The teaching that the human consists of three parts: body, soul, and spirit.
The two entities SOUL and SPIRIT are carefully distinguished in both Old and New Testaments. The word SOUL translated from NEPHESH in Hebrew and PSYCHE in Greek represents the living principle of the body, and is shared by man and the animals. On the fifth day of creation, as God created animal life in the oceans, and birds, He designated them as having “life” (Gen. 1:20), or NEPHESH. On the sixth day, “Man became a living SOUL” (Gen. 2:7) as well.
The soul refers to desires and appetites both of the flesh and the mind, perhaps summed up by the word “consciousness.” Plants, while alive in the biological sense, are not conscious (this may also be true for certain other “lower” organisms classified as animals by modern biology), and therefore not alive in the Biblical sense, nor does their death imply Biblical “death.”
The SPIRIT is quite different. God Himself “breathed into (mans) nostrils the breath (RUACH) of life” (Gen. 2:7), thereby imparting only to mankind some measure of His own spiritual nature. It is noteworthy, that while God identified as “Spirit” (John 4:24Greek PNEUMA), nowhere is He identified as “soul.” He stands separate from mere beings, not driven by the same desires as animals and man.
The spirit, then, is the recreated “image of God” (Gen. 1L27) in man, separating us from animals, while bonding us to God. This spiritual side makes possible an earthly life in tune with God and an eternal life as a son of God.