Welcome back, friends! This is week four of our Spirit, Soul, and Body series. I hope that you have learned all kinds of things so far! We will be discussing God’s heart for our bodies today. I’m warning you now, this one is not for the faint of heart!
“Now, may the God of peace and harmony set you apart, making you completely holy. And may your entire being—spirit, soul, and body—be kept completely flawless in the appearing of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One,” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 TPT).
Most of us focus our attention on one aspect of our being. Some only want to develop their spirits, some prioritize their soul, and others make their body their number one focus. For us to be whole and healthy, all three parts of us have to be in alignment, growing, challenged, and disciplined.
Here is what I want us to know about our bodies:
- Our bodies will be saved. Pastor Robert Morris says that, “The spirit is saved, the soul is being saved, and the body will be saved.” Our spirits are saved the moment we invite Jesus to be our savior. Our souls are being saved as we submit to the continual process of sanctification in our mind, will, and emotions. Our bodies will be saved in Heaven.
We will talk about the importance of honoring our bodies in just a minute. It is incredibly important that we steward the body that God has given us. However, we could train in the gym 24 hours a day, eating as healthy as possible and our bodies would still eventually give out. It is inevitable, that our physical bodies will die.
Because of the fall, our bodies experience sickness, disease, and death on earth. That wasn’t God’s original design for us but it is a reality due to sin. In Heaven, there will be no pain, sickness, or disease. God will give us a completely restored, new body.
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit,” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NLT).
“All your life you will sweat to master it, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from the ground, and to the ground you will return,” (Genesis 3:19 TLB).
2. We are accountable for how we treat our bodies. Anything that God gives us, He expects us to steward for His glory: our family, time, money, and even our bodies. If we don’t get enough sleep, eat terribly, and never exercise, we are drastically increasing our chances for sickness and disease.
“Many chronic diseases could be prevented, delayed, or alleviated, through simple lifestyle changes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity, and smoking – would prevent: 80% of heart disease and stroke; 80% of type 2 diabetes; and, 40% of cancer.”
Our health is greatly impacted by our lifestyle choices. Please do not hear me say that I am blaming you if you are sick! That is not my heart at all. In fact, my body is the area that I struggle to train and discipline the most. At the end of a long, draining day, I am 100% convinced that I DESERVE chocolate! I am learning this lesson right now too.
But we will all stand before the Lord and give an account for how we treated our bodies. Scripture is very clear about this:
“So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body,” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT).
“Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary. You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God!” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TPT).
3. Training our bodies is spiritual. That is certainly not what I was taught in church growing up! We scoffed at people who prioritized their physical health because spiritual health seemed so much more important. Emphasis was put completely on worship, prayer, and evangelism. Hear me: ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT! But we don’t have to neglect one to take care of the other. All three areas of our identity: body, soul and spirit, were created by God which means that they are all valuable and worthy of training.
The closest we got to talking about training our bodies in church, was when our youth pastors would teach us that sex before marriage was wrong (1 Corinthians 6:16-20). Most pastors that I knew were very overweight and didn’t prioritize exercise because ministry took up all of their time. We hung out at church and ate. (Two of my absolute most favorite things!) Taking care of one’s soul and body simply were not understood or taught. I’m so thankful that those mindsets are slowly changing and the Church as a whole is getting healthier.
Eating healthy food, drinking water, resting/taking a Sabbath, and getting exercise, all exhibit self-control. I think we often like to conveniently forget that fruit of the spirit. Love and kindness come more naturally to some, but God’s Word says that we also show the world Jesus when we maintain control over our bodies.
We all have things that our bodies tell us we NEED: sugar, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, drugs, pills, sex, pornography, etc. Addictions are very real – even in the Church. Avoiding the things that tempt us requires intense focus, discipline, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. It is deeply spiritual when we experience victory and are able to break those bondages and make healthier choices.
“Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside,” (1 Corinthians 9:27 TLB).
In other words, Paul was saying that it looks hypocritical to the world, if we preach the good news of the Gospel but our bodies are a wreck. Ouch. The language that he used to describe his physical training is hard to read. Some translations even say, “I beat my body into submission.” I’m sure that all of us have room for improvement here.
Suggestions on training your body:
- Submit to God’s training and ask Him to help you. If this doesn’t happen, our attempts to “get better” will just leave us feeling frustrated. We will do well for a while and then slip right back into old patterns and behaviors. After going through that cycle a few times, we can easily become resentful and resistant to prioritizing our health. We need God’s empowerment to make lasting change.
“God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God,” (Hebrews 12:7-11 MSG).
2. Make healthier choices. I know we’ve heard this a million times: eat well, exercise, drink water, and get good sleep. These are simple things but they affect every part of our lives. Just in case you need to hear this: it’s not vain to take care of yourself. With God’s help, you can make lasting change and drastically improve your quality of life.
Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book called The Daniel Plan. I highly recommend it. He says that healthy bodies require: faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends. There is also a life group curriculum to go with it if you want to gather some friends and go through it together.
“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, ‘First you eat to live, and then you live to eat’? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body… Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body,” (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20 MSG).
3. Avoid things that pull you into addiction and get accountability. If sugar is a stumbling block for you, decrease your amount little by little. I used to not be able to finish a meal without something sweet. Yikes! I researched other options and discovered Trim, Healthy Mama. They have all kinds of sweeteners that will not spike your blood sugar and give you the cravings that traditional sugar does. If drugs or alcohol are problems for you, find an AA or Celebrate Recovery group. Whatever you struggle with, accountability is key to getting freedom.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results,” (James 5:16 NLT).
Disciplining our bodies is seriously hard work, but it will be worth it in the long run. Our bodies take us where God has called us. We need to see it as our privilege to treat them well. We don’t have to have this mastered over night, lasting change takes place one day at a time. We are in this together! Praying that you will see healing and wholeness in your body as you train it for the glory of God!