Devoting Your Body to God

Body

Devoting Your Body to God

Devoting Your Body to God

If a great earthly king whom you highly respected gave you a gift, how would you respond to him and the gift?  Probably you would feel honored.  You would be grateful.  You would consider the gift a treasured possession, treating it with respect and care.

You have been given such a gift.  God the Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth, gave you your physical body to use for His purpose and for His glory.  He desires that you use the gift of your body with great care, attention, and respect.

The body is an amazing creation of our glorious God.  It consists of 206 bones and about 650 muscles.  A child is born with 6 trillion cells, and an adult is composed of 75 to 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) cells!  This would be a chain that would circle the earth 20 times!  A cell may contain 10 million million 10,000,000,000,000) atoms!  Within each human cell lies DNA containing the genetic code that determines the cell’s functions.  This DNA contains so much information that it would fill 1,000 books of 500 pages of fine print, some 3 billion letters!

Consider further the complexity of the human body.  All of the capillaries, arteries, and veins together would extend 80,000 miles!  The brain contains ten billion (10,000,000,000) circuits and with a memory of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bits!  The human eye has 137 million nerve endings that allow you to see—and each day the eye moves 100,000 times!  The eye can deal with 1,500,000 simultaneous messages!  It has been said that the inner ear of the body has as many circuits as a large city’s telephone system!  The human heart may beat 40,000,000 times in a year and during a typical lifetime it may pump 600,000 metric tons of blood!  (See Nicholas Comninellis, Creative Defense, pp. 43-55.)

In view of the incredible complexity of the human body, we can see why the psalmist wrote, “”I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”” (Psalm 139:14a).  God designed you and your body, not for your selfish pursuits or sinful pleasures, but for His will and glory.

Not only did God create your body, but if you are a genuine Christian, He also redeemed your body.  He owns it both by right of creation and redemption.  Now he gives you the serious responsibility of wisely using the body that He owns.  “You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20).  We must consciously offer to God the body that He rightfully owns: “”I urge you, 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”” (Romans 12:1).

body

Devoting Your Body to God

Because we dwell on a sinful, fallen, and imperfect earth, our bodies are subject to illness, disease, and injury.  They will eventually die.  After the first sin, God said, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).  Paul added, “”In Adam all die”” (1 Corinthians 15:22a).  However, when Christ returns, our bodies will be raised to be imperishable and immortal (vv. 50-57).  We will have spiritual bodies of glory, just like the resurrected body of our Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 42-49; Philippians 3:20-21)!

As we said, while we live this present life, we have the solemn responsibility of treating the “gift” of our body with great care.  We do this, at least to a limited degree, quite naturally.  Paul explained, ““No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it”” (Ephesians 5:29).  Most people naturally protect their body, feed it, and seek sufficient sleep.

However, we must admit that most people do abuse or mistreat their body in various ways—through the use of tobacco and other drugs, through gluttony, through abuse of alcohol, and through unwise and carnal lifestyles.  They may eat “junk” foods to the detriment of their health and also subject their body to a variety of injurious practices.  Their goal is to find pleasure in life, even if they harm their body in the process.  Like the foolish man in Christ’s parable, they think, “”Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry”” (Luke 12:19; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32-34).  In other words, they make their life decisions without regard to God’s will or glory, but only according to what pleases, delights, and gratifies their bodily appetites.

People of the world are oriented to the “flesh” and allow their physical senses to dictate what they do with their body.  Paul describes the spiritual state of the believer who has the Holy Spirit compared to that of the unbeliever who walks according to the flesh: ““[Believers] do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”” (Romans 8:4b-6).

With reference to our present study on devoting our body to God, we must make physical choices according to Scriptural principles and not according to fleshly appetites.  For instance, although taste is God-given and part of His good creation, we should make our food choices according to nutritional information and not according to whether something is merely delicious or appetizing.  Further, we should discipline our body to make good and rational physical decisions instead of doing what comes “naturally” or according to our long-established habits.  Remember that Paul said, “”I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

We can see that most people abuse, misuse, neglect and harm the precious gift of the physical body that God has given.  If we know that we are God’s unique creation and His redeemed possession, we have the basis for viewing our physical health from God’s perspective.

Principles of Good Health

During most of earth history, people knew very little about the basic rules of health and hygiene.  The function of the body was a mystery.  It was not until the late 1800s that Louis Pasteur made his studies of bacteria.  And it was not until the early 1900s that various vitamins began to be identified by McCallum, Goldberger, and others!  Although people knew that there were health dangers to the use of tobacco as early as the sixteenth century, some people actually believed that there were health benefits to this poisonous substance!  Studies in the 1950s and later revealed how dangerous and lethal tobacco is.  Amazingly, it is also interesting to note that in years gone by, many people thought that being overweight was a sign of robust health!  Because of generalized ignorance of manifold health issues, we believe that people were not as responsible before God for at least some of their health choices.

