Who Owns Your Soul? (hint: It isn't you.)

[spacer][spacer]God owns me. [spacer][spacer]This is a basic truth of reality that many refuse to accept. Of those who do, particularly Christians, it seems to me that 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. [spacer][spacer]Just what does it mean 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). [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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). [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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). [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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! [spacer][spacer]God also owns you! He owns you not only because he paid for you but also by right of creation. Because he created you, he owns you--just as any artist owns that which he creates. "For every living soul belongs to me" (Ezek. 18:4). "You are not your own" (1 Cor. 6:19). "A man's life is not his own" (Jer. 10:23). [spacer][spacer]So, we are, in fact, owned twice over: Because Jesus created us, he owns us (Col. 1:16), and because he paid the price for redeeming us from sin (Ps. 49:7-9), we are owned by him. We both can, and should say, "God owns me!" [spacer][spacer]This is not the kind of relationship most people in the world want. 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": [spacer][spacer]"I am the Master of my fate; [spacer][spacer]I am the Captain of my soul." [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]Another piece of literature that gives insight into this attitude so common in the world is 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. [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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). [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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. [spacer][spacer]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!"

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