Against what did God manifest his justice? Did he sentence the body or the soul of man to death? Is it true that the soul of man is immortal; and if so, how could God put it to death?
It is profitable to define terms before attempting to discuss them. The definition given should be supported by proof from the Bible. This we will attempt to do before answering the question here asked.
Immortal means that which cannot die; something that cannot be destroyed in death. Soul means a moving, breathing, sentient creature, or being; a creature or being that possesses faculties and uses them. To understand whether or not a soul is immortal it is first essential that we determine from the Bible what constitutes a soul. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) The word soul is synonymous with the words being, creature, and man. The dust out of which Jehovah formed the body was not conscious. It had no life in it. After God had used these elements to form the man, he breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives, which animated the body, caused the lungs to begin to work, sent the blood tingling through the arteries and returning through the veins; therefore there resulted a moving, breathing, sentient being, a man, which is a soul. The body aside from the breath does not constitute the soul; but it requires the uniting of the breath with the body to constitute the soul. And when we separate the breath from the body the soul no longer exists. The Scriptures do not say that God breathed into this body immortality, but merely that the soul resulted by animating the body after it had been created; and this resulted from the breath which he breathed into the nostrils.
A locomotive may be used as an illustration. It stands upon the track with no fire in the box, no water in the boiler, hence no steam. We speak of it as a dead engine. Then the steam is produced by heating the water; it is forced into the cylinders, the throttle being open and the machine moves. Withdraw the steam and it stops.
Just so with man. When the body is formed it would be inanimate and inactive without breath. When the breath of life is breathed into the nostrils and his organs begin to functionate, it is said that man then is a breathing creature; hence a soul. When he ceases to breathe he is dead.
Man is a soul. He does not possess a soul. Every creature that breathes is a soul. God applied the words living soul to the lower order of animals long before man’s creation. (Genesis 1:20, margin) That all breathing creatures are designated as souls by Jehovah is proven by these words: “Levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep”. (Numbers 31:28) All souls die alike. “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again,”—Ecclesiastes 3:19,20.