"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Once there was a young man in need of some serious counseling. Reluctantly he went, in his arrogant way, to a more mature man and demanded brashly, "O.K., counsel me." Undaunted, the older man looked up from his thoughts and prayers. Gazing into the eyes of the youth, he replied, "I have but two questions for you."
"All right," said the young man, "I'm ready. Ask me anything you like." "The questions are suppositions," began the counselor. "Suppose you would never be found out and no one would be harmed, at least not in a physical way. If these circumstances were guaranteed, would you tell a lie for $1,000?"
The youth thought for a moment and then, in a slow but confident voice, answered, "Sure, for a thousand dollars and no one knows and no one gets hurt; yeah, I would tell a lie." The counselor then nodded and asked a second question. "Would you tell a lie for a dime?"
Furious, the young man loudly retorted, "Of course not! What do you think I am?" Again undaunted, the more mature man said in a quiet voice, "I already know what you are. I am now trying to establish your price."
The price tags on the souls of men are often different. For Judas, the price was thirty pieces of silver. In Joshua 7:1, we read that Achan's price was material possessions. We find in John 12:43 that many of the religious leaders believed in Jesus, but they cowered before the Pharisees and, due to their fear of being ostracized, they sold their souls to Satan in exchange for "the praise of men." But the worth of a soul is always the same. Jesus said one single soul was worth more than the whole world. But even now many men and women make the mistakes of Achan, Judas, and the religious leaders of Jesus' day by selling their eternal souls for the temporary rewards of wealth, power, and prestige.
If we find it easier to think of worldly matters, to talk of insignificant events, and to do purposeless tasks, then we can be sure that Satan will tempt our hearts to value material possessions over spiritual goals; to be solely conversationalist rather than a converter of souls; and to be destroyed by idleness rather than to destroy the idols in our lives. Satan knows that as men these things will always be problems in our lives and though at first we may not surrender to him totally, if we waver in our commitment to Jesus in any way, our enemy will bargain and barter until he has found our price. Then we will become like the rich young ruler who sadly left the presence of Jesus, selling his soul to the devil because the cost of discipleship was too great. Perhaps he thought to himself as he walked away, "Sell all my possessions? I'll die and go to hell first."
And he did.