Who Owns Your Soul?

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The biblical answer to the crucial question, "Who owns your soul?" Hint: It isn't you.

Submitted: September 21, 2017

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Submitted: September 21, 2017



Who owns your soul?

Who Owns Your Soul?


Wisdom's Friend

A grave error is held by many in this world. They think that they own their own soul, that they are their own. They are not. God's Word, the Bible, flatly contradicts this deadly error.

"You are not your own" (1 Cor. 6:19).

"A man's life is not his own" (Jer. 10:23 NIV).

Well, if we are not our own, then whose are we? Who has ownership of our soul? The Bible tells us plainly whose we are: We belong to God:

"Behold, all souls are mine" (Ezek. 18:4).

"For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord’s" (Rom. 14:7-8).

Now, it is one thing for a person of the world to hold a faulty view of the ownership of his own soul, but it is quite another for a Christian to do so. Yet it would appear that many do just that, judging by their lifestyle. The sad truth is that it is too often hard to distinguish between the behavior of one claiming to be a Christian and that of a person of the world. As our brother James says, "My brothers, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:10).

Because it is so, perhaps a clear teaching and warning needs to be issued to those who claim to belong to Christ but cling to the lie that they still have ownership of their souls. The truth is, they never did have ownership of their soul; it belongs to the One who made it, God.

There is a difference between coming to faith in Christ for salvation, which is free, and living out that faith afterwards, which is costly indeed. Too many apparently have not been taught this second truth. This article is meant to help correct that deficiency. Here the reader will see set forth the truth about what it really means to believe in Jesus, that it is more than a simple confession of faith: It means that you surrender your soul to him. You acknowledge that he owns you.

Now, this is a different thing than that which is sometimes portrayed in the world's literature. There is, for example, the classic German legend of Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange (in some versions) for knowledge, or (in other versions) for happiness. There are many things wrong with trying to associate what we are talking about here with this worldly tale. First, of all, Faust sought out the devil for this exchange, not God. Secondly, no human being has the right to exchange his soul for anything. It is not his to sell; it belongs to God. How absolutely horrible, then, the idea of seeking to sell something that belongs to God--and that to the devil, his evil enemy. And lastly, the whole concept of bartering one's soul, for anything, is repugnant and horribly degrading of a God-given gift.

Since the soul belongs to God, who made it, that so many cling to their soul as their own possession shows how little they understand. Jesus firmly and directly rebuked this dangerous misconception:

"Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it" (Luke 17:33).

It is sad that anything at all should have to be said about this matter, but this is nothing new. Our brother Paul ran into a similar problem long ago, for he said, "Brothers, I couldn’t speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready, for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren’t you fleshly, and don’t you walk in the ways of men?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

"Walking in the ways of men. . . ." Isn't that what it all comes down to? People make a confession of faith in Christ but then go about their way as though nothing has changed, and they continue to walk in the ways of the world. Yet Scripture says that a true, sincere confession of faith is the beginning of being a new creature in Christ.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

God owns you! Your soul is not your own; you belong to another. God owns you by right of creation. Because he created you, he owns you--just as any artist owns that which he creates. And, like any artist, God has the right to remake what he has created to suit his glorious purposes for that creation.

"Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he was making a work on the wheels. When the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 'House of Israel, can't I do with you as this potter?' says Yahweh. 'Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel'" (Jer. 18:3-6).

God has made us human beings out of clay, the earth. This body of earth houses our soul. One day that body will die and decay back into earth. It is the same for animals and men. Their bodies return at death from whence they came, the earth. Every grave in a cemetery witnesses to this.

"That which happens to the sons of men happens to animals. Even one thing happens to them. As the one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals: for all is vanity. . . . All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Eccl. 3:19-20).

However, though the bodies of men and animals suffer the same fate, it is a different thing for their spirit. The same passage quoted above goes on to ask, "Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?" (v. 21).

Who knows? The One who created them both knows. He knows that he gave each human being a spirit and soul to be housed in the body, and he knows which human beings have surrendered their souls to him to do with as he pleases, and which have not. The Lord knows who acknowledges His ownership of their soul, that they belong to him.

"The Lord knows those who are his" (2Tim. 2:19).

That verse goes on to confirm that those who claim to belong to the Lord are required to prove it by how they live: ". . . Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness."

Belonging to God means that one is owned by him. That is what the word belong means. It is common to think of this meaning with regard to things, but it can also apply to people. In biblical times, slavery was common in many cultures. Our brother Paul understood what it meant to belong to Jesus Christ, for in Titus 1:1, for example, he calls himself a servant of God, in some translations, or a slave of God, in others. Either way, the word implies a total devotion and bonding of the person in submission to God.

Submission and humility goes against the grain and sinful nature of human beings. We naturally want to do all we can to our own advantage and to keep control over our own soul. However, adamant clinging of one's soul brings about the very thing that such clinging seeks to prevent: Those who cling to their soul will lose it. Why? Because it is not theirs to keep. It belongs to the One who created it and gave it to them to use for his purposes, not theirs. When they die, then that soul is demanded of them, to be returned to its rightful owner.

"But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared-whose will they be?'" (Lk. 12:20).

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me" (Mal. 3:8,9).

The one who clings his soul to his breast as his own instead of surrendering it to God as his due will die under the curse of God, because that soul belongs to God. To have kept it from him in one's life is to have robbed God.

Our lives are meant to be an offering to God. Since God is the highest Being and supreme extreme of all existence, only the highest and most precious thing that we can set before him is worthy of being an offering to him. That highest, most precious thing we have is we ourselves, our soul.

"Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service" (Rom. 12:1).

