Years ago I was visiting a family on the night they had lost a dearly loved relative. Of course, in those moments, there’s not much to say. You just pray and stay close. In this instance the family began saying things to each other in order to encourage themselves. One comment I’ll never forget went something like this: “This body was just a shell…just a prison and now he’s free of it.” I have heard this sentiment many times. There is this assumption that our bodies actually have very little to do with “who we really are”.
I would suggest that this sentiment is actually a very dangerous assumption
The Bible teaches that the Resurrection is something to look forward to.
If our bodies were prisons and shells, if to really be who really are we must set free from our bodies then why look forward to the reunion of our souls with our bodies?
The Bible actually teaches that we should look forward to having our resurrected bodies which the body is no “mere” thing.
2. If the body is merely a shell – not a part of who we really are – then why does it matter what we do with our body?
Have you ever wondered why sexual immorality would be something the earliest Christians would actually fall for and get caught up in (See Revelation 2:20)? It’s because they were “Taught”. They were taught that what they did in the body didn’t matter because they were going to be set free from their body. This is another reason why it’s dangerous to minimize the significance of the body.
Example: What group benefits most today from the teaching that our true selves, our most essential identity doesn’t have anything to do with our physical bodies? ONE EXAMPLE: Is the transgendered movement which argues that their gender is not linked to their biology or anatomy. The body is a mere thing that must be conformed and changed to accord with an inwardly perceived identity. It is not precious and valuable enough to protect in its created state. It must conform to something internally felt. In the worst cases, surgical mutilation ensues. This is because people have been “taught” that it doesn’t matter what we do with our bodies.
What the Bible Teaches
- The body is made by God and it is called good (Genesis 1:31)
- “Everything” is called “very good” only after the creation of man and woman in physical bodies that have life breathed into them by God.
- God’s plan for man was always that a physical man and woman have dominion over earth (Genesis 1:28; Matthew 5:5).
2. The body is a temple and God dwells in it (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- The Spirit doesn’t merely dwell in your spirit, heart, or soul. Paul chooses to say “body”. The body is not so repellant to God that he would refuse to dwell in it.
3. A better illustration is that the body is a seed
1 Corinthians 15
- v. 35 The question Paul is attempting to answer: What is the resurrection body like?
- vv. 36-41 – An extended illustration of the resurrection body
- v. 44 – These various kinds of seeds illustrate the resurrection of the dead (Paul goes so far as to point out that this should be so obvious we are foolish for not noticing! – Romans 1:18)
- Lessons from the illustration
- All flesh is like seed – you sow it, it dies, changes and blossoms
- This teaches us that there is continuity and discontinuity in the resurrection body
- Each kind of seed is unique – each one has a body suited for its environment (fish, birds, even sun and stars) so the resurrection body is raised for the environment in which it will spend eternity.
- vv. 42-49 – Explain that our “natural body” resembles Adam and our “spiritual body” or “resurrection body” will resemble Christ’s.
- This is one example among many of the NT teaching that we are united to Christ by faith
Why does Paul refer to this as a “spiritual body”?
- This is a problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach that a select 144,000 will actually be saved and enter heaven to rule with God as Spirit-beings.
- They latch on to v. 50, “50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
- Paul doesn’t use the terms “flesh” to simply mean physical or “spirit” to simply mean non-physical.
- 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – Paul uses the term flesh to refer to sinful human nature.
- Romans 1:11, 7:14, 1 Corinthians 2:13; Galatians 6:1 – use the term “spiritual” to refer to physical Christians filled and influenced by the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus’ resurrection body was physical (Luke 24:36-43)
- The Body Matters (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)
- v. 12 – Paul discourages letting our bodies be dominated by earthly pleasures
- v. 13a – a contemporary sentiment – body is for pleasure so any pleasure is good
- v. 13b – Paul actually says the “body” is for the Lord
- v. 14 – Paul again compares our resurrection to Christ’s
- v. 15 – Our bodies belong to “the body of Christ”
- v. 16 – The actions of our bodies do have spiritual consequences (see also unconfessed sin in Psalm 32:3)
- v. 19-20 – Our bodies belong to the Lord and are intended to be used for his glory – to show him as the most significant part of our lives.
2. The Body Isn’t Everything (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
- This call to glorify God in the body DOES NOT necessarily lead to a life where everything pleasurable is denied.
- LENT: This informs one reason why we don’t really make that big of a deal about lent and long periods of abstinence. The people of God are largely meant to spend more time feast and celebrating than “afflicting their souls.” If any of us ever had six pack abs, none of us get to keep them. We might as well eat cookies to the glory of God.
3. Walk and think like new creations now
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- The Spirit who raised Jesus has united us to Jesus so that we can begin walking in our resurrection newness now.
- This newness affects our thinking – we guard ourselves against being captured by old thinking.
4. Your labor is not in vain
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Paul’s main application in all of this is to keep being a Christian. Pursue holiness. Serve the Lord. It will all be rewarded.