Below is the message and discussion questions from our 3rd week of our Renovation series. This week we looked at the Renovation of the Body. So I would love to hear your thoughts, insights, questions, comments, etc...
This week we are continuing our series entitled Renovation. Over the last 2 weeks we have looked at the work of renovating our lives so that progressively they look more and more like Jesus. We have talked about the renovation of the mind. And the work of renewing our minds so that we have the mind of Christ. Last week we talked about the import work of renovating our hearts and wills, so that are hearts beat with the heart beat of Jesus. That we are single-minded and single heartedly following Jesus and being renovated from the heart out.
Today we are talking about something I don’t believe gets a lot of “air time” so to speak in many circles within the Christian church. That of renovation of the body. We will be talking about the idea that what happens to our bodies goes along with what happens with our souls and spirit. That the body and the spirit are inexplicably connected and what happens in one area affects what takes place in the other. We’ll also look at a historical belief that was addressed in the NT as “heretical” that maybe today we unknowingly buy into. And we’ll talk about ways that we can renovate our bodies so that even our bodies reflect the life of Jesus.
To do this we’ll be looking at 1st Corinthians 6:19-20. The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth these words, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Now the context of this passage is all about sexual ethics. But verse 19-20 go way beyond just sexuality into many different realms. And so we can open this text up not only to sexuality, but so many areas of our bodies’ life and so many other things that we wrestle with as a society and as a people. And so the principles laid out in verses 19-20 apply to more than just sexual conduct.
Paul in this text makes it abundantly clear that if we are apprentices to Jesus, then even our bodies belong to Jesus just as much as our spirit. You see Paul is writing to combat a movement called Gnosticism. One of Gnosticism’s main tenets was that the sprit was totally good and the body was totally evil. But here Paul is saying that the body isn’t evil. Otherwise you couldn’t possibly honor God with your body. If the body was entirely evil, then there would be no possible way for you, with your evil body, to worship, honor and praise God with it. But true Biblical Christianity doesn’t say that the spirit is good and the body is evil. No, after all, Jesus literally took on flesh and blood. So it isn’t that the body is evil. It needs renovating so that it can bring honor and glory to Jesus. In fact someone once said these words, which we sometimes mix up and rearrange. This author said, “Glorify God in your body and the spiritual side will take care of itself.” Christians correctly see the power of sin that really in the actual body and its parts. But sometimes we mistakenly assume that the evil is the body and its parts.
For far too long we have divorced these two things, the spiritual side and the physical side and only believe God cares about the spiritual side of our lives and not on the physical side. But Jesus didn’t come to this earth just to redeem our souls through his life, death and resurrection, but to renovate everything, all of creation which includes our physical bodies. I mentioned last week once of my favorite verses Colossians 1:20 which says, “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” It seems all too familiar in the “Christian world” of today that we have bought into this Gnostic belief system. We all too often believe that there is a sacred side to life (when we pray, read the bible, “go to church”, etc…) and a secular life (when we pay bills, when those of us who are married have relations with our spouses, go to work, etc..). But Jesus and Paul and the entire Bible (and the Hebraic worldview) only knows one side of life. The sacred side. All of our lives are sacred when we are under the rule and reign of King Jesus. Not only that there is no sacred and secular divide, there is something else that is very crucial when it comes to the talk about the renovation of the body and the connection between our bodies and our spiritual life. You see Jesus knew something when he walked the face of this earth, that we are just starting to know and to realize. That our bodies and our spirits are linked in a very profound way.
To illustrate this let me tell you a story that I found while reading “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard. Frank Laubach was a missionary who was also working at a college in the Philippians lost a vote to become president of this college by 1 vote, his. He, trying to be noble, voted for the other man. But because of that he was frustrated and bitter and for 2 years he was almost continuously ill. He suffered from flue, appendicitis, paratyphoid, a strained leg muscle, an ulcerated eye, and shingles. He was in a state of bitter self-pity and he hobbled around, worked inefficiently, and wore a patch over one eye. His failure to accept the defeat was costing him his health. His soul disruption manifested itself in disorders of the body, which in turn could have lead to having those things take over this body and lead ultimately to death. But He found the spiritual key to turning all this around and bringing his spirit and body under the rule and reign of Christ. When he did that, all the other bodily symptoms faded away.
Why did I tell that story? To show us that what we have been talking about the last 2 weeks and this week are intertwined. How our minds and hearts/will are renovated by Jesus can play itself out in profound ways within the body. When our mind, will and heart are renovated under the rule and reign of King Jesus, our bodies follow suit and vice versa.
And the key to the renovation, as I have mentioned many times over the last few weeks, is the fact that the renovation is done by and under the rule and reign of Jesus. The Apostle Paul says it this way, in referring to the body, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” Christians are the last people on earth who could say “My body is my own and I shall do with it as I please.” Because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, our bodies belong to God, and not to ourselves. And so if is true that as followers of Jesus, that our body is a temple filled with the spirit, than our bodies should be continually under renovation by the Spirit of God. And so we need to realize that the human body, this wonderfully simple but amazingly complex thing, is created for spiritual life in the Kingdom of God and that a huge purpose of our bodies is to honor, and glorify God. We are God’s temple indwelt by the spirit of God and this is true both individually (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and corporately (1 Cor. 3:16…”Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”).
But what does it mean to renovate our bodies? What does it mean that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and that we are called to glorify God with our bodies? What are some things that can be done to place our body and its parts fully at the disposal of the redeeming power that God intends to live in them? We will discuss some of these questions together but before we do here are some thoughts about our renovation of the body while living under the rule and reign of King Jesus and what it might mean to us. First of all we need to release our body to God. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he says to “present your bodies to God as living sacrifices.” Secondly, we must no longer idolize our bodies. It means that we no longer make it an object of ultimate concern. You have, after all (if you are a follower of Jesus) given it up to God and he can do with it as he wishes. Thirdly, and closely aligned with the second thought is that we must not misuse our bodies. Meaning we don’t use it as a source of sensual gratification and you don’t use it to dominate or manipulate others. And lastly is that the body is to be properly honored and cared for. It is to be regarded as holy, because it is owned and inhabited by God.
So let’s talk about renovation of the body, the bodies’ connection to our spiritual life, what you and I can do to bring our bodies under the rule and reign of Jesus, and what God might be saying to us about our bodies and the work of renovating them.
1. What are your thoughts, comments, insights, questions, etc.. regarding the Scripture text and the message? 2. When have you experienced the connection between your body and your spiritual life? Share a time or a story when you realized that these two things were more closely aligned than what you had thought before. 3. What can you and I do to bring our bodies under the rule and reign of Jesus and in what ways can we renovate our bodies? 4. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what are we going to do about it?