Spirits are intangible. Spirits may or may not be able to directly affect physical objects, but our physical bodies do not seem capable of affecting spiritual entities. Spirits have been known to engage themselves within human souls, and shown the power to affect and direct those souls (like human souls direct human bodies). But in all of these considerations of SPIRIT - so far - we have been talking about evil spirits and the Spirit of God. What about the "human spirit"?
Can a human spirit direct a human soul? If so, how is that different from the central self portion of the soul governing its own psychic and physical faculties? By itself, this notion of a human spirit as a self-governing agency would seem to leave us with no practical, functional or essential difference between one's human spirit and one's inner self. In effect, this notion makes "spirit" a semantic euphamism for self - and in all practical ways, the same thing as soul.
Of course, this is where many well respected theologians have stopped. (And some who go farther may not have not gone far enough.) Without a shred of diplomacy, I must say I believe such theological conclusions are deeply, profoundly and even horribly wrong. Any understanding of "spirit" as the functional equivalent of "soul" puts our human psyche in control of the "spiritual" life. But that spiritual life is supposed to be chiefly engaged with God's Spirit.
How can the faculties of a soul (which are, again, intellect, volition & emotion) which were already present in our pre-christian selves suddenly take on the ability to locate, sense, respond to and interact with God, who is spirit? How can the phrase "born of the spirit" make any literal sense if the spirit and soul are the same? What is it, precisely, that gets born within us, which had not been alive within us before that moment? It must be our human spirit.
Plato and Aristotle were actually right. The two-fold division of body and soul is the whole nature of fallen humanity. But if anyone comes into Christ, they become a new creature. Whether they realize this distinctly or not, their body and soul gain a spirit.
To be continued...