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What Happens to Your Soul After Death?

Updated on November 14, 2012
Local cemetery of Sandomierz, Poland. Photo by Greg Sereda
Local cemetery of Sandomierz, Poland. Photo by Greg Sereda

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What Happens to Your Soul After Death?

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What Happens to Your Soul After Death?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your soul after death? I gave my cousin some Christian literature on the topic of death. After reading it he asked me, “So what happens to your soul after death? Does it go into the light of Heaven? Does it wander around aimlessly? If you have been bad, does it get cast into the flames of Hell?”

In order to answer the question of what happens to your soul after death, it is important to have a biblical understanding of what the soul is. The popular notion of the soul is a living entity, with its own conscious thought, that can exist apart from the body after death; although, I have yet to find a scripture in the Bible explaining the soul in those terms. I once asked several Christian friends of mine if they were aware of any such passage in the Bible and they, too, were at a loss to point me to such a Scripture. If you are aware of one, please mention it in the comment box below.

What is a Soul?

According to Genesis 2:7, a soul is a combination of the “dust of the ground” and “the breath of life” which make up a living being: “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.” In other words, a soul is a person. Sometimes we use the word soul in this sense. For example, I could say of someone, “He is such a charitable soul”; and you would know I am talking about his person.

Sweet Dreams

With the understanding that a soul is a person, Job 14:12 explains what happens to the soul after death: “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Simply put, the soul (person) goes to sleep at death. When we die, we enter into an unconscious state. It is like going to sleep; and that is why the Bible describes death as a sleep. We are to sleep in the grave until the return of Jesus Christ, at which time He will take us (and those who are alive at the time) to Heaven if we have been following Him as our Lord and Savior:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

Emotional Deception

Souls do not roam around after death. This is one of the most powerful and affective demonic deceptions. The devil and his minions have the power to appear as departed spirits of the dead, like Samuel by the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-19). For those who do not know their Bibles, they can easily be deceived by this. Such demonic apparitions are designed to subtly lead people away from God and the Bible.

For example, I once attempted to witness to someone, and he said it wasn’t necessary because he had seen his dead son in a dream who had reassured him that everything was going to be alright. He trusted in that dream for his eternal well-being. He didn’t feel like he needed to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

What makes impersonating the dead such an effective deception is that it plays on our emotions. Many people miss and love their deceased parents, children, spouses and siblings; so when evil angels come impersonating them, they easily drop their guard and become deceived. This is why the Bible prohibits us from communication with the dead: "There shall not be found among you any … consulter with familiar spirits [spirits of the dead], ... For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: ..." - Deuteronomy 8:10-13.

This has an end time application in connection to the mark of the beast, as well. Revelation 13:14-18 talks about the world being deceived into receiving the mark of the beast. Chapter 18:23 mentions sorcery as an element of that deception; and communication with spirits of the dead is a form of sorcery.

What About the Spirit?

The Bible not only talks about the soul, but it also talks about the spirit. Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably in the Bible. However, they are generally defined differently; and the spirit, as well as the soul, is not some disembodied ghost that floats around. Job 27:3 defines the spirit as the breath of God in our nostrils. That takes us back to the creation account in Genesis 2:7, where it says God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils. Therefore, the spirit is the life-giving force of God’s breath.

Many Christians believe that Christians go straight to Heaven after death, according to Ecclesiastes 12:7: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” But properly understood, this is just saying that God’s life-giving breath will return to Him after we die. Notice how Psalm 146:4 confirms this: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” The words “spirit” and “breath” can be used interchangeably in these two passages.

The souls or spirits of people do not wander around after death, go straight to Heaven, or go to Hell. A soul is synonymous with a person, which goes into an unconscious state upon death, like when someone goes to sleep. Believing in departed spirits of the dead can lead to dangerous deceptions by demonic spirits, who intend to lead people away from God and the Bible; and our spirit is simply the life-giving breath of God, which returns to Him upon our death.

All Scripture references are from the King James Version Bible.

Other Christian Resources and Hubs by Greg Sereda

A forty minute video documentary outlining the final events of Bible prophecy and the role that deceptive spirits will play in leading people to receive the mark of the beast.

Will we be able to high dive into the River of the Water of Life? Will we discover new life in the universe? Will we be able to fly like eagles? Will we build our ultimate dream home? Will we have exotic pets? Find out by reading this hub.

An outline of four scriptures that will help you understand God's will for your life.


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    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 4 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      This is a good theologically written article.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 years ago from london Books are listed alphabetically. You may also put something like 'your soul has a special mission' and the book should come up.

    • Greg Sereda profile image

      Greg Sereda 5 years ago from Sandomierz, Poland

      Manatita - Thank you for your suggestion.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 years ago from london

      I recommend Yoga And The Spiritual Life. There is a lot in there, and it is written by Someone who is infinitely more qualified than I am. God speed!! You can find it by browsing. It is free.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is a very hypothetical and thought provoking subject matter. I wish somebody could really tell us and confirm what happens to our soul when we die.

      For now, I'll keep the faith.

      Voting up, interesting and sharing. Maybe other readers have a more in-depth explanation whether Christian or not--that'll be engaging.



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