If someone asked, “What are you?,” what would you say? You would probably tell him that you are a human being. What if he asked you what a human being is? You might try to explain that a human being is a person who walks on two legs, with hands that have five fingers, and feet that have five toes. Or you might tell him that a human being is a person with a brain that can think, talk, and reason. But have you ever stopped to think just how hard it really is to tell another person what a human being is? For instance, if you said that a human walks on two legs, there are some people who cannot walk at all, or do not even have legs, yet they are still human. If you try to define humans by saying that they can talk, some humans cannot talk, but they are still humans. In fact, some people have lost large parts of their brains, but they are still human. Defining a human is actually pretty difficult.
Think about this: if you were trying to explain who you are, you might start by describing your physical body. You might say that you are four feet tall, have brown hair, brown eyes, and two hands and two legs. While that might be a description of your body, it wouldn’t really describe you. Just think, if you grow to be five feet tall, you will still be you. If your hair falls out, you will still be you. If you lost one of your eyes, arms, or legs in an accident, you would still be you. Your body is not you.
So who, or what, are you? Some scientists who believe in atheism and evolution say that people are nothing more than their physical brain. They say that without a brain, there is no personality. The problem with this claim is that it is simply not true. While your body and your brain might be the place where you live, you will still be you even when your physical body and brain are dead.
The Bible explains that each person has a spirit, and that spirit knows what a man is thinking (2 Corinthians 10). The part of you that does the thinking, makes decisions, and chooses between right and wrong is what the Bible calls your spirit. Your spirit is in your body, just like a driver is in a car, but your spirit is not your body or brain. The Bible tells us that when a spirit leaves a body, then the physical body is dead (read James 2:26). But even though a person’s physical body might be dead, that person’s spirit is still alive.
There are several examples in the Bible that show that a person’s spirit lives on after his body dies. In Luke 16:19-31, we read a story about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The Bible explains that both men died. Their physical bodies died, but their spirits continue to live. Lazarus’ spirit went to live in paradise with Abraham, but the greedy, rich man’s spirit went to torment because of his unfaithful life. This story shows us that even though the rich man’s body was buried, his spirit was still alive, and so was Lazarus’ spirit.
Another Bible story shows us that people’s spirits continue to live after their physical bodies are dead. In Luke 9:28-36 we read about Jesus taking Peter, James, and John on top of
a mountain to pray. While Jesus was there, the Bible says that two men came to talk with Him. The two men were Moses and Elijah. But how could Moses be visiting Jesus? Moses lived almost 1,500 years before Jesus came to the Earth. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that Moses died on top of Mount Nebo. The Bible also explains that Michael the archangel and the devil disputed over the physical body of Moses (Jude 9). If Moses died many years before Jesus, and his body stayed on Earth, then how did he visit with Jesus? The simple answer is that his spirit lived on after his physical body was dead.
All of us have a spirit that lives in our bodies. Our spirit is not our brain, or any other part of our body. It is not made of matter and cells like our body is (Luke 24:39). One day our physical body will die, but our spirit will leave the dead body behind and either go to be with God, or be separated from God. Let’s all make sure we live this life in our bodies so that our spirits can live forever with God.