“the natural life of the body, the immaterial, invisible part of man, the seat of personality, the seat of all will and purpose, the inward man, the seat of new life.” – Vines
Because the heart and soul are very often coupled together in scripture, it was a challenge to bring out the soul into it’s own individual meaning. But because they are joined together so often, and not translated either one or the other, I believe that tells us that there is a difference between the heart and the soul, however slight it may be.
In verses throughout Scripture, the soul has many characteristics and is used to describe many feelings.
OUR SOUL IS HOME TO OUR DEEPEST DESIRES
But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. – 1 Samuel 1:15
“SOUL” INTIMATES A COMPLETENESS – WHOLEHEARTEDNESS
And his armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul. – 1 Samuel 14:7
“SOUL” DESCRIBES AN EXTREME EXTENT
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as his own soul. – 1 Samuel 18:3
…because He poured out His soul to death… – Isaiah 53:12
“SOUL” IMPLIES A DEEP INNERMOST FEELING, DESIRE, OR KNOWLEDGE
I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
WHTAT WE FEEL IN OUR SOUL RESULTS IN ACTION
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. – 1 Samuel 30:6
What shall I say? For He has spoken to me, and He Himself has done it. I walk slowly all my years because of the bitterness of my soul. – Isaiah 38:15
OUR SOUL IS SOMETHING TO BE HIDDEN FROM EVIL INFLUENCES
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. – Psalm 24:4
OUR SOUL IS TO BE PRESENTED TO THE LORD AS A GIFT
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul – Psalm 25:1
EMOTIONS AFFECT OUR SOUL
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. – Psalm 31:9
OUR SOUL CAN BE STRENGTHENED BY OUTSIDE INFLUENCES
My soul melts away from sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word! – Psalm 119:28
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. – Psalm 42:11
OUR SOUL CAN BE CHANGED
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with it’s mother; like a weaned child my soul is within me – Psalm 131:2
OUR SOUL CAN RISE ABOVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND REALITY
Lamentations 3 is Jeremiah’s description of how he has been tormented and afflicted. But he calls to mind the Lord’s love and mercies, and says,
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” – Lamentations 3:24
OUR SOUL IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF US
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain. – Hebrews 6:19
So let’s break that down…
The word ‘soul’ is used to define innermost feelings that are almost indescribable due to their depth. “Feeling” is the defining point in pointing out the difference between the heart and the soul. The heart is the motive, the soul is the feeling or depth of that feeling behind the motive.
Our soul is the part of us that longs for God and Heaven. It is what is saved through Christ’s blood. It never belonged to us, therefore, it should be used to bring glory to it’s Owner.
It can be strengthened or weakened, and this is a choice that is up to us. It’s a choice that must be made each and every day.
Our soul is the lens through which we view the world.
God quickens the heart and refreshes the soul
So the big question.
How do we love God with all of our soul?
God is to be the beginning of all we are and all we feel. As Vines pointed out, the soul is the seat of new life, and Christ has given us a new life, a new inward man. If it is from Him, we must use it for Him. Our emotions must reflect this new life living in us.
Our soul has two camps in which it can draw its influence and strength.
It is a choice between love or bitterness
Mercy or Dryness
Forgiveness or Wasting away from grief
Being refreshed and lifted up or being cast down
The soul goes even deeper into who we are and adds another dimension to the heart. The soul is our foundation, and our foundation is to be built on Christ. Our foundation is to originate from God’s attributes, according to the new man.
Because our soul is home to our deepest desires, ask yourself what those are. Your deepest desires show you which camp your soul is currently located in.
Because the soul intimates wholeheartedness, it cannot be divided. It cannot hold two masters.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. – Matthew 6:24
Sometimes I think the extreme language in this verse deceives us. We tend to use hate and love to describe petty feelings very often in our everyday language. And then when it comes to serious matters like serving two masters, we tell ourselves that God is doing the same thing. But we can’t divide what was never meant to be broken. We can’t give what belongs to one master to another, without eternal consequences.
It is used to describe feelings almost indescribable, to the farthest extent. Therefore our soul is meant to yearn, to grope, and to feel passionately about our desires. It should not be home to emotions of apathy or lethargy. If our soul belongs to God, then our desire to fulfill our God-given purpose is to drive us with ambition and fervent desire. Never slack off.
Because what we feel in our soul results in action, we must fill our soul with the fruits of God’s Spirit. When we fill our minds with thoughts of selfishness and self-satisfaction, that will eventually spill out into our life. What we think about becomes our actions.
Because our soul is something to be hidden, it must be hidden in the correct place.
Sometimes, the correct place is out in the open. We’ve all played a game of hide and seek where the person who took the longest to find was actually hiding in a place we never thought to look. Exposed in the open, because we don’t think they’ll do something that counter intuitive. For our soul, it’s in the light. That’s our hiding place. We cannot hide our soul away from the source of it’s strength. It must be preserved, but given away. It must be hidden, but shown for the world to see the amazing grace of God. We are to be the filter and the protector of our soul, while letting it shine forth to reflect the glory of it’s Maker.
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. – Psalm 119:11
I realize this is us hiding God’s word, but God’s word is also our shield. If we hide it, it will hide us.
Our soul is presented as a gift, but it’s one that is not ours to give. God gives us our soul, with the expectation that we will be good stewards of it. We must give it back to Him someday, and it needs to be washed pure by the blood of Christ. Our responsibility is to keep our souls unspotted from the world. (James 1:27) We are merely vessels that house a spectacular gift that we have been given for a short time. Be a good steward of that gift.
Because emotions can affect our soul, the wisest man on earth cautions us about our feelings.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22
It’s why over and over again in the Psalms there is the command to “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Choose to think positively and the attitude will follow. Too often we let our emotions rule us instead of us ruling over our emotions.
Because our soul can be affected by outside influences, we must guard against what we allow to influence us.
Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts good morals – 1 Corinthians 15:33
When we stay hidden in the light, this job is made easier. We are able to see things as they truly are, and are able to use righteous judgment to determine whether or not they will have an evil influence on us or not. Don’t let your filter and protective covering around your soul fall into disrepair.
Because our soul can be changed, we have reason to bless and praise the God who raises us from the dead.
I have sinned and continually fall short of God’s glory. But this gift that I was given, of which I was not a good steward, can be renewed. This gift can be re-made. Tide commercials have nothing on this stain remover. And this is why I choose to serve wholeheartedly, to fight passionately for my Savior, to hide this gift away from polluting influences, to take responsibility for and guide my emotions, and make sure my actions reflect my deepest desires. And most importantly, why I choose to tell my soul to bless the Lord, for His loving-kindness endures forever.
Because our soul is the most important part of us, this is a job that can never be forsaken.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Where the soul leads, the heart will follow.