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The elements of man


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In this life, the soul is man’s consummate expression, while in the next life and in resurrection, the spirit will be man’s consummate expression. This is why the Bible says, “it is sown a soulish body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1Cor. 15:44). Man communicates with God’s spirit and the spiritual realm through the spirit and receives and expresses power and life in the spiritual realm through this spirit.

He communicates with the outside world through the body. The soul lies between these two worlds and belongs to both. It communicates with the spiritual realm through the spirit, and with the physical world through the body. The soul has the power of self-determination. It can make decisions concerning things related to it in the environment and can choose or reject them. It is impossible for the spirit to control the body directly; it requires the medium of the soul. The soul binds the spirit and the body together as one. The spirit can rule over the body through the soul and subject it under God’s power. The body can also induce the spirit through the soul to love the world.


The function of the soul is to maintain the spirit and the body in their proper order, so that they will not lose their proper relationship with one another. In this way, the body, which is the lowest, will submit to the spirit, and the spirit, which is the highest, will be able to control the body through the soul. The soul is indeed the chief element in man. The soul looks to the spirit for the supply, which the latter has received from the Holy Spirit and communicates to the body what it has received, so that the body may partake of the perfection of the Holy Spirit and become a spiritual body.

Man’s spirit is the noblest part of man. It dwells in man’s innermost part. The body is the lowest and remains outside. The soul dwells between the spirit and the body and is the medium of the two. The body is the outer shell of the soul, while the soul is the outer shell of the spirit. When the spirit tries to control the body, it has to do so with the help of the intermediary soul.


The soul is the seat of personality; man’s will, intellect, and emotion all lie in the soul. The spirit is the part with which man communicates with the spiritual realm. The body is the part with which man communicates with the physical realm. The soul is in the middle of these two parts. It exercises its judgment to determine if the spiritual realm is to rule or if the physical realm is to rule. Hence, the soul has to authorise the spirit to rule before the latter can rule over the soul and the whole body. The reason for this is that the soul is the origin of man’s personality.

Lesson on the element of man: The soul is the chief element in man and the origin of man’s personality. It has a choice onto which realm controls its affairs. It can choose to submit to the kingdom of God, the kingdom of darkness, or the kingdom of self. A man’s action is governed by the kingdom in charge of his soul.
Reference: The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee
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