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Mar 7 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 5, 2012 – Present Your Body

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (read vv. 12-20)

INTRO: The question most frequently put to youth pastors, “Is it alright for a Christian to go to parties?”

It sounds like the teenager is asking, “How close can we get to the edge and still be Christian?”
– but what really lies behind the question is more like, “Is there anything fun about this Christian life? Anything interesting or exciting? Anything that compares with the social life of an active teen?”
– when preachers spell out the life of faith, their descriptions oftentimes sound dreary and like a lot of work
– it is as if we were at war with pleasure – at war with our bodies

The the impression we get when reading about the first Christian monks
– known for their “asceticism” – rigid self-discipline — they intentionally deprived themselves of food, sleep, and comfort
Karl Rahner, “. . . asceticism was considered almost exclusively a substitute for martyrdom.”

The influence of Greek culture was partly to blame
John A. T. Robinson, “. . . the Jews . . . made do with one word (basar) where the Greeks required two [flesh and body] . . .”

The influence of the New Testament was partly to blame (read through lens of Greek culture)
– Jesus: If your eye, hand, or foot causes you to stumble, get rid of it
– Paul’s letters indicate his strong negative emphasis–i.e., what not to do with the body

. . . but I discipline [lit. “bruise”] my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Co. 9:27)

– even when Paul envisioned a majestic role for the body in worship, we can still discern a negative tinge (Ro. 12:1)
– “living sacrifice” – is that all the body is good for? To be sacrificed ?

Some believers, “frightened by the destructive power of unbridled passion, have taught man to see ugliness in desire. . . .
To the Jewish mind, being neither enticed nor horrified by the powers of passion, desires are neither benign nor pernicious but, like fire, they do not agree with straw. The should be neither quenched nor supplied with fuel. Rather than worship fire and be consumed by it, we should let a light come out of the flames. Needs are spiritual opportunities.” [emphasis added] Abraham Heschel

Heschel presents a good representation of the Old Testament view of the human body
– it is more than a banana peel that God tosses after this life
– yet, at the same time, it is not something that we worship

The Old Testament attitude regarding the body is the foundation of the New Testament view

At Creation: The body was pronounced “good” — its life is the breath of God
– the body is the person–i.e., in respect to our physical existence
– in our bodies, we are related both to creation (dust) and to God
– the naked body symbolized the intimacy of the first couple (Ge. 2:25)

Skin forms an important boundary around the body (or person)
– the law is very concerned about what touches the skin and enters and exits the body (Le. 11, 12, & 15)
– illnesses like leprosy and Job’s boils breach the protective covering (Le. 13; Job 2:4,7)

The Old Testament definitely notices and appreciates the beauty of the human body

The highest celebration of the body in scripture is found in the Song of Songs
– the lovers are not ashamed to describe beauty of the other’s body
– they use poetry, because it is like painting with words
Wolf, “Thus joy over the beauty of the beloved also produces beautiful language.”

Nevertheless, the view each lover has of the other is inaccurate
– not because it is exclusively erotic – it isn’t
– but because their eyesight is affected by their infatuation
• through love goggles, they have an idealized view of the other that airbrushes flaws and blemishes

Whatever the external attributes of the body, its purpose is spiritual
– if Esther was beautiful, it was to gain her access to the king so that she could save her people
– the people of Israel learned to worship God with the whole body – e.g., bowing

Ultimately, the size, strength, and look of the body was not what mattered most

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Sa. 16:7)

We need to read Paul with all of this in mind, rather than the Greek way of isolating the spirit from the body

Notice where Paul begins his discussion of the body in 1 Corinthians 6:12

V. 12, He’s looking for a criterion to determine what we do with our bodies
– the criterion is not, “Is it lawful?” – he no longer lived by that standard (“under the law”)
– there are other important questions that must be answered:

  • Is it profitable? What is it’s spiritual value?
  • Can it potentially take over my life? Is it addictive?
  • Does it build up my life in Christ? The lives of others? (10:23)

V. 13, The Corinthian’s might respond with the cliche, “Yes, but food is for the stomach . . .”
– “You have to eat! And the stomach was made to digest food”

Paul does not argue the point, he simply states that its scope is limited
• if we agree that things that are used up quickly, less valuable than things that last or are permanent, then food and stomach are not good criteria for the more important decisions
– yes, the body performs these functions, but it was made for more
• as Jesus said, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Mt. 6:25)
• a life devoted to the temporal needs, drives, and desires of the body is shallow

“Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord”
– this line does not pose a problem for us – recognize it the truth of it because we’ve seen it already (e.g., Ro. 6)
– but what he says next is almost shocking, “and the Lord is for the body”
• in the way that food and the stomach exist for each other, our body and the Lord are for each other
• in some sense, Jesus is embodied in our bodies (Ro. 8:11)

V. 14, The body has a different destiny that food and the stomach (which are perishable)
– resurrection and eternal life

Vv. 15-18, The body, with all of its parts, as a whole is also a “part” of another body (1 Cor. 12)
– this leans heavily on the Old Testament idea of the body — nothing we do with our bodies is without spiritual significance
– in sexual immorality, the body is joined with sin and is redefined by it — sin enters the body
– “joined” refers to sexual union

Our relationship with Jesus implies his exclusive right over our body
– our bodies carry our lives’ experiences and we pay a price and reap a  reward for what we do with them

V. 19, This is breath-taking
The Message Bible, “Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?”

One of the most important medical discoveries of the twentieth century is that the body and brain are connected
– if you can relax your body, you can ease your anxious mind
– get your body to be still and you will calm your thoughts

The Spirit is in us – this is our new life in Christ
– God is forming Jesus in us – in our bodies (hands, feet, mouths, etc.; Gal. 4:19)
in us, the Spirit enlightens, inspires, energizes, and transforms

But the Spirit also came upon the disciples to empower them (Acts 1:8)
– this experience–filling with the Spirit–is not just for “saints,” apostles, evangelists,  or monks
“Even on My bond-slaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit” (Acts 2:17-18)
single moms and children, clerks and cashiers, accountants and gardeners

Rest your body in this truth – practice surrendering your body to the Spirit
– it is possible to learn to rest in the Spirit in such a way that it lowers our blood pressure and slows our pulse
– we do not do this merely for its health value, but so that we can then move with the Spirit and not in the influence of our own emotions, stress, or ambition

V. 20, Paul’s conclusion: “therefore glorify God in your body”
– not in only worship, but in everything we do

CONC: God uses our bodies to join us to himself

We bring our relationship with God into our bodies
– we bring his will into our bodies

. . . according to my earnest expectation and hope, that . . . with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (Php. 1:20)

– we bring God’s grace into our bodies — so that everything we do in the body is from him and for him, and everywhere we go, his grace radiates through our bodies

Jesus: “This is My body, which is for you” (11:24)
Our response, “This is my body, presented to You”

Let’s practice being the sacred place of the Spirit, recognizing his presence in our bodies

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