This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
My theme for tonight is one which concerns everybody here without a single exception. Whether you’re a Catholic, or a Protestant, or an atheist, or some other category that I can’t even think of. What I’m going to speak about tonight concerns you personally because I’m going to speak about the body. Every one of us has one thing in common here tonight, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Each one of us has a body that brought us here. And my theme tonight will be “God’s Plan for Your Body.”
First of all, I’d just like to read an excerpt from a very brief letter that we received as a result of our ministry here in Wellington about 2 years ago where we had a healing meeting in the Wellington Town Hall. This is from the parents of a little girl who at that time was 8 years old, had almost drowned and in order to recover her from drowning had received an overdose of antibiotics, and had acquired what we call today AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Not due to the causes of AIDS in the contemporary world system but due to this particular medical accident. She had all the symptoms and the hospital could extend no hope to her parents whatever. She was brought to the meeting, I don’t recall praying for her because we pray for hundreds of people. But the Lord has completely healed her and today, 2 years later, she is a strong healthy little girl. This is what the parents say:
“Through the prayers of Derek on his last visit, our 8 year old Amanda was healed of the traditional AIDS syndrome, caused by antibiotic overdosage following a drowning. We would like him to know this, as needless to say, WPH [and I’ve deduced that WPH must be Wellington Public Hospital] was truly mystified with her blood results and recovery.”
So there is a very simple clearcut medically attested healing of a medically incurable condition. So whatever you have here tonight, whatever physical condition, it couldn’t be worse or more incurable than AIDS. Because up till now, no medical remedy for AIDS has been discovered.
I want to say right at the beginning I thank God for doctors and nurses and hospitals and all who minister to the sick. I’m in no sense a critic, nor am I a competer. We’re all on the same team working towards the same end, the relief of human suffering. But we just have to say this one thing, the power of doctors and nurses is limited. The power of God is unlimited. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. So may that encourage you as you listen now to God’s word. I’m going to give you an outline of what the Bible teaches about our body because if you can grasp these truths and accept them in faith, it will give you a solid scriptural basis for receiving help for your body here tonight.
First of all, the Bible is the only book that tells us how our bodies were made. And so marvelous is the revelation of scripture that it’s all in one verse. How many scientists could tell all that story in one verse? It’s in Genesis 2:7.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
So there’s the origin of man. It has two forces. Partly he is from beneath, from the dust, from the earth, from the clay; partly he is from above, from the Spirit of God. I think all of us who’ve lived at least into the teenage years have experienced in ourselves at some time the double tug, the tug of the flesh downwards and the tug of God upwards. There is this built in conflict in a human being, something in us drags us down and something in us pulls us upwards.
One reason why I believe the Bible record of creation is that it explains me to myself. I’ve been a professional philosopher, I’ve studied many other theories. But none of them corresponded with the reality of my own experience. The Bible record does.
Let’s picture for a moment—this is very vivid to me, not that I’ve seen a vision but it’s very vivid to me—here is the second person of the godhead, the one of whom the New Testament says, “By Him were all things created, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” The person who was manifested thousands of years later as Jesus of Nazareth, a divine person, the Word of God. And in this beautiful garden which God has created for man, and all the other creatures have been made, but there’s no one to supervise the garden, there’s no one to put in charge of it. And then this divine person, as I picture it, kneels down—and you see, it’s interesting. Every time God relates to man, He has to stoop. And he forms this perfect body of clay, the most perfect, shall we say, sculpture or piece of artwork that the universe has ever seen. Infinitely more wonderful than anything by Michaelangelo. But all it is is clay, it’s lifeless. And then, as I understand it, He stoops still lower and He puts His divine lips against the lips of clay, His divine nostrils against the nostrils of clay. And He breathes into him of the divine breath. And the most amazing transformation takes place, that clay becomes a living human being.
Let’s not even consider for a moment the mystery of inner personality, the mind, the soul, the emotions, all that goes on inside. Let’s just consider the physical miracle that took place. Doctors tell us that in one human eye there are more than 3 million working parts, all of them working together. How anybody can believe that happened by accident, I don’t know. Or by chance. If you stood me on my head in a corner on a dark night, I still couldn’t believe that. Even when I was a professional philosopher, and in no way religious, I thought to myself, “That’s ridiculous, it couldn’t be that way.”
