(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
Holy & Free, Part 15 – Holy Bodies
Today we come to the 15th part in our series on
being Holy and Free. As those who have been redeemed from our sin
through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we want to
honor our Lord by pursing holiness in our lives. As those made
free from the curse of righteousness by works of the law, we do
not want to go back into legalism. We want to live in the freedom
Jesus Christ gives us while daily becoming more like Him.
This morning we come to the topic of your body. What are you
supposed to do with it and how are you supposed to treat it? The
foundational question here is what makes you who you are.
What are You?
While this question may seem philosophical and irrelevant to
daily life, your answer to it, whether you are cognitive of it or
not, affects what you do every day. There are many philosophies
that influence what a person thinks about themselves. Ideas range
from completely materialistic to completely mystical. While there
are not that many that hold to the extremes, those views do
affect us in daily life.
For example, evolutionary thought has had a huge impact on the
thinking in the western world. Most people reject the extreme
aspects of this materialistic worldview for, as Romans 1
describes, God has made Himself evident to man, and it takes
effort to try and shut out the innate knowledge that there is a
spiritual realm which we cannot physically sensed. Yet, the
materialism of this philosophy affects a large portion of our
society. This philosophy is the basis for both private and
government programs that treat people as simply complex animals.
Some consider man to be a product of environment, instinct and
learned behaviors, therefore they pass out condoms at the high
school because they do not believe the kids are capable of self
control. Others view man as simply a string of complex chemical
reactions. Any improper behavior is due to improper chemical
reactions and sequences, so the solution is drug therapy of some
Other philosophies agree that there is an immaterial aspect to
man, but they go astray because they are not rooted in God’s
revelation of what that spiritual nature is like. One extreme
emphasizes man’s spiritual aspect so much that what the body
does or how it is treated is not considered to be important.
Another philosophy holds that the physical part of man is bad
while the spiritual part is good. These are old ideas that were
even battled by the Apostle John. The results of them range from
hedonism of letting the body do anything it wants because it does
not matter, to extreme asceticism with masochistic elements as
the spiritual nature seeks to subdue the physical nature.
What does the Bible say about what you are? What are the parts
that make you, you? While that question could get us into a long
and detailed discussion about constitution of man including
dichotomy and trichotomy, we will not do so. That discussion is
for advanced theology students and not of great relevance to our
discussion this morning which is centered in the practical
aspects of living for God. All you need to understand this
morning is that there is a both a material and an immaterial
aspect to man, for a basic Biblical understanding of the
relationship between the two will go a long way in helping us
live in a manner pleasing to God.
What are some of the relevant scriptures?
First, there is Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:7 which records the
creation of man. "Then God said, "Let Us make man in
Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the
fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle
and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps
on the earth." 27 And God created man in His own image, in
the image of God He created him; male and female He created
them" (1:26,27). "Then the Lord God formed man
of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living being" (2:7).
These two passages separate man from all other created beings.
Man shares similarities with animals in his physical makeup, but
he is radically different in his immaterial makeup. Man is made
in the image of God from Whom he received the breath of life and
became a living soul (nephesh). Animals have breath (neshamah)
and spirit (ruach) (Gen. 7:22), but they are not made in the
image of God nor do they have a living soul. Materialistic
philosophies deny this. They see the resemblance of man’s
physical characteristics with animals and conclude that man is
ultimately nothing more than an animal.
While theologians have debated for thousands of years about
all that is meant by the idea that God made man in His image,
this much is clear. God made man with three fundamental
characteristics that reflect Himself: reason, emotion and
volition. Man can think both concretely and abstractly. He can
feel, and he can make decisions based on reason, emotion or both.
Being made in the image of God, man is also to be a reflection of
God’s communicable attributes such as love, goodness, grace,
mercy, truth, longsuffering, patience, justice, righteousness and
holiness. The ability to be these things was damaged by the fall
of man into sin, and only through Jesus Christ can they be
developed as God intended, but even in our sinful state man
strives for these characteristics.
Animals do not reflect the image of God. People try to set up
tests to try and show that they do, but they don’t. The
January 2004 National Geographic article reports on a test on
animal self-awareness. The results are ambiguous at best, but as
the article states, "The stakes are high: At issue is the
degree to which humans are different from other creatures. Are we
special, or just . . . conceited?" The answer is, of
course, that humans are special because they are made in
God’s image. Darwinian philosophy wants to remove that.
But even if certain human qualities are demonstrated in
animals, the difference between man and animals is still
insurmountable because man is a living soul and an animal is not.
Man also reflects God for he has a being that will continue
through eternity. The physical death of a human is not the end of
that human. His soul will continue to exist whereas when an
animal dies, that is the end of it.
Man has two fundamental aspects to his nature. A material,
physical part made from the earth, and an immaterial, spiritual
part breathed in by God. We are all aware of our physical parts –
arms, legs, fingers, toes, head, torso, organs, hormones, blood,
etc., and seek to take good care of them. We want to not only be
physically healthy, but we want all our body parts to be
satisfied and comfortable too. That at times will get us in
trouble because, as 1 John 2:15 warns, there are things the flesh
lusts for that are not proper or that we strive to satisfy in an
improper way. Holiness in body is not denial of the flesh, but it
is allowing the flesh to be satisfied only in the ways that are
proper before God.
We are also aware of our immaterial parts, at least to a
limited degree. We are aware of having consciousness, mind,
heart, soul and a spirit of life. Scripture speaks of each of
these components of our immaterial being (Matt. 6:21; 16:23;
22:37; 1 Samuel 24:5; Acts 24:16; etc.). Heart, in Biblical
figurative usage, refers to the innermost part of man and seems
to be the center of volition (ability to choose) and so
encompasses thought and will. The hearts of the unsaved are far
from God (Mark 7:6) while the hearts of the saved are being
cleansed by faith (Acts 15:9). Mind, in Biblical usage, is where
reality comes together by means of the rational cognitive
abilities of man, and so appears to be the seat of reasoning and
logic. The minds of the unsaved are futile and darkened (Eph.
4:17,18), blinded by the devil (2 Cor. 4:4), defiled (Titus 1:15)
and can become depraved (Rom. 1:28). The mind of the saved is
being renewed (Rom. 12:2). The conscience is more than just
self-awareness but also includes moral judgement (Rom. 2:15), and
as such serves as a moral guide. While there is an aspect of the
conscience that is innate and bears witness of God (Romans
1:18-21; 2:14,15), the conscience can also be trained (1 Tim.
1:5) or wounded (1 Cor. 8:12), defiled (1 Cor. 8:7), and seared
(1 Tim. 4:2). There is a lot of debate about exactly what is
meant by spirit and soul, since the words are often interchanged
with each other, especially in reference to that part of man that
lives on after physical death. Soul seems to be more of a
reference to the inner life of man and therefore the seat of his
will, emotion, affections, passions and appetites while spirit
seems to be more of a reference to the principle of life in
action in him which controls the body.
We also try to take care of these immaterial parts of us by
keeping our minds active and our emotions feeling good. Again, 1
John 2:15 warns us that our efforts to satisfy them could become
worldly if we let our "lusts of the eyes and boastful
pride of life" take over. To be holy, we must make sure
our minds and emotions are satisfied only in ways that are proper
While we know the material and immaterial aspects that make us
human are distinct from each other, since the material part will
decay while the immaterial part will continue past physical
death, we also know that both of these interact in some way that
remains a mystery. For example, our thoughts are themselves
immaterial, yet they are also a product of the working of our
physical brain. Our emotions are also immaterial, yet they can be
so strong that they affect us physically. The opposite is also
true, because when we are physically sick, it can affect both our
emotions and our ability to think clearly.
This is an important point, because there are times when we
may feel bad physically, but the problem is actually a spiritual
one or just the opposite. In addition, there are times when we
may even know we have a spiritual problem, but we will try to
solve it through a physical means anyway, or vica versa. This
principle will be important to us when we examine some of the
particulars about striving to be holy in body in a few minutes.
One final point concerning our physical and spiritual make up
is the relative importance of each. While our tendency is to give
more care to the physical body in the here and now, Jesus makes
it clear that preparing for eternity is more important.
In Matthew 5:29,30 Jesus used hyperbole to emphasize the
importance of battling sin and not yielding to temptation. He
said, "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it
out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of
the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be
thrown into hell. 30 "And if your right hand makes you
stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for
you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your
whole body to go into hell." Obviously Jesus did not
mean that a person could control their sinful urges by such
drastic action, because a man who yields his right eye or hand to
sin will sin with the left ones if the right ones are not
available. The point here is that the soul is so much more
important than the physical body that it is better to have parts
of your body perish if it means salvation for your soul.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus warned His disciples, "And do
not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the
soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell." The point of the passage is that we
should not fear men who at their worst can only kill the body,
but rather we should fear God who is capable of destroying both
body and soul in hell. But notice again the greater importance of
the soul as compared to the body.
Matthew 4:4 also makes this point. Jesus responded to the
devil’s temptation to turn rocks into bread in order to feed
Himself by quoting from Deut. 8:3 that "Man shall not
live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the
mouth of God." The devil wanted Jesus to put supreme
importance on the hunger of his physical body, but Jesus put
supreme importance on the spiritual aspect of the conflict which
was to trust God to provide in His timing.
We must apply these same truths to our own lives as we seek to
honor God with the care and usage of our physical bodies. The
spiritual is more important than the physical for the eternal is
more important than the temporal. Humans are complex beings with
the material and immaterial aspects affecting one another.
