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Body and Spirit - Cleanliness is Godliness


1CO 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

I write this sermon because I would like to focus on that part of us which is not focused on so much in "western" thinking, which is the body.

We are made up of our body, our mind, and our soul/spirit.

The most important command in the bible reads: MT 22:37 `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (strength in Old Testament DEUT 6:5).'

Before the priests could approach the holy altar, they had to make sure they were ceremonially clean. Before Moses could approach God, he had to take off his sandals. In the same way, I believe that keeping a clean body helps us reach a more harmonious relationship with God. I am not saying it is absolutely necessary, only that I believe it can help.
For example:

2CO 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

In the bible our body is often referred to as a tent which houses the spirit which lives in us. If, as new born Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit from the father, do you not think we would want our "house", to which we have invited the Holy Spirit, to be clean and in order?

1CO 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?

In the US, there is a saying that cleanliness is Godliness.
But cleanliness is more than just what is perceived outside.
As Christ said to the Pharisees:

MT 23:25 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. [26] Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

This refers to the cleanliness of our hearts inside us. We cannot worship God in an outwardly way but it must come from the heart.
In the same manner, I believe that any "pollutants" we put into our body can potentially hamper our harmony with our creator.

When Christ came, he spent much of his time "healing" people’s bodies from all sorts of sicknesses. After all, can someone burdened with an unhealthy body serve God as effectively?
Therefore, I would like to spend a few moments focusing on how we can make our bodies more healthy, which in turn may help us more effectively serve Christ.

For example, I have many times read interviews with successful people who stated they were very active in sports. When you are active in sports, your heart becomes strong and your circulation increases, which helps clean out your system. I find that people who are more active in sports generally have more energy. People who are less active tend to find it more difficult to get up in the morning or to motivate themselves. A ‘sluggard’, as the bible refers to it.

Therefore, another reason why we may want to focus on our bodies in this way is to become more effective so that, when we serve God, we can do it more effectively.
Being active in sports keeps our bodies healthier and our circulation stronger to help clean out any pollutants, but it would be equally important to try and avoid those pollutants from getting there in the first place.

JUDE 1:8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

Therefore, polluting your bodies by smoking cigarettes for example could disrupt your relationship with God.
There are other ways we can pollute our bodies - by the food we eat.
We are living in a society where the average food we consume is often heavily bombarded by all sorts of chemicals and growth hormones, and this too can affect our bodies.
I have spent many years with people who have preached to me how avoiding meat is generally healthy for you, if not for the reason that the chemicals and hormones introduced into the food cycle get often stored in the fat cells of meat.
In the Old Testament, Daniel, when given the king’s food, responded in the following manner:

DA 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. [9] Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, [10] but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."
DA 1:11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, [12] "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. [13] Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." [14] So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
DA 1:15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. [16] So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

The same people who preached for vegetarianism also preached about the benefits of fasting.
The argument for fasting is that, apparently, once your body runs out of the food that it usually feeds off of, it starts to search for elements that do not belong in your body and burns them off.
Apparently, a first time faster can die of overintoxication because, once their system runs out of normal food and starts burning off all the toxins their body has accumulated over their lifetime, the initial shock can be too much too handle. This is why first time fasters should start slow, eating only fruit for a period to purge their bodies before moving up to a serious fast. The first year I fasted I could only handle one day, the second year three days, and the forth year nine days was no problem. My next year’s goal will be 15 to 20 days.

Anyway, the bible often refers to fasting as a means of humbling ourselves before God. It is also often spoken hand in hand with worshipping and prayer.
Therefore, fasting is yet another means how we can "clean" our bodies.

Some lines in the bible which relate to the cleanliness of your bodies:

RO 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. [2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1TH 5:23 May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Other ways we can help to keep our bodies ‘clean’:

MT 15:17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? [18] But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.' [19] For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. [20] These are what make a man `unclean'.
PR 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
PR 4:20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
PR 4:21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
PR 4:22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.

These three passages focus more on the heart and spirit’s relationship to the body. If our heart is at peace, it will live in better harmony with the body. If we receive the word of God, our bodies will be filled with the spirit life that God offers. And we should watch what comes out of our own mouths, for

JAS 3:6 The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

As the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are in unison, so should our bodies, minds and souls in serving God. If one of these elements are neglected, the others may suffer.
Only because I mentioned that this focus on the body element of ourselves tended to be lacking from "western" thinking, I would like to throw in some text from "eastern" philosophy:

The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say, "Tai Chi came from Wu Chi, the mother of Yin and Yang." In the past, Tai Chi Chuan students generally had a complete physical and spiritual training by working on the Wu Chi Posture or static component and Tai Chi Chuan or the dynamic component.
In Tai Chi Chuan training, Wu Chi refers to the condition when the body and spirit are not divided into Yin and Yang Components. In other words, the body is tranquil and is not affected by any contact with the outside world. The whole body, physical as well as spiritual, is united into oneness. When we talk about Wu Chi training, we are talking about the ability to remove all the body's tensions and other emotions guided by intent so that the practitioner can return to the stable and natural stage that is full of potential and innate ability.

A part of this training is most certainly meditation, something which David does and frequently refers to in his writings.

In conclusion, I would only like to say that there may be many ways how we can achieve God’s greatest command of loving him with "all our hearts, strength and soul", only one of which may be purifying our minds and bodies so that we can offer our temple as a clean instrument to God.



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