36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Here is a classic example of the Bible defining itself. Notice the previous verses. What is the follower of Christ called to deny? Soul is self identity. It is self; self awareness, our emotions and intellect.
Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
“Himself” is inserted in Luke for “his own soul” in Mark. I once heard a Biblically illiterate preacher with a PH.D., which means nothing in regard to spiritual discernment by the way, say that spirit and soul were the same thing. These fools are everywhere in Christianity. Make it up as we go along because we have rejected the words of God like Peter has just done. Get thee behind me, Satan.
A human being and the animals are composed of three integral parts; a body, a soul, and a spirit.
1Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Animals, of course, have bodies so I don’t need to show you that self-evident fact. But, the higher animals also have a sense of self, a soul.
Numbers 31:28 And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, [both] of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:
Job 12:10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
Revelation 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
I’ll save the spirit of man and of animals and God’s Holy Spirit for a different time.
So, after telling His followers in the last verses that to follow Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him, and to lose their lives for His sake in order to live, He now asks the rhetorical question. What is the good of worldly wealth, success, prosperity, luxury, approval, enjoyment, pleasure, self-satisfaction, etc. etc. if the end result is that you lose your soul?
What does the world offer you? Why, the very same things Satan offered Eve. She saw that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was “good for food” (Genesis 3:6) which corresponds with the “lust of the flesh” in 1 John 2:16. She saw that it was “pleasant to the eyes” which corresponds to the “lust of the eyes”. She saw that it was “desired to make one wise” which corresponds to the “pride of life.”
So, Jesus asks them and by extension, you, if you desire to follow Him, what good is it to get all of those things you want, all you can stomach and more, if it means an eternity in agony and pain, without Him?
You stuff your face and your belly because your belly is the god you actually serve.
Phillippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
You look upon things and desire what you do not have.
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And you honor things of this earth that have no value in God’s eyes.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
And doing so, what effect do you think this has on your relationship with Christ, if you even have one?
I know people who say they are Christians who don’t eat to live but rather live to eat. They exist to consume. In fact it makes them feel good to eat, drink, shop, consume, that essence of “I’m alive because I can have stuff.” Their idols are their bellies and the junk they can amass in their short, miserable lives.
I know people who call themselves Christians who think nothing of viewing pornography. They would say they weren’t hurting anyone and that it’s a man-thing, you wouldn’t understand. Or they are addicted to television or movies, constantly having to watch some little drama, some theater or they will be forced to examine the insufficiency of their own lives. They are spectators; spectators of sports, of drama, of life in general because, to paraphrase a famous saying, the unexamined life may not be worth living but it is relatively painless. What’s worse is that they watch things as entertainment that it is forbidden for them to do, living sinfully and vicariously through a fictitious person.
I know people who call themselves Christians who admire celebrities, the wealthy, or anyone of any fame that isn’t a notorious figure and, amazingly, even some of those are admired. So-called Christians who worship the government, powerful captains of industry, the lifestyles of the rich and famous or they pay homage to the great generals, the conquerors, the warriors of any rank, no matter how profane, athletes, movie, and music stars. They worship sex, education, status, and wealth. They don’t encourage their children to study the Bible or to serve God but rather to study the ways of the world and to serve themselves. They may even extol the godless; on the left they’ll spit out the bones of the meal that Karl Marx ate and on the right, of Ayn Rand.
You want it? Go ahead. It’s there for the taking. But, are you really a Christian? Do you really believe in Christ, what He said about who He is, and do you trust Him? Or are you merely a philosophical Christian, a misguided fool like many of our Founding Fathers or conservative celebrities like TV commentator, Bill O’Reilley, who believe that buying into a little of Christ’s philosophy is a good thing, and being a Christian gentleman or lady is exemplary but you certainly aren’t going to be superstitious enough to believe all of that stuff about Jesus being God in the flesh!
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.