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)
We have been looking at Jesus’ teaching on the soul, in Mark 8. I recommend you stop and read the passage again to yourself out loud, and allow the timeless words of the Son of God to speak to you afresh.
Jesus speaks of our souls in commercial terms, for the soul is of value, though all too often its value is vastly unappreciated. Jesus also speaks of it as being exchanged for either profit or loss. Obviously m persons life consists of countless spiritual transactions that are of eternal consequence. How many of us so much as consider it?
We need to prayerfully consider the admonition of Jesus, that we not lose our soul, by selling it. What is Jesus actually warning us of ? How does one “lose His soul”? What currency is exchanged for the soul? Perhaps of greatest consequence,how does one profit, spiritually?
Perhaps a good place to start is the words of King Solomon, in the Proverbs, of which Jesus would have been very familiar with,
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.(Proverbs 23:23)
By use of the term “the truth”, we refer to its biblical meaning, rather than the general concept of truth. “The truth” is the only valid revelation of the Spiritual and Eternal reality. It is what God has shown us through Apostles and Prophets and most fully through the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus.
“The Truth” has to do with who God really is, it is the Revelation of the only True God, and Jesus whom He has sent. The Truth also concerns who man is, as well as what has happened to man since the fall, his current state, and how he can be redeemed back to God. Finally the Truth is about Christ Jesus, the God-man, and how and why he redeemed us by his own blood.It is also the revelation of the only way of salvation.
Truth is the currency of the soul. The soul is sanctified unto God himself, by the truth (John 17:17), the truth sets us free from sin and bondage,(John 8:31-32). We are to love the truth, pay any price for it, obey it, and allow it to work in our hearts. Christians are to be faithful witnesses to the truth.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:(1 Peter 1:22)
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.(John 17:17)
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.(John 8:31-32)
People are saved by humbling themselves to “the truth”. Though God gives it freely, it is costly; to our own pride, and to our standing with our loved ones, and in some cases, acceptance of the truth costs people their earthly lives.
For a current example of this , consider that when Muslims accept the truth as revealed in Jesus, they are often immediately persecuted by those closest to them. Muslims have been killed by family members for converting to Jesus. They ‘buy the truth’, and refuse to ‘sell it’, that is relinquish it, no matter what the inducement.
The stark choice between persecution unto death for accepting Jesus, or purchasing the favor of unbelieving loved ones by denying the gospel, is clear-cut and obvious. But for most of us here in the west, ‘the truth’, and our very souls are bought and sold on a much subtler level. So many transactions occur daily; not in huge do or die situations , but in countless trivial exchanges, that most of us are oblivious to the degree with which we may have ‘sold the truth’, or ‘exchanged our soul’ in the marketplace.
I will attempt to describe some of these spiritual transactions, by which even christians are regularly tempted to ‘sell the truth’ without even realizing it. Jesus reveals the essence of each one, which always in some form consists of the attempt to ‘save our lives’, or the willingness to ‘lose our lives’, for his sake and for the gospel.
John Bunyon was a good example of buying the Truth and selling it not.
I woke up this morning thinking about “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul”. It’s a very valid question, and I think we have a lot of work to do in praying for those whom God blesses with commercial or social success in this world. I’ve never watched the show, but I keep hearing about this family on a Duck Dynasty show and I see their merchandise everywhere. I also hear about their testimony of our Lord and Savior. I realized this morning that even though I see their faces and merchandise all over the place, I have never prayed for them to be protected from temptation or delivered from evil.
I once watched a documentary about Johnny Cash and was surprised to find out that when he started out he really wanted to be a gospel musician, but got pushed into secular music by record studios and the lifestyle of the entertainment world soon followed. He strayed so far from the Lord he nearly killed himself in a cave while running from the law on charges of smuggling drugs from Mexico. It’s a really amazing story how he ended up repenting and truly following Jesus; but I have to wonder how many people, besides maybe his own mother, every prayed for him to be protected from temptation and evil?
And how much less should we all be praying for the people we personally know? I think about the young men I know struggling to provide for their families, probably praying for God to provide an increase in their earnings, maybe a promotion or something. What if they get it? What if they get more than they expected? Who will protect them from the temptations that come with abundance and success?
I know a young man right now, 32 years of age, who has two Pizza Ranch restaraunts, a commercial real estate business, and is in many respects a brilliant business man and he loves Jesus. He has dozens of people working for him that depend on him to be wise and discerning with the resources Jesus has given him. I have been praying for him, but honestly I could do a better job. May the Lord protect him from temptation, and may he never be tempted to gain the world at the expense of Jesus.
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