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The Spirit of God &
Your Physical Body
 "the body is ...for the Lord,   and the Lord is for the body" 
the sensuous reality of the Holy Spirit's direct relationship to your flesh
1 Corinthians 6:13.
   
The Bible teaches
that God's Spirit has a direct personal relationship to the physical body of every Christian!
 
If
you are a Christian, your physical body is His temple: a geographic location of God's presence in your physical world and a place where the people around you can meet with God. It was designed as a marvellous integrated-awareness machine to wonderfully serve God's purpose for you in this present world.
 
Christ
did not fast for forty days to punish His body but to emotionally train it in exercising unconditional resistance to every deviation of the Enemy, through any thought or feeling, so that it might be an efficient tool of His ministry in the Spirit.
 
 
However, what has often confused church thinking is the use in the New Testament of the term 'flesh' for the character of our selfish human nature. This is understandable, but this confusion allowed a perverted understanding which has penetrated deep into Christian thought, and is sometimes known as 'dualism'.
 
 
Dualism teaches an intrinsic anti-thesis between spirit and matter. This old pagan idea found expression in third century Manichaeism, which taught that the human body is evil because it is physical. This was the great Augustine's preconversion background, from which he never fully recovered. It shows its influence in his teaching on original sin, reflected via Calvin even today in some denominational doctrines.
 
In
modern evangelical circles dualistic teaching appeared in the writings of Mrs Jesse Penn-Lewis, who taught that the Holy Spirit only communicates with the human spirit, never with human flesh, and that therefore any physical awareness of the Spirit of God is actually a demonic deception (in her misleading book 'War on the Saints').
 
 
This has caused confusion in many, and led some to sin by grieving the gracious Holy Spirit in regarding His anointing of the body as a demonic influence. Evan Roberts, whom God used to initiate the awesome 1904 Welsh Revival, became one of the casualties of her teaching after spending time recuperating at her home.
 
Like
most deceptions of Satan this carries a half-truth. It is true that at Christian conversion the Holy Spirit joins Himself to the spirit of the believer and not to the physical body. Hence, contaminations, psychological damage and habits of the past, even some associated demonic contaminations, may continue in a Christian after conversion.
 
 
For this reason the Bible says that when a believer prays in 'tongues' (not the ministry-gift of Tongues, but the devotional practice) it is specifically the spirit of the believer which is praying and not the mind (1Cor.14:14). But, this does not mean that the physical body of a Christian, baptised in surrender to the claim of Christ, is intrinsically unclean in God's sight.
 
Rather,
the biblical concept of a believer's physical relationship to the Spirit of God, in addition to an intellectual and spiritual relationship, is assumed as in God's challenge to the Corinthian Christians –
"Do you not know that your bodies are members [bodily parts] of Christ?...
Do you not know that your body is a shrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to you?"
1 Corinthians 6:15 & 19.
 
Understanding the implications of this awesome truth is only possible when it is viewed within the wider context of the Bible as a whole.

 
Bible Background  
The
Bible begins with a description of the Spirit of God's activity – making, shaping and filling our physical world. He is described as 'brooding' or 'hovering' over the dark face of a water-covered earth (Gen.1:2). The word so translated means to tremble – as the wings of a hawk poised to strike upon its prey. This imminence-of-action in the Spirit of God, before the Son of God commands light on the First Day, informs us that all which thereafter occurs is directly by the action of God's own Spirit, not by any innate natural processes.
 
In other
words, our awesome physical Creation, our whole universe with all its rich detail, is the direct work of the Holy Spirit of God Himself!
 
At
Mount Sinai, God's Covenant with Israel even accommodated special provision for those who wish to know God more intimately. It is called the Vow of the Nazarite (Num.6:1-21). Two men are unique in the Bible record for the manner in which God used their physical presence: Samson in the Old Testament, and John the Baptist in the New Testament, both life-long from before birth under the vow of the Nazarite (Jud.13:4-7; Luke 1:15).
 
 
Jesus said of John the Baptist that there was no one greater born of woman! (Mat.11:11). There is a special character to this man that some have attributed to his work as the herald of Christ's first coming. But Christ's statement cannot mean this, for Jesus, in comparison, went on to say that one who is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist and yet this 'least' was certainly not greater in terms of spiritual service.
 
 
This John did no miracles such as Moses and Elijah had done. He had no special promises for his personal life like Abraham the 'friend of God'. John was the only child of aged Levite parents and lived a reclusive life in the desert – until God sent him to speak to Israel. 
 
 
Yet, John's preaching didn't need to find an audience in temple or synagogue. Beside the highway he spoke to passers by – and his words, unaccompanied by miracles and signs, had an impact unparalleled in the history of Israel. The whole Jewish nation in Palestine was stirred – without him even entering a town, so much so, that the religious leaders of the nation stood in line at the Jordan to publicly submit to his baptism. 
 
Whence
came this incredible impact in his preaching? There is something about John that was shown earlier in the Bible concerning the birth of Samson. We are told of both men that their mothers were not to drink anything alcoholic because of the special children they would bear. Is alcohol sinful? No. This is simply the conduct of a Nazarite, a voluntary dedication in devotional submission to God. Yet this was imposed by God on two future mothers of these men for the sake of their unique service to God. Why?
 
