Summary: In America, you can metaphorically and literally sell your soul and be rewarded for it. One wonders how the purchaser intended to collect. We can’t literally sell our soul, but we can lose our soul to gain something else. We need to ponder Jesus’ question
Opening illustration: One would think that selling one’s soul, as Faust offered his to the devil in Goethe’s Dr. Faustus, is only a figment of literary fiction. Medieval as it seems, however, several cases of soul-selling have occurred.
Wired magazine reported that a 29-year-old university instructor succeeded in selling his immortal soul for $1,325. He said, “In America, you can metaphorically and literally sell your soul and be rewarded for it.” One wonders how the purchaser intended to collect.
We can’t literally sell our soul, but we can lose our soul to gain something else. We need to ponder Jesus’ question, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16: 26). Our answers today would differ only in specifics from the responses of Jesus’ day: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The lusts that captivate us and the thirst for unbridled pleasure, success, revenge, or material things have certainly taken on far more importance to many people than any considerations of eternity.
Let us turn to Matthew 16 and see what the price of man’s soul is.
Introduction: A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in his steps, whithersoever he goes. “Let him deny himself.” If self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master learned and practiced, to redeem us, and to teach us. “Let him take up his cross.” The cross is here put for every trouble that befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another’s cross better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain, or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul is worth more than all the world. This is Christ’s judgment upon the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them; nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour’s respite to seek mercy for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our souls, and Christ as the only Savior of them.
What is the COST of your SOUL?
1. Cost for discipleship (v 24)
(a) Desire ~ To have a sincere desire to belong to Christ - If any man be Willing to be my disciple, etc.
(b) Deny oneself ~ To renounce self-dependence, and selfish pursuits - Let him deny Himself.
© Take up cross ~ To embrace the condition which God has appointed, and bear the troubles and difficulties he may meet with in walking the Christian road - Let him take up His Cross.
(d) Follow ~ To imitate Jesus, and do and suffer all in his spirit. It pertains to true commitment, the risk of death and no turning back - Let him Follow Me.
Illustration: How can salvation be offered to us as a free gift of God, yet Discipleship have a great cost? Consider this analogy: Suppose you have a desire to climb Mount Everest. Suppose a wealthy businessman heard of your desire and offered to pay for the entire expedition. It costs about $70,000 to do it. He would buy all the expensive clothing and gear; he would pay for your transportation, the guides, and the training. It’s totally free for you in terms of financial cost. But if you accept his free offer, you have just committed yourself to months of difficult training and arduous effort. It could even cost me my very life, because many good climbers die trying to climb Mount Everest. It is free and yet very costly.
2. Cost of life-lost (v 25)
(a) save life (for self) = lose it ~ Whoever is desirous of preserving himself from troubles, reproaches, persecutions, and death; and takes such a method to do it, as by forsaking Christ, denying his Gospel, and dropping his profession of it; and by so doing, curries favor with men, in order to procure to himself worldly emoluments, honor, peace, pleasure, and life, he will expose himself to the wrath of God, to everlasting punishment, the destruction of soul and body in hell, which is the second death, and will be his portion. Will you denounce Christ if a gun is put on your temple to die for Him or live for yourself?