Soul/Spirit – Hebrew: Nefesh


When Elohim created the animals and Adom – both ‘breathing creatures – he put a ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ within them. This ‘soul’ was an animal-type ‘spirit’ called a nefesh that lives by instinct and flesh desires likes emotions and the mind.

A nefesh does seeks the divine Creator. It doesn’t have personal awareness nor does it have the ability to reason. It just exists in the physical realm. This nefesh gains worldly knowledge from its ‘flesh’ voice and the voices of men. The nefesh is what drives men to the sins of ‘lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life.’

One of my Bible teachers explained saying that in the garden the neshama – the spiritual man ruled over the nefesh – the flesh man. When Adam sinned, there was a flip-flop. The nefesh began to rule over the neshama. Though we may be born again of the Ruach and water, in this life we will always be in a spiritual battle between the nefesh and the neshama. The Ruach haKodesh was poured out so that we would have the power to keep the neshama ruling.

Hebrew Word Pictures

spirit – nefesh – נפש

Nun is a ‘fish’ and means ‘life’

Pey is a ‘mouth’ and means ‘to speak’

Shin is a ‘tooth’ and means ‘to change’

Nefesh means ‘life speaks to change’ (dust of the earth into life)

Sha’ul (Paul) refers to this ‘soul man’ as the ‘carnal man’ or the man controlled by his ‘old nature’ who is hostile to God, His Torah and whose life ends in death.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self [nefesh] was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:5-7).

“For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah — indeed, it cannot. Thus, those who identify with their old nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8).

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the [carnal] flesh [nefesh] sets its desire against the Spirit [Ruach], and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another …” (Galatians 5:16-17).

“In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit [nephesh] that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh [nefesh] and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath …” (Ephesians 2:2-3).

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit [ruach] is willing, but the flesh [nefesh] is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

“Because all the things of the world — the desires of the old nature [flesh], the desires of the eyes, and the pretensions of life [pride] — are not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

“Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh [carnality] his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5).

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