Salvation of our Souls

March 4, 2018

When an athlete competes in a game, the prospect of winning is enough to excite him. That excitement propels him to give it his best shot. As believers in Jesus, we too are in a race, and just the thought of entering heaven one day should excite us. It is on this ground that the apostle Peter said, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Indeed, we look forward with excitement to the day when we shall see Jesus face to face in heaven. This is the ultimate goal of every believer.

But while the goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls, we cannot attain this without the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly tells us, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It was Jesus who made the ultimate sacrifice of dying for our sins and he did this while we were yet sinners. In response, we ought to love him and surrender our lives to him. We do so in faith knowing that he is able to save us to the uttermost.

Man is a tripartite being of the spirit, soul and body. Because of sin, our spirit was dead but the moment we receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the spirit is quickened and revived. This is what the apostle Paul was referring to when he said, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5). While our spirit is now alive in Christ, we continue to struggle with sin because we have yet to fully subdue the old man in us which is our soul.

The soul and the spirit are often confused with each other because they are both immaterial and intangible, unlike the body. To distinguish one from the other, we need the Word of God because the Bible tells us, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The battle often happens in the soul, as experienced by the apostle Paul. He summed up the struggle in his soul when he said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:18-19).

The soul is the personality of a person. It consists of his mind, emotions, conscience and will. It is closely knitted with the spirit in the heart so that the heart becomes the center of the life of man. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” When our soul works apart from our spirit, it is then that we are easily dragged away from the Lord and fall into sin. But if it aligns with our spirit, it can stand strong and overcome temptations. For this reason, the apostle Peter warned, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

But what are the sinful desires that can threaten our soul? There are three sinful desires mentioned in 1 John 2:16. The first is the lust of the eyes. It is the desire to get or accumulate things that are visually appealing. This had caused Eve to sin because when she saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food, pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it (Gen. 3:6). The second is the lust of the flesh. This has to do with physical pleasures. The apostle Paul warned, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). The third is the pride of life. This is the desire to get credit and glory and be valued. In one of his teachings, the Lord Jesus Christ emphasized the need to redeem the soul when he said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).

Unless these sinful desires are nipped in the bud, they can derail our spiritual walk and endanger our souls. Therefore, let us press on and pursue the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls. Hallelujah!