Just think of the miracle of the human body and realize that it’s the product of clay inbreathed by the breath of God. You see, when you realize that, the most natural thing in the world when your body is out of order is to go back to the Creator. When your watch is out of order, you don’t take it to the bootmaker, you take it to the watchmaker. When your body is out of order, to whom should you take it? To the body maker.
There’s so much in that verse in the original Hebrew, I don’t want to take much time, but Hebrew is one of the languages where words by their sound indicate the action. And so, this word that’s translated “He breathed” in Hebrew is viyapach. It’s a tremendously powerful word. The first part is the P sound which in phonetics they call a plosive. It’s a kind of little miniature explosion. The second main sound is a sound that ordinary English speaking people can’t make. If you’re Scottish, you could probably make it. I expect it has something that corresponds in Mauri, I don’t know. But in Hebrew it’s called ?hech? and it’s made in the throat, it’s a kind of tensing of the throat muscles followed by a long outgoing breath. And you almost have to be, by British standards, rude to make the right sound. But these two sounds, first of all the explosion and then the long outgoing breath. And in Hebrew the word for spirit ends with the same sound, ruach. So, it’s the outgoing Spirit of God sent forth by a kind of divine explosion and then released with ongoing power that produces a living person capable of reproducing himself. That’s the origin of man.
Let’s look for a moment at what the Bible says about the material out of which the human body is made. Some of you probably don’t know that the Bible has quite a lot to say about that. Psalm 139:13–16. This is a psalm of David and David is meditating on the marvels of his own body. It always grieves me when Christians downgrade their own bodies and talk about them as if they were inferior or not of much importance. Brothers and sisters, our bodies are miracles. If your car was in a wreck and you had to replace it, all you’d need was a certain amount of dollars and you could get a new car. But if you injure even one eye, there’s no way you can pay for a new eye. It is priceless. So also with every other major organ of the body. It grieves me when I see Christians take more care of their cars than they do of their bodies. That’s a very foolish scale of values.
David says in Psalm 139:13–16:
“For you have formed my inward parts: you have covered me in my mother’s womb.”
The literal translation is “you have woven me in my mother’s womb.” Even in my mother’s womb you were weaving me into the kind of body that you wanted to come out.
“I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows very well.”
He’s talking about his physical body. He says, “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I wonder if we would agree together to say those words for a moment. I think it would change the attitude that some of you have come here with. Some of you are almost burdened down with your bodies. You could almost wish that you didn’t have the problem of a body. That’s a false viewpoint. I’ll say it and you say it after me. “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Let’s say it together now. “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” All right, let’s go on with this.
“My frame [or my bones] were not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed; and in thy book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
So, the Lord prepared the material for the human body in the lowest parts of the earth long before it was incorporated into the body of Adam. God had a source of material for Adam that came from the minerals in the earth. It was all prepared long before He actually created man. Here is a testimony of a well known Japanese pharmacologist—I just want to read a few words of what he says. He says, “At the age of 71—which happens to be exactly my age—after 50 years of devotion to pharmacological studies, I have found myself unable to reach even a gateway to a solution of the problem, What is life?” How we need to thank God for a revelation. Because, left to ourselves, we can’t work it out. But this is what he says, “I understand now that minerals probably exert the greatest effect on the fundamental activities of living organism. My understanding is based on the fact that after analyzing animals such as snakes, grasshoppers, earthworms and moles, pasture grasses such as kale, vegetables and cereal grasses such as rich and barley; I found that they contain minerals as common components. Just burn and animal and a plant, you will get the same minerals from the ashes. All animals and plants upon the earth return to the earth like ash and new lives are born by absorbing the minerals in the soil.” He couldn’t find the nature of life but he could find the basic constituents of the bodies both of men, of animals and of vegetation. He said the basic material is the same, it’s minerals.
The Bible has said many, many centuries earlier that the materials out of which the Lord formed the body of man were fashioned in the lowest parts of the earth. So, God anticipated what he was going to do in forming man. He caused the particular materials that he was going to use to be formed within the earth who knows how long before He actually came to the creation of man.
Now, let’s go on to the next important question, What was the purpose for which our bodies were made? It’s very, very important. The answer is exciting and simple. I’ll read 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:
“For 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?”
Why did God create a body for man? The answer is amazing. He wanted the body of the redeemed believer to be the temple for Him to dwell in through His Holy Spirit. Again, if you see it from that perspective it will give you a totally different attitude toward your own body. Your body was designed to be a temple for God to dwell in. The Bible says that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. You could build any building, a synagogue, a cathedral, a church, whatever you will. God doesn’t live there. When God’s people meet there, God will be there with them but He doesn’t live in that kind of building. God has designed His own temple. What is it? Our bodies. Isn’t that staggering, that Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth wants to occupy our physical bodies and make them His temple? When Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit in John 7, he said, “He that believeth on me as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit. There’s an area in your physical body which God wants to occupy with His Holy Spirit. That word that’s translated “belly” means a concave area—I’m sorry ladies, you’re going to have to take the baby out. I don’t want to be awkward but... We appreciate babies but as my first wife used to say, “Mothers are responsible for the babies they bring into the world.” Pray for the baby, maybe that will stop the problem.—All right. Jesus says inside the human body there is an area where God wants to place His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. This is so vivid to me because when God baptized me in the Holy Spirit in l941, I didn’t know anything about these things. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I had to pray for it but I knew one thing, it started here. That’s what’s so vivid to me. And you will, if you analyze your own reactions and feelings, you’ll realize that somewhere inside us ‘round about here, below the diaphragm, above the pelvis, is the area where things really impact us. When you’re really happy, when you’re really sad or when you’re really scared, that’s the area that feels the impact. That’s the area that God chose to be the dwelling place of His Spirit.
The Spirit comes to the believer out of the inner depths of his personality, and then flows out of his mouth. This particular area that the Bible calls “the heart,” it doesn’t usually mean the visible heart that pumps the blood, it means this inner area. Jesus said when the heart is filled to overflowing, it overflows through the mouth in speech. So, that’s the purpose for which God created your body, to dwell in it by His Holy Spirit.
As a result of man’s rebellion against God, his whole personality was affected. The word that’s used in the scripture to describe man in his fallen condition apart from God is the word “corrupt.” Every area of human personality has become corrupt by sin. Spiritually corrupt, morally corrupt and physically corrupt. The end of physical corruption is death. Death is simply the final process of corruption. Paul says, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and death passed upon all man so that all have sinned.” So, through sin the poison of corruption entered us. In 1 Corinthians 15:56, Paul says:
“The sting of death is sin...”
Just as a bee or a wasp introduces its poison into a body with its sting, so Satan introduced the poison of corruption and death through the sting of sins. And we have all become corrupt creatures.
In Philippians 3:21, Paul calls our present body a body of humiliation. We’re humiliated because we’ve rebelled against our Creator. You see, no matter how elegant you may be, how healthy, how strong, how wealthy, how famous; you live in a body of humiliation. You can eat the finest meals and drink the finest drinks but you’ll still have to go to the toilet. That’s true for everybody. You can be strong and healthy but if you get really warmed up you’ll start to sweat. The wealthy sweat, the poor sweat, we all sweat. You understand? There are things built into our bodies that remind us we’re rebels, we’re transgressors.
I spend 5 years training African teachers and I used to be interested in their athletic abilities. I would tell them, those strong young men, “Just bear in mind, one little anopheles mosquito can come along and insert his proboscis into you, and you with all your strength will become a shivering, fever racked mess.” That’s the body of our humiliation.
However, the good news is that Jesus died to redeem us. And He didn’t just redeem part of us, friends. He didn’t just redeem our souls and leave the rest of us just to take care of itself. He redeemed the whole man. Look for a moment in 1 Peter 2:24, speaking about Jesus it says:
“Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness: by whose stripes [or wounds] you were healed.”
Jesus took our sins in His own body. His body became the sin offering. He took the curse upon Himself in His body on the cross that we might be released from sin. The scripture says also, “He took out infirmities, and he bore our sicknesses in His own body: that by His wounds we might be healed.” As far as God is concerned, it’s already done. The interesting thing about the New Testament is it doesn’t put healing in the future but in the past. From the death of Jesus onwards, it’s by whose wounds you were healed. Healing has already been provided. Christians sometimes ask me, “How can I know if it’s God’s will for me to be healed? I usually answer this way, “If you are a committed Christian, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, I think you’re asking the wrong question. The question is not, `How can I know it’s God’s will to heal me,’ the question is, `How can I appropriate the healing which God has already provided for me.’” That’s a difficult question but it’s a different question.
