin. Sin is defined by lawlessness in 1 John 3:4. We cannot be absolved of our crimes against God through apology, good works, changing our clothes, living in a monastery, chanting a prayer, or any other means that people have tried to absolve their conviction. The Moral Law is the standard by which we are held accountable and we have all offended it.
Jesus came into our existence and bore our sin upon the cross, that we might be offered grace. Unless we receive that grace we will die in our sin and be lost for eternity.
How do we keep our souls?—We give them to Jesus!
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
No other path will suffice. No false prophet, false teaching, or in other way will lead us to Life than through the precious sacrifice that Jesus made for His people. When we find this way, His way, we find all we were searching for.
He calls you now…He will keep your soul for eternity because you are His creation if you will only submit, it’s not easy but it is well worth the price.