We are to offer to God not only our body but our very soul. It is the most precious thing we have. It is even more than something we possess; it is our very being, it is who we are. We are to offer ourselves to God, in our totality. That is the soul. To do otherwise, to try to keep our selves for ourselves is to rob God and to come under his curse. It is no accident that Scripture describes any who insist on being independent of God, such as the devil, as a thief who "comes to steal, kill, and destroy" (Jn. 10:10).

He who keeps his soul for himself destroys himself by thus coming under God's just wrath for stealing from God what is rightfully his.

"O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help" (Hos. 13:9 KJV).

By the way, none of what was said above is meant to imply that we can somehow offer to God anything, including our soul, that will be sufficient to save us from his righteous wrath over our sins.

". . . None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
 nor give God a ransom for him" (Ps. 49:7).

"For the redemption of their soul is precious, . . . that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption" (Ps. 49:8,9 KJV).

What we can do, however, is turn our soul over to God for saving by him. We can do nothing to purchase redemption for our soul; God can--and has, in the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. But that soul must be voluntarily turned over to God for that redemption to take effect. If we cling to our soul as our own, we forfeit this freely provided salvation of our soul. To refuse to surrender one's soul to Jesus for saving is to think one's self righteous to a degree of deadly arrogance--arrogance that will destroy that soul. That is to think of one's self as wiser than God's plan of salvation, overly righteous and overly wise.

"Don’t be overly righteous, neither make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?" (Eccl. 7:16).

Ownership of one's soul is indeed a heavy matter, most serious, and yet often waved away nonchalantly by many. They do not listen to God telling them that their soul is his but is unacceptable as it is now, laden with sin, and needs to be turned over in surrender to his Son to cleanse that soul of that sin. But they will not listen to this. They believe that they belong to themselves, not to God; therefore, they do not listen.

Jesus once said to those who opposed him: "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God" (John 8:47 NIV).

There is no greater example of the incredible power of free will than this, that we can refuse to accept being owned by God. Those who love the truth hear from God the truth of his ownership of them and accept it and surrender to it. Those who do not love the truth will not stand for this, not hear of it.

One common reason many people will not submit to the truth that God owns them is because they want to indulge in bodily lusts. They know that once they surrender to Christ, they can no longer do this. More than once in my work with young people, after long discussions with them about salvation, I have had an individual admit that he would not accept Christ for this reason.

There are indeed severe consequences in my body for my union with Christ in my spirit: Because of my union with Christ, I can no longer do what I want but only what the Father wants, just as Jesus did (John 8:28). I can no longer do what I want because, by his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus has purchased me (Isaiah 40:2, Rev. 5:9). I have been bought! I am owned by the One who paid for me!

How many Christians realize fully what it means to call themselves by that precious name? How many know that they are not their own, do not own their own soul? Of those who do realize this, how many do not realize the full depths of what this truth implies and the sober reality into which it ushers them when they accept Christ?

All it takes to get a grip on this deep matter is to ponder what it means to "accept Christ" or "believe in Jesus". It means far more than a mental assent to certain truths about him. James 2:19 makes this clear, saying that although even demons acknowledge the truth of God, this acknowledgment only serves to make them tremble with fear. They know and accept certain facts about God because they have experienced them; but they did not surrender to those truths, for which rebellion they were cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28).

Acceptance of truth is not enough; we must surrender to the truth. The full meaning of that word surrender is not contemplated enough by many Christians and taken too lightly--probably because it is so disturbing to the self-preserving nature of the human soul, which trembles at any thought of surrender.

The demons are right to tremble, and so should the soul. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who was imprisoned (and eventually killed) in a Nazi concentration camp because he refused to bow to Hitler. In his book, "The Cost of Discipleship", he says, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." Who wants to die? Yet that is the meaning of the word surrender when applied to my coming to Christ: It means that I die.

Gal. 2:20 says that I died with Christ on the cross. Me. I am dead. That is what happened to me when I accepted Christ: I accepted all that happened to him into my own being: his death, his resurrection, his eternal life; it has all become mine because I have been united with him. That is the message of Rom. 6:4-8.

This union with Christ is a union of spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). Scripture elsewhere says that this union of spirits marks us as being owned by Christ. "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (Romans 8:9 NIV).

How little the person knows who clamors for freedom from being owned by God. 2 Ptr. 2:19 says that a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. The person living apart from God is not free but is a slave to sin; for apart from God, sin always masters. The mistaken notion is that to be free, one must be "free" from God (Ps. 2:2,3). Yet as almost always happens in spiritual matters, just the opposite of how the world views things is what is really true: To truly live, we must die (Jn. 12:24); to save ourselves, we must lose ourselves (in Jesus: Mt. 16:25)--and to be truly free, one must become a slave--to God.

As mentioned previously, Paul frequently called himself a slave of God, (a.g. Rom. 1:1). The whole matter of salvation is, "Who will rule over us, sin or God?" If we would be free from sin as our master and belong to God, then we must trade masters (Rom. 6:22).

But, as in the physical world, it is not up to the slave to accomplish this; in fact, he cannot: It must be done for him by the two masters involved, the one currently owning the slave and the one wishing to purchase him. God has done this for us (Rom. 8:3), purchasing us from our slavery to sin by the precious blood of his only Son.

It is interesting how Paul, in Rom. 7:14, describes himself as "sold as a slave to sin." But on the cross, our Lord Jesus bought him and you and me back. This is love beyond comprehension.

However, even though we cannot completely comprehend such love, we can receive it in Christ and thank him for it. And one other thing we can and should do more often is contemplate on what it means to accept such love in the person of Jesus Christ--and to say over and over to ourselves:

"I belong to Jesus Christ. He owns me!"

Note: All Scripture quotations from the World English Bible unless otherwise stated.

NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

© Copyright 2018 Wisdom's Friend. All rights reserved.

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