“If I Should Lose My Soul”

11 August 2019

Just like our discussion last week, this week’s lesson also begs a question to be answered in order to begin, “What is a soul?” In 2 Corinthians 4:16 the apostle Paul speaks of an inward man and an outward man, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” There are some in the world who tell us that man is wholly mortal and that when he dies there is nothing left. He is “dead all over just like the little dog rover.” The apostle Paul does not agree with this concept. There is more to man than just this outward body. We do know from our scripture that Paul is speaking here of a person whose nature is an inward man and an outward man.

When we read Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Here we are told God “formed man…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” After God had formed man something else was necessary to bring man to life. Man is more than body. God breathed into him the “breath of life.” God “formed man of the dust” as well as “every beast of the field and fowl of the air” as we read in Genesis 2:19. However, it is not said that God breathed into the animals the “breath of life.” From Genesis 1:27 we see the significant difference between men and animals, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This verse tells us God created man in His own image. Neither the beasts of the field nor the fowls of the air are created in the image of God. If man is wholly mortal, then that which God created in His image is wholly mortal necessitating the conclusion that there is that in God which is mortal as God says in Deuteronomy 32:40, “For I raise My hand to heaven, And say, "As I live forever,”

When we turn to the book of Ecclesiastes we notice another aspect we need to be aware of, that there is a part of man that returns to the earth and a part that returns to God. Listen to Ecclesiastes 12:7, “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.” The important thing to note is that man is more than a body made of the dust of the earth. He possesses a spirit that comes from God that is made in His image and likeness. We need to recognize that man is a being, possessing both body and spirit.

From the Apostle Paul’s 2 letter to the Corinthians we read where Paul speaks of an earthly house which will be dissolved and a building from God. Paul longs to put off this earthly house in order to be clothed upon with the habitation that is from heaven. This indicates that there is more to man than this mortal body. Listen to Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” The apostle Peter also speaks of being in a tabernacle or tent or dwelling that will soon be put off. Listen to 2 Peter 1:13-14, “Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” Our physical body is the tabernacle Peter speaks of that he will put off, so there must be more to man than just this mortal body. With this thought in mind let’s recognize something the apostle Paul speaks of in Philippians 1:23-24, “For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” Notice Paul says he is undecided saying it would be better for him to leave and be with Christ but for the sake of the brethren to abide in the flesh is far better. The point with this, there is something in the flesh that lives on. Man is more than mortal.

Going back to the Old Testament we can recognize from Zechariah 12:1, that God has “…formed the spirit of man within him.” While the body was formed of the dust of the earth, God has formed within man that which is in His likeness and image. Let’s ask a question, “Is God Dust?” No, God is Spirit as we learn from John 4:24, “"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Once again we can go to another Scripture reference from the apostle Paul in Romans 7:22 where Paul refers to the inward man, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” There is more than just this physical body. This inward man is what delights or rejoices in the word of God! The inward man is subject to a law of the mind. This inward man is sometimes in opposition to the members as we read in Romans 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Paul goes further to explain this warfare in Romans 7:23, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

When we consider spirit and or the soul it’s quite clear from scripture that man has something dwelling inside his mortal body. According to the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19 we read that this “inward man” is strengthened, this is where Christ dwells, it is the inner man that comprehends the love of Christ, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Again, we come to a point where we ask another question, “Does that which is wholly mortal comprehend eternal Spirit?” No. We can go back to the Old Testament again and recognize something Daniel said in Daniel 7:15 to help us better understand this, “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” Daniel says he was grieved in his spirit, not his body. We know that God was grieved in His Spirit as we can read in Genesis 6:6 and Judges 10:16. Then we can ask another question, “Is God’s spirit mortal?” No.

