The soul is “the middle man” between the spirit and the body. It is connected to both.
While with body we feel hunger, thirst, physical pain and lusts; the soul is where we feel emotions since the soul also incudes the heart. With the heart includes the mind (that being intellect, reason), will (that being our freewill) and emotions. So, the heart is a major part of the soul. And this is not the physical heart, the vital organ, it’s the invisible heart within us all that we can’t see physically.
The soul is the make-up of our personality, in terms of our behavior, how we act, respond, and feel; and is the place of opinions, interests, and personal desires and ambitions. The soul is synonymous for “self” and is the seat of “self consciousness.” The soul is where we find our mind aware of the person “within the this body.”
Just as no one has the same body-- even twins can't generate the same fingerprint-- so too with the soul. Every soul on planet earth is individually and uniquely different.
Since the soul is connected to the spirit, it is an eternal part of us, and is held accountable for its actions—this is why we must see to it that our souls undergo the needed changes according to the will of God.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
There are a few things we need to assess with this scripture. First of all, I see the word “obey” used here, and I believe this is where all working out of your salvation with fear and trembling begins: OBEY.
Obeying the Lord, obeying His commandments and where He is trying to lead you is where we must begin. We must set aside religion, family, friends--anything and everything that our soul is attached to that is blocking our obedience.
Obedience is not just some military “do this or do that.” This spiritual journey in Christ is a call, a destiny, and obedience is how we remain aligned with what God wills for us each day. This is not some extraordinary fabulous moment in the future, but it is present, each day, day by day AS WE RECOGNIZE we have a Lord, and the name of our Lord is JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH.
This is why He is called the LORD—because He is the One we ultimately obey when it comes down to any choice, we must choose what is right, what is according to our faith and doctrine.
Once we start obeying the Lord, we can discover the true meaning of fear and trembling. Part of the fear and trembling is knowing that while the Lord is full of mercy and slow to anger, He holds zero tolerance for sin and foolishness. God is completely and utterly holy, so much so that when the children of Israel were at Mount Sinai, if they even just touched the mountain they were struck dead instantly. And let us remember the tragedy of sin: it required the perfect Son of God, Jesus, to die and shed His holy blood, blood holy enough to atone for all sin once and for all.
The fear and trembling is a deep, intense respect and admiration, the loyal heart of a noble servant who will do anything at the cost of his king, and take any order given to him without questions. And it is this reverence for the blood of Jesus, the work He achieved, the debt He wiped out, and the awe of His powers and authority that should cause us to tremble.
Yet, looking at the scripture we see the words “work out”. Indeed, to get to a place of fear and trembling IS WORK. Because more often than not, when we are fulfilling the work of the Lord, our soul’s salvation is worked out as we work for the Lord:
You see, every Christian who was and is truly a part of the body of Christ is spiritually assigned to a task. No one is exempt. We all are to work for the Lord. Jesus explained in a parable of the Minas in Matthew 25 that every Christian is given talents, entrusted with “denarius” that they are to use and multiply. In other words, Jesus GAVE US GIFTS, like a loan, that we did not deserve, so to “pay off the interest” WE USE THEM FOR HIS PURPOSES!!!
But this is the problem: we are in a society with a Christianity that doesn’t know the difference between soul and spirit. This type of Christians think all the gifts are for themselves and they do not know the path of salvation is a path of difficulty, narrow, hard to find, and only a few do. They don’t understand fear and trembling because deep down they are sinners with false conversions. They are unaware of God and His knowledge, unaware of what is expected of them, and unable to fulfill.
And this is why the enemy has set up Wall number 5: RELIGION! Because this wall damages the souls of everyone who becomes involved with it, just as every wall is designed to do. What religion does is pollute the soul with false doctrines and practices that keep the mind and heart of the person deceived. They become completely blind to the return of the Lord and to their own suffering. Therefore, they are blind to fearing the Lord and living a clean life.
“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:9-10)
I believe the ultimate reason there is so much foolishness is because there is an overall lack of the fear of the LORD in the institutional church--even in legalistic, hyper-orthodox churches--no one truly fears the Lord. However, they fear men, they fear tradition, they fear worldly systems, and they fear money.
I know that I lacked this fear of the Lord: I just ran around thinking every prophecy I heard was from God, every dream was from God, and every supernatural thing that came my way was from God. I went around declaring and decreeing, trying to save souls, preaching no gospel, and teaching false doctrine. I was not even saved myself.
Religion inhibits us from the fear of the Lord because religion deceives us. When we are deceived, we can think we are fearing the Lord when--really--we are shaming His name. And when we are deceived and not fearing the Lord, then we are foolish.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)
So, you are not walking in wisdom when you are not fearing the Lord. You are doing foolish things, stupid things, vain things. A way to know whether you fear the Lord or not is to look back at your life (or even reflect on your day) and see if there is any wisdom. If there is some foolishness, stupidity, or even vanity, you may need to WORK OUT your OWN salvation.
I believe Paul needed to emphasize “own” because he understood every soul is different and each Christian’s salvation journey is unique and individual. What is an issue for one is a strength for another and so on…
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (Jesus, John 6:27)
Our priority needs to be Jesus Christ of Nazareth and laboring for His food and His substance. That is what gives us true life!! We will see our soul being perfected, being worked out, and growing in fear and trembling as we work to obtain His substance.