This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
This is the third in a series of four teachings on the theme “Who Am I?” We are looking into the Bible as our mirror to see what it tells us about what we’re like as God sees us, what we’re really like. There is no other mirror and there is no other X-ray machine that can really show us our inward nature; we’re dependent upon the Bible.
Last night my theme was formed in a question, “Are You Spiritual or Are You Soulish?” Tonight my theme, in a certain sense, is the answer to a question, “Why You Have a Body.”
But first, let me briefly recapitulate what I was saying in previous sessions. That picture up there is my very crude representation of man as God created him. This reverently up here is the Spirit of God. And in creation, the Creator breathed the spirit of life into a marvelous molded form of clay which was lifeless. But when the spirit of life from the Creator entered the clay, that clay became a living human personality. Even apart from the inner miracle of human personality, the mere miracle of the human body is tremendous. See, I don’t believe there’s any other adequate explanation of the human body. As I said in, I think, the first session, doctors tell us we have more than three million working parts in one human eye. Anybody who can believe that happened by accident believes a lot more than I can believe. That’s all. I think there has to be another explanation, I studied the other explanations as a professional philosopher, I could not accept any of them. In desperation I turned to the Bible thinking it couldn’t be sillier than the other theories I heard, and to my amazement I found it was true. But I didn’t really appreciate it until I met the author. After that, the book has made the most wonderful sense ever since.
So, here we have a picture of triune man created, incidentally, in the likeness of a triune God. God is Father, Son and Spirit; man as we said in that memory verse, is spirit, soul and body. The spirit is the highest part of man, God breathed His Spirit in and there came human spirit united with the body of clay. And the union from above and from below produced what the Bible calls a living soul.
But then along comes the serpent and he broke off man’s relationship with the Spirit of God and he forced his influence on man’s soul and man became a rebel and fell.
Now, recreation or salvation or the new birth undoes that. It restores our relationship with God, cuts off Satan’s influence over our soul—as long as we remain in faith and obedience.
And last night I looked at some of the functions of the spirit in relationship to the soul and to the body. First of all, the spirit is God conscious, the soul is self conscious, the body is world conscious. I think it’s very important to understand about the soul being self conscious. Conscious of self, because whenever people are focused on themselves and their own problems and their own needs, they’re operating in the realm of the soul. The main primary activity of the spirit is union with God. It’s the only part of man that can be directly united with God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:17:
“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
Not one soul, not one body, but one spirit. And the great privilege we have with our spirit is union and communion with God. And I think the highest activity of man’s spirit is worship.
Then man’s soul, and you see, I divided it into three segments, is generally considered to contain the three elements of will, intellect and emotions. The will is the part of me that says I want, the intellect is the part that says I think or I reason or I imagine or I speculate, and the emotions are the part of me that says I feel. Together they make up the soul.
The body is world conscious and through the senses the body contacts the surrounding world, the time/space world. God’s original purpose was that man’s spirit should direct his soul and his soul should direct his body. So, the spirit can only direct the body through the soul. With one exception which I mentioned yesterday, how many of you remember what that was? Speaking in tongues, that’s what makes that such a unique experience, because when we speak in tongues our spirit controls the physical member, the tongue, without the soul being involved. That’s why that’s such a tremendously important experience.
Let me just look at a few of the related activities that we looked at last night. All this is just review but it’s important. There is a corresponding activity for each part: the spirit, the soul, the body. So the activity of the spirit is worship, of the soul is praise, and of the body is some appropriate movement—bowing, kneeling down, prostrating ourselves. That’s when the whole personality is in harmony. Or, another function of the spirit would be revelation. The spirit has direct revelation. In the soul realm, this becomes theology or doctrine. And in the physical realm it’s sense perception.
And then another chain, in the spirit we have joy because joy is directly related to God. David said, “God is my exceeding joy.” God never changes so you can always have joy if you maintain the contact. In the soul realm, how many of you remember what it was? Happiness, that’s right. We can’t be happy all the time. I suppose most of you are old enough to have made that discovery. You don’t have to be more than two years old to discover that. And what did we say corresponded in the physical realm, the body realm? Pleasure, that’s right. So we have joy, happiness, pleasure.
