The Lord’s Need of Our Body
May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
The monkish hatred of the body which figures so prominently in the works of certain early devotional writers is without support in the Word of God. Common modesty is found in the Sacred Scriptures, it is true, but never prudery or a false sense of shame.
The New Testament accepts as matter of course that in His incarnation our Lord took upon Him a real human body, and no effort is made to steer around the downright implications of such a fact. He lived in that body here among men and never once performed an unsacred act. His presence in human flesh sweeps away forever the evil notion that there is about the human body something innately offensive to the Deity .
God created our bodies, and we do not offend Him by placing the placing the responsibility where it belongs. He is not ashamed of the work of His own hands.
Perversion, misuse, and abuse of our human powers should give us cause to be ashamed. Bodily acts done in sin and contrary to nature can never honor God. Wherever the human will introduces moral evil we have no longer our innocent and harmless powers as God made them; we have instead an abused and twisted thing which can never bring glory to its Creator.
We need no more to be ashamed of our body- the fleshly servant that carries us through life- than Jesus was of the humble beast upon which He rode into Jerusalem. “The Lord hath need of him” may well apply to our mortal bodies.(Mark 11:3) If Christ dwells in us we may bear about the Lord of glory as the little beast did of of old and give occasion to the multitudes to cry, “Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:10)
Quite often we forget that it is our bodies that are the temple or the house of God. We read that when we are born again that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ comes and dwells in us. He does not dwell in some building created by man but in a house created by Him for His own glory. Reading again Tozer reminded me of other readings that record somewhere along the way the false teaching that our bodies were continually evil and were to be hated and abused, starved or beaten or abused in some way so that they might be in some way brought into subjection to God. We read that there is this teaching that requires some form of penance or payment for our failures. How sad it is when we distort and thwart the purposes and desires of God and to some degree make His creation something to be hated rather than to be used for His glory.
Much is said in our world today about caring for our bodies. It is not as though they become our god and that we desire to be the object of human admiration and desire. The care of our bodies as Christians ought to have at its root the thought that this is God’s house, the house that He has chosen to live in. Now before salvation, this house was occupied by a terrible tenant who had no care for it, worked to destroy it, to abuse it to mistreat it and break it into pieces. As I write this I think about my days as a contractor working on rental property. I observed that there were renters who took great care of their dwelling place and others who almost from the first day literally damaged their place. So it is with this house in which our spirit lives. Jesus was clear when He taught that “to whom you yield your members to obey that’s whose servant you are.” Let me say it this way, whoever you let live in your heart will either build you up or tear you down.
We also ought to consider how we treat our bodies. Again not so much as to draw attention to ourselves but to think about providing a place of honor for our Lord to dwell. We have been given only one body and it is through this body that God works and we all know that a sick, weak, unhealthy body is extremely limited in its ability to work for God. As I’ve aged, I’m realizing that my body is losing its capabilities of yesteryear. I remember once being in Kenya on one of my mission trips. I had traveled 22 hours including airport layovers and the day I landed got into an old Land-rover and travelled another 6 hours and began teaching/preaching sessions of 14 times within a 3 day period. I don’t know, actually seriously doubt that I could do that now. My point is that since we have been bought with a price and now belong to God it is important for us to take care of ourselves physically as well as spiritually for all that God will do through us requires the use of our bodies.
When the Bible prohibits certain things or encourages certain things that pertain to what we subject our bodies to, it does so with the intent of the Creator to preserve and keep this house we dwell in. For example, the dietary laws of the Old Testament were not intended to become spiritual in that the non-practice was sin but they were instituted to become a blessing. The prohibiting of eating pork, for example, we now know is that pork is a huge contributor to cholesterol or the prohibiting of eating shellfish that many are allergic to and can cause airway restriction. It’s amazing to me that nutritionists have recently “discovered” that the eating habits set down by God in the OT are actually the healthiest diet possible.
What we ought to consider is that God created us to work His purpose in the world, that we have been wonderfully created in His own image. I can’t imagine that God would ever be ashamed of His creation. Here is liberty. No matter how you look to others, no matter what the world standards of the “perfect body” may be, know that the God who created you makes no mistakes and since He created you to be you all you have to do is to take care of His creation the best you can. You have not been created to be anyone other than you. God has not created us to be pressured to look like or be like some idol or hero. He just wants us to be the best and healthiest and happiest us we can be.
For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was being formed in secret, And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were appointed for me, When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape]. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
Dr. John Thompson