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.
Nevertheless, this ownership of one’s soul by God is a basic truth of reality that many refuse to accept. Many are they who live their entire life as though they were their own sole/soul possessor instead of God. They do not want to be owned by God; they want to be “free”, in charge of their own soul. Or, as William E. Henley put it in his famous poem, “Invictus”:
“I am the Master of my fate;
I am the Captain of my soul.”
That is the attitude of the independent, rebellious soul who does not want to be owned by anybody but wants to sail his own ship of soul. Human beings cling at all costs to the illusion that they own their own soul. Such clutching at one’s own life, however, brings about the very thing that such people seek to avoid:
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 fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'” (Lk. 12:20 NIV).
“As one dies, so dies the other . . . Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” (Eccl. 3:19,20 NIV).
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me'” (Mal. 3:8,9 NIV).
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, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1 NIV).
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 only to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10 NIV).
He who keeps his soul for himself destroys himself by thus coming under God’s just wrath for stealing from God of 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.
“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life” (Ps. 49:7 ESV).
“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.
“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise–why destroy yourself?” (Eccl. 7:16 NIV).
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).
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).
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.
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!”