Then I pointed out that it sometimes happens that though man has been redeemed and regenerated, his soul becomes rebellious again and turns back and comes under the influence of Satan once again. And in some measure the contact with the spirit is lost. And the Bible has a special word for that which I took some time to try to explain because the problem is we don’t have an English word for it. How many of you can remember the word that I, in a sense, coined? Soulish, that’s right. It’s the corresponding word to spiritual.
The Bible says a good deal about the soulish person and none of it is good. The soulish nature produces a substitute for the real thing in the spiritual realm. I gave you some examples which I’ll skip through very quickly. The real thing and the substitute. This is my subjective understanding, you don’t pay any penalty if you don’t agree with me, but my real aim is not to tell you what to think but to get you thinking. You know, it’s interesting, this is just by the way, the Reformation started when Martin Luther posted ninety some theses on the door of the church. He didn’t tell people the answer, he just got them started thinking. And that started the Reformation. What would happen today if the church really started thinking? Can you imagine what the results would be? Anyhow, here we are. This is the genuine on my left hand, the spurious of the soulish substitute on my right. Here is worship, here is entertainment. I would say about fifty percent of what is called worship in the Charismatic movement is entertainment. The difference is tremendous. Worship is God-focused, entertainment says “Bless me, give me a good time.” As a matter of fact, it’s become quite fashionable to go to worship in order to get blessed. But it’s not real worship. Worship is giving of yourself unreservedly.
Then there’s discernment and the other one—we’re all familiar with this—criticism.
And then there’s conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and there’s the soulish substitute which is guilt. I don’t believe God ever makes people guilty. I believe that’s Satan’s supreme job and he’s very efficient at it. I’ve learned by experience when I start feeling guilty, I’m under some kind of soulish pressure either from myself or from other people.
The real thing, compassion; the substitute, sympathy. That’s two ways of using those words which are not always followed. But you see, compassion changes things. Compassion says get up and walk. Sympathy says poor you, I feel so sorry for you. And self-pity says that’s what I want.
Then there’s revelation and manipulation. The example I gave, Lord forgive me, was the meeting where the preacher says, “God has shown me there are ten people here tonight, each of whom is going to give a thousand dollars.” None of you have ever been in a meeting like that. Let me say it may be genuine revelation but if it isn’t genuine revelation, what is it? Manipulation, that’s right. I hear the voices of some who’ve been through it.
Now, I didn’t last night but I want to tonight, try to be practical and just give you certain very simple suggestions as to how to be spiritual and not soulish. First of all, make Jesus head in every area of your life. You see, that restores the vertical relationship when you make Jesus head, you’re hearing from above. And being head means, amongst other things, that He takes the initiative. I don’t believe we should ever take the initiative. I believe it should always come from Jesus. If you examine His relationship with the Father, Jesus never took the initiative in any single thing. He said, “I do nothing of myself, I don’t speak my own words, it’s the Father that does it, the Father that gives me the words.” I believe that’s a perfect pattern.
That’s the first thing. The second thing is live by God’s word. Matthew 4:4, Jesus said:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
In other words, don’t trust your feelings, don’t trust your wishes, don’t trust your understanding, go by the word of God. Discipline yourself not to be motivated by anything that isn’t the word of God.
Years ago I had a most tremendous problem with depression. I was a preacher and I was seeing people saved, people healed; but I was fighting this internal problem. None of you have ever had that problem but just listen patiently. I discovered it was an evil spirit. God showed me supernaturally. I got delivered from the evil spirit. Can you believe that preachers get delivered from evil spirits? I have to tell you this one did. My problem was I was ashamed to tell people because I thought if they know the preacher got delivered from an evil spirit, they’re not going to trust me anymore. It took me ten years to get over that barrier. I can’t go into all that. When I was delivered, God said to me in effect, if I can use a term, “The ball is in your court. I delivered you, you’ve got to change the way you think. You’re habitually a negative thinker. You’ve got to change by substituting what my word says for every negative thought.” Every time I got a negative thought I rejected it and I applied what the scripture says about that thing. That took three or four years but at the end of that I was a changed person. I was inwardly a different person. I’m talking about a discipline.
Let me say this by parenthesis. Discipline is no substitute for deliverance and deliverance is no substitute for discipline. You need both if you need both. If you don’t, you certainly need discipline.
And then finally, the third of these suggestions about how to be spiritual, not soulish. Cultivate humility. When in doubt, serve. Paul says in Galatians 5:13:
“By love serve one another.”
Peter says in 1 Peter 5, “Put on the apron of a servant.” I better give you this translation, otherwise you won’t recognize it. 1 Peter 5:5:
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourself to your elders [but it doesn’t end there, we elders need to bear that in mind] yes, all of you be submissive to one another [elder or younger].”
No one has the right to be a lord over anybody else in the body of Christ.
“...and be clothed with humility.”
That’s a very vivid phrase because in the Greek it refers to this: slaves wore a special kind of apron which indicated they were slaves. That’s the word Peter uses. He says put on the apron of a slave. Let everybody see you’re there to serve. Okay?
So there are my three recommendations.
Number one, make Jesus head in every area. Initiate nothing.
Number two, live by God’s word, not by your feelings, your ideas or your wishes.
And number three, cultivate humility. Let me tell you, humility is a decision. Don’t pray, “God, make me humble,” because God says, “Humble yourself.” Actually, God can’t make you humble. He can humiliate you, and He may have to, but only you can make yourself humble. Okay?
Now we’re going on to the question why you have a body. I wonder if you’ve ever wondered about that question. What do you have a body for. I want to try to give you, by God’s grace, the Bible’s answer. We’ll turn, first of all, to Psalm 139:13–16, some of the most beautiful words, I think, in the Bible. The psalmist who is David is talking to the Lord and he says:
“For you have formed my inward parts, you have covered me in my mother’s womb.”
You started when I was in the womb. As a matter of fact, that’s not correct. He started long before we were in the womb. Then he says:
“I will praise you, O Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works [speaking about his body] and that my soul knows very well.”
I wonder whether each of you does know very well that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. I find the majority of Christians do not appreciate their own bodies and they tend to treat them without proper reverence or respect. When you’re dealing with your body, you’re dealing with God’s handiwork, one of His masterpieces.
Then it says:
“My frame [or my bones] were not hidden from you when I was made in secret [or in the secret place], and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
That has tremendous implication. We saw the first night that God formed man of the dust or the clay. But, long before that God had been fashioning that clay in the innermost parts of the earth. Do you understand? It was the end of a long process.
I read a statement by a Japanese pharmacologist a few years ago. He was not a believer but he was obsessed with the question of what is life. And he tried to find out by taking all sorts of things like lizards, snakes, other mammals, various kinds of crops and trees, and burning them. He felt he was kind of reducing them to their minimum. And he came to the conclusion that the minimum was minerals. That was the real basic substance of life. Of course, he was totally materialistic. But that’s really exactly what David is saying. The minerals that constitute my body were carefully planned by God and formed in the earth long before they actually became part of my body. See? You are not an accident looking for somewhere to happen. Do you see that? Even your body is the result of the most wonderful foresight and planning by God.
And then he says:
“You saw my substance being yet unformed, and in your book...”
Do you know God has a book for each one of us. Did you know that?
“...and in your book they all were written down, the days fashioned for me; when as yet there was none of them.”
So God had a day and a time for every part of your body to be formed. He had a program for you written down before it ever took place. If you could absorb that, I think most of you would change the attitude you have to your body. I think probably most Christians need to change.
Why did God take so much trouble with the human body? I want to try to give you an answer. Simply, stated in advance, because God wants a temple to dwell in and He does not dwell in temples made with hands. He has designed His own temple and it is the human body. Let’s look at a number of statements quickly. In Exodus 29:45, God says about the children of Israel:
“I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.”
One of the amazing things about the Bible is it reveals that God wants to live with man. Eternal, Almighty God wants to share His presence with us. That’s amazing.
And then in Leviticus 26, the same truth. Leviticus 26:11–12, God is speaking:
“I will set my tabernacle [my dwelling place] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.”
Again, the same desire.