Today, we know much more about how the human body functions and are aware of many of the factors that contribute to good health.  Therefore, we are much more responsible, before God, than people who lived a millennium or even a century ago.  You are much more responsible to apply good health principles to your life than your grandparents and great grandparents were.  ““To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin”” (James 4:17).  Since God has revealed vastly more about how the body works and what we can do to avoid harmful practices and adopt healthful practices, He expects us to apply all of this useful knowledge to our own lives.

Generally, people know much more about health than what they personally practice.  Educational institutions, television and radio, newspapers, magazines, the internet, and other information sources continually advise us of helpful rules of health, yet many people choose to overlook this information and fail to heed the warnings that have been widely issued.  It is true that there is also a huge amount of misinformation circulating today.  Health quackery is rampant.  Many greedy and fraudulent advertisers and practitioners mislead the public in order to gain wealth at the expense of gullible customers.  In spite of all of this dishonesty, enough truth is available to show people how they can maintain their health or even regain lost health.

What are some of these basic rules of health?  Let’s examine a few of them very briefly.

(1)          Good, balanced, nutritious food. 

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Devoting Your Body to God

Generally a healthful diet will be lower in fat and sodium and higher in complex carbohydrates and fiber—including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains—unless there is some medical condition that requires a different regimen.  A poor diet contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.  In one sense, “you are what you eat”—so choose to eat nutritious food rather than tasty but harmful food.

(2)          Plenty of pure, clean water.  

Drinking refreshing water aids many organs of the body and keeps elimination regular.  Check the source of your water.  If you do have polluted or contaminated water, purifiers are available.

 (3)          Fresh, pure, unpolluted air

This is not always available in the cities, but is more available in the country.  Be aware also that the air inside of your house or workplace may be polluted and require an air purifier.  Wherever we live, seek clean air to breathe.

(4)          Stimulating and regular exercise

walking

Devoting Your Body to God

If you don’t have sufficient physical activity on your job or at home, plan to make regular exercise a part of your days.  Vigorous, aerobic exercise on a regular basis will invigorate the mind and condition the body, as well as helping you avoid the degenerative diseases that come in contemporary life.  A sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart disease, back problems, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and a host of other serious ailments.

 (5)          Normal weight for one’s height and frame

Some 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese!  Being greatly overweight contributes to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and many other debilitating diseases—that measurably reduce one’s lifespan.  Stay away from the countless fad diets popular today.  Instead of a temporary odd diet, simply choose to eat fewer calories while consuming good, healthy food, along with nutritional supplementation.  Practice self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  You will also need to begin to burn more calories through regular physical activity.  It may not be easy, but this will be good for your health!

 (6)          Absence of stress

Although some stress is unavoidable and to be expected, whether we live in urban or rural areas, continual, unrelieved stress or pressure can be emotionally and physically debilitating.

 (7)          Avoidance of harmful substances and practices

We must seek to avoid the use of dangerous and destructive substances and practices, such as tobacco, harmful drugs, drunkenness, STDs, and exposure to harmful chemicals—all of which can undermine good health.

 (8)          Good sanitation and careful personal hygiene

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Devoting Your Body to God

It has been said that “cleanliness is next to godliness.”  We should regularly bathe, maintain good dental hygiene, and similar healthful practices—for our benefit and the blessing of others.  This factor may also help us to avoid infectious diseases.

 (9)          Protection from communicable diseases

This is not always possible, especially in certain parts of the world, but should be our purpose when we are able.  Good hygiene will help in this regard.

 (10)      Sufficient rest, relaxation and sleep

In this busy world, we often fail to find the time to get adequate rest and sleep, but this should be our intention, when possible.  Sleep is needed for us to recuperate from our physical activity as well as help us deal with emotional stress.  Conversely, too much sleep can be detrimental and make us mentally sluggish and physically debilitated.

 (11)      Sufficient sunshine. 

Our requirements of sunshine can usually be met by only a short time of sun exposure.  Caucasians especially should beware of prolonged exposure that contributes to skin cancer and injury.

 (12)      Maintain a joyful disposition. 

Studies indicate that those who look at life with a positive attitude rather than a cynical and depressed attitude have better health.  Scripture says, ““A joyful heart is good medicine”” (Prov. 17:22a). Nurture an interest and passion in life, a desire to get out of bed in the morning to live for God to the fullest!

 (13)      Protection from an injurious environment

If possible, it would be good to avoid dangerous occupations and harmful jobs to prevent physical injury.  Many sports and athletics also pose health dangers and should be avoided.

 (14)      Medical intervention when needed

Although medical services are not always dependable and many medical professionals fail to understand good health, a vast amount of good has come from medical breakthroughs over the years.  Find a good, wise, sympathetic, and experienced medical doctor who understands the principles of health and use his services when needed.

 (15)      Be very careful of medications. 

