Jackie and I were out on vacation for the last week. It is always a grand time of prayer, devotions, and Bible study for us. This week was no exception. We had a much needed time of rest and rejuvenation.
I have been through somewhat of a trial, a personal spiritual battle and at the beginning of this week, I felt like my heart was a raw lump of meat, with no protective covering, vulnerable to every slight bump and touch. I felt like it had just been stripped bare and it wasn’t comfortable. My mind went to those that I know whose hearts are really the other way, nothing seems to effect them. I thought of different family members and others that I know of in and out of church who have such hardened hearts against God. It seems such a great danger. Maybe my own experience is limited, but it seems to me to be a especial danger for men.
It’s usually traceable to hurts that they have suffered through the past. My father-in-law, for example, will relate to you things that happened literally fifty years ago with the same emotional intensity and bitterness, that if you didn’t know better, you would think they happened last week. Many times these outrages involve a very few dollars that he feels he was cheated out of in some way. It comes to my mind, I wonder what his response would be if I offered to pay him with interest the loss that he sustained those long decades ago? Would he forgive? Could he forget? It seems to me that the memory, the festering wound in his mind has a life of its own and is in some way has become a precious companion to him. It is now a part of him and too valuable for him to part with. In some strange way, it almost seems like it is an anchor for him that he uses to define his life since then.
I started wondering about the relationship of the heart to the soul. There is such a danger in a hardened heart, that we should find out about and study this relationship in order to prevent this happening in our own lives. The more I pondered on these questions, the more I came to realize that I really had no idea what the soul even was. We hear the word from the time of our childhood, but really what is the soul?
I like to let the context of the Bible define the words found in it.
Here is the Strong’s reference:
>From H5314; properly a breathing creature, that is, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental): - any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, X dead (-ly), desire, X [dis-] contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart (-y), (hath, X jeopardy of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortality, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it.
This one word is found in many verses. The first verse in the Bible
(KJV) is early in Genesis:
(KJV 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 soul. (NKJV 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.
I was using a NKJV unabridged concordance that I bought in Nashville. As you can see, Genesis 2:7 was not translated soul in the NKJV. The first reference in the NKJV is:
Genesis 19:20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
This is Lot talking to the angel that wants him to move to the mountains and Lot convinces them to spare a small nearby city, so that he can move there and his ‘soul’ will live.
I won’t bore you with all the references, but I looked at every verse in the NKJV that had soul or souls or soul’s in it and found some interesting things.
I was surprised, but I think that it’s pretty clear that God has a soul:
Leviticus 26:11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
Isaiah 1:14 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.
Jeremiah 6:8 Be instructed, O Jerusalem, Lest My soul depart from you; Lest I make you desolate, A land not inhabited.”
This last verse is very interesting to me. If God’s soul departs then it appears that desolation and barrenness occurs. Is soul then a synonym for Sprit???? Is this a definition of soul? God is a Spirit. He can take many forms or manifest Himself many ways, but He is a Spirit. Therefore if he takes the essence of Him, His soul away is this the same as taking his Spirit away? Can we then say that our soul is our spirit, our eternal spirit? Is this obvious to everyone else? Do you all already know this? Is it just because I did not go to Sunday school as a child that I don’t know this or that this seems to be a revelation to me?
The next thing that made a great impression on me is that in many many verses there is a close association between heart and soul. Many times they are mentioned as a pair, ‘heart and soul’. Lots of verses talk about how when you sin you harm your soul:
Proverbs 6:32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.
Proverbs 8:35-36 For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.”
Proverbs 11:17 The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.
Proverbs 19:16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die.
There are just a bunch of verses like this. I have just selected a few from many. Many verses in Psalms regarding the soul, an especially good passage is in
19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the
father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live? 24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. 25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his
righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
It is clear that sin has a bad effect on our soul, on our spirit. From personal experience I can testify that sin also hardens the heart, makes us more callous, less sensitive to the good and fine things of life. It is a struggle to come back from a life spent away from God and in sin. It takes a renewing on the part of God. We must take especial care to protect our heart, to protect our soul, to keep our childlike heart, to remain sensitive to the things of God.
This that I am writing tonight is a work in progress. I do not have it all complete and worked out yet, but I find it significant that the armor of God has at it’s center, the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers and protects, defends our heart. Our heart, our soul, our spirit need the protection of our righteousness. If we make a compromise in our righteousness, there is a dear price to be paid. If our righteousness is pierced, a wound to the heart is likely. Wounds to the heart are never never minor . . . heart wounds are always serious and often fatal. . . .
Saturday, January 3, 2009
On Fri, Dec 15, 2006 at 6:38 PM, Dave Stokely
Ezekiel 18 19-28: