Who God Says You Are: Your Body

Who God Says You Are: Your Body

Introduction

  • One of the earliest heresies within the church was a teaching known as “Gnosticism.”
    • Group of individuals who claimed to have “secret knowledge” that you could only access by being in their inner circle.
    • This secret knowledge revealed that the material world is inherently bad, which implied that the human body was evil.
  • This led to the belief in two different things:
    • That Jesus did not really come in the flesh (Hence, John’s statement in 1 John 4:2).
    • Secondly, the belief that the human body was evil manifested itself within two practices: asceticism and hedonism.
      • Since the body as bad it needed to be deprived (Col. 2:18).
      • Or, since it didn’t matter what you do to the body you can live out every pleasure (Jude 4).
  • While the main beliefs of Gnosticism are long gone, there always seems to be a similar mentality that tends to influence Christianity.
    • That is, we tend to talk about the “spirit” and “soul” a lot without discussing the goodness and purpose of the human body and the material world—as if humans were simply spirits.
    • This leads to a tendency to either deprive the body (because we believe pleasure is bad) or to not take a concern for properly caring for the body (because its going to burn up anyway!).
  • Yet, this view if wholly unbiblical and unchristian.
    • The scriptural view of the body is that it plays a part within God’s good creation; that God created humanity with bodies because he has an intended purpose for those bodies.
    • And, that your identity is uniquely tied to your body and your psychological make up—your personality, your abilities, your quirks, your tendencies (shy or outgoing; aggressive or passive)—all of this combines to make up who you are.
    • You can’t run away from you—nor should you want to.
  • Yet, in our culture where the prime example of the human body is buff, photoshopped, airbrushed and placed on a magazine cover, there is little wonder why people have low views of their body (I can’t compete with that!).
    • People are driven to be unique to stand out—not simply within their body but within their personality.
    • People are driven to be funny, engaging, witty, and exciting, and if you’re normal then you’re boring and not worth being on the front page.
    • Studies have shown a connection between depression, suicidal thoughts, and body image.
  • What then is the Christian response to this? What Does God have to say about your body and psychological make up?
  • In order to answer that question, we will continue our series “Who God Says You Are”  as we look at “Your Body.”

You Have Inherent, Objective Value 

  • When it comes to outlooks/views on life there are essentially only two: there is a God or there isn’t.
    • If there isn’t a God then you are simply a cosmic orphan, an accident, a long line of strong evolutionary changes.
    • If that is the case, than you have no objective value—you are simply an animal based on what you can do or provide (the reason we value dogs over crocodiles).
  • Yet the Biblical worldview is that there is a God who created humanity and this has inherent implications for our value (Gen. 1:26-27).
    • Humanity was created in the “image of God” (both male and female).
      • When he does, he doesn’t simply create a spirit he “forms man from the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7).
      • It is both the body and the rational, intellectual, and emotional aspects of man that God says is created in his image—and God calls the body “good, very good.”
    • The oft repeated phrase “We have a body, you are a spirit” is not biblical: you are your body and your spirit: both of these make up who you are and how you uniquely glorify God.
      • Although God is spirit, there is something about this body and this makeup that uniquely portrays the image of God to creation.
      • Just as God’s “invisible attributes are clearly seen within the things that are made” (Rom. 1:20) his glory and image are seen most clearly within humanity (and of course most fully within the person of Christ, Heb. 1:3).
      • Specifically, the idea of being made “in the image of God” is in how we can unequally relate to God—how we can seek Him, worship him, share him, have fellowship with Him—in a way that the rest of creation can’t.
    • What this means is that, if you are are human—body and spirit—you have inherent, objective value simply because you are you.
      • Regardless of race, ethnicity, intelligence, abilities, disabilities, personality—you have inherent value because you reflect Who God is by being who you are.
      • As we mentioned last week we constantly are driven to be unique, and yet from our fingerprints to our head we are all unique—no two people are the same.
      • And in your own way, a way that only you can do, you reflect the transcendent, immortal God.
  • This is the message of Christianity: that God wants to use your body for a place for His presence to dwell.

