Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “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?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.
Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?
I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?
We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.
Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)
Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!
Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!
We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When the walls of Jerusalem were erected, and only the gates remained to be hung, Israel’s enemies again tried to stop the progress. Seeing that brute force would not work (Neh. 4:7-23), Sanballat and Geshem tried a more “diplomatic” approach where perhaps they could get Nehemiah to compromise with them. They asked him to stop the work and meet them in one of the villages in the plain of Ono (Neh. 6:2-3). Nehemiah was not falling for this, and refused, even though the men hounded him for a meeting (v. 4-5).
When Nehemiah refused, Sanballat sent an open letter (Neh. 6:5) accusing him and the Jews of rebellion against Xerxes. Understand, an “open letter” was a form of insult against Nehemiah. Yet, when insulted, Nehemiah spoke the truth that Sanballat made up these charges. He then prayed for God’s strength (v. 8-9). He faced yet another test when Shemiah tried to get him to hide in the Temple under the ruse that Nehemiah needed to do this to save his life (v. 10-11). Thankfully, Nehemiah refused to listen and stood his ground with his people, again turning to God in this time (v. 14).
Satan does the same to us. First, he tempts us to give in to our lusts and sin against God (Jas. 1:14-15). If temptations that lead to rebellion do not lure us, then he uses other tactics, like compromise, to lead us away from the Lord. We see this in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 when Satan tempted Christ. When other tactics failed, he tried to get Jesus to compromise. If Jesus bowed and worshipped Satan, He would have the “kingdoms of the world”! He could avoid the cross altogether (Matt. 4:8-10; Lk. 4:5-8)! Why not compromise, Jesus? Isn’t this a way to “have your cake and eat it too”?
Compromise with the truth has been Satan’s tactic for years. He wants men to feel good about their partial obedience and then justify the behavior we want to do. For example, we might not yield to the temptation to be homosexual (Rom. 1:26-27), but Satan wants us to say we love others and will accept this behavior in others (ignoring Rom. 1:32). Similarly, we might not drink alcohol (I Pet. 4:3), but Satan says we ought not to condemn others who drink and exercise their “rights” in the USA. If someone takes a stand for truth and says that there is only one way to Heaven, through the teachings of Christ (Jn. 14:6), Satan’s minions will hound us and call us “narrow-minded,” and a “Pharisee.”
Yes, when Satan fails at getting us to turn from the Lord, he will try to get us to compromise. Friend, what will we do about this? What have we done? I hope we haven’t fallen into the trap of compromising with sin, but if so, know that there is still time to repent while we live (II Pet. 3:9; Heb. 3:7-8). If you need to be baptized for the remission of sins, then do it (Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:21). Don’t compromise with false doctrine on this issue or any other! Take advantage of the time we have and do what God says without compromise or apology -- just like Nehemiah!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Remember Lot’s Wife”
Luke 17:32 is a short verse, and it has reference to what happened to Lot’s wife as the family fled from Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. As Lot and his family were leaving (II Pet. 2:6-9), they were warned not to look back to the city lest they “be consumed” (Gen. 19:17). And as humans are wont to do, when Lot’s wife was told not to look back, she did that very thing and “became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). Having been promised safety by God through obedience, when she sinned, she paid the penalty for her disobedience. Certainly, when we think about our lives and the experiences that we have had; we can see that remembering is vital to our not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Let us consider Lot’s wife and learn lessons from her error.
Luke 17:32 teaches us that God keeps His promises. Just as God promised destruction on whoever looked back to Sodom in Genesis 19, God has promised eternal damnation for those who do not know God and do not obey His word. Paul said, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:6-9). God has promised “rest” for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). God has also promised an eternity of living in the presence of God and Christ in Heaven to those who are His children (Jn. 14:1-6; Rev. 7:15-17). Seeing that God kept His word in the Old Testament, we know He will keep it today (Rom. 2:7-11)!