Diet is our first practical area, and its first issue is what
can you eat? How do you respond to those who advocate Old
Testament dietary laws or make up their own as a means of either
improving their health, spirituality or both? First, understand
that the Old Testament dietary laws were a means by which the
Israelites set themselves apart from other people. Acts 10 tells
us that those laws were set aside after the resurrection of
Jesus. The Lord told Peter in a vision that he was to "kill
and eat" including things that were against the Mosaic law.
The Lord responded to Peter’s objections saying, What God
has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."
Paul sets out the principle of spirituality and diet in Romans
14:17 stating, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and
drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy
Spirit." What you eat or don’t eat has nothing to
do with being spiritual. Paul made the point in verse 6 that "he
who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and
he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks
to God." You are free in Christ to eat or not eat as you
decide is best before God because not everyone has faith to take
full advantage of their freedom (Rom. 14:14,23).
Paul is even stronger about dietary restrictions in 1 Timothy
4:1-5 because they are the doctrine of demons. He says, "But
the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall
away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and
doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in
their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid
marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has
created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know
the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is
to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is
sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer."
Some place restrictions on their diets for health reasons.
That is fine. I avoid certain foods because my body reacts to
them, and I get sick. At the same time, I know I can eat things
that make other people sick. While I am free to tell others what
has been helpful to me, I cannot tell other people that they must
do the same thing. It may or may not be good for them, for their
body is different from mine. What constitutes a healthy diet for
you is probably best determined by a nutritionist in consultation
with your doctor along with your own research and experience. It
will vary from person to person.
There are those that advocate Old Testament dietary
restrictions for health reasons. They make their case by pointing
out examples such as avoiding pork also avoids trichinosis. That
is true, but poor theology, because you also avoid trichinosis by
properly cooking the pork. Some advocate going back to the
vegetarian diet of Adam and Eve. Perhaps that would be fine if we
knew all the foods available to them and our soils were as rich
as those in the Garden of Eden so that the fruit would be as
nutritious, but we don’t and they are not. God added meat to
the man’s diet after the flood (Gen. 9:3) for a reason.
There is no health benefit, either theologically or practically,
to keeping an Old Testament diet.
What about weight? We are just finishing up the period of
holiday feasting, and many of us will be going on weight loss
diets next week in order to shed the extra pounds gained. That is
all well and good, but we need to understand that the Bible does
not make being fat an issue. In fact, we find that being fat was
often considered to be good and even a sign of God’s
blessing (Neh. 9:25; Prov. 13:4). That does not mean that you
should be fat, because it could be a health concern, a
restriction on your ability to serve the Lord, or even just
selfishness that does not consider the thoughts and feelings of
those that love you.
What the Bible does speak against is gluttony (Deut. 21:20;
Proverbs 23:20; 23:21; 28:7; Titus 1:12). The problem with
gluttony is the attitude, not the food. A person could be thin
and still be a glutton. The bulimic is. Instead of God being the
center of life, food becomes the focus. 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 except the preoccupation is with avoiding food in
order to stay thin. They view themselves in terms other than who
they are to be in Jesus Christ. The focus is self instead of God.
In living a holy life, food is fine and you are free to enjoy
whatever food you desire as you give thanks to God. The many
Biblical feasts certainly indicate that. However, when food gets
more of your attention than the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are
in err and have strayed from 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 more than a physical being. Live for
Christ, not what you feed your body.
There are two extremes to exercise. Those that make it a major
part of their life and those that completely neglect it. There
are no definitive passages on how much physical exercise a person
should get, other than the balance suggested by Paul in 1
Corinthians 9:5-7. In this passage Paul speaks of the
self-discipline in physical training that athletes must have in
order to win the race. Paul uses that as an analogy to the
self-discipline of his own body in order that he might live
according to what he has preached. While you are certainly free
to exercise or not excise as you believe would be honoring to the
Lord, the key is honoring the Lord. It is not honoring to God to
spend so much time in physical exercise that you neglect
spiritual exercises of spending time worshiping the Lord and
serving Him. At the same time, it is not honoring to the Lord to
neglect physical exercise to the point where you are so out of
shape that you are physically hindered from serving the Lord with
your gifts. Our focus is to be the Lord, not our bodies. Any
physical exercise should be done so that we can be healthy and
physically able to serve the Lord. Those who work out because
they want their bodies to have a certain shape are narcissistic
with its sin of selfishness and pride.
