The ultimate goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls (1 Pe 1:9). God came to this earth to give the truth of salvation to us, the heavenly sinners who were doomed to eternal death. So, living a redeemed life by obeying the word of God is the greatest happiness and the biggest profit for us.
As people of Zion, we must discern things spiritually so that we will not suffer any spiritual loss but receive all the spiritual blessings, no matter what hardships we face. To obtain a treasure hidden in a field, we should buy that field even by selling all we have. Likewise, to obtain the treasure called Heaven, we must invest all we have into it—our youth, efforts, and everything else. It would be good if we could get the kingdom of heaven without any loss or damage. However, if we have to choose between two things—physical benefits and spiritual benefits, let us choose the latter so that we may not suffer spiritual loss at all. Thinking of the kingdom of heaven which is close at hand, we must all acquire it.
In the history of the Bible, there were many foolish people who turned a way from God and forsook their faith in God because they considered physical loss greater than spiritual loss. Through the Bible, let’s get wisdom on what it is to suffer spiritual loss and what the way to accumulate spiritual blessings is.
Samuel said to Saul,“I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” … But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:“I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” … “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said.“I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied:“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”1 Sa 15:1-23
When God poured out His wrath upon the Amalekites, He ordered Saul to totally destroy everything, even all their animals, but Saul insisted on going his own way.
So, he destroyed the animals that were weak and sick, but spared the good animals the fat calves and lambs—and brought them back alive.
If one just pursues immediate gains, he will suffer a great loss spiritually while not even realizing it. Saul also suffered an enormous spiritual loss while struggling to avoid physical loss, but he did not recognize it at all. God was grieved that He had made Saul king. Since God considered each individual soul much more precious than a sacrifice of lambs or calves, He was grieved to see Saul going far away from the way of life.
The spiritual loss that Saul suffered as a result of his disobedience was really tremendous. Although he obtained large flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, he lost God because of that, so in actuality he lost everything. The only thing that was waiting for him after he lost God was a painful time like eternal hell. After God left Saul, he was seized and tormented by an evil spirit, and in the end he met a miserable death on the battlefield.
Apart from God we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Our disobedience to God’s word is directly linked to our spiritual loss, and to obey God is the way to accumulate spiritual blessings.
If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. … However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.Dt 28:1-6, 15-19
Disobedience always brings forth a curse, so nothing can go well. The history of Saul, who brought spiritual loss upon himself by insisting on his own thoughts instead of obeying God’s word fully, teaches us an important lesson. Today, we also often stand at crossroads of choice. Sometimes we suffer spiritual loss by pursuing physical gain, and sometimes we suffer physical loss by pursuing spiritual gain. Which one is the correct choice?
We must regard God’s word as absolute, realizing that obedience to God’s word is the way to receive the greatest gain and to accumulate blessings. If we don’t, we will lose even the blessings that we have already received and will regret it belatedly.
The book of Genesis introduces a case of another person who suffered spiritual loss but failed to realize it.
… Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob,“Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied,“First sell me your birthright.”“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said.“What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said,“Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.Ge 25:27-34
Like Esau who despised his birthright, there are many people in the world who do not realize what it is to suffer spiritual loss and neglect spiritual things. Satan always uses a little bait to take a great spiritual thing away from us. In the case of Esau, he obtained a bowl of lentil stew, but instead he lost great spiritual privileges.
After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him,“My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” … Isaac trembled violently and said,“Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father,“Bless me—me too, my father!” … “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” Isaac answered Esau,“I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”Ge 27:30-37
This is a representative example of spiritual loss. Esau thought that since he was the eldest son, he would naturally receive the birthright blessing no matter what he did.
So, he simply sold his birthright to his brother Jacob without giving it much thought.
Eventually Jacob came to receive the birthright blessing in accordance with God’s will. Only after losing the blessing did Esau realize its value. Then he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and begged his father Isaac to bless him too, saying,“Don’t you have even a small blessing left for me?” However, it was too late.
Both Esau and King Saul did not realize the value of God’s word, and that was why they suffered a tremendous spiritual loss. We must avoid spiritual loss even if we have to suffer the loss of earthly things. The New Testament also earnestly asks us not to incur any spiritual loss.
… See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.Heb 12:14-17
We must acquire the kingdom of heaven even though we suffer any physical loss.
If we neglect the heavenly kingdom which God has given us freely, we will lose it.
Even if we beg God for mercy on the Day of Judgment, it is too late. Esau was never able to regain his birthright which he had once sold.
A blessing from God depends on how much we value God’s word and how obedient we are to it. We should respect and fear the word of God. Why do you think so many people today disobey God’s commandments while claiming to believe in God? They turn away from the truth described in the Bible and adhere to the rules of men. This is proof that they do not value God’s word at all. Think how much more severely they deserve to be punished.
