The Bible describes three elements of a living person – body, soul, and spirit. We can easily recognize the body since it is the physical part of a person. But the soul and spirit are more difficult to distinguish. They are the invisible elements of a person and are much alike in their nature and activities. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” This passage suggests that it is difficult to distinguish between the soul and spirit but that the word of God is able to divide them or distinguish between them. The spirit is the life principle that God has given to man. Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Without a spirit, a person is dead. James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” When a person has a spirit, as given by God, the soul is the resulting life constituted in the individual. The body is the physical entity that is animated by the soul and the spirit.
If someone is killed by another individual, the soul continues and is not killed. Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The soul is the part of you that can do evil and sin. Romans 2:8-9 “But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.” The soul is either lost or saved. Matthew 16:26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” 1 Peter 1:9 “Receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.”
It is not my intent to give a complete description of the soul, but rather to indicate that your soul is the non-physical part of you that makes you who you are. It is the part of you that either submits to God, obeys Him and is saved or that follows sin and will be lost. Therefore, you will want to protect your soul so that your soul is saved and not lost. Now consider what the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Here Peter tells us that there is a war against your very soul.
It is fleshly lusts that war against your soul. If you allow these lusts to take control of you, you will lose your soul. Fleshly lusts are your strong desires for the things of the world. 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Worldly lusts would be the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Even though pride is not called a lust, I believe that the strong desire to be important or superior to others is pride and it is a lust.
Peter’s plea was that you would abstain from fleshly lusts since they war against your soul. These lusts are contrary to God’s way and will draw you to the world rather than drawing you closer to God. Galatians 5:16-17 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” People of the world live their lives following their fleshly lusts and as a result produce the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Those who follow fleshly lusts practice the works of the flesh and do not inherit the kingdom of God; they lose their soul.
My encouragement to you is to abstain from fleshly lusts since they war against your soul. The wonderful grace of God should teach you to deny your worldly lusts. Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Protect you soul from fleshly lusts by walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).