Now you get to the end of the Bible, Revelation 21, and you see in a sense the consummation of God’s purpose, to dwell with man. A lot of Christians think that the end purpose of God is to get us to heaven. That is not so. That’s just a stage in the process. The end purpose of God is to get heaven to earth. Amazing, but that’s the way it is. And so, John says in Revelation 21:2–3:
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle [the dwelling place of God] is with men.’ And he will dwell with them that they shall be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
However, as I’ve said already, God will not dwell permanently in any kind of building made with human hands. In Acts 7, Stephen in his defense to the Sanhedrin, ended with this statement. Acts 7:48:
“However, the most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says.”
So God is going to dwell with man but He’s not going to dwell in a building that’s made by human hands.
In 1 Peter 2, we’re told the nature of the building. 1 Peter 2:4–5, speaking about us as believers in Jesus, redeemed believers:
“...coming to him [Jesus] as to a living stone rejected indeed by men but chosen by God, and precious, you also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house.”
So we, each one of us individually, is a living stone, and we are built collectively together into a dwelling place for God, God’s ultimate dwelling place.
You see, when Solomon built the temple, it was the most elaborate, expensive and difficult building to build that had ever been built. If you calculate the value of its materials in modern currency, it would run into billions of dollars. I don’t believe that anybody today could build the temple of Solomon. The necessary skill is not present among us any longer. There never has been a more beautiful, expensive, elaborate building. But it only lasted a comparatively short time. Then it was destroyed because Israel sinned. So God is not going to invest in another building. I mean, if the temple of Solomon wouldn’t do it, nothing else is going to do it.
So, from now on God is investing in another kind of building which is even more precious than the temple of Solomon. What’s the most valuable thing in the world? People, that’s right. Jesus said one human soul is worth more than the whole world.
So, God is building in the most valuable material there is, which is people like you and me. Again, I wonder if you appreciate your own value. See?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul deals with this theme of God’s temple. He speaks about it in two different aspects. It’s very important to see the difference. First of all, he speaks about the collective temple which is all believers, and then he speaks about the individual temple which is each one of us individually. If you look in 1 Corinthians 3:16–17, and the Greek makes it clear that this is plural because unfortunately in modern English we don’t distinguish between you and thou. That’s one of the advantages of the Old King James, you’ve got the difference. So when you get you in English you don’t know if it’s two or ?zee? or ?teu? or ?vous? or whatever. Do you understand? Most other languages have that difference but not English. So Paul is saying you plural.
“Do you not know...”
And you know, every time Paul says “do you not know,” generally speaking, most Christians seem not to know. It’s really comical. He must have said it at least ten times. I’ve checked on the things. He says you ought to know, don’t you know. And almost every I have to conclude most Christians don’t know.
“Do you know not that you are the temple of God? And that the Spirit of God dwells in you [plural]? [And then he says something very serious, he says] If anyone defiles the temple of God or destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
I’ve always had a prayer as a minister for many years that God will keep me from harming two things: a church and a family. I think by His grace up to this time I’ve never been responsible for harming a church or a family. Because I realize they are tremendously precious in God’s sight. God says, “If you harm my temple, I’m going to require it from you.” If anyone defiles this collective temple, God will destroy it. I’m not going to comment on that but it’s something we need to ponder on.
And then in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, Paul now comes down to the individual. He’s talked about the collective temple of all living stones, now he talks about each individual living stone. God’s purpose is not merely to dwell in the collective temple, but to indwell each living stone. And he says:
“Do you not know [notice that] that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?”
Now he’s not talking about the collective temple, he’s talking about the individual temple which is the body of every believer. Why do you have a body? Why do you have a body? Because God wants a temple, that’s right. And He designed your body with that in mind right from the beginning. But only gradually has He unfolded His purpose. So why do we have a body? Because God wants a temple. I’d like you to answer me that. Why do we have a body? Because God wants a temple. When you understand that, it’s going to make a tremendous difference to a lot of things, including the way you treat your body.
“Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own.”
