Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
Last week, we talked about loving God with all your heart. To be honest, there’s a lot more we can and should learn together about that, but for now we need to move on.
Today, I want to look at the second aspect. Loving God with all your soul. And, before we start, it might get confusing. So, let me try to explain.
First, let me say that, from my understanding, it is nearly impossible to draw hard lines between the heart/soul/mind/strength. It’s nice and neat when things fit in our boxes, but God doesn’t fit in a box. If your God fits in a box, that’s not the real God. Yes, we do have a lot we can know about God through His word and what we can observe. But, there is so much more than that.
Last week we talked about the heart being our Feelings, emotions, affections and desires. And we can see that from the definition.
Heart: Kardia – the heart
  1. that organ in the animal body which is the centre of the circulation of the blood, and hence was regarded as the seat of physical life
  2. denotes the centre of all physical and spiritual life
  3. the vigour and sense of physical life
  4. the centre and seat of spiritual life
  5. the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours
  6. of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence
  7. of the will and character
  8. of the soul so far as it is affected and stirred in a bad way or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions
  9. of the middle or central or inmost part of anything, even though inanimate
This, by the way is why we started with the heart. This is why God starts from the heart, because (as we talked on Sunday) everything starts in the heart.
The heart is the fountain for everything. It is the center of physical and spiritual life. Is is the fountain of our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, etc. The seat of our sensibilities, emotions, and so on.
Perhaps the best way to think of it is to stick with the illustration God probably had in mind when he created it all. The Body. The heart is what pumps the blood through the whole body. When the heart stops beating, the body stops living. The blood constantly flowing through our veins keeps us alive, body and mind. And that is what allows us to do (Will and to act in order to fulfill His purpose – Phil. 2:13)) what God wants.
What about the Soul? How is the soul different from the heart? Well, that’s a difficult question, but one we must delve into if we are to really understand how to love God.
To begin, we must look at the Old Testament. That’s what Jesus was quoting from when He shared these two commands. This would have been what He had in mind.
Deut 6:4-5 – “4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Here, the word for Soul is Nephesh. In the Old Testament, the Nephesh strongly correlated to the flesh, it was all intertwined.
Deut 12:23 “Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. Life = nephesh.
Deut 24:6-7: “6 “No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge.” Here life = soul. Nephesh.
In other places, it is also the nephesh that does the eating (Lev. 7:18), in Lev. 24 it is anyone who wounds the nephesh of someone, will be put to death…a nephesh for a nephesh. In 1 Kings 17, we see the the nephesh also related to breath.
It seems the nephesh was inextricably connected to the body.
And thoughout Deuteronomy we are commanded to love God with our heart and soul. That phrase is used more than the combination heart, soul and strength. And Deuteronomy doesn’t include mind at all.
Confused yet?
Let’s add more to the heap.
In the New Testament, when Jesus is teaching he says: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink;” (Matt 6:25) Here life = psuche which is the greek for soul.
Matthew 10:39 – 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for Mysake will find it. Here life = psuche. Soul.
Here the soul is pleased.
Matthew 20:28 – “28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Here life = soul. And Jesus gave his life, including his blood which was what was required in the Old testament to atone for sins. Life for a life.
Then in Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
Here the soul of Jesus is experiencing grief.
Throughout the New Testament, the word soul refers to the part of you that is saved.
Here’s an interesting use: Heb 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners againstHimself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Here heart = soul.
Alright, alright, alright. Get the point.
I’m trying to. This is my best understanding of the soul.
The soul is the eternal part of who we are. That much is very clear in scripture. Our souls are what will be saved. We will get new bodies, but we will not get new souls. Our souls are redeemed.
Life seems to be found in the soul. Personality also seems to be found in the soul. Those parts of you that make you who you are. They are not removed from your heart, mind and strength. They are connected to it.
But, I like the illustration of the blood from the Old Testament. Life is in the blood, soul is in the blood. It’s not just that, but it is that.
The soul is the part of us that connects our hearts to our bodies. It is eternal. It will exist forever, either in God’s presence or separated from God. Kind of how the circulatory system takes what’s in the heart and pumps it through the rest of the body, keeping it alive. And how all the systems of the body are dependent on the circulatory system to live…
In the same way, our souls are the same. Our souls take what is in our hearts and pump it out into every essence of our make up. Our souls are the expression of what is in our heart. Our souls take what is in our heart and translate it into our thoughts and behaviors.
The soul is hard to define because it is a part of it all. But, when you think of the body as an illustration it starts to make sense. Our soul is electrically connected to our body. Our bodies can electrically trigger our souls and hearts. Those things we take in with our eyes and ears make there way into our hearts and souls. Perhaps they even enter our heart through our soul. It could very likely be that the soul is the connection between the heart and body and spirit.
That’s all we have time for today. Through the rest of the week, we’ll hopefully start to make more sense of the idea of loving God with all your soul.