In remembering Lot’s wife, we learn that God will not allow the wicked to continue indefinitely. Sodom and Gomorrah came to an end in Genesis 19. When God was through, there was nothing left but ashes and smoke (Gen. 19:28)! The lesson we must remember is that regardless of the sin, whether “public” or “private”, God knows about it, and we will answer for it. In Numbers 32:23, we learn, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Solomon said, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). Yes, God knows when we have sinned, and we will answer for it if we do not repent and turn to God (Ecc. 12:13; Rom. 2:16; I Tim. 5:24-25; Acts 3:19)!!
By remembering Lot’s wife we learn that just because a place seems great, this does not tell you what is on the inside! Lot, in Genesis 13, “pitched his tent toward Sodom” because he saw the well-watered plain (v. 12). By Genesis 14:12, he was in the city, and by Genesis 19, he was sitting in the gate of the city. Though rich, this city was wicked because of homosexuality and simply put, they were “sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:13, 19:5). This “vexed” Lot’s righteous soul (II Pet. 2:7). Yet, remember that he went there voluntarily because of the physical goods he thought he could enjoy! Let us not be fooled into thinking that physical prosperity equals spiritually soundness! Many times, it is exactly the opposite!
Another Strike At The Fabric Of Society
In June of 2013, Americans were met with the news that The Supreme Court of the United States had “legislated” from the bench again. Their 5-4 ruling was that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act was “unconstitutional”. Put simply, section three did not allow “same-sex” couples to receive the same government benefits that heterosexual married people receive. In effect, this ruling opened a door for the federal government’s eventual recognition of “same-sex” marriages in June of 2015. Such a ruling seems “par for the course” since in the past several years our civil leaders seem to do their best to rule in ways that are opposed to the Bible. Further, this nation is not unique in the world concerning such actions! I say this not as a virtue, but in shame. This nation that was once known for upholding Biblical principles is steadily moving away from these principles.
Before someone says, “We have separation of church and state in this country, so we ought not mix politics and religion”; let us be reminded that such a statement is never found in our Constitution nor Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Constitution forbids Congress from establishing a “state religion” as England and other countries have. Our Constitution, however, does not forbid civil leaders, or anyone else, from expressing religious convictions publicly or privately!
With this in mind, let the leaders of our country and its citizens be reminded that God has condemned homosexuality from Genesis through Revelation. How can folks who claim to believe in God and the Bible say otherwise? God showed His condemnation of homosexual acts when He destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim (Gen. 19). Homosexual sins were consistently condemned throughout the Old Law. In the New Testament, we see the same thing (Matt. 19:4-6; Rom. 1:26-27; I Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; etc.). Thus, when a country has legislators (or jurists acting like legislators) who treat homosexual sins as a “right”, then something is WRONG! Further, rest assured, God will not allow such actions to go unpunished. (See: Dan. 4-5)
Remember the words of the Lord: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Yet, in the current political climate, instead of leaders bowing their heads and asking God for forgiveness, we have a civil government who encourages homosexual behavior (and other sinful acts) by bowing to those who practice it! (Rom. 1:32)
Is homosexuality the only sin that has been “legalized”? No! Drinking alcohol, abortions (murder of unborn children), prostitution, fornication, adultery, divorce for any cause, and numerous other sins have been “legalized” in the last century. The sin of homosexuality is simply the “latest” sin being justified by civil leaders.
What can Christians do in a situation where our leaders rule in opposition to God? 1) Pray to God for help (Jas. 5:16; I Pet. 5:7). Pray also for our civil leaders that they will see the error of their ways and repent (I Tim. 2:1-2). 2) Teach our children what is right. Homosexuality, like all other sins, is learned behavior (Jas. 1:14-15). It isn’t “genetic”, as some claim, for God says repent of it! (I Cor. 6:9-11) Let us teach our children God’s laws for marriage (Matt. 19:4-6; I Cor. 7:2; Heb. 13:4). Let us show them God’s ways of living while they are at home (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6). 3) Speak up when we can. This country still has freedom of speech for the time being. Let us use our freedom to speak up for God’s way, regardless of the sin being “legalized” (II Tim. 4:2, 2:2; II Pet. 1:12-15; etc.)! Express your disagreement with the elected officials as well. Let them know that there is a “voter block” who cares for God’s ways of ruling. Who knows but the people you speak to can be convinced and converted to the Lord’s ways on this subject and other subjects before it is too late (Est. 4:14).