You do not belong to yourself. Did you know that? You don’t own yourself. Why? Who owns you? The Lord Jesus. Why? Because he bought you. What did He buy you with? His precious blood. You see, you can tell the value of something in a person’s eyes by the price the person is willing to pay. You can have a house for sale and people can tell you it’s worth $150,000 or whatever. But in actual fact, if no one will pay more than $100,000, that’s all it’s really worth. So what are you worth? No one can calculate your value. Because the blood of Jesus is infinitely valueless. The life blood of God Himself. So if you want to know how valuable you are in God’s sight, spend your time thinking about what God paid for you.
Let’s go on, verse 20:
“For you were bought at a price [we’ve looked at the price], therefore glorify God in your body.”
We won’t read the rest of the verse. Glorify God in your body. Why? Because it’s God’s temple and He paid an incalculable price. Not just for your spirit and your soul. God redeemed the entire human personality: spirit, soul and body. I’m going to be explaining tomorrow night He’s not going to be satisfied till He’s got the whole thing the way He wants it. Not just your spirit and your soul, but your spirit, your soul and your body. Getting to heaven isn’t the end I’m anticipating. The end is resurrection because that’s when your body will be the way God intended it to be.
Let’s go one step further and find out what area of your body the Holy Spirit dwells in. Now it’s becoming so practical it’s not spiritual any longer. I want to read three verses from John 7. Verses 37–39.
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsteth, come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
How many of you are familiar with the Old King James? It didn’t say heart, did it? What did it say? Belly, that’s right. I remember as a boy sitting in the Anglican church, when they read that part of the text I thought that’s not really polite to talk about the belly in such a sacred place as this church. You see? But it really is belly, out of his belly. I’ll tell you the Greek words in a moment. But then it goes on to say:
“This he spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
The Holy Spirit could not be given in His fullness until Jesus had gone back to heaven and been restored to His glory. Then it says in Acts 2:33:
“Being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
That’s the fulfillment of John 7:39, Jesus having been glorified, received the Spirit and bestowed it on believers. Let me say, because some of you will remember, we spoke about recreation when Jesus breathed the Spirit into His disciples. You have two phases. You have the resurrected Christ and the inbreathed Spirit, and you have the ascended Christ and the outpoured Spirit. Let’s just put them up quickly. Resurrected/inbreathed. See, that was Resurrection Sunday. Seven weeks later it was the ascended Christ and the outpoured Spirit, that’s right. There’s no inconsistency, they had to come in that order. A lot of people confuse them and if you say to them, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed, they say, Yes, I received when I was born again.” That’s true, you did, the inbreathed Spirit but not the outpoured Spirit.
Now, let me take a moment or two to talk about that word belly. I know we have at least one Greek scholar here. The word in Greek is ?hoylee-ah?. Let me show you two other places where the same word is used. Matthew 12:40:
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish...”
All right. That’s not some spiritual location, it’s the guts of the fish. And the other is Philippians 3:19, talking about carnal Christians, it says:
“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly.”
That’s right, that’s the same word. So, it’s very clear to us what part of the human body it talks about.
In Greek there is another word which is very much used today which is the word cardios, which is normally translated heart. We get cardiography, cardiac arrest and all that. In Greek medical terminology, and I am not sufficiently expert medically to give it exactly, but the ?cardia? was the upper part, the ?coylea? was the lower part. They were linked together. You see? When we use the word heart in translating or referring to either classical literature, either Greek or Latin or Hebrew, we mistakenly think of this organ. But it wasn’t that. All the really deep significant experiences of human beings start here, is that right? We’ve got that very vivid word which I’ll write out, which is exactly the right word. Guts. Do you know, we say “my gut reaction is.” That means the first thing that comes. And if you analyze your own experience, you’ll find it doesn’t start here, it starts here. Because that is the location God has decided to occupy in you.