As we continue to better understand what the soul is we can look at a reference Paul makes of an incident in his past. In 2 Corinthians 12:3 we read, “And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” Here Paul doesn’t know whether he was in or out of the body. This text demonstrates that man exists separate or apart from his body. There is more to man than his mortal body. The prophet Elijah makes a statement we can gain more understanding with as well in 1 Kings 17:21, “And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." In this case Elijah did not ask for another soul to be created. He did not speak as if this boy’s soul no longer existed. Elijah recognized that this boy’s soul still existed and could come from wherever it was back into the boy again. Just think of the words of the Psalmist when he says in Psalm 31:5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit…” Jesus quotes this passage as He hung on the cross in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'” For Jesus to state this we have to ask yet another question, “Was the Divine Son of God wholly mortal?” No. We can go back to Matthew 26:41 and see where Jesus distinguishes between the flesh and spirit, “"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Notice that He attributes a desire to spirit that differs and conflicts with the desires of the flesh. Furthermore, His instruction is directed toward the spirit – watch and pray – lest it should be overcome by the desires of the flesh.

Going back to another occasion with the apostle Paul concerning the spirit or soul, we go to 1 Corinthians 2:11, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” Here Paul attributes intellect, reason and consciousness to “The spirit within” and not to the body. There is something apart from the flesh that gives man his higher powers of consciousness. Man is not like the animals because “of the spirit of man that is in him.”

Let’s go to one more reference from the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-- 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Here Peter enjoins an adornment that is of the “hidden man of the heart” as opposed to an adornment of the body. He calls this “man” an incorruptible, that is, immortal spirit. Man is not wholly mortal.

We know from Matthew 10:28, “"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible tells us the body can be killed and the spirit or soul will survive. They are not the same. Man is not wholly mortal; there is within him an immoprtal spirit. James tells us in James 2:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James does not say the spirit is dead. The argument is sometimes made that the spirit here refers to the “breath” of man. The next reference should help us easily understand the difference because the same word that is translated spirit is both cases. And what is true of one is true of the other. Listen to John 4:24 again, “"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." From this verse we are told that God is a Sprit. This is the same word that is used in James 2:26. If it means “breath” then we would have John saying, by inspiration, that “God is a breath.” This is nonsense, if not blasphemy. We began our study showing that man was created in the image and likeness of God. While man possesses a mortal body that returns to the dust he also possesses an immortal spirit, this is that in man which is after the likeness of God – dead matter is not in the image of God.

When it comes to our soul we must recognize that Jesus Christ assigns vale to the human soul. He says it is the most precious possession we have. There is not anything that we can give to redeem it. There is not anything for which we might give it up that will equal its worth. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-27, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” So, we ask the question, “Don’t you want to save your soul?” Here’s what happens if we lose our soul. First, we would have to recognize that God’s grace would be in vain as we read in 2 Corinthians 6:1, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Second, we would lose everything, for we can take none of the things we have gained in this life with us as we read in 1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Third, we would lose much comfort, joy and sweet assurances in this life as Paul says in Romans 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Paul also says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Fourth, we would go to the judgment crying out for the mountains and rocks to fall upon us as we read in Revelation 6:16-17, “and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Fifth, we would have to spend eternity in a burning torment as Jesus says in Matthew 25:46, “"And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Sixth, we would lose heaven as we read in Revelation 21:1-5, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." Lastly, and very important for us to notice as we live in this life preparing for the one to come, if we lose our soul, through the power of influence, we would be instrumental in causing others to lose their souls as Paul helps us know in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

God wants all of man to save their soul. He has given His precious Begotten Son for everyone to have the opportunity to do so. God will not force anyone to come to Him, for He wants all to freely come to Him. Let us recognize the value of our Soul. And when this life is over, the flesh will return to dust, but the soul will live on. It is up to us to make the choice where it will dwell.

Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ and His Will as it is presented in the Bible. Let us adhere to the “oracles of God as Peter told us in 1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Let us do as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

Let everyone believe Jesus Christ as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Let everyone hear the Word of God and have the faith described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:1 and 6, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Let everyone do as Peter told those to do on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Let all confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God as Jesus explains in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

 Let all follow the wonderful example of obedience found in Acts 8:36-39 where Philip has been teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” The apostle Paul helps us see the importance of baptism in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” When one has been baptized, their sins are washed away and they rise a new child of God, a Christian. This is where the “walk in newness of life” begins. This new beginning requires a lifetime of service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”