Health is also an issue in having a holy body. Certainly we
should strive to be as healthy as reasonably possible because it
is easier to serve the Lord while healthy than when sick. Even
Jesus understood the limitations of the physical body and sought
to care for its need for rest and food (Mark 6:31f). But we need
to keep the proper balance here, for God can also use us when we
are sick. Some people are so focused on staying healthy and
avoiding pain, physical or emotional, that they are hindered in
their service to the Lord. We live in a sin fallen world and
sickness and pain are part of it. While we reasonably avoid what
we can, we do not let fear keep us from doing what is right and
in serving the Lord. It did not stop Paul (2 Cor. 11) and it
should not stop us.
We should also remember that while sickness and pain may
hinder us in serving the Lord, they are not an excuse that should
stop us or hinder our relationship with God. God often uses
sickness and pain to draw us closer to Himself. In addition, the
comfort we receive from the Lord when we are suffering is the
comfort we will share with others with they are afflicted (2 Cor.
As a side note, I want to briefly tackle 1 Corinthians 6:19
that your body is the temple of God which is often brought up by
people as the reason you should not practice some habit they
think is unhealthy, for example, smoking. Your body as the temple
of God has nothing to do with trying to keep it healthy. If that
were true you would have to refrain from every unhealthy practice
and do every healthy practice according to current knowledge,
which tends to change frequently anyway. Were you aware that in
the 1800’s, smoking was considered to be a healthy practice? Do
we still have to eat oatmeal? What is the cholesterol count in
that cheese cake and a thousand other foods? And what about the 8
oz of wine per day that has shown to be beneficial to the heart?
And considering all the additives in our foods, are we to cut out
most restaurants and prepared foods and everyone go back to
cooking from scratch?
In our example of smoking, I am certainly not an advocate of
putting weeds in your mouth and lighting them on fire, but
personal health may or may not be an issue, and if so, it is not
because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but rather
because it hinders you from serving the Lord to the best of your
ability. More important issues to keep you from smoking or to get
you to stop could be the health of other people or the economics
involved. Is it wise stewardship? If health was the issue, then a
Christian could not work or even go into a place where people
The issue in the passage is treating your body as something
that is holy. Holiness and health may often go together, but not
necessarily. Daniel and his friends refused the king’s meat
because they considered it unholy, not because they were
vegetarians and considered it unhealthy (Daniel 1). Treating the
body as a holy vessel is very important in the next issue –
We live in a society that can be very hedonistic, so it is
easy to get caught in the trap of striving to make ourselves feel
good and physically comfortable in all situations. There is
nothing inherently wrong about being comfortable or in doing
something that you enjoy. The ascetics 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 your 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 pleasurable thing or activity 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? For example, watching football, 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
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). Paul even warns that the mind
set on the flesh is hostile toward God and brings death (Romans
8:6,7). He makes it clear in Galatians 5:16 that you cannot walk
in the Spirit and the flesh at the same time. One or the other
will manifest itself. The deeds of the flesh are seen in "immorality,
impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife,
jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21
envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these."
At the same time, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness,
self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal.
Earlier I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:13, but the passage actually
deals immorality. The rest of the verse says, Yet the body is
not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the
body. The Greek axiom, food is for the stomach, and the
stomach is for food, reflected their philosophy that
sexuality was the same as eating food. Paul made it clear that
neither is true. Your body is for the Lord. Paul corrects them on
their practice and 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
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,
for adultery, fornication and perversions are all listed over and
over again as sin (Exod. 20:14; Lev. 18; Matt. 5:28; Heb. 13:4).
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. Eph.
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
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. In either case,
if you are a Christian, you belong to the Lord. You are not the
issue. The Lord is the issue. Is your manner in which you use and
treat your body glorifying Him?
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) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon
and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word
"body" is said. Talk with your parents about how you
should be treating your body.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What do you think makes up what you are? How much have you
been affected by non-Biblical philosophies? In what ways are you
like an animal? In what ways are you different? What does it mean
to be made in the image of God? What part of you, material or
immaterial, is more important? Why? What is the Christian allowed
to eat? Why? What restrictions are there? What does the Bible say
about being fat? What is gluttony? What is its root? How much do
you think about food? What should be the purpose of physical
exercise? How important should keeping healthy to the Christian?
How does the Lord use sickness and pain in a Christian’s
life? What does it mean that our bodies are the temple of the
Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)? What ramifications, if any, does this
have on staying healthy? Consider your hobbies and the things you
do to be comfortable and ask these questions concerning them: A)
Is this pleasurable thing or activity good, evil or neutral?
B)Does this thing or activity hinder my pursuit of God and
serving Him? Make a plan to change what needs to be changed. What
is God’s view of human sexuality?
Sermon Notes – December 28, 2003
Holy & Free, Part 15 – Holy Bodies
What are You?
Relative Importance: Matthew 5:29,30; 10:28; 4:4f
What can you eat?
What about weight?
Spirit vs. Flesh
Sexuality – 1 Corinthians 6:13-20