The prophet Zechariah wrote that God “forms the spirit of man within him” (Zech. 12:1). The preservation of this phrase in the text demonstrates that this element was vital to God’s creation of the human race.
In his book, Facts and Theories as to a Future State (p. 48), biblical scholar F.W. Grant wrote: “… along with the formation of the heavens and the earth, as of equal importance with these (the body being moreover passed over in the matter) there is put by the inspired writer this formation of the spirit of man. And this is the complete upsetting of the materialistic theory [i.e., evolution]. The spirit of man is formed within him. It is a separate [unique] entity then in each individual man, not (like the breath of life) a common principle shared by all” (Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, p. 1020).
When God or Elohim created human beings in His image and likeness, He formed the first human Adam out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 1:26-27). Common to all creatures is the breath of life (Eccl. 3:19). God imparted this to Adam and later to Eve at creation (Gen. 2:7; Job 27:3). At the same time, God formed within Adam and Eve a spirit essence unique to each of them called the “spirit of man.” (See Job 34:14 and Isaiah 42:5 for proof that humans possess both the breath of life and spirit of man.) When a person dies, his or her conscious thoughts cease, the body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God Who gave it (Psa. 6:5; Eccl. 3:20-21, 9:10, 12:7; Isa. 38:18; Heb. 12:23).
Adam and Eve were initially created sinless with a free will to choose between obedience and life, or disobedience and death. God created the first human beings very good (Gen. 1:31). However, Adam and Eve sinned and their natures were changed to being subject to the lusts of the flesh and desires of the mind (Eph. 2:1-3). All humans thereafter, except Jesus, have sinned; all are in need of forgiveness and God’s Spirit (Rom. 3:23; II Cor. 5:21). Natural persons with their five senses, led by a carnal mind, cannot obey God’s laws, nor discern His works and plans (Rom. 8:5; I Cor. 2:14). Only God can save men from their sins, and only His Spirit can give them the understanding of spiritual things.
The solution to man’s present sinful state is found later in Zechariah 12:10, where the prophet explains the basis of the restoration of Israel in the latter days. Here the LORD God of Israel spoke: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the people of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace [see Heb. 10:29 where the Holy Spirit is known by this name] and of supplication. And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced [a reference to the crucifixion of Christ], and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness over Him, as the bitterness over the firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). After His second coming, Jesus will save Judah and Israel, and the remnant of men who are left will seek the LORD, and all who repent will receive the Holy Spirit (Isa. 2:2-3; Zech. 8:22-23, 10:6; John 7:37-39; Acts 15:14-17). The Holy Spirit has now been given to those whom God has called into His Church (Acts 2:38-39).
More information on the spirit of man, human nature, sin, the Holy Spirit and other related topics see Appendix M, page 1288.