From Derek Prince
Spiritual or Soulish
In my previous letter I analyzed the three elements that make up total human personality: spirit, soul and body. In this letter I will continue with the same theme, but I will focus on one particular issue: the relationship between man s spirit and his soul. The spirit of man comes directly from God and relates directly to God. In the original pattern of creation, there was a descending relationship. God moved upon man s spirit; his spirit moved upon his soul; and his soul directed his body. Through man’s rebellion, however, his spirit was set aside and his soul took over control. As a result, unregenerate man is controlled by the three functions of his soul: the will, the intellect and the emotions.
When God reconciles man to Himself, His purpose is to restore the original order, by which He once gain relates directly to man s spirit; man s spirit in turn moves upon his soul; and man s soul moves upon his body. This explains the words of David in Psalm 103:1: Bless the LORD, O my soul. Through faith David s spirit had been reunited with God and was eager to worship Him. So his spirit stirred up his soul to move upon his vocal organs to utter the appropriate words of worship.
So long as man remains in submission to God and his soul remains in submission to his spirit, man unctions in harmony with God and with himself. But if at any time man reasserts his rebellion against God, his soul is no longer in submission to his spirit and the inner harmony is broken. This means that there is constant tension between the spirit and the soul.
The Greek of the New Testament has a special adjective, formed directly from
the word for soul, psuche, which describes action initiated by the soul. The adjective
is psuchikos. The natural way to render this in English would be soulish, but unfortunately
English has not produced such a word. Consequently, English translations of the New
Testament have used a variety of different words: natural 1, sensual 1, worldly 2,
unspiritual 3, worldly-
Throughout the rest of this letter, I will use the word soulish. This will emphasize the tension in the New Testament between that which is spiritual and that which is soulish. In 1 Corinthians 15:44 46 Paul uses this word three times to point out the difference between our present body, which is natural (soulish) and our resurrection body, which will be spiritual. A soulish body is one upon which the spirit has to move through the soul. A spiritual body would be one in which the spirit moves directly upon the body, without having to work through the soul. The cherubs, which are described in Ezekiel chapter 1, apparently have spiritual bodies. Each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go (verse 12). Again, where the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went (verse 20). Apparently that is the type of body that believers will have after resurrection. No longer will our spirit have to urge our soul to direct our body to make the appropriate response. Our body will directly respond to the decision of our spirit. We will be like Ezekiel s cherubs: we will go directly, without turning, wherever our spirit wills to go. What glorious liberty!
There are three other passages in the New Testament where the opposition between the spiritual and the soulish is more clearly expressed. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 15 Paul says: But the natural [soulish] man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For the understanding of spiritual things, the soul is dependent upon the spirit. If it is out of harmony with the spirit, the realm of spiritual truth is closed to it. How important it is, therefore, that we approach truth with the right attitude our soul submitted to our spirit and our spirit in union with God.
In his epistle Jude speaks about people in the church who are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts. . . . sensual [soulish] persons, who cause divisions, not having the [Holy] Spirit (Jude 16, 19). When the soul of a Christian is not submitted through his spirit to God, he becomes a channel through which every kind of carnality and divisiveness can infiltrate the church. This is the true, underlying cause of divisions in the Body of Christ. In James 3:15 the apostle speaks about a form of wisdom which does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual [soulish], demonic. James depicts a downward slide in three successive stages: from the earthly to the soulish to the demonic.
When Christians become earthly they lose the vision of eternity. They cannot
see beyond the things of this life: success, pleasure, wealth, physical health. They
are only interested in what their faith will do for them in this life! Concerning
such people Paul says: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all
men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Christians like that often consider
themselves prosperous and successful. God considers them pitiable. After the earthly,
the next stage is soulish. To be soulish is to be egocentric, self-
In many places today the church is an ungodly mixture. No clear line is drawn
between the spiritual and the soulish, and therefore there is no barrier to the demonic.
Genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit are interspersed with manifestations that
are clearly demonic. As a result, many sincere believers are confused and bewildered.
To protect ourselves we must cultivate scriptural discernment. We must learn to distinguish
between what is truly spiritual and what is soulish. There is only one instrument
that is sharp enough to do this: the Word of God. For the word of God is living and
powerful, and sharper than any two-
Finally, let us obey the exhortation of Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13 14: Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
Yours in the Master s service,
PS: On the reverse side is a copy of a letter I received from a German psychiatrist who had a revelation of the spiritual and soulish areas of his personality.
1 KJV, NKJ
German Psychiatrist’s Discovery
Dear Mr. Prince:
Never in my life has this happened to me before: Stunned by the news of your broadcast
tape What Is Man? While listening to your lecture, I saw for the first time in
my Christian life the spiritual Hans of me somehow elevated as if on a chair and
looking down onto the soulish Hans whose monument-
Throughout my life I have been on the outlook for some clear and whole presentation of God s Word. You will understand that this change in my life this being again a triune human being is about to revolutionize even my profession. And for the first time in my life now 45 years old I see some good reason in having become a psychiatrist.
Mailing Address: Derek Prince Ministries P.O. Box 19501 Charlotte, NC 28219-
Reproduction for free distribution is permitted.