We must also be on our guard against those things since we have received the blessing of the firstborn of heaven. Although we are God’s people who live in Zion, God’s blessings are not given to us unconditionally, regardless of whether we obey God’s word or not. Saul was a king, but he was deprived of his throne. Esau was the eldest son, but he was deprived of his birthright. Both of them failed to receive the blessings which originally belonged to them. This was the result of having lived without caring for spiritual loss.
However, Jacob valued the birthright and its blessing. So, he never missed the blessing of God even when the socket of his thigh was dislocated. Thus, God’s blessing comes upon those who make every effort to receive it. While many people neglect the spiritual loss which is invisible and pursue worldly values, those who know the value of a blessing from God make more effort than others and continuously accumulate blessings. That’s why the Bible says that those who forcefully advance the kingdom of heaven will enter it (Ge 32:22-30; Mt 11:12).
Let us diligently run toward the kingdom of heaven, forcefully advancing it, so that we will not lose this precious blessing of the firstborn of heaven. We should pray fervently, study God’s word diligently, and preach the gospel eagerly with all our hearts and minds, and we must joyfully obey the teachings of God the Father and God the Mother above all else.
Everything goes well if we abide in God; but if we leave God, irrevocable things will happen. In one of the New Testament Gospels, we can find another person who brought an irrevocable fatal spiritual loss upon himself.
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked,“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.Mt 26:14-16
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, haggled with the chief priests over the blood price they would pay for the betrayal of Jesus. He decided to betray Jesus, who was his teacher, into the hands of His enemies for the payment of 30 silver coins. Since he committed such an infamous and heinous act—the sin of betraying God who came to save mankind—for 30 pieces of silver, how much more severely do you think he deserves to be punished for his sin?
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them:“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said,“Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied,“Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear… .Mt 26:47-52
Judas Iscariot and Peter, although they were all disciples of Jesus, were too different from each other. While Judas was greedy for money and betrayed Jesus, Peter stood at Jesus’ side and opposed the servants of the high priest when they tried to arrest Jesus. One of them continuously suffered an enormous spiritual loss, and the other continually accumulated blessings.
Afterwards, Judas Iscariot felt guilty when he saw Jesus being arrested and dragged, and he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests. However, his choice was irrevocable and he met a miserable death in the end (Mt 27:1-8; Ac 1:16-19).
Learning a lesson from their cases, we need to correctly understand what it is to suffer spiritual loss and should live according to the Spirit, following the word of God. Our life is an opportunity given us, who have been cast down to this earth as a result of committing sin in heaven, to repent of our sin—not to disobey God’s will and go astray.
You may have ever read the Aesop’s fable of The Fox and the Crow. One day, a fox saw a crow sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak. The fox set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese.
“Hello, Mrs. Crow! How beautiful you look today! Would you please sing a song for me?” On hearing these flattering words from the fox under the tree, the crow became puffed up, and after clearing her throat, she loudly screamed:“Caw! Caw!” As soon as she opened her beak, the cheese fell to the ground, and the fox snapped it up.
Satan aims at this kind of thing. He seems to give us something, but the moment we try to grab it, he takes away everything we have. This is a trick of Satan. We must hold fast to the crown of life, which God has given us. If we let go of it to grasp worldly things, Satan does not miss the moment and takes it away from us. We must not forget this.
for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.2 Ti 4:10-11
When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he expressed his anxiousness over Demas who loved the world and left God. The foolish people like Judas Iscariot, Esau and King Saul, who incurred spiritual loss upon themselves but did not realize it—they must have been weeping so bitterly.
Let us reflect upon ourselves: Have we done things that can cause spiritual loss or things that can bring forth blessings? Do we value the birthright of the firstborn of heaven? Or do we pursue the things of this world? No matter what we do, whatever may happen, we must judge everything spiritually and choose the path that will not lead to spiritual loss. So the Apostle Peter, when the Jews threatened him not to preach Jesus, said,“Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” (Ac 4:17-20). By discerning the spiritual loss and gain, we must never forsake the word of God.
If we think that we will obtain something great while disobeying God’s word, it is a big misunderstanding. We can proceed toward the eternal kingdom of heaven only when we always respect Elohim and follow Them by depending on Their words and listening to Their voice. Let us never lose the birthright of the firstborn of heaven to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Just as Jacob clung to God for blessing until the socket of his thigh was dislocated, let us continuously ask God for blessings without suffering any spiritual loss and live according to God’s word as children of heaven, so that we can all enter the kingdom of heaven.