THE FUNCTIONS OF
THE SPIRIT, THE SOUL, AND THE BODY
The body is the "world-consciousness," the soul is the "self-consciousness," and the spirit is the "God-consciousness." There are five organs in the body which afford man the five senses. This physical body enables man to communicate with the physical world. This is why it is called the "world- consciousness." The soul comprises that part in man known as the intellect, which makes man’s existence possible. The part of love generates affections toward other human beings or objects. Affections originate from the senses. All these are parts of man himself; they form the personality of man. Hence, they are called the "self-consciousness." The spirit is the part with which man communicates with God. With this part man worships God, serves Him, and understands his relationship with God. Hence, it is called "God-consciousness." Just as God dwells in the spirit, the self dwells in the soul, and the senses dwell in the body.
The soul is the meeting point; here the spirit and the body join. 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 of senses through the body; the world and the body interact with one another. The soul lies in between these two worlds and belongs to these two worlds. On the one hand, it communicates with the spiritual realm through the spirit, and on the other hand, it communicates with the physical world through the body. The soul has the power of self-determination; it can make decisions concerning the 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 a medium. This medium is the soul, which was produced when the spirit touched the body. The soul is in between the spirit and the body; it 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.
Among the three elements of man, the spirit is joined to God and is the highest. The body is in contact with the material world and is the lowest. In between the two is the soul. It takes as its nature the nature of the other two. As such it becomes the linkage of the other two parts. Through the soul the two parts can fellowship with each other and can work together. 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.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)