Our world today lives for continuous fulfillment, the warm-hearted satisfaction that they deeply long for. Everything that society does is aimed towards gaining personal happiness, whether they know it or not; it is a fundamental human condition. Those without a true purpose or direction in life will sacrifice anything to get this feeling. Culture is raised to search for a joy that can never be obtained through worldly pleasures or other people and they are slaving their lives away to desires that can never be fulfilled.
Alcohol will always run out, sex will never be good enough, video games will disappear in the end, and people will ultimately let us down. Beauty always has to be more beautiful, money always has to be made in abundance, cigarettes always need another light, and success always requires success. Satan tells us that these pursuits will satisfy our desires when they only make the longing worse.
Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood knows this better than anyone else, as his entire existence embodies the deadly sin that runs his life. He was a homunculus created by Father, the antagonist, as an empty shell of human skin that harbors only one thing: greed. Nothing can ever quench his thirst for worldly pleasures and he is forever seeking women, money, and murder that will never satisfy him. He believes that obtaining these things will finally make him happy, but instead it heats the flame of greed even more intensely.
“I want everything you can possibly imagine. I want money and women, power and sex, status, glory! I demand the finer things in life!”
During the middle of the series, Greed is murdered by Father because of his disobedience to his plans and is guilty of crimes against him. However, his soul still lives on inside of a Philosopher’s Stone and was spared by Father because he knew that there was a greater future for him. Only when Xing Prince Ling Yao runs into the homunculi’s headquarters does he stumble upon Greed’s essence and swallow the Philosopher’s Stone whole, accepting his powers willingly and bonding his soul with his own. Greed combines himself to another person because he can now have control over a human body again and carry out the desires of his heart as he once did. However, Ling understands his partner’s motives from the start and knows that he can keep control over the body.
Although the father of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is one of evil, God the Father in our world is loving, so loving that he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for our sinful nature, the greed for worldly pleasures and crimes against our father, so that we wouldn’t have to perish. Our “Ling” is the Holy Spirit, whom we are bonded to when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and he dwells within us.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit..” (Ephesians 1:13, NIV)
Due to the nature of their soul bonding, the duo have a very unique relationship where they both have equal control over the same body. For example, Greed’s self-gratifying nature can cause him to take actions such as murdering innocent people whereas Ling can immediately take over and stop his partner’s actions with his stronger moral consciousness. This conflict of opposing personalities works to further suppress Greed’s unholy nature and allow Ling to make the right decisions.
Similar to the relationship between Greed and Ling, believers have a spiritual warfare wages inside their souls where two armies are fighting for control over their body: the flesh and the spirit. In contrast to the Holy Spirit wanting to make us more like Jesus Christ, the flesh forces us in slavery to worldly pleasures that we had before we were saved.
It’s almost like two boxers are in a caged arena for a one-on-one single-elimination match, rearing to take down the other down. Ling wasn’t able to simply take authority of his body by random chance; he had a lot of practice over time. The same is true with the forces inside of us: the boxer that we train more will be the victor of the match. Ling had to step in authority of his body during critical times to stop Greed from following his nature and believers have to do the same when the flesh tempts us towards our old ways; we give up control to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead our decisions.
“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:8-9, NIV)
Greeling (Greed and Ling) teams up with Edward Elric at the climax of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood to fight against Father, the creator of all Homunculi and antagonist of the plot. His insane plans to absorb the powers of God himself means the end of the world and our protagonists do not want that. During this intense battle between good and evil, Father gains the upper hand against the boys and begins extracting the Philosopher’s Stone from inside Greeling, which is Greed’s entire essence.
In simple terms, Greed’s soul is being pulled apart from Lings and he is converted back into a Philosopher’s Stone. Ling, of course, does everything that he can to prevent this, tugging his friend back into his body, although to no avail. His death is unavoidable and he knows it himself. And the last words that he says to Ling before he disappears into thin air are extremely profound.
“Yeah..that’s all I really need. They gave me everything I could want. Thank you..and goodbye.. my friends.”
Greed learned that his nature was truly satisfied when he lived with an ultimate purpose and died with an ultimate purpose. All of the women, all of the money, and all of the alcohol could not come close to the peace that he felt when he had finally died.
Purposeless living will force people in slavery to the things of this world and escaping it can only be done by finding ultimate purpose with Jesus Christ. The void inside that culture so desperately seeks to fill can never be satisfied by temporary happiness but instead through the joy that only God gives. Bonding ourselves with the Holy Spirit through believing in our king will make us more like God day after day and our sinful nature will slowly disappear. Our struggles against ourselves make us feel alive and Greed knew this better than anyone else; he died knowing that he lived his life to the fullest.