Sinners are their own worst enemies. Sinners unknowingly hate their souls.
An armed robber attacks you and gives you two choices: your body or your soul? Which would you give up? The natural man always gives up the soul in order to preserve the body. But the believer should always give up the body knowing it is of relatively little importance.
Neglecting the soul
The conversation between God and Satan in the book of Job is instructive. Although both of them refer to a man’s life, they are clearly talking about two different things. Satan says that a man will give anything to save his life. But he is really talking about the body. God, on the other hand, is prepared to withdraw his protection from the body of Job, but not from his soul.
The soul is the spiritual part of man. It is the part that thinks and reasons. It is the part that activates the body now, but will shortly operate independent and separate from it. The soul remains after this present life: the body does not. Therefore, Jesus asks: “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?” (Matthew 16:26).
It is a rhetorical question for the loss of the soul cannot be compensated by anything in the entire world. But Satan insists a man will give even his soul in exchange for his body because he knows men have little regard for their souls. Many don’t even know the soul exists. Similarly, we only become aware of our liver if there is a medical problem. Nevertheless we could not live without it.
Should the soul of a man be an abstraction? Should it be something we only deal with when we are in our seventies and eighties? Should it be something we wait to consider only on our deathbed? Certainly not! We need to be concerned about our souls on a present continuous basis? We must take good care of it by placing it firmly in our consciousness.
Protecting the stomach
Because of our high regard for the body, there are many things we would not eat. And if we were to eat something unknowingly, and are told afterward, we might even vomit. But we don’t seem to have the same high regard for our souls that we have for our stomachs; this gives the devil a foothold in our lives. He ensures that we readily pollute our mind with all kinds of junk. We read anything, watch anything and listen to anything.
A man might not be inclined to read the scriptures, but he would read any novel, newspaper or magazine. Some who would not eat lizards would read pornographic literature or watch blue films. Many enjoy listening to gossip and to “bad reports” glorified as “news” in such popular media as the BBC or the CNN.
But what says the wisdom of God: “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:20-23).
While a man might be particular about what he eats, many are not particular about who they sleep with. The devil has so distorted man’s perspective that many feel their mouth is more sacred than their sexual organs. Most prostitutes refuse to kiss their clients, and many men would never kiss a prostitute but would gladly sleep with one. Men have even been known to sleep with dead bodies, but I doubt if anyone would be interested in kissing a dead body, or worse still, in eating one.
Harming the soul
However, Jesus says: “ Your souls aren’t harmed by what you eat, but by what you think and say!” “Can’t you see that what you eat won’t harm your soul? For food doesn’t come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the digestive system.” “It is the thought-life that pollutes.” (Mark 7:14-20).
The word of God reveals that if a man eats a cow, he is not one body with the cow. But there is a mystical union of sex whereby if a man sleeps with a prostitute, it makes him one “body” with the prostitute. This is the reason why we can eat from the same plate with an AIDS patient and not catch AIDS, but if we were to have unprotected sex with him or her we might catch AIDS.
This is not to underestimate the importance of the body, but to put it in its proper perspective in relation to soul and spirit. The union of spirit is more lasting and enduring than the union of bodies. The union of a believer with the Spirit of Christ is pure and holy. Therefore, it is improper that we should sever that tie, and break that sacred bond, by being joined to a harlot or to anyone who is not our spouse.
Sleep of death
The device of the devil is to make men believe their bodies are their lives. Accordingly, when a body dies, it is mistakenly concluded that the man is dead. But the believer must recognise that when a body dies, the man is still alive only in a different address. The body is a temporary house we must all relinquish.
Thus, Peter says: “I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” (2 Peter 1:13-14).
The Disciples of Jesus did not understand him when, instead of speaking about Lazarus’ death, he spoke of Lazarus having gone to sleep: “Our friend Lazarus has gone to sleep, but now I will go and wake him up!” Thinking Jesus meant Lazarus was having a good night’s rest, they replied, “That means he is getting better!” But Jesus meant Lazarus had died. (John 11:11-12).
This is the reason why believers sometimes raise the dead. We know the dead are not really dead. We also know there are people that are alive in the body who are actually dead. Thus, Jesus says enigmatically: “Let the dead bury their own dead.” (Luke 9:60). This means let those without eternal life worry about those that are spiritually dead.
The flesh and the spirit work at cross-purposes. In many respects, they are implacable enemies: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:17).
No pleasure on earth is worth the death of the soul. However, what is pleasing to the body is often destructive of the soul. Sin is often pleasurable but it is deadly. Solomon says: “The man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul.” (Proverbs 6:32). In effect, sinners are their own worst enemies. Sinners unknowingly hate their souls.