Today we look at how we are to treat our bodies as God’s property; temples of the Holy Spirit. Derek wants you to see you will be answerable to what you have done in the body and treated it. One day our bodies will be changed to glorified ones and until then we are responsible for these temples.
Some of you are struggling saying, “Well, I really don’t know what God has planned for me. I don’t understand.” Let me tell you, you never will understand until you meet God’s condition—present your body. When you present your body, God renews you in your mind and with that renewed mind then you begin to find out the will of God for your life. Many of you here, frankly, don’t know God’s will for your life, and you never will until you meet the condition. “Present your body.”
You know, my background is in Greek philosophy. I studied Greek from the age ten onwards. I’ve read every word of the philosopher Plato in his own original language. I don’t say that to boast, but I came to the Bible with a Greek mindset and I had to adjust, because the Bible is a Hebrew mindset. The Greeks kind of thought the body wasn’t very important, like many oriental philosophies. The Hebrews think the body is very important. The Jews are such down-to-earth people. You can be super-spiritual and float about like a disembodied person, but the Jew wants to know what about your body. And God wants to know what about your body.
When Paul says, “...present your body a living sacrifice,” he’s referring to the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Under the Old Testament, a Hebrew brought his sacrifice, a lamb or a goat or whatever it might be, placed it on the altar of God and it was killed. After that, that lamb or goat did not belong to that man. It belonged to God. When you place your body on God’s altar, from then onwards your body does not belong to you. It belongs to God. But there’s one difference. Under the old covenant they killed the body that they placed on the altar. Paul says, “...place your body a living sacrifice...” Don’t kill it. Have you ever done that? Have you ever realized that God requires that? And once you have given God your body, you don’t own it. You are a steward and you will have to answer to God for the way you’ve treated your body. Because it’s God’s property, not yours.
There’s a Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:10 which is very, very relevant.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ [I believe the word ‘appear’ really means be made manifest. In other words, when we come before the judgment seat of Christ, and we all, we Christians, not unbelievers, this is not a judgment for unbelievers we all must be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ], that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
And there are only two categories—good or bad. Whatever is not good is bad. And everyone of us here who is a believer and continues in the faith to the end of our life, will one day have to be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, answering for the things we’ve done in our body.
I find sometimes people are embarrassed to confess their sins in public. But God says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” There is no promise in the Bible that God will forgive sins we are not willing to confess. So I say to people sometimes it might be embarrassing to stand up before four or five hundred people and confess your sin, but think how much more embarrassing it will be in eternity, when you are made manifest before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, and the whole universe will understand your sins. I’d rather get it over now. I make a practice of trying to confess my sins regularly. Of course, you may not have any to confess. Well, that’s wonderful, but improbable.
What else does the Bible teach us, the New Testament primarily, about our body? Well, let’s turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 and 20.
“Do you not know [and I have to pause here and say Paul says that several times—‘Do you not know...’ My observation is whenever he says it most Christians today don’t know what he says, ‘Do you not know?’] Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? [Do you see that?] For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body...”
And what does it say about your body? It’s a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now how do we treat a temple? Do we treat it casually? Are we careless? Are we sloppy? Do we make a lot of garbage and mess, and not maintain its repair? No, the temple is the building that’s most cared for in any community that is a temple community. So, Paul is saying, “Treat your body like a temple, a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Treat it reverently. Treat it with respect. Because it’s God’s temple.
Then in Philippians 3 verses 18 and 19, this is how not to treat your body. Would you notice this?
“For many walk [and it’s obvious that they’re Christians because Paul speaks about them weeping] of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [They’re not the enemies of Christ. What they are the enemies of is the cross. It’s the cross they don’t want. They want Christ, but without the cross. Now listen what it says about them. This is a fearful statement.] whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
Does that describe you? Frankly, does that describe you? It describes multitudes of professing Christians today. They set their mind on earthly things, and their god is their belly.
Then a little further on in Philippians Paul speaks about the destiny of the believer’s body. In verses 20 and 21 of Philippians 3:
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [Jesus is coming back for those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Are you in that category? I hope so.] Jesus Christ will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
So when Jesus comes there’s going to be a great, dramatic and instantaneous change. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, this body that I have or you have, is going to be supernaturally transformed into a glorious body.
Now, the English translation doesn’t exactly express it, but it’s the body of our humiliation which will be transformed into the body of His glory. So the body we live in today is a body of humiliation. Why are we humiliated? Because of our sin. The whole Adamic race is humiliated by the body that it lives in. How are we humiliated? Well, our body does things and makes demands which are humiliating. You may eat the finest food and drink the finest drink, but sooner or later you are going to have to empty your belly and your bladder. And how many people can do that with dignity? It brings you right down to the fact you’re living in a body of humiliation. Or you may wear the most elegant clothing, expensive, but you run a little or you get a little hot and what happens? You perspire. In other words you sweat. And you’re reminded you’re living in a body of humiliation. It’s a continual reminder. We’re sinful creatures. We’re paying the penalty for Adam’s sin and for our sins. But thank God that’s not the end. We’re going to get a glorious body. A body of glory like the body of Jesus. Can you conceive of that? Your body has a wonderful destiny.
Then I’d like to go back in Philippians 3 to verses 10 and 11, which is just part of a sentence, but it describes Paul’s motivation for living.
“that I may know Him [Jesus] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Notice that, “...if by any means.” Paul did not take it for granted. Even Paul the great apostle. He said, “My aim is to attain the resurrection.” The “out” resurrection the Greek means. The first resurrection, only the believers, the righteous. Paul did not take it for granted. He said, “I seek to live in such a way that I may partake of that first resurrection.” If Paul didn’t take it for granted, neither can you nor I. If you’re taking it for granted, you’re taking a big risk.