FUNCTIONS OF THE SOUL
The soul is the center of our personality; it is our “self”. For this reason in many places, the Word of God calls men “souls”. The main characteristics of man’s personality, such as ideas, thoughts, love, etc. are of the soul. The Word of God shows us clearly and unquestionably that the human soul consists of three parts: the mind, the will and the emotions.
1. The Mind
Many times in the book of Proverbs Solomon suggests that the soul needs knowledge (Prov. 2:10; 19:2; 24:14). Since knowledge is a function of the mind, based on these verses, the mind is a function of the soul.
Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Ps. 139:14).
Since knowing is a function of the mind, then it is also of the soul. The book of Lamentations says that the soul can remember (Lam. 3:20) and we know that remembering is a function of the mind.
The mind is the soul’s most important function. We will never be able to reach the full knowledge of truth, if our mind is in darkness. Our mind must be renewed so that we can experience and understand the will of God, which is revealed in our spirit.
2. The will
Seeking is a function of the will; therefore, the will is also part of the soul.
Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God (1 Chro. 22:19).
Refusal is a function of the will:
My soul refuses to touch them… (Job 6.7)
Choice is also a function of the will:
So that my soul chooses strangling and death rather than my body. (Job 7:17).
Therefore, we see through these verses that the will is a function of the soul. The will is the instrument of our decisions and indispositions, it reveals whether we want something or not, without it, men would be reduced to mere automatons. Man uses his will to choose to sin or to serve God. Therefore, the power of choosing is in our soul.
3. The Emotions
Emotions are an important part of the human experience; they add color to our lives. However, we can never let emotions guide us, since they are a part of the soul.
Emotions manifest themselves in many ways: love, hatred, joy, sorrow, desire, etc.
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1Sam. 18:1)
Tell me, O you whom I love, where you feed your flock, where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions? (Song of Solomon 1:7)
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. (Psa. 42:1)
We can perceive through these verses that love and other good feelings originate in the soul, proving that the soul possesses emotion as one of its functions.
Now David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain.” Therefore, they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” (2Sam 5:8)
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I have spoken in my burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country. (Ezekiel 36:5)
In the above verses, we see expressions such as hate, spite, and other negative expressions all of which originate in the soul. The soul possesses the function of emotions such as hatred and joy (Isa. 61:10; Psa. 86:4); and anguish and desire (1Sam 30:6; 20:4; Ezekiel 24:25; Jr. 44:14). It is very important that we recognize the distinction between these emotions that come from the soul and the activity of the human spirit which is the part of our being where God initiates His activity and operation in our lives. The spirit and its operations must always supersede those of the soul and the body in order to be used by God.