This is made very vivid to me because in a way I had the advantage of being saved without having any religious knowledge. So I didn’t have any preconceptions. I was saved in an army barrack room one night about midnight. And about ten nights later I was lying on what the army calls a mattress, ready to go to sleep in the same room about 9:15. I was just pondering on all the extraordinary things that had happened in the last ten days. I suddenly was aware of a fire in my belly exactly there. At the same time there came unbidden into my mind the words “speaking in tongues.” I knew I heard the New Testament often enough to know basically where that came from. So I said to myself what’s this got to do with speaking in tongues? Furthermore, I thought to myself, actually I’m really not caught up with everything that’s happened to me already, I don’t think I can take any more. But the fire remained here and the words remained here. So, after about five minutes—fortunately the room was empty, the other soldier was out at a dance—I said out loud to God, “God, if you want me to speak in tongues, I’m ready to do it.” The moment I said that I felt this fire moving up inside me, stage by stage, into my chest and then into my throat. The next thing I was conscious of was something bouncing about in the back of my mouth. But I wasn’t moving it. And I thought to myself whatever could that be? I thought it must be my tongue. Well, I opened my mouth in fear and some strange sound started to come out. And then I realized this must be speaking in tongues. So, I began to relax and it became an articulate language. I thought at the time it must be Chinese or Japanese or something like but I had no reason to say that really.
So, I found a great relief in speaking in tongues. I was lying there doing it and really enjoying it, and I heard footsteps in the corridor outside and I knew the other soldier was coming back from the dance. Now, fortunately he was a friend of mine. Fortunately also he was not religious. So, I thought he already thinks me strange for reasons I won’t go into, but connected with my religious experience. I thought I just better tell him what’s going on as far as I can so he won’t think me strange. When he came in the room I started to explain to him what had happened but I couldn’t speak English! So sure enough, he thought me stranger still. Thank God he really was a friend, he stood by me in spite of it all.
So, that’s where it’s at, do you understand? If you realize that, I think it will make a lot of sense in many experiences in the future. You read through the prophets like Jeremiah, you’ll find that they talk about their stomach, their belly, pounding. That’s where it is. I’ve got to say it’s incredible. It’s amazing that Almighty God has chosen to dwell in human bodies and in a specific area.
Let me point out something about this part of you. The Greek word that’s translated “to be moved with compassion” in the King James is directly related to the word for your bowels. The old version used to say “his bowels were moved with compassion.” You’d have to be careful how you’d say that today because people might form a wrong impression! It’s right in the sense. Twelve times in the gospels that word is used of Jesus. His bowels were moved with compassion. So even in Jesus this was the area in which the real deep experiences initiated.
I want to go on in a practical vein, I want to talk about God’s provision for your body. Turn to Romans 8, if you wish to follow, Romans 8:11.
“But 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 His Spirit who dwells in you.”
What was it that raised Jesus from the tomb? The Holy Spirit, that’s right. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. The glory of God, the Spirit of God. What was it that raised Jesus from the tomb to the glory of God? The Spirit of God. And Paul says the same Spirit that did that for the dead body of Jesus is living in your body. And He’s living there to give life to your body. That’s why He’s there. See? If we could grasp this and believe it, the possibilities are almost limitless. So God has provided the Holy Spirit not merely as His representative but as His agent to give life to our mortal bodies. And notice it’s our mortal bodies. He’s not talking about our resurrection bodies. He’s talking about our mortal bodies in this present age.
And then the other great provision of God for our bodies is stated in Psalm 107—well, let’s read about people in the other church. We know it must be in the other church because they’re called fools. It says fools because of their transgressions and because of their iniquities were afflicted. Does it ever happen we get sick because we’ve been fools? I’m not saying that’s the only reason for sickness but it’s certainly one reason.
“Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.”
They were near death’s door.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.”
I say some people leave it very late to pray.
“But, He saved them out of their distresses, He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”
What did God send in answer to their prayer? His word. What did it do? It healed them. If you read those verses you find the three great mercies of God are stated there. He saved, He healed, He delivered. He saved from sin, He healed from sickness, He delivered from the power of Satan. How? With what? With His word. You see, many of you may have been crying out to God, “God, help me, God, heal me, God I need help.” But often you don’t appreciate the fact God has sent help. It’s in His word. His word is part of His provision for the well-being of your physical body.
