Proverbs 19:16 “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die.”
When you consider your soul, what aspect of who you are do you think about? Out of all that you represent, what part of you does your soul compromise?
One of the ways to examine scripture is to look at a particular keyword and then reflect on all the places that word is used in. The term ‘soul’ used in Proverbs 19 is the word ‘Nephesh’. The term is used for soul but can also refer to living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, or emotion. I don’t know about others but when I see a list like this it can be quite confusing.
When considering the way the hebrew authors of their day used this word, I gain insight into its proper connotation.
The first use of this word is in Genesis 1:20 “Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures(Nephesh), and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” This term is a reference for a living creature, whether it is birds or any other animal, when we consider the whole of the creature we consider the nephesh of that animal.
Later in Genesis 1 we see God’s reference to all creatures: vs. 30 “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life(Nephesh), I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”
The focus narrows to not just a creature but a living creature.
On the 6th day of creation we see mankind enter into the story.
Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being(Nephesh).”
Mankind did not descend from animals but we do have one thing in common, we are living beings as they are.
God begins to give instructions as to how mankind will coexist with these animals.
Genesis 9:4 “But you shall not eat flesh with its life(Nephesh), that is, its blood.”
It seems to go without saying that you don’t eat an animal while it is still alive, but here the advice of God is that you don’t eat the blood of the animal either. The Lord understood how sick people could get if they weren’t careful, disease has been prominent for centuries and society had very little understanding of what that entailed. The Lord gives advice that protects you in every circumstance if we would only follow it.
Job 9:21 “I am blameless, yet I do not know myself(Nephesh); I despise my life.”
How many people have echoed this same sentiment as Job? The moment I think I know who I am, I react to a situation in ways that I surprise even myself. Whether it is positive or negative, my reaction is reflective of my nature and as much as I want my sinful nature to be gone, I can’t shake free from its grip.
Psalm 63:5-6 “My soul(Nephesh) shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.”
Why is David satisfied with God’s goodness? Just like his life requires food to live, the Lord brings life to his soul—the two are intertwined.
Life is more than eating and drinking and making merry, if we only focus on satisfying the flesh we are left incomplete. Our being is at its core spiritual and if we don’t do more to address that aspect of who we are we will be left in want.
Psalm 84:2 “My soul(Nephesh) longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
At the core of our lives, our deepest desires spring forth. Understanding what the need is and how to fulfill the need is where many go astray. Many attempt to satisfy these needs with superficial pleasure, this is where the sense of frustration and despair originate. When I look to this world to fill up in me what my soul desires, I am left with a foreboding sense of hopelessness. I can’t find what I need so I assume there is no answer.
This sense of hopelessness is the work of the enemy.
The great schemer will attempt to manipulate your perspective into a dark hole of despair where it seems there is no escape.
Psalm 42:2 “My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and appear in God’s presence?”
All that you ever need—all that you ever want—all that you desire is found in Christ alone….there is simply no other route. Our souls need Him, He made us this way. We are not meant to be without Him, we can only be fulfilled by Him alone.
Spiritual expression is not universal in Truth. You cannot practice any form of religion and think that it will fill you up. Attempting to draw from any source would be like traveling in a dry and arid desert with no water for miles and then settling for the brackish stagnant remains of the first thing you find when a crystal clear river flows nearby.
Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.”
Do you see what this is saying?
Go throughout the world and search in every ancient monastery, through all of the halls of learning you can find, and upon every mountain of enlightenment—you will never find what you are looking for if you don’t know who you are looking for.
Every religion, every form of “spiritual enlightenment” or pathway of perfect consciousness has a focus on a being who might be at the end of it all.
From Allah to Achaman, Shangdi to Shen, Brahman to Bathala the names of god’s are by the millions. The endless attempts at finding a means to the One True God by any other way than through Jesus Christ is a practice in futility.
Why is Jesus so critical in the path to knowing and experiencing God?
The Pathway to God
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity. The Son is regarded as the second person of the Trinity and the Spirit as the third. The revelation of God to mankind is and was distinctly defined as One God. The three persons of God is what forms the Godhead as revealed through Moses, the prophets, and apostles. The Son is none other than Jesus Christ.
After completing his monumental work Summa Theologica (a compendium of theological teachings in the Catholic church, Thomas Aquinas concluded that he had not yet begun to understand ‘God the Father’.
Why would a master of divinity make such a statement? Thomas had come to the same conclusion as Paul had 1200 years earlier, God is more complex than we could ever know. If a revelation of the Trinity of God is difficult to understand, imagine trying to understand the relationship within the Trinity, these are revelations that we will see and know over time in God’s presence into eternity.
Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
One aspect of the work of God is found at the start of the book of John.
All of Creation was made through Jesus.
John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
The term used for with in the greek is the term Pros. It is where we get the expression of being for something, i.e. pro or con. In a deeper sense it is an inflection of God the Son interfacing with God the Father. It can mean “in view of,” or “in light of, but never “against,” except where the context indicates an active exchange.
There is perfect unity within the Godhead and thus the means to approach this Just and Holy God can only be provided by Himself. Jesus is that means of that approach.
Every other religion may invoke some form of explanation for God but they all miss the point as to who God is and how we might approach Him. Even the notion that mankind can attempt to reestablish the expression of who God apart from how God revealed Himself to us is in itself preposterous.
The best means for approaching God, who is far greater than us, is by humility. I like how C.S. Lewis put it years ago as illustrated in this caption. The way we view ourselves should be founded in the way God views us and not the other way around. God expresses a part of who He is, it is then up to us to understand what that means for us, and how we might fit that expression into what we know. In other words, if God expressed a form of who He is, we change our model of God to fit that expression if it previously didn’t align with what we now know.
Jesus was and is the perfect expression of God.
Our relationship with God has been broken by sin. Sin is defined by lawlessness in 1 John 3:4. We cannot be absolved of our crimes against God through apology, good works, changing our clothes, living in a monastery, chanting a prayer, or any other means that people have tried to absolve their conviction. The Moral Law is the standard by which we are held accountable and we have all offended it.
Jesus came into our existence and bore our sin upon the cross, that we might be offered grace. Unless we receive that grace we will die in our sin and be lost for eternity.
How do we keep our souls?—We give them to Jesus!
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
No other path will suffice. No other false prophet, false teaching, or in other way will lead us to Life than through the precious sacrifice that Jesus made for us. When we find this way, His way, we find all we were searching for.
He calls you now…He will keep your soul for eternity because you are His creation if you will only submit, it’s not easy but it is well worth the sacrifice.