What is the difference between the spirit and the soul? The word spirit refers only to the immaterial facet of man. Mankind has a spirit, but we are not a spirit. However, in Scripture only believers, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are said to be "spiritually alive" (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26). Unbelievers are "spiritually dead" (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul's writing the "spirit" was pivotal to the spiritual life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; 15:45; Ephesians 1:3; 5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in man which gives him the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word spirit is used, it refers to the immaterial part of man including his soul.
The word soul refers not only to the immaterial part of man but the also material part. Unlike man having a "spirit," man is a soul. In its most basic sense, the word soul means "life." However, the Bible moves beyond "life" and into many areas. One of those areas is to man's eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). Man is naturally evil, and his soul is tainted as a result. The life principle is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). The "soul," as with the "spirit," is the center of many spiritual and emotional experiences (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). Whenever the word soul is used, it can refer to the whole person, alive or after death.
The "soul" and the "spirit" are similar in the manner in which they are used in the spiritual life of the believer. They are different in their reference. The "soul" is man's horizontal view with the world. The "spirit" is man's vertical view with God. It is important to understand that both refer to the immaterial part of man, but only the "spirit" refers to man's walk with God. The "soul" refers to man's walk in the world, both material and immaterial.