Turn to one other passage of scripture which is my favorite, if I can say that, Proverbs 4:20–22. I lay for one year on end in hospitals, military hospitals in Egypt in World War II with a skin condition the doctors were not able to heal. And I didn’t get out of hospital until I had concluded that Jesus took my infirmities, bore my sicknesses and by His wounds I was healed. But in order to apply the healing, God showed me a way, and it’s Proverbs 4:20–22. I’ll give it to you in the Old King James Version.
“My son, attend to my words, incline thine ear unto my sayings, let them not depart from thine eyes, keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they [that’s God’s words and sayings] are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh.”
See, my problem was as a philosopher, every time I heard about healing I just thought it means spiritual healing. God isn’t concerned about my body, He’s just concerned about my soul. I was a new believer. But when I got to health to all their flesh, I said not even a philosopher can make flesh mean anything but flesh. I said all my flesh means all my physical body. Do you agree with that? It that a legitimate interpretation? So I saw that through His word God had provided health for my whole physical body. When I looked in the margin of that particular version, the alternative reading for health was medicine. Well, I happened to be what the British called a medical orderly, what the Americans call a hospital attendant, and I knew a lot about how people take medicine. So I said that’s it. I’m going to take God’s word as my medicine. Then I said how do people take their medicine? And the answer is usually three times daily after meals. So I said that’s how I’m going to take God’s word.
Well, at that point God spoke to me inaudibly but very clearly, and He said, “Wait a minute. When the doctor gives a person medicine, the instructions for taking it are on the bottle. This is my medicine bottle and the instructions are on it, you’d better read them.” So I went back again and I saw there were four simple instructions. Attend to my words, incline thine ear unto my sayings, let them not depart from thine eyes, keep them in the midst of thine heart. On that basis they are life and health to all our flesh.
And the very next verse of Proverbs, verse 23, says:
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for all the issues of life are out of it.”
Everything that comes up in your life comes from your heart. Not from this but from this. This is where it all begins.
So I saw the directions were fourfold. First of all, attend. Read the word with real attention. Don’t think about something else while you’re reading the Bible. Don’t wonder what’s on the news, don’t meditate on what your neighbor said to you yesterday.
Secondly, incline your ear. You can’t bend down your ear without bending down your head, you know that? What does this mean when you bend your head? Respect, that’s right. In Africa where I was a trainer of teachers, when a pupil came to the teacher with his exercise book, he came like this. And that means you’re the teacher, I’m the pupil. Well, I still started to reason with God. I said, “God, this is too good to be true. I can’t really believe you want me healthy all the time.” And God said to me quietly, “Now, would you mind telling me who is the teacher and who is the pupil.” And I said, “Lord, you’re the teacher and I’m the pupil.” And He said, “Would you mind letting me teach you?” So, bowing down your ear means laying aside your objections, your reasonings and letting God teach you.
Then it says, “let them not depart from thine eyes.” You see, in educational psychology, which I got involved in when I was training teachers, we teach there are two main gates to the child’s personality: the ear gate, the eye gate. God uses both for His word. And when you receive it in the ear gate and the eye gate, it reaches your heart. And when it reaches your heart, it’ll do what God said it will do.
I can’t go into details but I took God’s medicine in one of the unhealthiest climates in the world, the Sudan, Khartoum, where the temperature regularly goes up to about 130 degrees. And in that climate and in those conditions about three or four months of taking the medicine, I was completely healed. I think I’ve still got a little bit extra that came at that time. I just feel so good, thank you, I’ll give you all the glory. I’m 73 years old and I don’t think I’ve ever felt healthier than I feel right now in my life. All the glory be to God, I take nothing for myself. But I just want to say it works, it works.
Let me give you one other scripture, we’re really going to have to hurry. 2 Corinthians. It’s so good I just don’t want to deprive you of it. 2 Corinthians 4:10–12:
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. [verse 11] For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
That’s not talking about your resurrection body. It says the life of Jesus is not merely to be there but it’s to be manifest. Its presence is to be seen by the results it produces. Is that right? I mean, I don’t see any other way of understanding that. But you’ve got to carry about the dying of the Lord Jesus, you’ve got to live, if I may say so, in the shadow of the cross, understanding that Jesus took your sins, your sicknesses, your infirmities, your guilt, and live in that basis.