We can be grateful to God for the helpful life-sustaining and life-enhancing medications available today.  However, beware that the “cure” is worse than the problem!  Beware of overloading your system with both prescription and over-the-counter remedies that can overload the physical system and bring harmful side effects.  Make it your goal to avoid medications unless they are necessary.  If you are physically prudent in your younger years, you may be able to avoid the multiple medications that many aged take.  “”The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on, and are punished for it”” (Proverbs 22:3).

 (16)      Don’t forget the genetic factor

Researchers are discovering that hundreds of physical problems are directly or indirectly related to our genetic makeup.  Although we can’t change our inherited susceptibilities, we can be aware of this important factor and do what we can to prevent or overcome these diseases.

 (17)      Become well-informed about health.  

Be sure to study good health and actively apply what you learn.  Don’t accept just anything that people tell you or what family members have passed on to you.  Make sure that the information you discover comes from reliable sources.

 (18)      Develop harmonious, meaningful and intimate relationships with people. 

Studies indicate that a sense of community and belonging contributes to well-being and longevity.  Believers may experience this better than others because of their relationships in the body of Christ, their spiritual family (cf. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; Romans 12:3-21; but see Matthew 10:34-38; Luke 12:51-53).

 (19)      A Relationship with God. 

prayer

Devoting Your Body to God

We’ve included this since knowing God will give the motivation to devote our bodies to the Lord. Further, knowing God through Christ not only brings peace with God but the peace of God —that inner sense of wellness and tranquility that contributes to wholeness and good health.

These are some of the basic principles of health that may help us to treat our physical bodies with the care and respect that they deserve.  We should do all we can to remain vibrant and in good health, within our capacity, so that we may devote more of our time, effort, and energy to the work of the Lord during these few, fleeting years on earth.  One recent study reported that those who are obese may take about nine years from their biological age and those who smoke may take seven or eight years from their lifespan.  Surely those who indulge in such harmful and injurious practices and lifestyles will be ““recompensed for [their] deeds in the body, according to what [they] have done, whether good or bad”” (2 Cor. 5:10).  As we said earlier, we must treat our body with the care and respect that a gift from God deserves.  Those who willfully abuse their body show a lack of fear of God (cf. Prov. 16:6b).

Following Christ and observing good health practices does not at all assure one of good health.  Some of the most devoted of God’s servants have been ill, injured, disabled and suffered chronic pain (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Galatians 4:13-14; Acts 9:33-34; Genesis 27:1; 48:10; Job 2:7-8).  Some illness is not at all related to an irresponsible lifestyle.  The contemporary “word of faith” theology of “perfect health” is a false doctrine.  However, under normal circumstances, God does honor what we do and usually chooses to grant better health to those who know and consistently apply basic health rules.

We must remember also that the Christian is to be a good example to other believers as well as outsiders (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).  Thus, we should practice good health principles for their sake.  Further, parents have a special responsibility of teaching and training their children to make good nutritional choices as well as learning how to make general health decisions (Eph. 6:4).  Beyond this, a married person has a special regard for the welfare of his or her spouse, thus should do all that he or she can do to maintain the health of their beloved (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:4; Ephesians 5:28-29).

It is true that some people virtually worship their body and have made it into a god.  They spend time and money pampering their physical body, with little thought or interest in the spiritual dimension of life.  Jesus said that unbelieving people “eagerly seek” matters of the body, asking, “”What will we eat? Or What will we drink? Or What will we wear for clothing?”” (Matt. 6:31-32).  They “set their minds on earthly things” and fail to set their mind on things above (Phil. 3:19; Col. 3:1-2).  They are more concerned about the health and welfare of their physical body that will soon die and decay, while they overlook the nurture of their spirit that should be prepared to live eternally with God in a resurrected, glorified body.

Paul puts this in perspective: “”Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come”” (1 Timothy 4:8).  Let’s be concerned about our physical health and fitness, but let’s be primarily concerned about our spiritual health—the condition of our soul!  Let’s use the body God has given to us to His glory and honor.  Let’’s have the perspective of Paul the apostle: “”Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The unbeliever lives to eat; the Christian eats to live.  Our eating and everything else we do for our health must have the higher goal of glorifying God our Creator.  Let’s be willing to sacrifice our body for His purposes (Romans 12:1) and be prepared to suffer physical deprivations for the service of Christ (cf. Philippians 1:20b; 2 Corinthians 11:23-29; Galatians 6:17).  May you and I treat our body as a blessed gift from God and use it to glorify Him throughout our life as we earnestly look for Christ’s return when our bodies will be renewed and transformed!

A Prayer

Dear Lord our God, while there is life in my body, let me burn out for you!  Let me use this body for your purposes, to accomplish your work, and to bring glory to you, the Creator and Owner of my body.  Let me die to every indulgent, selfish, fleshly habit and enable me, through the power of your Spirit, to have wisdom, to practice self-control, and to love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord.  Amen.

Richard Hollerman

 

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