Paul says again in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely [make you completely holy], and may your own spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God’s purpose is to preserve the whole of us: spirit, soul and body. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:20, we’ve looked at verse 19, we’ll look at verse 20. In fact, we’ll look at verse 19 again. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:
“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?”
What is our body? It’s the what? The temple of the Holy Spirit.
“For you were bought at a price...”
What was the price? The blood of Jesus.
“...therefore, glorify God in your body...”
It’s very, very important to understand that Jesus redeemed the whole person: spirit, soul and body. And one reason why He redeemed the body was that it might become the temple of the Lord. The Lord is not going to dwell in a temple that hasn’t been redeemed, a temple that still belongs to Satan. He will not dwell there. Our bodies have been redeemed that God may dwell in them by His Holy Spirit. They were redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
What is the response that God requires from us? This is where it becomes extremely practical and is very important for all of us to understand here tonight. Romans 12:1, Paul says this:
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
What does God ask us to do in response for all that He’s done for us through the death of Jesus on the cross? How does he ask us to respond? To do what? To present our bodies a living sacrifice. Why does Paul say a living sacrifice? He’s contrasting it with the sacrifices of the Old Testament in which the bodies of the animals that were offered were first killed and then placed on God’s altar. He says, “Place your body just as really on God’s altar, but don’t kill it. Place it on the altar a living sacrifice.” Once you’ve placed your body on God’s altar, it doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God. Everything that was offered in sacrifice on God’s altar became God’s. And that’s exactly what God asks us to do. To present our bodies to Him as living sacrifices, to give up the ownership of our bodies and to put it in God’s hands.
You see, I want to tell you this. God is much better able to take care of it than we are. God says, “You give me your body, let me determine the destiny of your body and I’ll take care of your body. I’ll preserve it.” If you live in property that’s rented, live in a flat or an apartment, it doesn’t belong to you; you’re not responsible for the maintenance. Is that right? The landlord, the owner is responsible. If you build and buy a house and own it, who’s responsible for the maintenance? You are. So, if God owns your body, He becomes responsible for the maintenance. But if you just hold on to the ownership of your own body, God isn’t responsible. God says, “The response that I ask from you is to give me your body, offer it to me as a living sacrifice.” When you’ve done that, you don’t decide where your body goes. You don’t decide what your body eats, you don’t decide what your body wears. All those decisions are made for you by God.
Once our body has been redeemed, once we have presented it to the Lord as a living sacrifice, God has provision for it, a double provision. Through His Holy Spirit and through His word. Let me just briefly explain that. In Romans 8, Paul says, reading from verse 10 and following:
“If Christ is in you [if you’ve received Jesus Christ as your savior and redeemer], the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] is life because of righteousness.”
You’ve been identified with Jesus in His death to sin, but you’re also identified with him in His resurrection. Listen to verse 11:
“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who dwells in you.”
This is a staggering thought. What was it that raised the dead body of Jesus from the tomb? What was the power that raised Him from the tomb? The Holy Spirit. And Paul is saying if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we have dwelling in us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. He said that power will give life to our mortal bodies. He’s not talking about our resurrection bodies, that’s wonderful, but he’s talking about the bodies that we have here and now. He says if God’s Spirit dwells in it because it’s His temple, then God’s Spirit that gave life to the dead body of Jesus will give life to our mortal bodies. That’s God’s provision.
The second provision that God has—and they go very closely together—is His word. In Psalm 107:17 and following, the psalmist says this—I always say this verse applies to the people in the other church! Of course, it has to, it says fools!
“Fools because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhors all manner of food; and they draw near to the gates of death.”
In other words, they had passed beyond the help of doctors. They were lying at death’s door waiting to die. They had no more appetite, no more strength.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble...”
My comment on that is some people leave it very late to pray.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. [Isn’t He merciful!] He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
They cried to God for help, they were at death’s door; God heard their cry and He did three things. He saved, He delivered, and He healed. Those are the three great mercies of God. God saves us from sin, He heals us from sickness and He delivers us from the power of Satan. How did He do it? Through what? He sent His word and healed them, delivered them.
