Any idea why what we do with our body matters! The reason it matters is life-changing. We’re going to look at three “need to know’s” about this..
Why? Because Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians… “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you received from God”. (This next part is painful and flies in the face of American thinking) – “You are not your own”.
Yea, yea. If you call yourself a Christian you’ve read this passage before and you likely know you belong to Christ.
If you’re anything like me you’ve known it long enough that it’s gotten comfy like an old worn out couch. Problem is – we don’t treat worn out couches the same way we treat new ones.
And we shouldn’t treat our bodies or our Christianity like that worn out couch.
Let’s talk about that crisp sparkling new couch for a minute. Maybe you handle it a bit like I do and make sure
- never to eat on it,
- always fluff the pillows just right after someone has sat on it,
- vacuum the dog hair off of it every day (maybe twice a day),
- flip the cushions regularly…
But then time goes by and suddenly that couch is grimy, dusty, & old. Its value and worth has faded and now its got stains from last Saturday’s nachos, maybe a badly cleaned up wine stain on one of the cushions, dog hair that seldom gets vacuumed off anymore, and fluffing the pillows? Those don’t even make it back off the floor most days (people and kids are known to use them as seats at my house).
Now that you’ve got that picture in your mind, hang on to it. We’re going to take that image and add to it. First we’ve got some backstory to catch up on- starting with a wee history lesson.
The Behavior You Need to Know About
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were letters to the Christian church in the city of Corinth. Corinthians were flashy, sensual, showy and pretty darn well-off and popular. This was the city to live in. The place you wanted to visit. And…
It was morally corrupt. Not just a little corrupt either. This city was so bad that the word “Corinthian” took on a whole new meaning.
We do this to words all the time in English. What do you think of when you hear “that’s awful”? Something bad has happened to someone or something, right?!
This word used to mean “worthy of awe” and was used in expressions like “the awful majesty of God”.
In the AD 50’s, Corinthian, the name of a person living in Corinth, became a rank, grimy word. Way worse than when we say awful – way worse. Saying someone or something was “Corinthian” meant they were morally corrupt, immoral, and had lost all sense of what was right or good. Ikes!
Even worse…I’m afraid many of us are on that same slippery slope right now.
Paul knew what was up in Corinth and his letter was written to call them (the church) out. To lovingly, yet firmly, get them back on course.
Ever have a friend do that for you? I have and boy ‘oh boy am I thankful for it.
It was down in sunny, warm Florida and my friend and I were walking the dogs. In the middle of a casual conversation she turned to me and said “Hannah, you’re always so judgemental”. My heart stopped beating and I’m pretty certain my jaw broke when it hit the sidewalk. Everything in me wanted to argue with her – to defend my case. Worst part – my friend doesn’t know Jesus. My words should have been setting an example. That statement taught me an important lesson – one I’m still learning. Think before I speak. Better yet – pray while thinking.
Back to our story again…
The church had become so swayed by the ways of the world around them they’d fallen into the same corrupt, infectious habits. They’d even formed social cliques. Yes, the church had cliques. Sad thing is, this wasn’t new for the church and we, today, still fall into those same infectious habits.
When we look at the Old Testament church, (aka Israel, God’s chosen people) there were many instances of turning from God and participating in pagan worship, as well as engaging in many of the same corrupt activities the Corinthians did. And in some instances- Israel did these things In.The.Temple.of.God!
Bad Logic You Need to Know About
Paul was committed to the Corinthian church – he’d started it, and if you’ve read even a small bit about Paul – You know he committed himself fully to the work God had called him to. The work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The work you and I are also called to.
Rabbit trail: How has God used you to share Jesus with others? This is a glorious high calling. What a privilege to know that Your Savior and Lord wants you to tell others – to show others, who He is. Thank you Lord.
Ok – back to Corinth we go….
The Corinthian church was saying “I’ve got the right to do anything” and they argued that:
- God’s going to destroy our physical body when He returns for His church so…
- It doesn’t matter what we do with our bodies
I’ll admit that I argue this with God sometimes as well – that
- it doesn’t matter what I eat or drink,
- who cares if I’m physically active,
- sleeping just wastes time,
- stress, worry & anxiety don’t matter in the long-run,
- and more and more and more.
