And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.(Mark 8:34-38)
Jesus would have us to realize the value of the soul. To die as a lost soul is the ultimate disaster. There would be no remedy for it, nothing could replace the loss of soul.
We created as sentient beings, made in the image of God, self aware and endowed with faculties such as intelligence, memory, conscience, imagination, perception, and a capacity for love, hate, choice, desire, enjoyment, satisfaction, elation, and sorrow, among other wonderful qualities which set us apart from the rest of creation. These were given to us that we might fellowship with God.
But sin perverts these wonderful gifts. We end up loving for, longing for, and even worshiping and adoring that which is less than God. We are not happy, for we cannot attain a justified satisfaction, nor joy. Our consciences tell us that something is wrong. We know we aren’t right with God, we are not what we were created to be.
But there is a cure for the lost soul. We can be reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ. Our hearts can be taught the gospel, our consciences can be stilled, through the truth that whatever we have done to separate ourselves from God, has been answered for by Jesus on the cross. God is satisfied, and sin has been answered for, once and for all.
Now our souls can be animated by a new principle of Life, for instead of being centered in Self, we can now live by the Holy Spirit who comes to us to save our souls. We can choose the gospel, by justifying God and renouncing ourselves, and enter into a life of Christian discipleship.
Or we can go on insisting that we are not sinners, and continue on living a life centered in Self. Not necessarily selfish in the traditionally understood sense, but in an autonomous sense. The man centered in self, makes his own judgments about good and evil, right and wrong. He is the master of his own destiny, he defines himself, and is answerable only to himself, in short , he is a modern man.
All men’s souls are on a trajectory whether they believe it or not. Whatever we are, we are growing in it. A soul is always growing in some direction. Proverbs calls it a path or a way…
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.(Proverbs 4:18-19)
The souls of the saved are a work in progress ;the seed of life and righteousness is implanted, they grow in grace and knowledge, righteousness increases, even the senses become trained to discern good and evil.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.(Hebrews 5:14)
Such is the journey of the christian. The walk in the light begins as a small match light in a cave , or a sliver of sun on a horizon. I remember when all I knew was that I was a sinner indeed, but Jesus loved me, and died for me. That was enough to transform my life, though I yet saw dimly.
But the Sun of Righteousness steadily arises unto full, broad splendor, eventually showing everything around us in its true spiritual form. “the true light now shineth…”. The thing about Christians is that they can see.
But the wicked are on a “way” that is an ever-increasing darkness…
The first Psalm gives us a hint of this dreadful truth, when he proclaims the blessedness of the one who;
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.(Psalm 1:1)
Notice the degression from walking, to standing to sitting? The one walking in the counsel of the ungodly, is at least still walking. He could turn around, he could yet change direction . But eventually a walk hardens into a stand. This one has taken his stand with sinners; a line has been drawn, sides are taken and a stand is being made. But still there is time to change your mind.
But in the end, a seat is taken with the scorners. As age progresses and no repentance occurs, a paralysis sets in, the rigidity of sin and evil. He sits with the scorners! He sits among the cynical who do not believe in anything, to whom all that is sacred has become an object of bitter ridicule.
Likewise there is a verse in Proverbs 7 that describes this deepening darkness; in the description of the heedless young man, aimless and bored and prey to the Harlot who eventually destroys him, sending him to hell….
Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:(Proverbs 7:8-9)
Notice the progression, from the twilight, to the evening , to the black and dark night?
The point is every human soul, saved or lost is on a trajectory, either from sun up to full blazing day, or from twilight to evening to blackest night. Whatever we are, we shall be more of in the next life. The soul’s capacity for joy, or misery only increases. We are all going to live forever. Neither Heaven or Hell will cancel it out.
The soul will never lose it’s ability to think, to remember, to ponder and be aware of itself, whether it be in bliss or in terrible remorse.
This ought to be a matter of the greatest concern to you. This is what Jesus was talking about, when he said, ‘what good would to do to gain the world, if in the process you lose your soul’? What could possibly make up for an eternal loss? How could you compensate yourself in this life for eternal remorse, bitter regret, deep soul ache?
On the other hand, what are the temporary miseries of this life compared to eternal joy, love, and satisfaction? This is why a wise man once said, “If you are a christian, this life with its sorrows and miseries is as bad as it could ever be for you… but if you are a sinner, this life with all of its paltry joys and temporary pleasures is as good as it will ever be for you”.
Jesus is called ‘the Shepherd and Bishop of your soul, because He alone has the cure for it. Only He can set us right with God again, for he died for your sins, and can renew the conscience, and give us a new center to live by. Ask him to save you, He loves you and would restore your soul.