Thanks, Bob, for your question in the post below. The body is
the visible and physical part of who we are, the material side of our person.
The soul is the invisible part of who we are. It is the actual site of a person; that is, the unique self that was designed to shape each personality through the actions of the mind, emotions, and will. This functioning is termed self-consciousness. The soul is the pivotal point of the entire human being, mostly because of the will. The distinguishing capability of the soul that sets us apart from the rest of creation is the power of free will. We choose with our will how to relate to God and to those around us. We can be thoughtful or thoughtless; we can be angry and spiteful or calm and peaceful; and we can need to have everything our own way or be passive to the will of others.
God, who is Spirit, breathed his spirit-life into mankind. This speaks of the priority of spirit in human beings. The spirit part of human nature is the place where God can commune with humans, guide them, teach them His wisdom, and fill them through with His life.
Watchman Nee describes the relationship of the trinity of spirit, soul, and body though the metaphor of a light bulb. Within the bulb, which can represent the total man, there are electricity, light, and wire. The spirit is like the electricity, the soul the light, and the body the wire. As electricity, carried by the wire, is expressed in light, so spirit acts upon the soul, and the soul, in turn, expresses itself through the body. You can see here the interaction and overlap of body, soul, and spirit. They are not unique entities operating on their own.
There is an opposite view that the soul and the spirit are the same thing, a controversy so to speak, and this causes problems to those who are depressed. “You just don’t have enough faith,” they are told. “You have doubts and are not right with God. That’s why you are depressed.” What a terrible thing to tell someone. Charles Spurgeon, recognized as the greatest preacher of all time, was plagued with depression his whole life. Saint John of the Cross was a man of great faith and was also a depressed person. Their problem was not a matter of faith; it was a problem that resided in their souls and/or their bodies, in the form of crises of the soul or a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Because man is a tripart being, the healing of depression must address all three parts: a psychiatrist for the body (medication if needed for stability); a psychologist, psychotherapist, or counselor for the soul; and a spiritual guide for the spirit. These overlap, but kind of go in this order. A depressed person needs to become stable before anything else will work, needs to find the causes of the depression and not just mask the symptoms with drugs, and needs God to be the capstone of allowing him/her to triumph over depression.
Although this answer is rather long, it is a Reader’s Digest version of the depth of the tripart wholeness of mankind – body, soul, and spirit. If you have any questions on any of the above, please comment to this post. Thank you.