Skip to content
Mar 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Mar4ch 11, 2012 – Present Your Body

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6 (read entire Psalm)

INTRO: What is your body trying to tell you?

Antonio Damasio is a respected scientist and one of his fields of research is the neurology of emotion
– he had identified a brain-body loop that is necessary for processing emotions
– messages are carried from the body to the brain chemically (in the blood) and electrically (in the nervous system)

Think about this for a moment? How do we know we’re hungry? We feel sensations of hunger
– there are some people, who when really hungry, slip into a bad mood
-the body affects the brain, producing emotional responses to various sensations

Damasio says that in our western society today, we cut ourselves off from a lot of the body’s messages
– he guesses that in earlier times that was not the case

“It must have been easier to sense life within . . . . I suspect they were able to sense more about themselves than many of us, the unforewarned, are able to sense these days.”

There’s no need to guess that ancient people were more aware of went on in their bodies – all we have to do is read the Old Testament
– I’ll point out just one example I read a couple months ago:

I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble
. (Hab. 3:16)

This is characteristic of Old Testament believers
– the experience of their emotions was physiological
• emotional events were not separate or isolated from the body
• they could locate the sensation of their emotions in various organs
– they listened to their bodies because they perceived the unity of their being
• they could discern the way painful situations registered in bodies

We have lost the ability to make these connections
– we seldom hear or pay attention to our body’s response to the environment and circumstances
– the exception would be in extreme situations when we can feel our hearts’ rapid pounding, or our stomachs are tied in knots, or we break out in a cold sweat
Otherwise, we ignore the lesser messages and distract or anesthetize ourselves to them
– we do this until we can no longer hear what our body is trying to tell us — tell us about its own condition and about the state of our soul

The Psalms are helpful, because autobiographical and personal

The psalmists prayed their feelings – they told God what going on within them (e.g., Ps. 42:6)
– they listened to their bodies’ experience of life
– what did their spiritual condition feel like on the inside?
• their bodies held the answer

The first verse of the poem tells us that it is about sin and restoration
– beginning in verse 5, the poet tracks the course of sin in his body to this moment
• it had found a home in him since birth
• but it was also deep within his body that God desired truth– (Heb. emet, i.e., faithfulness)

The internal organs were located in the deep, inner recesses of a person
• the organs were the source of the vital energies of life (as opposed to the arms and legs that were associated with strength)
• the organs were also the most spiritually sensitive parts of the body
– there was a wisdom in these hidden regions — a wisdom the poet needed to learn(v. 6)
• As Damasio has demonstrated, “emotion assists learning”

Let’s think about this

When they talked about their internal organs, they were expressing their inner experience of life
• the good and the bad – their sin and righteousness
• they were describing the way that their experiences evoked feelings and where they felt those feelings

“This indicates once more that the inside of the body too is of less interest anatomically and physiologically than psychologically, in the broadest sense of the word.” Hans W. Wolf

For them, the spirit, the body and the emotions were not separate things

What do the internal organs represent?
– the hidden part of the human person – secrets –– the place where a person may hide things from others

But they also represent the secret of life itself – the mystery of life
– when a person takes their last breath, what has changed in the body?
∙ not that much – in some organs, nothing — nevertheless, life has gone out of the body

The internal organs also represented ones deepest feelings, desires, drives

In verse 8, he describes what his sin and guilt had done to him

It had broken his bones — for another description, see Ps. 32:3-4

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away,
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

There’s a TV program, “Bones,” that centers on a team of medical examiners
– every episode they study the skeletal remains of some unfortunate victim
– bones tell us a lot about a person – their bones carry their history
– bones not only suffer injuries of accidents and abuse, but also breakdown under prolonged stress and anxiety

Bones here are broken, but they can also rejoice
– bones can decay (Hab.), but also become healthy (Pr. 16:24)
– as we’ve seen, bones can be sick with guilt (Ps. 38:3)
– bones are normally part of the invisible interior, until severe suffering causes them to show through the skin
(Job 33:21, “his bones which were not seen stick out”; Ps. 22:17)
– bones can be dismayed (Ps. 6:2)
– bones can speak of God’s unique goodness (Ps. 35:10)
– what a person does consistently enters his bones (Ps. 109:18)
– passions can rot the bones (Pr. 14:30)
– depression (a “broken spirit”) dries up the bones (Pr. 17:22)
– God gives strength to the bones (Is. 58:11)
– Jeremiah could not keep God’s word shut up in his bones (20:9)

We say, “I can feel it in my bones” when we’re sure of something, but can’t produce evidence for it
– this is similar to having “a gut feeling” – an intuition

The skeletal system provides a basic structure for the body
– a framework that gives support to everything else
– so the psalmist was describing when referring to his bones was the foundation of his personal, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual existence
– he knew what went on within, that it was more than thoughts and feelings
• if insides were rotting, then he needed to pay attention, because his body was trying to tell them something
• perhaps tell him something about God
– it’s like hearing someone move around downstairs and you need to go down there and find out what they’re doing

CONC: What the poet wanted was a thorough cleansing (vv. 2, 7, 10)

Not merely to wash the sin and guilt off the skin of his hands, but out of his life
– he wanted God to clean him from the inside out
– in fact, he wanted God to create in him a clean heart

I realize that not everyone will want to take the next step
– religious teachers and publishers have made it easy to avoid
• the spiritual life has been reduced to a set of principles, or beliefs, or moral rules
• the spiritual impulse of many hearts is calmed by Sunday visits to church where they hear some more good thoughts
– we are blind to the way that certain inner issues hamper our progress
God is telling us something and our bodies hear him but we don’t

If we would learn to listen “from the neck down,” we would discover that God is at work in these hidden chambers
– the Spirit is the one moving around in the downstairs of our bodies

To learn to listen to our body and what God is doing within it cannot be all that difficult!

Begin by bringing awareness to your body
– what is it feeling?
– ask the feeling, “What are you trying to tell me?”
• the answer may be a message, a word, or a symbol
– acknowledge it and ponder it for a moment
Then present it to God in whatever form of prayer is appropriate

Remember, Jesus is gentle with the sensitive issues of your heart
– he is serious and relentless about your progress in him, but he is gentle
And he will not stop until you are well and made whole

Leave a comment