For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark 8:36–37)
This is about possessions. It’s about stuff — money, houses, books, computer, land, business. Suppose your heart considers the worth of Jesus and then considers the worth of possessions — the gladness you could have in Jesus versus the gladness you could have in possessions. And suppose your heart is drawn to prefer possessions, which is what is happening to billions of people.
Suppose your heart is drawn to prefer the worth of possessions, and you turn away from Jesus, and you embrace as superior to Jesus all that earthly possessions can give you. And suppose you succeed all your life — nothing but success. And by the end of your life, suppose you own everything — the world. Not just Apple, Google, and Mobil Oil, but all of it. It’s yours. You call all the shots. You own them.
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
That’s what Jesus envisages here, right? You gain the whole world. But then you die, and instantly you realize it was suicide. It was eternal suicide.
And suppose, facing Jesus, you say, “I’ll give you everything. I’ll give you everything. I own it all. I’ll give you everything — the whole world — in return for my soul.”
What do you think he will say? I think he will say this: “You would try to buy your soul with the very possessions that destroyed your soul — the very possessions that you preferred over me? Christ-replacing, Christ-belittling idols have no currency in heaven.” And he will turn his face away, and you will perish forever.
What you just tried to do with your money, that ransom, it’s already been paid — for the many, for the elect of God. The ransom is already paid, and you preferred not to be a part of it. You preferred not to be with Jesus. You preferred to make crystal clear that you were not elect. That’s what you meant to do. You’re going with the alternative treasure.
Oh my, don’t do that.
That’s Mark 8:36–37, and the intention is to clarify how the me and my gospel of verse 35 is more precious than things.
Do you feel freedom welling up in your heart right now? I do. I mean, there are temptations still at 73 with stuff. But I love this text. I need all the help I can get to be free, free, free from the main idols in the world: possessions and praise.
Read, watch, or listen to the full message: