Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 15, 2000
We are taking a break from our study of the Gospel of John in order to deal with several important topics. We are in the midst of a short series on sanctification. Last week I talked about having a sanctified mind. This week I want to talk about having a sanctified body.
Defined: The term “sanctification” is from the same root word for “holy.” It essentially means “to be set apart” with the connotation being “to be set apart for the Lord.” The Christian’s sanctification has three aspects to it.
The initial aspect of sanctification for the true Christian is when they are “set apart to the Lord” at salvation. He or she is transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). They no longer are slaves of sin (Rom. 6) or of Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). The Christian belongs to Jesus Christ is to be a slave of righteousness.
The second aspect of sanctification is an ongoing process. It is the practical outworking of being set apart to Christ at salvation in daily life. Having been set apart unto Jesus at salvation, the Christian grows in Christ on a daily basis to become conformed into His image (Rom. 8:29). The sinful manner of life that once marked him or her is replaced by living in practical righteousness.
The third aspect of sanctification will occur when we are changed and set apart unto Him when we enter eternity – either at death or at His coming. Positional righteousness and practical righteousness will become one and the same. Every true Christian longs for that day.
In our discussions of sanctification in this series, it is that second aspect that we are focusing on. Our concern needs to be how we can daily grow in Christ and become what we are supposed to be in living daily life.
Importance: The importance of living a holy life is brought out throughout the Scriptures. We went over this last week, but in brief, every call for the Christian to set aside a sinful practice and obey the Lord in a holy practice proclaims the necessity of pursuing sanctification in daily life. It is God’s will for your life (Rom. 6:22f; 1 Cor. 6:11f; 1 Thess. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:21, etc). Ultimately, sanctification is important because the pursuit of it reveals the reality of what a person believes. A person who professes faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and yet lives as the world does is either grossly ignorant of the Scriptures or has a false profession of faith. In the first case, they will be saved, but as through fire which will consume all their works (2 Cor. 5). In the second case, they will be condemned to Hell and be shut out from Christ for eternity (Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 13:5), because they will not have the sanctification (holiness) without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Your sanctification is the practical outworking and evidence of your salvation.
A Sanctified Mind
Last week I spoke about having a sanctified mind because it is the starting place of living in righteousness. How you think will control how you view yourself, others, the world and how you live. How you live will reveal what you really believe regardless of any profession of belief you make. It is your mind that controls.
Developing the Mind of Christ.
The Christian is to develop within them the mind of Christ. They set aside their former way of looking at things and seek to see things from God’s perspective. As Romans 12:1,2 puts it, I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
In view of all that God has done through Jesus Christ to save me from my sin, I give myself to Him as a living sacrifice. My life is now to be lived for Him. The world seeks to pressure me to continue to live in my former sinful way of life, but I am to be transformed, (metamorphosis – completely changed), by the renewing of my mind. Our minds are changed into something new as the old thoughts are exchanged for new ones and this is done through the Scriptures. As David expressed in Psalm 19, the Word of God is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true. It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlighten the eyes, endures forever and is righteous altogether. It changes a person’s life because it changes how they think and live. No wonder David found them to be more desirable than pure gold and more satisfying than the drippings of the honeycomb.
As we feed upon the Bible, the thoughts that we have are changed. The sinful way we used to view things is changed into a godly viewpoint. I gave you many examples of this last week, but basic principle is this. As I put God’s word in my heart, it convicts me of sin, instructs me in righteousness and changes my view of the world. I turn from selfish self-centeredness to gracious godliness. I look to give to others instead of looking to get from them. I am transformed by the renewing of my mind.
Keeping your Mind Set Correct
Part of the real work of having your mind renewed is making sure that you are thinking about the right things. We must be careful to be putting in righteousness and keeping out ungodliness. Our ability to follow after God and rejoice in all circumstances is dependent on this. Paul brings this out in Phil. 4:8 & 9 where he says, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.
That should be the standard by which we judge everything that we allow into our minds. What are the TV programs you watch? How do you react to the raunchy commercials that come on? What magazines do you read? What do you listen to on the radio? What subjects do you allow people to talk to you about? Who do you allow to give you counsel? Are you seeking the wisdom from above or the wisdom from below which is earthly, natural, demonic which rises from jealousy and selfish ambition and produces disorder and every evil thing (James 3:15,16).
If this is not the standard by which you screen what goes into your mind, then you are receiving ungodly thoughts. And garbage in will result in garbage out. And a steady flow of godliness in will wash out the garbage. Jesus washes our minds and sanctifies us through the washing of water with the Word (Eph. 5:26).
In the pursuit of a sanctified life, there is an internal and external conflict that every Christian is in. I spoke to this issue to some degree last week. There are desires that arise from within you and there is the pressure the world places upon you to mold you into its image. Our ability to have victory over both is going to be based in your self-concept. Who is the real you?
The Real You
There are many competing philosophies that try to define who you really are as a human. They range from the physical mass of chemical reactions that is evolving into “higher” forms of chemical reactions to new age ideas of spirit beings that are godlike. There can be interesting discussions on all of these, but our quest is to know what our creator says we are.
The Bible is clear in its description of man. We are physical beings created from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). We are also immaterial beings that reflect the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This encompasses both our immaterial mental and emotional abilities to think and feel (Isa. 1:18). It also encompasses our eternal souls which continue to exist throughout eternity (Mt. 10:28). We are both physically temporal and spiritually eternal, but it is the eternal soul that is to take precedent in our lives. Our present life is in preparation for living the next (2 Cor. 5:10f). The purpose of our life is not ourselves, but the glory of God, or as Paul puts it in Romans 14:7 (NASB) For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
The real you is a creature created by God for His purposes. Anything philosophy that would seek to elevate your position in the universe beyond that is contrary to God’s revelation and will lead to a manner of life that God will condemn. You are not autonomous. You do not exist for yourself or any other being. You exist for God’s purposes alone. All our problems arise because we seek to live in a manner contrary to that.
Fighting Your Past
One of the things a Christian battles is their past. Because we are all born dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) we have been affected by ungodliness and learned to walk in ungodliness living in the lusts of our flesh and indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. This is true even if we grew up in a Christian home. Our natural bent is away from God and toward self and we learn sinful ways of coping with the world in order to get what we want.
After a person becomes a Christian, they begin to battle all the sinful past habits and patterns of thinking and replace them with godly habits and patterns of thinking. You cannot break a habit without replacing it with a new practice. One of the reasons that secular psychology has some success is because through hard work a person can replace one habit with a new one. The failure of psychology is that it simply replaces one sinful habit with another more socially acceptable sinful habit. God wants the sinful habit replaced with a godly practice. That can only happen after a person is saved from their sin. Otherwise, even what might be considered a good habit is still done for something other than the glory of God, and that is still sin.
This is the reason that passages such as Colossians 3, Romans 6, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 5 all call on the Christian to set aside their former practices and to walk as children of righteousness. We are to break our old habits and start new ones. Our old self was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), therefore we are to lay it aside (Eph. 4:22) and put on the new self (Col. 3:10). We are to fight against our past. We are to re-pattern our way of thinking with godliness. We are to break old habits and replace them with righteous ones.
Fighting Your Flesh
The Christian is also going to battle his or her flesh. Paul speaks of this battle in Romans 7:14-25 where his flesh battles with his mind for control of what he is going to do. The cravings of his flesh battle with the intellectual knowledge about what is best. It is only through living in the power of the spirit that the will can assert itself to live in godliness. The mind that is set on the flesh will be hostile to God while the mind set on the Spirit will find life and peace (Rom. 8:6,7).
This is not saying, as the gnostics do, that your flesh itself is evil. It is neutral in and of itself. It is saying that the cravings of the flesh will lead to evil if they are not controlled by a godly mind whose will is empowered by the Holy Spirit. If we are tempted to satisfy the flesh in a worldly manner and yield to that temptation, we will be in sin. Our striving is to love God more than ourselves or the world.
The apostle John wrote, Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15) . We fight our flesh and we fight our past. The winner will be what we love the most.
I want to spend the rest of our time dealing with some specific issues in battling our flesh. Our bodies do have proper cravings that can be satisfied in godliness. The sin occurs when we satisfy those cravings in any other manner. We are to be sanctified in our bodies
The first issue I want to deal with is food. We all understand that our bodies crave food. It is normal for us to become hungry. God designed our bodies to react with both hungry and satiation so that we would regulate our feedings properly. We need to eat enough to live and keep ourselves from eating so much that we get sick or become so unhealthy we hinder our service to Him.
Food itself is neutral. The Lord made this clear to Peter in the vision he had in Acts 10 and Paul states it as well in 1 Timothy 4:4 where he says in the context of speaking about food, For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude. The question is our attitude toward food and practices of consumption.
The first thing that we need to understand about food is, that while nutrition is necessary for physical life, it is secondary to the purpose of your existence. In Matthew 4 we find the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights when the devil came to him and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Jesus’ response was straight from the Scriptures (Deut. 8:3): “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Jesus’ point is simple. It is more important to trust and obey God than to feed my hungry body. The temptation here is that Jesus would provide for Himself than trusting the Father to provide. It is better to be hungry and glorify God than to eat.
Jesus makes the same basic point in Matthew 6:25-34 where He speaks to the issue of anxiety, including what should be eaten, with the conclusion being to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. God wants our minds to be preoccupied with Him, not food.
There is nothing sinful in itself in eating. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the meal. The many feasts God instituted in ancient Israel were meant to be enjoyed. However, God should not have to compete with food for our attention.
There are many verses in the Scriptures concerning gluttony (Deut. 21:20; Proverbs 23:20; 23:21; 28:7; Titus 1:12). The problem with gluttony is not the food. It is the attitude. Consider that the Old Testament generally represents being fat as a blessing (Psalm 73:4). The problem is not a person’s weight, but their attitude. A person could be thin and really have the same problem as the glutton. The bulimic person does. Instead of centering their lives on God, much of it will focus on food. When and what will we eat? It varies among different people, but food substitutes for God in bringing satisfaction, or comfort, or even security. An ice cream cone becomes the adult pacifier. There is also the inherent greed of consuming, literally, what could be given to those who are in need (Eph. 4:28) or spent in furthering the ministry of the Kingdom of Christ.
The anorexic has the same basic problem as the glutton except it is a preoccupation with avoiding food in order to stay thin. They view themselves in terms other than who they are in Jesus Christ. What they eat or do not eat becomes their focus.
In living a sanctified life, food is fine and should be enjoyed. But when you spend more time thinking about food that the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are no longer pursuing holiness. In 1 Corinthians 6:13 Paul quotes a Greek axiom and then corrects it. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both of them. You are much more than a physical being. Live for Christ, not your physical body.
The context of the 1 Corinthians 6:13 passage actually deals with another area of the flesh. For the rest of the verse says, Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body. Paul is actually dealing with the Corinthian problem of harlotry. The Greek axiom reflected their common philosophy that sexuality was no different from eating food. Paul makes it clear that neither is true. Your body is for the Lord. Through the rest of the passage Paul corrects them on their practice and the fact that it actually joins the Lord in their immorality. He concludes in verses 18-20 saying, Flee immorality. Every [other] sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 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? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
There is a proper sensuality and physical pleasure that is to exist within marriage. Passages such as Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5:15-19 make this clear. The Scriptures are also definite that such pursuit outside of marriage is flagrant sin. Adultery, fornication and perversions are all listed over and over again as sin. Why? Not because God is a cosmic killjoy, but because His plan for a man and woman is marriage. When a husband and wife are pursing godliness they sacrificially give of themselves for the other’s benefit. In such a marriage each partner pleases the other and the sensual pleasures of marriage deepen the unity of the relationship. When people are not married those same pursuits eat away at the relationship because of the inherent selfishness of men and women to please themselves. They seek to get instead of give. Surveys have consistently shown that it is married people that are the most satisfied.
But even in a godly marriage, sensuality is a side issue. Ephesians 5:31,32 makes it clear that the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. 1 Cor. 7:5 shows that there are times to set aside sensuality for the purpose of focused prayer before coming back together.
The issue here is that your body is not for yourself, but for the Lord’s glory. If you are married, your body does not belong to you, but to your spouse (1 Cor. 7:4). If you are not married, your body belongs to your future spouse. You are not the issue. The Lord is the issue. Is your manner of life glorifying Him?
But that also brings a related issue I want to comment on briefly. We live in a sex saturated society. I find it absolutely appalling that we as a society are robbing our children of their innocence and forcing upon them things they are not old enough to handle. It is cute when little girls play dress up with their mom’s clothing and jewelry, but it is not cute when they are dressed up to imitate sensual fashion models. It is not cute when they play dating with their dolls instead of house. It should be here is the mommy and daddy, not here is Barbie’s boyfriend. It is not cute when 10 year old boys view girls as objects of lust instead of school yard playmates. At that age they are better off thinking that girls have cuties.
One of the few protections we can give to our children is a proper attitude. You must continually stress God’s high view of marriage and the centrality of marriage in male-female relationships. They should view their bodies as belonging to a future marriage partner. You will instill your attitude in them. What then is your attitude toward your own body and that of your spouse? Is their modesty in your home? What comments do you make about the dress of other men or women? Do you praise sensuality or modesty? What about your own modesty of dress? That goes for men and women.
I used to have some pretty short shorts. I was corrected about them and I got rid of them. Why? Because my body belongs to the Lord and my wife, not everyone else and I want to set an example of modesty for my boys. I do not dress myself for my own pleasure or for yours. I strive to dress to please the Lord Jesus in a manner appropriate to whatever work I am doing. When you look in the mirror, ask yourself who you are getting dressed for? Ladies, is your adornment merely external, or does your dress reflect a godly heart? (1 Peter 3:3-4). If manner of dress is not for the Lord, then pursue a sanctified mind, and then pursue a sanctified body.
Another major aspect of sanctification of the body is our response to seeking pleasure. We live in a hedonistic society and so it is easy to get caught in the trap of striving to make ourselves physically comfortable in all situations. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong about being comfortable or in doing something that you enjoy. The aesthetics are wrong in their belief that they are more holy if they suffer more discomfort and pain. Reading the Bible on your knees on a bare concrete floor is not more holy than reading it sitting in an overstuffed chair – (unless you keep falling asleep sitting in the chair). The problem comes when our pursuit of comfort or pleasure interferes with your pursuit of godliness.
There are all sorts of different things that bring people pleasure or make them more comfortable. There are myriads of hobbies, and millions of gadgets to make your life more comfortable. Two questions that need to be asked concerning them are: 1) Is this thing or activity that gives me pleasure good, evil or neutral? Obviously evil things should be eliminated. If the thing or activity does not fit the grid of Philippians 4:8 – whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praise worthy – then eliminate it from your life. The second question: Does this thing or activity hinder my pursuit of God and serving Him? Watching baseball, like many hobbies, is a neutral activity, but if it becomes more important to you than the priorities God has set for you – your devotional life, your worship of Him, fulfilling your role in your family, etc. Then it is a hindrance and should be curtailed or eliminated.
A Christian that is pursuing sanctification will find their greatest pleasure in pleasing Christ. Nothing else can compare to it. Col. 1:10 tells us that we should walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. You cannot please the Lord if your fleshly desires are more important to you than the Lord (Rom. 8:8).
The flip side of seeking pleasure is avoiding pain. Much of our world lives for this purpose. They simply want to not hurt. They do all they possibly can to both eliminate and prevent physical and emotional pain. Our society’s drug culture is dependent upon this as is the psychology industry. Again we find that it is not evil to try to eliminate or avoid pain. There is a certain compassion in this. The Lord Himself healed multitudes of people because of His compassion upon them. Pain is actually a God given warning response so that we will be more careful in what we are doing. God will even chastise us because the pain will cause us to rethink what we are doing (Heb. 12). However, we find again that the problem comes when our focus on God and pursuit of holiness is replaced by something else, in this case, the avoidance of pain. Drug addiction and debilitating phobias are two examples of ungodliness in avoiding pain.
Our Lord did not avoid the pain of the cross, but willingly suffered it for our sake. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us that all who strive to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Would you set aside the hope of eternity with Christ in order to avoid the pain of persecution? Many will deny the Lord because of that, and they will also be denied by Him. Our lives are to be bound up in living with eternity in view. Our lives are not to be centered in gaining the fleeting pleasures of this life or in avoiding the pain. We are to live in gratefulness to God for every blessing while looking forward to the better life of eternity with Christ.
Honoring the Lord
Let me close with this thought. In 1 Cor. 9:26 Paul said, I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. Paul had a proper view of his physical body. It was the physical shell that housed his eternal soul for the few short years of his life on this earth. It was given to him by God, so he was a steward entrusted with its care. It was, in essence, a tool given to him by which he could honor the Lord. He struggled with it at times, as we saw in Rom. 7, but he was responsible to control his body that he might walk in holiness.
How do you view your body? Is it your slave or are you its slave? Do you honor or dishonor the Lord with it? If you are a Christian, then your body has been purchased by Christ and it does not belong to you. Are you a good steward of it?
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) List out how many times “body” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents how you can protect your body from sin and use it for God’s glory.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What does “sanctification” mean? What are the three aspects to sanctification? Why is sanctification so important? What does it mean to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”? What things should your mind dwell on? What is the nature of the “real” you? What is the relationship of your body to the “real” you? What is a habit? What are their dangers? What are their blessings? What habits are you fighting against? Who have you enlisted to help you in those battles? What does the flesh crave? What things does your body crave? How do you master those desires? What is the purpose of food? What is gluttony? What is the problem(s) with abusing food? What does your diet reveal about you? What is the purpose of sensuality? What is the context for holy sensuality? How does improper sensuality lead to sin? What problems develop because of excessive sensuality? What is the relationship of the mind to the body in these abuses? What does your dress reveal about you? When does seeking pleasure become sin? What does God want us to seek first? What is the benefit of avoiding pain? When does pain avoidance become a sin? What is worse than suffering physical pain? How can you honor the Lord with your body? – Give specific examples.
Sanctifications Importance :It is ________ _________ for your life
A Sanctified Mind
The Real You:
Physical – Genesis 2:7.
The real you is a ______________ created by ______ for _____________ _________________.
Fighting Your Past
Colossians 3, Romans 6, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 5 call on the Christian to set aside their former practices and to walk as children of righteousness. Our old self was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), therefore we are to lay it aside (Eph. 4:22) and put on the new self (Col. 3:10). We are to re-pattern our way of thinking with godliness. We are to break old habits and replace them with righteous ones.
Fighting Your Flesh :
Food : 1 John 2:15
Sensuality: 1 Corinthians 6:13
Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5:15-19
Seeking Pleasure: Col. 1:10
Honoring the Lord: 1 Cor. 9:26
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