Where Do Emotions Originate?
The Bible tells us that we are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139:14)114 I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.. Despite the progress science has made, we know very little of the really fundamental nature of man. The Bible reveals some of these truths
The Bible makes a distinction of man being in three parts. Paul talks about Christians being preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in terms of spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23)323 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.. When God made man, He made him in His own image (Genesis 1:26)426 God said, “Let’s make man in our image, after our likeness.. The Hebrew word translated God in (Genesis 1) is “Elohim” which literally means Gods. This is a Hebrew plural that is at least three and is referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at work in the creating and making of the earth. In other words, God is a trinity. God is completely God the Father; Jesus is completely God the Son and the Holy Spirit is completely God also. Three distinct persons but also each perfectly God. We cannot get our head around the nature of the Trinity. It is hardly surprising then that we struggle to understand ourselves made in the image of God.
There has been endless confusion over the difference between the soul and the spirit. Some Christians would argue they are the same. Bible translators struggle to distinguish between the words. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews makes it quite clear that spirit and soul are different and can be divided but it takes the powerful word of God to do this (Hebrews 4:12)512 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart..
Hebrew translators struggle to translate the word ‘soul’ in the Old Testament with the King James Version of the Bible translating it using 28 different terms. Really the Hebrew concept of the nature of man revolves around the inner person (nephesh) and the outer person or reputation (shem).
In the New
To summarise we are made up of body, soul and spirit. The soul and the spirit are different but hard to distinguish. Despite many saying that the soul is the seat of the mind, will and emotions we see from scripture that mind, will and emotions are also in the spirit of the person.
On the day that Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually (Genesis 2:17)1417 but you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”. The reason why physically people die is because as unsaved sinners mankind is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1)151 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins,. Death in the Bible never means to cease to exist rather it means to be separated from. Hence our physical bodies die when our spirits leave. In other words when Adam and Eve sinned they eventually physically died because their spirits had already become separated from God.
Our ability to communicate and be conscious of God is in our spirits (1 Corinthians 2:14)1614 Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him; and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.. When man fell his distinction between his soul and spirit got totally confused. He operated totally in his soul ignoring the dead God conscious part of his being and therefore gave himself over to lusts that warred against his soul (1 Peter 2:11-12)1711 Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good works and glorify God in the day of visitation.. When someone becomes a Christian, their Spirit is quickened and the God-conscious functioning of the spirit revives. Thus, by the agency of the Word of God the soul and spirit are divided.
There is also an indication Biblically that the way we feel is also influenced by the body. In the book of Judges, a man is encouraged to comfort his heart with some food (Judges 19:5, 8)185 On the fourth day, they got up early in the morning, and he rose up to depart. The young lady’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and
People who seek to help and encourage others emotionally are then faced with a real challenge of deciding not only what the emotional problem is but the source of this. It is not a good idea to treat a physical problem spiritually. A hungry man needs food not prayer. Ministering for spiritual deliverance is not going to help someone with an issue rooted in the soul. Many within our religious organisations have been hurt by well-meaning but uninformed attempts at helping them. Counsellors seem to be particular helpful in dealing with issues of the soul just as doctors are really helpful in dealing with physical problems. Both of these groups have considerable training and supervisory safeguards are in place to protect the people they are seeking to help.
In dealing with spiritual problems great care and caution are needed. The Bible has a number of examples were spiritual needs effecting emotions were successfully helped. David brought relief to Saul when he was troubled by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:23)2023 When the spirit from God was on Saul, David took the harp and played with his hand; so Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.. Jesus delivered many from tormenting spirits (Matthew 8:28-34)2133 Those who fed them fled and went away into the city and told everything, including what happened to those who were possessed with demons.. Sadly, incredible abuse has been done to some people in the name of helping them spiritually. The church needs to approach this very carefully both realising the complexity of what they are facing in dealing with an emotionally hurting person and how little we really know in practice of both the wisdom and power of God.
- How is it possible to distinguish between emotions rooted in the body, the soul or the spirit?
- Have you ever been hurt by well-meaning but ill-informed help?
- How can we protect others from the possibility we are getting things wrong in our efforts to help others?