To become Christ-like, a process of change transforms us from the domain of the old man inner nature to the realm of a whole new inner man of Christ’s character. This becomes what we as Christians so desire to be – like Christ in our heart, soul, mind, and strength – so that it becomes evident in all that we say and do. What our heart (which contains our will guided by the holy spirit), our mind (which contains our thoughts and feelings guided by the holy spirit), and our strength (which is our body guided by the holy spirit) are to do is to dwell in loving obedience to God all the time and in every aspect of life. The body is a vital part in becoming wholly renewed. Without our body in sync with the rest, we cannot truly form Christ in us. When we accept Christ and receive holy spirit, we are new creatures that are created in righteousness. We move from being overwhelmed and controlled by our old man nature to God’s design of a new life by forming Christ in all aspects of our being – including our body. This gift of new life is ours AND attainable when we change focus from ourselves as god to Yahweh as God.
The mind and heart are housed in the body. The body is of central importance. For example, when a thought of a kind thing to do is to be done, the body has to move accordingly to do the project. It is recorded in Genesis that God formed the bodies of Adam and of Eve. Since that time, the body has remained the same, of course with the exceptions of decay and sicknesses. Generation after generation of babies take on the characteristics of their parents. With the gift of holy spirit through Jesus Christ, the old body can also be transformed as our minds and hearts are taking on the characteristics of our Heavenly Father.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
The body is the temple of the holy spirit. When by our free will we accept Christ as Lord in our lives, the gift from God of holy spirit resides within our earthly body. People will say things such as, “I am in charge of my own body,” and “What I do with my body is my business.” These are lies. To have Christ formed in us (Gal. 4:19) means that we are able to have our minds, hearts, and bodies in subjection to God’s Word. We were bought with a great price, and our bodies as well as our minds and hearts belong to Yahweh. We are to glorify God in our body. The body is no longer under sin because by submitting to righteous living, which is given to us through Jesus Christ, it becomes holy.
Romans 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Our body is to refrain from evil. It is now to embrace righteousness. When immersed in Christ, our body is a good thing. Yahweh’s desire is for us to submit ourselves – heart, mind, and body – for His good purposes. Having the holy spirit as the center of our hearts and minds, the body then is governed by the new man nature. What is mostly the problem is that Christians and unbelievers allow the body to govern life. Placing “self” at the center of life determines that our body becomes the center of our gratification. This results in death. Certainly what God intends for us is eternal life.
Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
A very real concern is learning how to sow to the Spirit. As one matures in putting on the Word and the new man, the body matures and resists the old temptations and lusts. Our bodies are in subjection to what our minds and hearts contain – the love of God. Our previous living for self gratification is now in opposition to the new heart and mind that we receive. Romans 7:12-18 clearly states that “sin dwells within me, in my flesh.” When self is our god, sin dwells within. When Yahweh is God in our innermost being, we become holy. This transformation is a transitional state that need not take years and years to begin to form. David stated in Psalm 63:8 that “My soul follows hard after you.” As we follow hard after the words of God, steeping our minds and hearts in the ways of Christ, our actions follow and therefore are holy. Many think that bodies are always evil and corrupt and cannot be redeemed. The Scriptures testify differently.
1 Corinthians 6:15a Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
When we accept Christ and live in the renewed mind, our bodies are to become instruments of God in righteousness. How do we do this? There are a few behavioral ways we can train our bodies to follow after righteousness.
Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
We tend to give God our hearts on a regular basis and ask Him to cleanse our hearts and teach us. We also can give our bodies to God as a sacrifice by the prayerful releasing of any strongholds and bringing our bodies into agreement with our renewed minds and hearts. If I think that my body is always against me, then it will be. If I love my body, sacrifice the god of self, and give my body as a true sacrifice to God, then it can become holy and purposeful.
Stop making your body an ultimate concern. Stop worrying about your health, well being, pleasures and pressures, aging, and/or death. Our lives are to be centered on God, and He will provide for us. When we are having problems, we prayerfully take them to God, and He will help us.
Any misuse or abuse of our body needs to stop. Moving from the old man nature to the new man is like an immersion. Many say the best way to become fluent in a language is to live in a country where the language is spoken. Similarly, we are to immerse ourselves in the Word, practice the Word, and be with like-minded believers.
Take care of your body with good rest, food, and exercise. Stop offending behaviors that drain your body of good health. Many people in our culture are sleep deprived. The body needs to rest in a bed that is comfortable with no lights on and with no TV, computer, or distractions, so that the brain and body can regenerate during the night. Sleeping on a sofa with the TV on or having mixed sleep patterns due to work shifts are ways in which we become sleep deprived. Also, having restful longer periods of time in solitude with God are imperative for sustained holiness.*
It is possible to be holy. God gave us holy spirit to accomplish this. Our mind, heart, soul, and body work in unison for the glory of God. No longer present yourself to sin, but instead, present yourself to God so that you can present your body as weapons of righteousness (Romans 6:13).
*Adapted from Willard, Dallas, Renovation of the Heart.