And then it says:
“So then death is working in us but life in you.”
And I want to say if you want to minister life to others, you’ve got to receive death in yourself. That death opens the way for the life of Jesus to be manifested in our mortal flesh.
I don’t know whether you’ve discovered this but I’ve discovered in ministry the more inconvenient it is, the more God blesses. I think the worst place I ever ministered in—not because of the people but because of everything—was Pakistan. We spent nine days in Pakistan. God turned us loose in a Moslem country, they even reported the meetings on the national television. We had crowds that amounted to about 16,000. I had never seen more miracles anywhere in the world than I saw during those nine days. Why? Because we needed them, you see?
You know, the best place for a miracle is the worst place. When nothing else will do, you’ve got to have a miracle. Most of us are not willing to put ourselves in that position. I tell you, I’ll think ten times before I go back to Pakistan, but that’s another matter. I love the people of Pakistan, it’s not them.
We come to something very practical and down to earth, what are your responsibilities for your body? First of all, Romans 12:1–2:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God, which is your reasonable [or spiritual or logical] service.”
And that’s a priestly service. So, what’s the first response? To offer our bodies to God as a sacrifice, to place them on the altar of His service. Why does he say a living sacrifice? Because in the Old Testament the sacrificial animals were killed and placed on the altar. But in the New Testament our bodies are placed on the altar alive. Do you see that? Your body no longer belongs to you when you put it on the altar. Once a man put a sheep or a goat or whatever on that altar, it was not his. It was God’s. When you place your body on the altar, it isn’t yours any longer. It’s God’s. God takes ownership. Praise God He also takes responsibility. So that’s the first response.
The second response is be filled with the Holy Spirit individually. I don’t think we have time to look there but when the people of Samaria turned to the Lord and believed the gospel and were baptized through the ministry of Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John to them to pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. The early church was never satisfied with people getting saved and healed and baptized in water. They insisted that they also receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the church collectively. It’s your responsibility to present Him with your body to be an individual temple. When He comes in here He’ll come out here. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. When your heart overflows, it overflows in speech through the mouth. Because it’s a supernatural infilling it will be a supernatural outflow. The most logical thing, you see. There’s nothing strange or illogical about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The third thing you have to do is present your members to God. Let’s read Romans 6 quickly, verses 12–13:
“Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
So you give your members, your physical members to God and say, “God, you use them.” And of course, the baptism in the Holy Spirit means you’ve given the hard member, the one you can’t control which is the tongue, that’s right.
And then we have to keep the temple holy. We’ll just read 1 Corinthians 6:13 and 18. We should read also 1 Thessalonians 4 but time is running out on us. If you’re interested, read that as well. 1 Corinthians 6:13:
“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, the Lord for the body.”
I know that today that’s called pre-marital sex. But God hasn’t changed his estimate. The body is not for pre-marital sex, the body is for the Lord. And then the Lord is for the body. Isn’t that wonderful! If you give your body to the Lord, then the Lord is for your body.
And verse 18:
“Flee sexual immorality.”
Paul was very much down to earth, wasn’t he? I mean, he talked to people about things that really happen.
“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
Now a lot of people think that means you’ll get AIDS or gonorrhea or syphilis. It might, but it means a lot more than that. It means you are endangering the health of your body when you commit immorality. And I believe a lot of the problems of Christians in which they seek healing, the root cause is immorality. In most cases, God demands that you go to the root cause, repent of it, put it right before you’ll receive your healing.
And then one final thought, which we only have one minute for, but is very important, it needs about half an hour. It’s maintain the temple in good order. You’re responsible. Let me ask you a question. Which do you give more care to? Your body, or your car, or your home, or your garden, or your clothes? I meet many Christians who give much more care to their car than they do to their own body. That is silly. If you have a total wreck you can get another car, but if you have a total wreck of this there’s no way back.
I think I’ll have to begin the next session with a little more on the care of the body. I went through years of education and never once did anybody give me one lesson on how to look after my body. It was simply assumed the body was there and it functioned. You treat your car that way and one day, what will happen? It won’t function, that’s right. Tomorrow, God helping us, we’ll deal with the climax of life’s destiny.