“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7 AMP) (cf. I Cor 15:45-49)
This writing could have just as easily been entitled “Adam – The First Misunderstood Man”. In the previous writing it was stated:
“Although Adam & Eve had communion with God, they would have had to eat of the Tree Of Life to come into union with Christ, as that tree represented Christ who has Life in Himself (John 5:26), and may even symbolize Christ on the cross – something that happened before He imparted His Life to us.”
In other words Adam, created as a “living soul” (Gen 2:7), was just that – a living soul! Now there is nothing wrong with being a soul man when it comes to hats or music! And there wasn’t anything inherently sinful in the first created soul man. He was part of God’s good creation. He was created in the image and likeness of God meaning he was the perfect vessel to express the indwelling life of God. However Adam was not complete or matured in his creation. There was yet more for him which was eventual union with God through eating of the Tree of Life which represents Jesus Christ, in whom there is Life:
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (Joh 1:4 NASB)
In John chapter 6 the necessity of eating of Christ to find life is emphasized. It was never intended that Adam live by his soul, but rather he was to live in communion with God through his spirit eventually coming to know union with God through eating of the Tree of Life. However Satan tempted Adam and Eve. He did not make a direct assault on their spirits but sought to gain control of him through his soul. So before proceeding it might be helpful to explain what is meant by the word “soul” and also to describe a few of the different ways it is described in the bible. Even though man is a holistic whole, it is helpful to think of man as tripartite (three parts) – spirit, soul and body – a distinction referred to in 1 Thessalonians:
“Now, may the God of peace himself consecrate you, every part of each one of you, to His worship and service, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved in their entirety blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Th 5:23 Wuest’s)
The spirit of man is the only direct way of communicating with God “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Joh 4:24 NASB). Just as the body is the only way of communicating with this physical world our spirit is the only way of communicating with God. In the middle stands our soul, our consciousness, able to be stimulated by either the spirit or the body.
When Adam was communing with God by his spirit all was well. When Satan tempted him through the body (the fruit of the forbidden tree being pleasing to the eye, good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom – a conscious attribute), Adam lost his created ability to commune with God in the spirit, and became a “soul man”. He was now restricted to living in direct response to his environment whether it be in response to his circumstances or in response to other people. Worse than that, Adam did not become an independent person as the promise of “being like God, knowing good and evil,” implied, but instead he became a slave to sin (Satan). Let me quote just a few verses that confirm this:
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:6-7 NASB)
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Joh 8:44 NASB)
“So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Rom 7:17 NASB)
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph 2:1-2 NASB)
The soul man is sometimes referred to as the “natural man”, the “outer man”, “the carnal man” or “the flesh”. A special note should be made about the use of the term “flesh” as there has been much confusion over this term especially as Paul uses it. When flesh is used to describe the natural man it is not necessarily a negative thing. After all Jesus Christ came in the flesh! However flesh is also used to denote the natural man enslaved to sin, the condition man is now born into. Jesus was tempted on all points as we are yet was without sin (Hebrews 4), yet Paul in the flesh was sold in bondage unto sin (Romans 7). The idea that flesh in and of itself, in contrast to spirit, is always sinful fails to acknowledge man’s slavery to the spirit of sin and instead borrows from early Greek philosophy the idea that the visible is evil and the invisible good.
So Adam not only became a man dependent on his soul, he became as God knowing good and evil with the responsibility of deciding how to live life based entirely on his sense impressions of the people and world around him. That in itself might not have been the worst thing that could happen were it not for a strong deception in his life. Unbeknownst to him, he had become a slave to the spiritual reality of sin while at the same time believing that he was an independent, free person. This deception of slaves to sin thinking of themselves as masters of their own destiny is the controlling philosophy of the entire world and has to a very large extent infiltrated the world of Christianity.
An extended quote from T. Austin-Sparks explains the soul’s influence in Christianity:
“It does not require much intelligence to see how utterly this creation is now a soul order. The whole system of running this world is psychological. Everything is based upon desire, emotion, feeling, reason, argument, will, choice, determination. What a large place is held by the various forms of soul activity! In one direction we have fear, grief, pity, curiosity, pride, pleasure, admiration, shame, surprise, love, regret, remorse, excitement, etc.; in another direction, imagination, apprehensiveness, fancy, doubt, introspection, superstition, analysis, reasonings, investigations, etc.; in a third direction, desires for possession, knowledge, power, influence, position, praise, society, liberty, etc.; and, in still another direction, determination, reliance, courage, independence, endurance, impulse, caprice, indecision, obstinacy, etc. We are not saying that this is all wrong, but by these things, which are all forms of soul-life, we can see that we live in a world that is almost entirely a soul-world. But we are not stopping there. Think how much of this has a place in Christian life and service – from the first step in relation to the gospel, through all the course of Christian activity. It is here that we ask for patience in pursuing the subject, when we make the tremendous affirmation that all this – the sum-total of human reasoning, feeling and willing – may be placed to the account of the matter of salvation, either for ourselves or for others, and yet be utterly unprofitable, and of no account at all.
Multitudes have come to regard themselves, and to be regarded by others, as Christians because of some decision made or step taken under the impact of an argument – a reasoning, an appeal to mind or emotion. In the same way great missionary meetings, with their atmosphere, their stories and their appeals, have led many to believe that they had a call from God to His service. But time has proved, in a great many cases, that this was not born of the spirit, but of the soul-force of man. We do not say that God never comes through, or uses His word, at such times, but we have to explain tragic facts and to correct popular fallacies.
The soul of man is a complex and dangerous thing, and is capable of extraordinary things. It can entirely mislead us and play us many tricks, as we shall see. Man is now a disrupted and disordered creature, and we must remember that the creation, including man, because of this disruption has been deliberately subjected to vanity. That is, it has been rendered incapable of realizing its originally intended destiny, or coming to full fruitage. For the unregenerate man, life is indeed a mockery, for he can never reach his intended objective. This is God’s answer to his assaying to have all in himself in independence (Rom. Viii. 19-23).”
So whatever may be admirable in the world of Adam the soul man, the truth is that there is no place for him in Christianity, something hinted at in Genesis:
“Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Gen 6:3 NASB)