Brothers and sisters, if you can listen with faith to the word of God that I’m bringing to you now, you may not need to be prayed for at the end of this meeting. You may be healed before the message is ended. In Christ Church just recently I was teaching a group of ministers. I wasn’t teaching about healing, I was teaching about intercession. In the course of that morning session a lady there who suffered for years from arthritis was completely healed. I had no idea that she was even sick. I didn’t have anything to do with it except I was the channel of the word of God. As she received it, it healed her. Don’t wait to the end of the meeting to get healed. Receive God’s word now, it will start to do its work in you right now.
I have to turn to the other scripture which I never quite pass, in this connection, because these are the verses that got me out of hospital. Proverbs 4:20–22. God is speaking to His children.
“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear unto my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”
Did you hear that? Health to all their flesh. All their flesh means their entire physical body. God says He has something that will provide health for our entire physical body. And in the margin, the alternative reading is medicine. So, if you’re well, it will keep you well; and if you’re sick, it will heal you.
How is it that God has provided this? God says, “My words and my sayings.” In l942 and ‘43 I lay for one year on end in military hospitals in Egypt with a skin condition that the doctors could not heal. Ultimately, in desperation I turned to the Bible. I discovered Proverbs 4:20–22, I saw the word medicine and I said, “That settles it. I’m going to take God’s word as my medicine.” I was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps so I was pretty familiar with how people take their medicine—three times daily after meals. And whether you consider it naive or not, I took the Bible, God’s word, as my medicine three times daily after meals. It did for me exactly what God said it would do, it provided total healing and health. People comment that I look young and active for my age. I think that’s largely due to the word of God. I think when God healed me through his word I got a kind of injection of extra life which has lasted me for 40 years and more.
Now, I would love to take about half an hour to teach on this because it’s so real to me. I know it works. But I got this little booklet which Ruth has already spoken of that is the truth of Proverbs 4:20–22, God’s Medicine Bottle. When I decided to take God’s word as my medicine, the Lord spoke to me inaudibly but clearly and He said, “When the doctor gives a person medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. And if you don’t take it according to the doctor’s directions, he doesn’t guarantee any cure.” Then He said, “This Proverbs 4:20– 22 is My medicine bottle. The directions are on it, you better study them.” And I did. When I studied them and obeyed the directions I was healed. Now, as I say, I’d love to take time but we’re going to be ministering to the sick. This is available, God’s Medicine Bottle.
Now we come to what are five responsibilities in the light of what God has done for us. The first is a word that causes some people some problems, it’s the word sanctification, which is a long theological word. Sanctify means to set something apart for God and thus make it holy. And God requires that we set our bodies apart to Him and thus make them holy. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and following.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification...”
You are required to set yourself apart to God, make your self holy by that.
“...that you should abstain from sexual immorality...”
That’s very clear. That’s not permitted.
“...that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor...”
What’s the vessel that’s referred to? The body, that’s right. You have a body which God wants preserved clean, pure and holy.
“...not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; [verse 7] For God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness.”
And again, another very important passage, 1 Corinthians 6:15 and following. What I like about the Bible is it’s very plain spoken. It calls a spade a spade and not an agricultural implement. And so, Paul says here—we’ll start in verse 12:
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
He’s talking about the physical body. He says we can eat everything but not everything does us good. How many of you know that? We’re learning a lot about our bodies today. In the last two decades, people have subsequently become conscious of the fact that they have a very fine delicate instrument in their body and they need to pay some attention to the kind of petrol that they use. It only takes unleaded. All right? You can have the finest car but if you put leaded petrol in it and it’s designed for unleaded, you’ll have problems. You can have a wonderful body but if you start stuffing it with all sorts of things that don’t do it good, you are going to end up with problems. Is that true?
“Foods for the stomach, and the stomach for foods: but God would destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.”
All right? The body is for who? The Lord. And we better keep it that way. It’s not for overeating, it’s not for gluttony, it’s not for drunkenness, it’s not for immorality. It’s something sacred, holy, wonderful, for the Lord. I’ve got more that I would say but I realize we have to move on rather quickly.
