Human beings were created differently than any other of God’s creatures. God commanded the earth and the waters to bring forth every plant and animal, every fish and bird. But when it came time to create man, God “formed” him.
As a potter fashions clay into the shape he desires, the Lord took the dust and clay of the Earth and formed man into what He desired. Then He breathed life into his nostrils. This “breath” was the spirit of man, complete with its own will, its intellect and reason, and its capacity for morality and fellowship with his Creator. All of the things that separate man from the animals. Man was made a living soul.
With a body that was created from and tethered to this Earth, and a spirit that was breathed into him by the God of Heaven, so would the foundation be laid that would eventually become man’s struggle between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit. This dichotomy within the very nature of man would serve as the type and metaphor for the struggle within every believer as he is drawn toward the things of God in his spirit, yet pulled toward the things of Earth within his flesh.
The human body, as intricate and wonderfully made as it is, is not what defines a person. It is this spirit which God breathes into him. It is this spirit which bears the image and likeness of God. It is this spirit which died the day that Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and it is this spirit which must be “born again” if we are to ever live in the presence of God. Since the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden, people would be born with a corrupted spirit. People are not born as a “living soul”, but as a “lifeless spirit.”
When we make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, He breathes a spirit into us that is full of life. It is an incorruptible spirit that comes from the Holy Spirit and bears the image of God. We move from spiritual death to Spiritual life and are made a new creation in Jesus Christ. When we die, our bodies return to the dust of the Earth from which they came, but our spirits return to our Heavenly Father who breathed them into us when we placed our faith in His Son.