Your Body as a Temple 

  • Language often used today is your body is a canvas; but scripture sees the body as a temple, a resting place, where the omnipotent, transcendent King of the cosmos wishes to dwell.
    • This promise is for everyone but is not accepted by everyone.
    • Scriptures teach that when we are redeemed and “born again” by the water and the Spirit through the power of the gospel, that God’s own Spirit comes to dwell within us—and he makes our heart his home (John 14:23).
    • Key text (1 Cor. 6:13-20)
  • What is the proper understanding of the body in view of this text:
    • Your body is meant for the Lord (13) 
      • This is placed within direct contrast to sexual immorality.
        • Your body is meant for more than sex (even though it has a sexual intention).
          • Often people’s identities are tied into their sexual expression: how many people they have slept with, who they are sleeping with, etc.
          • Sexual orientation is often the determining factor in identity.
          • The Bible teaches that your identity far exceeds your sexual expression—your body was made and meant for the Lord.
        • This also is a message for those who find themselves single: your body can still fulfill its intended purpose, even if it never is joined in sexual union with another within the confines of marriage.
      • The Lord is also “for the body”; that is, he wants to use it and redeem it for his purposes—not destroy it.
        • This means that we should be very mindful of how we handle our body.
        • While the message of the culture is “This is my body I can do what I want” in reality, the message is “This body is for the Lord and its purpose far exceeds my selfish intentions.”
    • Your body and spirit are intimately joined to the Lord (15-17)
      • Paul condemns fornication and “joining ourselves” to another outside the confines of marriage, but his basis for this is because we are already joined to another: the Lord.
        • This seems almost audacious, but Paul uses the language of sexual union as a means of conveying the type of intimate, loving, and self-giving relationship that Jesus experiences with his people.
        • We are “one spirit” with the Lord, and yet this includes our bodies as well (as the context shows).
      • So your body and spirit—everything that makes up you in the image of God, uniquely—are meant to experience a meaningful, intimate, and incredible relationship with Jesus Christ.
    • Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19-20)
      • Just as the tabernacle and the temple were the means of God dwelling within His creation by His Spirit, the Christian (and collectively the church) are now the place where God’s spirit dwells.
        • The Christian’s body is now the place where the spiritual realm (heaven) and the earthly realm intersect.
        • Christians are walking temples.
      • Incomprehensible: As a Christian, God’s spirit makes your body and spirit—all of who you are—the place where he chooses to dwell.
        • That hair you don’t like, the face you can’t stand to look at in the mirror, the voice you think is too high or too low, the color of your eyes and the way you walk—God looks at you in all of your uniqueness—and says “That’s who I want.”
        • And He uses your body and your abilities and limitations to magnify His name in a very special way.
    • Yet, Gods purpose for your body isn’t simply within the here and now, but extends into eternity.

The Redemption of the Body

  • Will we know each other in heaven?” The question implies a fundamental misunderstanding of our eternal existence.
    • Answer: of course you will because you will be you—body and spirit.
    • Our bodies are not simply cast off and we are floating spirits.
  • The Bible teaches our bodies will be resurrected (Rom. 8:11), redeemed (v. 23), clothed in immorality (2 Cor. 5:2), and transformed in power and glory (Phil. 3:21).
    • This is not an annihilation but a transformation, redemption, and glorification.
    • There will be a continuity and a discontinuity: the perishable, frail, weak, and corruptible parts of our humanity will discontinue, but our bodies will continue in glory and power.
  • This is the hope of the gospel: that in the end we don’t lose our identity, but are perfected into the person God always intended for us to be—body and spirit.

Conclusion

  • “I always thought I’d be someone special, but I’m not. I’m just an ordinary person. And that’s ok, because you make me special”—Hope Floats
  • You may look at your body and abilities and think you are completely ordinary—and that’s ok, because God makes you special.
    • You have inherent objective value.
    • God wants to make your body his temple—his special place of dwelling.
    • And He has an ultimate and wonderful purpose for your body in which you won’t lose who you are but will be made who you were always meant to be.
  • He shows how much he values your body by the giving of his own (Luke. 22:19).