Pastoral Letter 20 Mar 2022
My dear readers,
Feed the Body or the Soul?
Proverbs 10:3: “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.”
There is no stopping when it comes to feeding the body. When death comes the body dies. Then only will the feeding stop. This obvious reality is ignored by many as seen by how man live in the pursuit of materialism as if they will live forever. Every man knows that he will eat his last meal and chew and swallow his last bite at death! Yet no matter how ubiquitous this reality is throughout the ages, man pretends that it will not happen to him so soon. Such delusional behaviour stems from a heart that refuses to accept the stark and repugnant reality. He foolishly believes that if he does not think about death and superstitiously avoids danger, then death will leave him alone and pass him by.
But such foolish thinking has resulted in wasteful living. Young men and women spend their best years in the pursuit of materialism, forgetting that naked they came into this world, and naked they will leave. They forget that the real person is the soul. The soul never dies. The doctrine of the annihilation of the soul is a deceitful teaching. The soul lives forever. It either lives forever in hell or in heaven. If it lives in hell, it will experience great torment and gnashing of teeth. The end of sinners is described in Matthew 13:49-50: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
The literal translation of Proverbs 10:3 is “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but the substance of the wicked, he shall cast away.” The soul of every human at birth is not the soul of the righteous because all human beings are conceived and born in sin. The sinful nature is evidence of this truth. The sinful nature is defined as a nature that is in bondage to sin. Sin is the master in total control of the motives, mind, words and deeds of the sinner. Unless sin is removed from within, his nature remains in sin. Jesus Christ is the only One who can remove the sin in the sinner. He does so when the sinner confesses Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour who died for his sins and rose from the dead for his justification.
Then the sinner is given a new nature that replaces the sinful nature. This new nature is the nature of godliness, i.e. Christ-likeness. 2 Corinthians 5:16-19: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
The soul is now a righteous soul described here as the soul of the righteous. The soul of every believer will never famish, i.e. starve. He has eaten the living bread and drunk the living water. Therefore, he will neither hunger nor thirst ever again. There is nothing that the devil can use that will tempt the Christian into giving up Christ. His salvation is entirely of the Lord and is not of man. The transformation is within. His soul will never famish regardless of the adversities. He could lose his whole family, every possession he owns, his job, his freedom and even his life, and his soul will be full. This does not mean that the believer is a stoic. He will feel the pain and certainly sorrow when he loses his family for Christ’s sake; but his soul is rich and full of the grace and mercies of God in Christ. The reason is that the LORD will never allow the soul of His righteous to famish.
What about believers who are despondent and suffer depression? Does it mean that the LORD did not keep His holy Word? The LORD always keeps His Word. This is the first premise. If we suffer spiritual want, it is the believer’s fault and never God’s. Very often it is a matter of a lack of faith and trust in the LORD. An example is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” When we face a temptation and succumbs to it and fall into sin, it is because we did not believe that our faith is able to resist the temptation. The LORD knows the strength of our faith, and He will not allow a temptation that is beyond our faith to afflict us. If we stumble, there is always a way back by repentance and forgiveness. The study of God’s Word will strengthen our faith to avoid future despondency and depression. We need to keep feeding our soul and keep it healthy. We do so through the study of God’s Word, through Christian fellowship that can provoke us unto love and good works, by praying without ceasing, rejoicing ever more and by keeping the Lord’s Day holy as a reflection of our life of faith.
The sinner saved becomes a child of God. He lives in purity away from sin. The moment he sins he repents. 1 John 3:1-3: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” His holiness is in Christ and not in anything or anyone on earth. That is why the loss of all things earthly will not cause him to stop believing in Christ. Nothing can ever separate him from God in Christ, not even death. In fact, death only brings him closer to his God, for absence from the body will thrust him instantly into the presence of Christ. The milk and meat to his soul is the Word of God. The world’s materialism ought not to “feed” his soul at all. The substance of the righteous is to be used by God’s people for God's glory and the blessing of God’s people.
On the other hand, the one who is rich in material things will certainly suffer loss. The LORD will cast away all his substance, i.e. he will be separated from his substance. He is separated by certain death. Death is in God’s hand alone. If the LORD were to show mercy to the sinner, He would cast away his substance while he is still alive. This will give him an opportunity to repent and believe in Christ. For example, if he loses all his money due to a global economic disaster, or if he is sent to prison and is separated from his wealth, it may be the opportunity to experience bankruptcy of his soul and turn to Christ. However, the reality is that all the substance of the wicked will be cast away by Him. It makes no sense for professing believers who ought to know better to feed the body and neglect the soul.
As we live daily, are we feeding our soul or our body?
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew