For many people, a new year brings with it renewed energy to make some needed changes in their lives. According to Nielsen, the top two resolutions for last year were to stay fit and healthy, and to lose weight. Obviously, the condition and health of their bodies is of great concern to people, but what should a Christian’s attitude be? And more importantly, what’s God’s viewpoint regarding the human body?
One common misperception among believers is that the Lord is only interested in our souls and spirits. But in reality, He considers every aspect of our humanity important because He created each part. Our physical bodies are the means by which we interact with the world and other people, and with them we give honor to God. He marvelously designed our bodies with miles of blood vessels, coordinated muscles, intricate eyes, a complex brain, and unique fingerprints for each person. He’s the one who gives us every breath and keeps our hearts pumping throughout our lifetimes.
He’s the one who gives us every breath and keeps our hearts pumping throughout our lifetimes.
In the first century, the Christians in Corinth believed what many still think today—that the body isn’t that important, and we can do whatever we want with it. The apostle Paul corrected this misconception in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “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.”
In this short passage, there are four basic truths that reveal the Lord’s perspective on the body. First of all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19). This fact alone speaks volumes about their value in God’s eyes because this is where He has chosen to dwell. Whatever we do and wherever we go, He is in us. Therefore, using our bodies in any act of sin or immorality desecrates His holy temple.
Second, God owns our bodies (v. 19). Satan wants us to think, “This is my body, and no one else has the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with it.” However, since humanity is God’s crowning creation, made in His image, we all rightfully belong to Him and must someday give an account to Him for our lives. Speaking of Christ, Colossians 1:16 says, “All things have been created through Him and for Him.” Because our entire being was made for Him, He has the right to dictate how we are to use our bodies—whether we acknowledge His authority or not.
Third, we have been purchased by Christ (1 Cor. 6:20). The price He paid to save us was His blood shed for us on the cross. With this one act of redemption, He restored our spirits to a right relationship with the Father, began the process of transforming our souls into His image, and promised to one day redeem our physical bodies through resurrection. Because of the consequences of sin, we currently suffer from weakness, disease, aging, and eventual death. But God considers the physical aspect of our being so valuable that He has promised to “trans- form the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). At the resurrection, we will be raised imperishable in glory and power (1 Cor. 15:42-43).
God created our bodies for a purpose—to bring glory and honor to Him.
Finally, God created our bodies for a purpose—to bring glory and honor to Him (6:20). This is the guiding principle for all that we do. We only have one body with which to serve and honor the Lord, so we need to do what we can to care for it properly. Earlier in my life I believed that the way to glorify God was to work as hard as I could for Him—getting up early to study, being busy all day, and staying up late to finish whatever needed to be done. With such a schedule, it’s no wonder I started to wear myself down and become sick. I wanted God to heal me quickly so I could get back to preaching. But His goal was to help me see that this was not the way He wanted me to treat my body. By neglecting and misusing it, I was actually limiting my ministry.
The Lord designed our bodies to function with adequate rest, good nutrition, and appropriate exercise so we could have the health and strength to complete the work He’s called us to do. Although doing these things is no guarantee of good health, neglecting them increases our chances of illness or weakness. The wisest approach is to do our best to take care of our bodies and leave the rest to the Lord.
Are you treating your body as God desires? The required discipline may seem burdensome unless you remember that it is a way to glorify the Lord. My motivation is to do whatever’s required to stay in the best possible health so I can continue to preach the gospel for as long as God gives me breath. He has a calling for you, too. May this truth encourage and motivate you to care for your body in a manner that honors Him.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. I always look forward to the beginning of another year of opportunities for In Touch Ministries as we continue to strengthen local churches and share the gospel worldwide. I pray that 2016 will also be a fruitful time in your life. Together we are Christ’s body—the hands, feet, and mouths He uses to accomplish His work in this world.