How to Lose Your Soul


Jesus spoke of the great value of the soul: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Our soul is more valuable than anything and everything in this world. Our soul is the part of us that was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and is redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Even if one were able to obtain all of the material things of this world, his soul is still more valuable. So Jesus said that it is foolish for one to forfeit his soul for everything that is of the world. Yet many people forfeit their souls for far less than that.

How does one lose his soul? It is easier than many think. One does not have to be a serial killer or a child molester or a devil worshiper. One can lose his soul for sins that are much less extreme than these. Let us notice four ways in which one can lose his soul.

Do What You Want in Religion

This is what many people do. It is the “join the church of your choice” mentality. For many years, denominational preachers have encouraged men and women to find the church that they prefer rather than directing them to the church that Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). This has resulted in a countless number of churches preaching different messages and offering different programs in an effort to be the church that people would choose. It is no wonder why some churches draw in large crowds – they allow people to do what they want in the name of religion.

However, the Bible plainly teaches that those who simply do what they want in religion will be lost. Notice the words of Jesus:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus explained that there will be “many” people who stand before Him in judgment who will be condemned despite doing things which they will claim to be in the name of the Lord. However, even though these people believed in Christ and did things in His name, they were guilty of “lawlessness.” That is, they engaged in practices for which they had no authority.

In religion, there is a standard to which we must adhere. Paul told Timothy, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). We are to have authority for all that we say and do (Colossians 3:17). Claiming something is being done in the name of Christ and, therefore, is a good work does not make it so. Good works are defined by God in His word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we engage in other works (lawlessness), we will be lost.

Focus on Material Things

Some people forfeit their souls in the pursuit of material goods (Matthew 16:26). Jesus told a parable about a rich man who did this very thing:

The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21).

This man’s sin was not that he was rich, that he had a bountiful harvest, or that he decided to build bigger barns. His sin was in pursuing these things while neglecting the condition of his soul. He foolishly thought he would have time in the future to concern himself with spiritual things. He was not interested in anything but material things at the present.

Jesus explained in the parable of the sower that the pursuit of material things will choke out the word (Luke 8:14). Someday this world will be gone (2 Peter 3:10). Then what? Obviously, we need to have some balance. It is necessary to work and earn a living (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 4:28), but we must remember what is most important. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Become Complacent

If we allow ourselves to sit back and become complacent, we will lose our soul. Paul compared the life of a Christian with a race and told the Corinthians to “run in such a way that you may win” and that the one who wins is one who “exercises self-control in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Just as in a race, if we slow down or quit in our service to God, we will not obtain the prize.

Even Paul, an apostle and preacher of the gospel, needed to keep striving for the prize: “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). There is a real danger for Christians to fall away by developing “an evil, unbelieving heart” (Hebrews 3:12). The Hebrew writer encouraged the brethren to “be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).

Paul warned the brethren in Philippi about the danger of becoming complacent. He encouraged them to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Paul could not say he had obtained the prize yet (Philippians 3:13) and neither could these brethren. Peter also warned about a lax attitude toward the devil and his temptations: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When we let our guard down, we are the most vulnerable. We will never reach a point in life when we can stop striving for the goal and working to overcome sin. We are to be “faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10), no matter how far in the future that may be.

Rely Too Much Upon Others

We are not to isolate ourselves from others, but we need to remember that we are each responsible for our own salvation. Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We are to do this because each of us – as individuals – will “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

There are some who do not take responsibility for themselves but rely upon others for their spiritual wellbeing. We cannot rely on a preacher to guide us in the truth. We must do as the Bereans did – “examining the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). We cannot rely on the local church for our spiritual growth and encouragement. Growing in faith and being built up comes from the word of God (Acts 20:32) which we certainly can (and should) study on our own (2 Timothy 2:15). We cannot rely on the faithfulness of our family. The Lord said, “The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

Certainly, others can help us in our walk. Preachers can teach and exhort us (2 Timothy 4:2). We can gain encouragement from the local church (Ephesians 4:16). We can get help from our families as well (Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:5). But ultimately, your salvation is your responsibility. If you do not do what the Lord requires, you will be lost, no matter what happens to your preacher, brethren, or family.


God has extended His grace to us and made salvation available (Titus 2:11) in spite of our sins (Romans 5:8). Do not be like the fool who let something get in the way of his salvation (Luke 12:16-21). When this life is over, if we have lost our soul, there will be no way to save it (Matthew 16:26). “Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Take advantage of the gift of God and do what He has required so that you may reach the promised rest.

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