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 the charge of our Saviour, that we should properly value the soul. These words are so familiar yet vastly misapprehended, they bear a closer look. What does He mean when he says a man could “lose his soul”? How is it that a man can “exchange” his soul for something of lesser value? Where and when is this transaction made?
First of all, we should understand what the Bible teaches us about the identity of the soul itself. Our soul is immaterial, it is who we are on the deepest level, and consists of our thoughts, motives, and self-awareness. The soul is called “the hidden man of the heart”, the “inner man”, the “heart”, and our “being” by various biblical authors.
King David, twice called it “my darling”, in the Psalms;
Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.(Psalm 22:20)
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.(Psalm 35:17)
In a desperate prayer for deliverance from evil, David called his soul, “my Darling”, that is He considered his soul his choicest and most excellent asset! There is nothing that should be as important to you, as the well-being of your own soul.
Keep you heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.(Proverbs 4:20)
When Jesus asked how a man could “gain the world and lose his soul”, too often this is interpreted humanistically, for psychologized Christian ministers reason, “See how important we are to God? One soul is worth the whole world to God! Thais how much God loves us!”.
What Jesus is really saying is that You as an individual should value your own soul, above all of the world. He is asserting that if You should lose your soul, nothing else the world could ever give you, would make up for the loss. That is how dear your own soul should be to you. It should be worth more than the whole world to You, and should not be exchanged for anything, it is to be preserved and protected for God.
The soul is immaterial, but has faculties, or senses. Our soul is given to us that we might have the capacity to know and commune with God.
The soul has sight, for doesn’t Jesus teach us that “the pure in heart will see God”? The soul has a sense of touch, for the new birth gives us a renewed sensitivity to God. Is there not a spiritual sense of smell? Christ, we are told is the aroma of either life or death to all men.
The soul has a sense of taste that can be developed, a man can learn to relish the word of God, prayer, and worship. And when the Bible tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God”, it refers to the inward acceptance, the true listening of the heart to God’s voice.
The soul is designed by God to Love the truth, to commune with God, to know and worship the only truly good and beautiful; the perfections and person of God himself. We were created for communion with our maker. But the sinful state of being renders these capacities inoperative. It can even pervert and distort them entirely.
Perhaps this is what it means to lose the soul. One can pervert spiritual taste, to the point that we have no appetite for truth, in fact we get to the point wherein we hate it? Jesus warned the people of His day that they had come to that point when he told them,
And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:45-47)
Familiarity with these verses often blunts the horror of what Jesus is saying about these men. He is telling these men that the reason they don’t believe Him is because he is telling them the Truth! That they actually hate Truth, and have no love for it.
This is one of the unforseen consequences of false doctrine, or false prophecy, it affects the soul. I have spent years trying to warn the followers of the popular but false Charismatic prophets, such as Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland and others, that they are in grave danger of losing their soul.
Paul warned us in 2 Thess 2 that the issue of “Love of the Truth “would become the basis for a judgment of a God sent delusion and ultimate damnation;
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.(2 Thess 2:10-12)
Those who have come to the point that they actually love lies, or the Lie, preferring it over the Truth, are lost. The capacity to recognize and rejoice in Divine truth can be exchanged for lies, to the point where there is no coming back.
Sin destroys the ability of man to “see God”, that is perceive the reality of Him for whom we were created. It can so pervert our sense of taste, that we relish evil, or the false and ugly. Persistent sin makes us deaf to God, dead to any sense of His presence and reality,
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.(Ephesians 4:17-19)
We are warned that sin can so desensitize us that we can become “beyond feeling”, incapable of blushing as Jeremiah lamented of his own people,
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.(Jeremiah 8:12)
Does anything make this evil generation blush? Have they not “been there and done that”?
We weep for our jaded, modern generation of children.! They have been subjected to school sensitivity training to the point where they think Homosexual marriage is a civil right, and abortion is just another option. They have seen thousands of murders, rapes, and adulterous affairs in the hours of television they have been allowed to see, and by their video games have vicariously participated in the occult, murder, and mayhem. What about their souls? What will become of them, if God doesn’t give us true revival?
Never saw losing the soul in light of losing spiritual sensitivity before. You have blessed me with something new to meditate on. Shalom to you and may the Lord bless the assembly in Iowa.
Whilst it is hard to disagree with anything that you have said, I think that you have taken your passage out of context. I am sure that a lot of your readers already value truth over all else, but this sometimes leads to people hiding their heads in books. A thirst for knowledge will not save one’s soul (and James 2v18-20 points this out – even the demons believe!). If you want to save your soul (and Christ made this possible by giving His life), we have to give our lives to God. To quote William MacDonald, “True Christianity is an all-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ”. This is the meaning of Mark 8v34-38 and I personally am concerned that no one is teaching this any more.
Whole hearted abandonment to the Lord. To give up all to Him in commitment of love is something I desire and yet I personally feel the spiritual battle. The Lord brings me through testing and shows me that my understanding of this is so limited and my commitment is still lacking. I remember in 2002, I was leaving the UK to come to South Africa and I had literally given up all, my cds, my lps, my flute, my right to myself and in the airport I remember feeling so detached from the world and I prayed that if the Lord had to take me, to take me then. I felt so close to the Lord. But the Lord showed me that it was not the case. There is still always something to surrender and the old man always follows at the heels.
What you say is so true but I feel that Bill’s posting does not rob the text of what Jesus was saying but fills out the details and makes it more three dimensional. We are to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. Thus the western division between head knowledge and heart knowledge (or as some say revelation knowledge) is not biblical. The mind and the heart in old testament hebrew is the same word ‘lev’. To reduce what Jesus means to the simple statement of ‘full commitment to Jesus’ needs to be emphasized, taught and lived out but God is also the God of details. He wants us to mature in our understanding through both revelation knowledge and through head knowledge.
Bill only writes snippets of things in these posts and they all deal with another aspect of scripture. I don’t believe this post misses your point for it is looking at what it means when you try to keep your life, and in that context end up losing it. What does it mean in that context to lose your life? It certainly means we go to a lost eternity but Bill is showing us that it means more than that. So far from taking out of context the passage he is zooming in on one aspect and rightly dividing the word of God. It is down to each one to mediate prayerfully and to obey what we see the Lord teaching us.
Shalom my brother in Yeshua’s most wonderful name.
Excelent Artical Bill. God bless.
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Thank you Bill, your words make me ponder on what I have been taught before, and value what I am learning now by His grace. I have seen the news about the weather and I am praying for His protection and comfort for you all.