How can we fulfill our responsibility? What is required in us to enable us to use our bodies effectively? I’ll just suggest to you one short simple word, or compound word: self control. I believe that’s the key. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and following. Paul is taking an example from athletics and he says:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
He says athletes give top priority to athletics. They concentrate their whole purpose on running faster, jumping higher, whatever it may be. He says we’ve got to live the same way as Christians.
“And every one who competes for the prize is temperate [or self controlled] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown...”
In the old days the thing that corresponds to a gold medal today was a laurel wreath which was placed on the brow of the victor in the games. But Paul says we know that wreath is going to fade, it’s perishable. He says they do it to obtain a perishable crown. Even though it’s going to last a few days, they put all that effort in.
“...but we for an imperishable crown.”
When we are victorious we’re going to get a crown of life that never fades away. Then Paul applies it this way:
“Therefore I run thus, not without certainty [I know where I’m headed for]; thus I fight, not as one who beats the air [I’m not a blind boxer]: but I discipline my body and bring it into subjection: lest when I preach to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
There is a responsibility of the committed Christian to discipline his body. If you have the old authorized version, I think you’ll see that Paul says, “I buffet my body.” Is that right? I beat it. Well, I heard someone preach and say that American Christians have pronounced that word wrong. They don’t say I BUFfet my body, they say I bufFET my body!” Let’s get it right? What are you doing? BUFfeting or bufFETing?
We come to the climax of God’s plan. Very briefly, Philippians 3:8–12 and then a few verses at the end. Paul is talking about the resurrection from the dead. That’s the climax of God’s purpose for our body. In due course, if the Lord doesn’t come, we’ll die, we’ll be buried, our bodies will decay. That’s not the end. There’s a climax ahead. What is that? Resurrection. I don’t believe that today the church attaches nearly enough importance to the resurrection. As I read these words of Paul, I find that his whole life was directed toward the resurrection. Amazing! I’ll read now Philippians 3:8:
“But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
That’s an amazing statement. What’s my ultimate purpose? What am I going to lay down everything that I need to lay down for? For what am I willing to make any necessary sacrifice? If by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. That’s the climax, that’s the goal. Don’t stop short of that.
And then he says at the end of that chapter, verses 18–21, and here we have the contrast between the carnal Christian and the committed Christian. I suppose most of us here tonight are in one category or the other. I’ll read verse 17 to start with, Philippians 3:17:
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have asked for a pattern. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ...”
Paul is not talking about unbelievers. He’s talking about Christians who claim to believe in Christ but there’s just one thing they don’t like—what’s that? The cross. Now he describes it and it’s really a frightening description.
“...whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.) For our citizenship is in heaven...”
It’s important to remember that. You’re citizens of New Zealand but that’s not the ultimate. Your ultimate citizenship is in heaven. And if you’re a New Zealand citizen, you travel abroad, you get a New Zealand passport. But as a citizen of heaven, you get a heavenly passport: the blood of Jesus.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ [Are you eagerly waiting for the savior?]: Who will transform our lowly bodies [that’s the body of our humiliation that we were talking about, he will transform it] that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.”
That’s the end of God’s plan for our body, it’s that this lowly body of humiliation shall be transformed by the supernatural power of the Lord Jesus Christ in His coming to a body that’s like His in glory. That’s our goal, that’s our destination.
Now, I always try to give people an opportunity to respond in a practical way to my teaching. Many years ago in l962 the Lord spoke to me and said, “I didn’t call you to deliver religious lectures. Whenever you speak about anything that’s practical, I want you always to give the people who listen an opportunity to act on it practically.” So tonight, if you’ve heard this teaching about God’s purpose for your body, about what Jesus has done for your body on the cross; that on the cross He gave His body in place of your body, that in His body He took your sins, He took your pains, He took your sicknesses, He took your infirmities; and with the wounds inflicted on His body, you were healed. Healing was provided for you. And tonight, you want to respond to God. After all, such amazing grace and mercy surely demands a response.
What is the response that God is asking for? I believe it’s stated by Paul in Romans 12:1:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Now, many of you are here tonight because you have a physical problem in your body. I want to tell you that the first step to receiving God’s provision for your body is to surrender your body to God, to make this decisive offering of your body on the altar to God. Because, once your body is on the altar, the Bible says, the altar sanctified what’s placed upon it. Your body is made holy by being surrendered to God. And this can be the key that unlocks God’s provision for your body. This is the response that God requires that after that your open to His mercy, you’re open to His supernatural provision. I don’t want anybody here to respond simply because I’ve preached. I want you only to respond if you feel God’s Spirit is drawing you and speaking to you. But I believe there are many here tonight, if you want God’s best, if you want to be in line for what God has for the rest of your life, and for His provision for your physical body, you need to make the response that I’ve described. You need to present your body to God a living sacrifice.
