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Our Physical Bodies Are the Door to Our Spiritual World

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

There is an old rabbinical prayer that says, “Bless you oh God, that all the holes in my body work.”

While we might laugh at that observation, the Bible is very clear that our bodies are not only “temples of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Cor. 6:19) but it’s through our bodies that we either contaminate our spirit, or elevate our spirit. Well, how does that work? Pre-salvation, it’s primarily through our eyes and with our ears, that we learned to sin. The Heidelberg Catechism says, “We were conceived and born in sin.” That’s true, but as we grew we also observed others sinning with our eyes and ears, and because of our sin nature, we learned to be better sinners!

And as we grew, we became aware of our sexuality because it was through what our eyes and ears took in that we were excited sexually. We were excited enough to have it affect the sexual parts of our body and for most of us, we began to desire others sexually. And it’s through touch, another function of our body that we continued to experiment with and learn to sin sexually. That’s why God warns us against sexual immorality.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:15-18

And it’s with our mouths we take in unhealthy food, alcohol, smoke or take in drugs. And it’s with our mouths that we say sinful things.

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8

And Jesus himself said this about our eyes.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:29

The Good News But just as our bodies were the gateway to our spirits for sin, so our bodies are the gateway for the gospel. Paul writes this in Romans 10:8-10.

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

We heard the gospel with our ears and processed that information in our heart (our mind, but still part of our physical bodies.) And so it was through our bodies that we received all the information we needed to be saved. But here’s the missing ingredient in salvation, that our bodies cannot do for us: The Holy Spirit quickens our spirit, enabling us to actually understand all that information for the first time, and we are born-again.

After Salvation But, post salvation, our bodies continue to be the gate by which we either grow spiritually or are tempted to sin, grieving the Holy Spirit. It’s with our eyes we read scripture and with our ears, hear it read. It’s with our hands we serve others. It’s with our mouths we worship God. It’s on our knees we pray and with the gifts of taste we experience the sacraments of Communion. In fact, Paul sums up the role of our bodies in our spiritual lives with this statement.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

As a child, I learned this song, which captures the essence of this teaching.

Be careful little tongue what you say Be careful little tongue what you say For the Father up above is looking down in love Be careful little tongue what you say

Yes, the Father is up above is looking down in love. It is this loving God who created our bodies. Each of us who claim to love him are called to surrender our bodies to his purposes. To quote the Heidelberg Catechism again, “We are not our own. But we belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

And that includes our bodies. They are not our own. But just in case you’re nodding in agreement but don’t think you have this problem, remember this “most Christians will do things in front of God that we’d never do in front of our friends.”

How following Jesus works in real life.

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