Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Can You Give Your Soul to the Devil?

I have thought about this question quite a bit over the past few years, especially since I began prison ministry. I must have been asked this question a hundred times and each time it produces an interesting discussion. I think that in order to prevent confusion we must clarify what we are asking.

The people who regularly ask me this question are not referring to a life of rejection of God and Jesus Christ and therefore, by default, choosing an eternity in hell. (This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 16:26). Rather they are talking about whether or not they can physically (or rather, metaphysically for you philosophy giants out there) transfer ownership of their soul to the devil. Imagine if you are buying a used car. That car isn’t yours until the owner hands you the pink slip. Essentially they are asking if they can transfer the pink slip of their soul to the devil.

Often times when prisoners ask me this question it is because they have made some sort of pact with the devil (more often than not while under the influence of drugs). Now that they have sobered up and thought a lot about their decision, they regret it.

Few things give me more joy than to be able to see the look on their faces when I tell them they can’t give their soul to the devil because their soul doesn’t belong to them in the first place, it belongs to God. Therefore they can’t give away something that they don’t have ownership or possession of. It is one of Satan’s great pleasures to lie to us and convince us that we can give our soul to him and then he sits back and watches the depression, sorrow and helplessness it brings. The look of relief on a prisoner’s face who hears this good news is indescribable.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I already stated, a person can willfully choose to reject God and therefore is securing an eternity away from God, however, a person cannot transfer ownership, or the title deed, for the rest of their natural life, to his soul. In other words, if you are still alive, and I presume you are since you are reading this, you aren't "too far gone" or "it's already too late." Taking it further, one could ask: If one could give away his soul to the devil, than how could he come to the place where he is sorry for his sins? In other words, if his soul is gone, he has no ability to realize he is a sinner and needs Jesus in his life for forgiveness. Those qualities and abilities are found in the soul and out of Satan’s hatred for Christ it doesn’t seem likely he would want you focusing on his enemy, Jesus Christ.

God created our souls and they belong to him. We simply choose where they go after death based on our acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ. Below is an excerpt from a journal I kept about my experiences in prison ministry. As you read it, try to imagine yourself in Samuel’s shoes, sitting behind bars with nothing to do all day but think about your life, what you’ve done where you've been and where your're going.

After walking the upper row we walked down the stairs where one of the inmates chained to the TV tables was calling for us. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight I really feel that this was a “divine appointment” from God. We walked up to him and he identified himself as “Samuel.” Samuel seemed very coherent and I wondered why he was on floor 7 (the mental ward) but I decided not to ask. Samuel wanted to know whether or not it was too late for him to go to heaven because one night while doing drugs he’d given away 90% of his soul to Satan in exchange for protection of his daughter. Samuel fully understood who Christ was and why he died for him and told us that he’d accepted him into his life multiple times. We talked with Samuel for a while and I explained to him that his soul wasn’t his to give away; he could only choose to accept or deny Christ, but that was it. Samuel seemed to understand this and it seemed that a huge load had been lifted off of his shoulders. We prayed with Samuel and told him we would meet with him next week. I really felt encouraged that God is doing a work in Samuel’s life and this was the highlight of my day.

Now since Samuel had accepted Christ into his life previously we could go into a discussion about eternal security, but that isn't my point. My point is that Samuel was at a place where he knew what he did was wrong and that he wanted Christ's forgiveness. If you have given away your soul, you can't come to that place.

One final point to note is that God loves us. He sent his son to die for us. He knows we are sinners and that we do stupid stuff all the time. The character of God is that he will give us every opportunity to come to him but he will never force it. He won't withhold his love for us based on a "technicality" that we gave our soul to the devil. God is not a petty legalist rather he is a God that loves us. John 3:16 states "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Did you notice it didn't mention anything about "except for those who have given away their souls?" Isn't it wonderful that we have a God of love.

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