Your Sacred Self.

Americans spend an astounding amount of money every year to take care of our bodies, whether that involves medical costs, fitness, or weight loss. God cares about the body as well. He determined to redeem and resurrect our human bodies before Creation. The Mosaic law shows great care for the physical body. The Israelites took Joseph's body with them when they left Egypt, and God Himself buried Moses' body when he died. Jesus healed the human body multiple times in His earthly ministry. Jesus was resurrected bodily, and so will we be.

A Biblical Theology of the Body

Many passages in the New Testament can help us build a biblical understanding of the proper care and use of our bodies. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that the body is sacred. When a person is saved, the whole of them is redeemed and purchased by Christ. The body of a believer is the holy property of God.

Romans 12:1-2 tells us to worship God with our bodies. Worship does not happen one time a week on Sunday morning; it is a daily devotion of the whole of us to God. Matthew 6:22-24 makes it clear that what we do with our bodies affect the whole of us, including soul and spirit. We cannot be devoted to both God and physical things.

Two main New Testament passages regarding the body are found in 1 Corinthians. Chapter 15 discusses the resurrection. We can distinguish between the spiritual and physical parts of a person, but these parts are not separate. One day, neither our bodies nor our soul and spirit will be affected by sin. In the meantime, we live in anticipation of our glorified state by passionately pursuing practical holiness.

The Corinthian Correction

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul corrects the Corinthian believers' thinking about the body. They were being influenced by secular teaching in Corinth. The religious philosophy of the day taught a stark separation between the spiritual and the physical, known as Platonic dualism. The practical implication is that it doesn't matter what you do with your physical body; actions done in the body will not affect the immaterial you. (The three epistles written by the apostle John confronted similar philosophy.)

The health craze in the United States is coupled with a health curse: we spend billions to stay healthy, and at the same time, spend billions to prevent or alleviate the consequences of immorality that is common in our society. Paul's instructions are just as timely for our culture as they were for Corinth. In keeping with most other New Testament instructions on the body, Paul tells the Corinthians why they must avoid immorality.

Foundational Principles

In verses 12-13, Paul warns against the inappropriate use of lawful things. Our physical bodies have two natural strong desires for food and intimacy. Both of these desires are temporary, and neither must be allowed to control us.

Forward Understanding

In verses 13-14, Paul anticipates the Corinthians' rationalizing of their sinful behavior. He emphasizes again the reality that what you do in your body affects your soul. Sin has long-term affects. You cannot undo things you may have done, but God's grace can enable you to live through those consequences.

God does not see us as divided beings; He deals with us as whole persons. He designed the human body to be the sum of the whole person, not just a collection of organs. Our bodies are to be used for His purposes, not our selfish gratification. God knows our desires because He made us; and He can satisfy them. If God can save you completely and eternally, He can help you govern your physical body.

Application Points

  • Are you glorifying God with the use of your body? Are you controlled by physical desires? Determine some steps you can take so that your lifestyle begins to measure up to future glory. There is no excuse for unrighteous living when the Lord is for us.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 – Our future resurrection is a comfort.
  • 2 Peter 1:3-8 – The divine nature we are given in Christ is manifested in virtue and self-control.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Glorious is Thy Name"

Blessed Savior, we adore Thee,
We Thy love and grace proclaim;
Thou art mighty, Thou art holy,
Glorious is Thy matchless name!

Great Redeemer, Lord and Master,
Light of all eternal days;
Let the saints from every nation
Sing Thy just and endless praise!

Glorious, Glorious,
Glorious is Thy name, O Lord!
Glorious, Glorious,
Glorious is Thy name, O Lord!

From the throne of heaven's glory
To the cross of sin and shame,
Thou didst come and die a ransom
Guilty sinners to reclaim!

Come, O come, Immortal Savior,
Come and take Thy royal throne;
Come and reign, and reign forever,
Be the Kingdom all Your own!

Quotes to Ponder

"Although bodily functions cease at death, the purpose of the body continues. This can be seen in the doctrinal truth of the resurrection in [1 Corinthians 6:14]. ...Since the Father raised up Christ, He will also raise up each believer. The body, therefore, is very crucial to God's program of resurrection. In fact, spiritual identification with Christ is also physical identification with Him as well."