When you do that, I want to make it clear in a sense you’ve given up ownership of your body. You don’t control and direct your body, it’s under God’s control. Don’t try and cheat, don’t come here this evening and go through the form of presenting your body in order to get something from God, walk out of here and then take control of it again. Understand? That God will not bless.
Some of you have had an awful struggle with your bodies. Some of you have terrible struggles with different physical problems like smoking or alcohol or overeating. Or sickness. Why don’t you just give the whole thing to God and see what He will do with it? It’s amazing what God can do with something when we hand it over to Him. So often we struggle with our problems and we’re shut up in ourselves. I’ll tell you one sure way to remain sick is to concentrate on your sickness. Let me tell you all, and I’ve seen this so many times, one sure way to be a prisoner of your problems is to focus on them. The more you talk about them the more you’re enslaved by them. I’m always amused by the kind of lady that says to me, “Brother Prince, I can’t memorize scripture. I just can’t remember things.” Then she goes to the doctor and he tells her her problems and the diagnosis. She walks out and can spend 10 minutes telling you exactly what the doctor said! She memorizes what she believes in.
So, I’ve suggested tonight that you take your hands off. Some of you have struggled so long you just don’t know what to do next. Let God have a chance. While we keep our hands on something, it’s hard for God to reach you. That’s true, you know, about unsaved family members and lots of people we’re concerned about. As long as we keep our hands over them God can’t get at them. Sometimes if you have a rebellious son or a daughter, you know what you have to do? Take your hand off and say, “God, I’m handing this one over to you.” You’d be surprised sometimes what will happen when you hand something over to God.
Now, my problem is I don’t want anyone to respond who isn’t really willing to make a commitment. But I’m just going to have to trust you and the Holy Spirit, that’s all. If you’re here tonight and you say, “Brother Prince, I believe Jesus died on the cross for me. I believe He died to save me from my sins. I believe what the Bible says that He took my infirmities and bore my sicknesses. In response to that, tonight I want to hand my body to God. I want to place it on the altar. I want, in a way, to give up ownership. From now on, you take charge of my body, Lord. If you want me to go to Abyssinia, I’ll go to Abyssinia. If you want me to go to Greenland, I’ll go to Greenland. My body is under your disposal. If you want me to stay at home and wash napkins, I’ll stay at home and wash napkins. Whatever you’ve got for my body to do, I accept it.” It may be dramatic and it may be very prosaic. But you don’t make the decision. Okay?
Those of you that have heard what I had to say, and I certainly tried not to make it too easy, if you’re here tonight and you would like by a definite decision of your will and a commitment of faith to hand your body over to God and say, “God, I place it on your altar that it may be holy.” I want you, if you made that decision, to stand to your feet right where you are now. Say, “God, here’s my body. I’m handing it over to you. I’m presenting it to you. I’m taking my hands off.” That’s just wonderful. “Holy Spirit, just do it right, please, tonight.”
My problem when I make an appeal is I’m afraid of getting too much response. God bless every one of you. I really think it’s wonderful. I think God is happy, I think Jesus is rejoicing. After all, He shed His blood to purchase you. He doesn’t want part ownership, He doesn’t want a long term lease; He wants total ownership.
All right. Those of you that are standing, just pray this simple prayer after me. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just say these words, you’re going to be praying to Jesus, not to me. Some of you have never made this kind of a commitment before to Jesus Christ. Is that right? If you’ve never made that kind of commitment before, would you raise your hand. God bless you. All right. Now you say these words:
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God. You died on the cross for my sins, and you rose again from the dead. You shed your blood to redeem me from sin, from sickness, from the power of Satan. Oh, thank you Lord. In return now, Lord, I present my body to you. I lay it on your altar as a living sacrifice. From tonight onwards my body belongs to you, Lord. It’s at your disposal. Thank you for receiving me, Lord. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Now let’s give Him a thank offering.