Those are just overviews of some of the things I argue with God about.
I argue even though I know better. Know better based on what God’s word says and know better based on what science says. I’m 100% without excuse. (oops – that was another rabbit trail, once again back to your regularly scheduled programming)
Paul’s reply to the church was, this was Bad Logic! He said “not everything is beneficial”. Paul wanted the church to focus on devotion to God, to understand they should be acting and behaving with wisdom – not self-indulgence.
He backed this up by telling them “the body is meant for the Lord and the Lord is meant for the body”. The Corinthian churches logic didn’t have a leg to stand on.
God cares about our bodies. That’s the gospel message – that we’ve been completely redeemed – Body, Soul, and Spirit! There is no separating one from another. What we do with our bodies is just as important as what we do with our soul and spirit.
Got that picture in your mind? Let’s move back to our body. That one that we think is ours but really isn’t. Yup, that one.
But what’s the big deal with…
- It’s my body, my life and I’m not hurting anyone
- Eating whatever I want and never exercising
- Staying up late and not getting enough sleep
- Worrying about things and getting stressed out
- and and and (insert anything from the above list to the Corinth’s or any of the many things not listed)…..
- That’s just my business. It just affects me.
Bottom line: Wrong living always stems from wrong belief.
The Temple You Need to Know About
Paul continued his message using temple imagery and he did this for a reason. The Corinthian church would have understood the temple based on Old Testament symbolism, meaning, and significance. Look at what he said in response to their behavior and bad logic:
Just as the activities in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple were holy and done with discipline, our physical bodies are to be kept disciplined and holy.
The tabernacle and temple were where the high priest went to meet with God – in the Holy of Holies. The Christians in Corinth knew that Jesus’ death had resulted in the temple curtain, the separating curtain, being torn in two – straight down from top to bottom. They knew that this meant the holy of holies – the one place that only the consecrated, set apart priest could go, was now open to everyone.
There was and is no longer any separation between God and His creation. They also knew that Jesus had left believers with a pretty amazing gift. The Holy Spirit.
Connect those dots…and look at Paul’s message again.
Holy Spirit + Temple → Bodies of those who follow Christ.
What we do with our bodies is important, just as it was important what the Corinthian church did with theirs.
Why does it matter? Because we are joined with Christ.
What we do or don’t do does impact everyone around us. We aren’t free to do whatever we want or to create our own morality.
We are Bought At A Price. We belong to God.
When we humble ourselves morally and physically, we’re showing that all areas of our lives are under the Lordship of Christ (aka following God’s instructions).
This somber story of the Corinthian church, with your story and mine woven into it, is not really a somber story.
- It’s a story of salvation.
- It’s a story worth celebrating.
- It’s a story worth jumping up and down about
(if you could see me right now you’d see me doing a happy dance…and people that know me, know I don’t do happy dances).
Bottom line: What we do with our bodies matters. We are bought at a price. We belong to God.
The Now Story
Now that You Know, Here are some questions…
I want you to think about some things with me. Here’s a printable PDF.
- How’d you feel about yourself when you met Jesus?
- How’d you feel when you first learned that God adopted you into His family?
- When you learned Jesus died for Y.O.U?!?!
Oh that we could all cling to the “joy of our salvation” each and every day of our lives. We don’t though. Life happens and we become the old couch. Forgetting the new couch.
God knows. We – you and me – have a bad case of Corinthianitist* most days.
- What comes to mind when you realize that you are the temple of God? Think about that in reference to anything you know about the Old Testament tabernacle and temple.
- What do you think about the Holy Spirit living in you- on a full-time basis? Think about this question in regard to all you know about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
- How do you think your physical body should be treated in light of these things?
These questions will be unpacked over the next several weeks and months. We hope you’ll join us as we explore God’s Word to discover our place in the story of the temple of God and Holy Spirit.