Millions believe that the soul possesses a natural immortality but not even one time in the Bible is the soul referred to as being immortal or undying. According to God’s Word, man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The Scriptures teach us that when a person leaves this life, he sleeps (John 11:11; Daniel 12:2; Psalm 13:3) in the grave until the end of the world.
In death, a person is totally unconscious with no activity or knowledge of any kind. A person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the Resurrection (Revelation 22:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) when he will be given his reward or punishment (Revelation 22:12).
Life and death
Solomon the wise described what happens at death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). And since death is the opposite of life. Let’s look at what happens at creation, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
body (dust) + breath of life (or spirit) = life (soul)
body (dust) – breath of life (or spirit) = death (no soul)
Thus, the soul is simply the conscious life which resulted when God added the breath (the divine spark of life) to the body. Notice that the words “breath” and “spirit” are used interchangeably (Job 27:3; Psalm 104:29, 30; James 2:26). This same term “breath of life” is also used for animals in Genesis 7:21,22.
The spirit or the breath of life
So, when Solomon described the spirit returning to God, he was referring to the breath, because that was what God gave in the beginning, and therefore, it was the only thing that could now “return” to the One who gave it. The spirit that returns to God at death is the breath of life. Nowhere in the Scriptures does the “spirit” have any life, wisdom, or feeling after a person dies. It is the “breath of life” and nothing more.
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