 
No service to God was ever more physical than that of Samson. There was no preaching, prophesying, healing, or teaching. It was simply the impossible strength of his physical body to deliver his people from the military occupation and economic exploitation of their Philistine neighbours. 
 
 
In contrast to the unique muscle power of Samson, John simply speaks words. The only dramatic aspect is his Elijah-like appearance as an ascetic from the desert. No signs or miracles, simply the truth of God applied to the status quo with such a damning directness and simplicity that the common people were convinced, and to such depth that their jealous spiritual leaders dared not oppose him and even needed to be seen to accept his words to retain their social status. The people would have stoned the Pharisees to death for criticism of John but not for criticism of Jesus, such was John's national impact.
 
 
What did their unique but vastly different ministries have to do with their common factor of gestation in a Nazarite-dedicated womb? The banning of alcohol was not to prevent drunkenness. The drunkard was not a likely candidate for the Nazarite vow. But long before alcohol produces drunkenness it affects the mood of the mind. Long before the drinker or his companions are aware, the mood of the mind is affected!
 
  "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Ephesians 5:17-21
This
new covenant injunction to not be filled with wine, but to 'be filled with the Spirit ...singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord ...'  well links the competing claims on the emotions of the human body.
 
 
This Bible command is in the imperative (requiring our obedience) but it is passive. Why? Because the 'filled with the Spirit' is the consequence of the action and not the action itself. Just as drunkenness is the result of drinking too much wine, so also being filled with the Spirit is the consequence of human action – the worship action described!
 
The Flesh of Christ  
But
Christ drank wine! Yes, the Sinless One drank wine. The issue is not right and wrong. The issue is – facilitating the body's awareness of the Holy Spirit's influence upon it. The unsullied harmony between the Spirit of God and the flesh of Jesus began in Mary's womb – uniquely! This relationship has existed perfectly nowhere else in history than in the flesh of Jesus Christ. Yet He is nevertheless the pattern for our relationship to the same Holy Spirit.
 
Christian
encounter with God is more than a spiritual or emotional experience. Our human flesh is a participant in this divine encounter. This dynamic reality is referred to in the following New Testament words:
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:20
 
Hence ... "the body is ... for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body"
1 Corinthians 6:13
The
development of spiritual ministry requires the involvement of our physical body. Not as an asceticism which blames the flesh for our weakness of will. Rather, as a dedication, a discipline, that trains the body to be responsive to the values of the Holy Spirit Himself.
 
 
This is what Paul is pointing to when he teaches Timothy in the metaphor of vessels –
"In a large house there are vessels not only of gold and silver,
but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.
If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes,
made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

2 Timothy 2:20-21
The Body's Mind  
Yes,
the body has a mind of its own. Psychologists may call this the 'unconscious', but it is essentially the mind of the body – constantly processing behaviour patterns, mental habits and associations, attitudes, reactions, etc, that immensely affect everyone of us. 
 
 
This 'mind' absorbs all around it from before birth and even during sleep. It is part of our common heritage with the animals of our world and is just as open to conditioning. This 'mind' affects our bodily functions and emotional states. 
 
Ministry
for Christ requires that this 'mind' be schooled in godly attitudes; attitudes than can become channels for the Spirit of God. Sincerity of heart is simply not enough.
 
 
Two aspects are fundamental to this sanctifying of the body's mind.
 
1. The negative aspect:  
 
Fasting, in its deliberate denial of a healthy appetite for a higher purpose, is a message – not to God – but to the mind of the body. Nothing manipulates God! It is the body's own mind that gets the message of adjusted priorities.
 
 
Christ's own fasting had a direct relationship to the commencement of His ministry. In the same way – for the Christian today, fasting is more than a thanksgiving sign for Lent. It is a self-denial for the sake of God reaching out to others through our own flesh! It is a sign placed upon the body that it is for God's good purposes.
 
 
Likewise, self-denial in behaviour in order to choose the better has the same effect. However, self-denial or fasting as a meritorious work to prove something to God has no benefit at all and instead may inflate the ego, the pride of which de-sensitises us to the Spirit of God.
 
2. The positive aspect:  
 
There is no substitute for using your body as an instrument of praise toward God –
 
 
"Through Him [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name".
Hebrews 13:15
Mental
praise and worship is no substitute for 'lips that acknowledge His name'!
The body needs to exercise its worship of God Most High through the liberating mercies of Jesus Christ – 'continually'.
 
It
may be useful to remember that psychologically your words are the 'feet' of your mind. Let your lips therefore set the direction in worship and your mind will follow.
 
Habbakuk's
example is important.
After God's revelation to him of the horrific coming Babylonian invasion, he responds with faith toward God –
 
 
"...yet [in spite of] I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer's
[that do not slip]; He makes me tread on my high places."
Habbakuk 3:18-19
Of the
Lord Jesus our example, it was prophesied –
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The sceptre of Your kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness; You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness beyond Your companions;
Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia
."
(Psalm 45:6-8).
 

Christ's Original Sin

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