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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Session 4: The Body (Purity DNOW)

For your viewing I have decided to post the two sessions I taught over this weekend. These were powerful words from the Lord and I hope he used them to impact some lives.
Grace and Peace

This is a really difficult session to teach about; to be honest I don’t take care of my body. I eat the wrong foods; I drink too many sodas. I don’t sleep on a steady sleep schedule and I do not exercise regularly. I have bad habits and behaviors that I should not be entertaining. If God were to ask me to give an account concerning the stewardship of my body, right now, I would not have anything to say. I have had good intentions and I make a lot of goals, but when it comes to looking after my body, I epically fail.

How can we take our bodies so lightly, when God has so many amazing things to say about them?

1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (ESV)

1Co 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (ESV)

1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (ESV)

2Co 4:10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (ESV)

Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (ESV)

Col 1:22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (ESV)

1Th 4:4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, (ESV)

1Pe 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Just from these verses we can gather that 1) our bodies are conduits of worship, 2) our bodies are living symbols of the unity of Christ and his Church, 3) our body will one day be transformed into a body like Christ’s resurrected body, and 4) Christ took our sin and punishment in his body and he also bears the marks of our resurrection in his new body.

Our Bodies as Temples

There are two extremes present in our day; one represents the traditional viewpoint that the church building is the temple of God and the other extreme that represents an individualistic viewpoint that we are all mini-temples of God and thus we can worship without the need of other individuals.
Both of these views are incorrect; we collectively are God’s temple. Our bodies are all parts of the Temple of God where the Holy Spirit resides. Look how the Apostle Peter describes it:

1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are together the house of God. God has never, other than symbolically, lived in a house made by human hands; God dwells in the hearts, minds, and souls of his people.

There are serious implications for this:

1. Every time that we sin as an individual, we are contributing to the corporate sickness of the Body of Christ.

That sin you “got away with,” hurt other members of the Body of Christ spiritually. We are only as strong as our weakest link; in our case, the strong ones are the weak ones…weak ones who need the power of God.

2. All of the things that I allow into my life, I should be willing to share with all other members of the body.

Whether it is a destructive sexual habit, inappropriate humor, or questionable music that you have an issue, everything you would allow your body to be a part of should be suitable for all of the body of Christ to partake.

3. If our worship suffers as an individual, then it will cause everyone else’s worship to suffer.

God designed the Body to respond to the faithfulness and worship of all of its members; when we live in defiance of God and our worship is empty, it suppresses the worship of the entire congregation.
You may think this is extreme and you would be right, it is. We are not going to perfect this over night, but the point is that we should always be willing to evaluate our lives in light of following Christ and leading others to follow him.

Paul’s words in Romans 12:1 ring true:

Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Defiling our Temple-Bodies

In II Kings there is a story about a king of Judah named Josiah, listen to the biblical account,

2Ki 22:3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the LORD, saying,
2Ki 22:4 "Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people.
2Ki 22:5 And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house
2Ki 22:6 (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house.
2Ki 22:7 But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly."
2Ki 22:8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
2Ki 22:9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD."
2Ki 22:10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king.
2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.
2Ki 22:12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying,
2Ki 22:13 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." (ESV)

Josiah’s father, Manasseh, had been one of the wickedest kings to sit in Jerusalem. He had let the Temple fall into disrepair and had even allowed pagan idols and altars to be constructed on the Temple grounds! When Josiah was 18, he went about to repair the Temple, and while looking for some financial records, the high priest Hilkiah stumbled upon a forgotten copy of the Law of Moses. For years, this book had not been read or held to in all of Israel and when Hilkiah read it to Josiah he, “tore his clothes” in grief and recognition of the great sinfulness he had inherited. After consulting the Lord, this is what he did:

2Ki 23:1 Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.
2Ki 23:2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
2Ki 23:3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.
2Ki 23:4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.
2Ki 23:5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.
2Ki 23:6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.
2Ki 23:7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.
2Ki 23:8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the gate of the city.
2Ki 23:9 However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.
2Ki 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.
2Ki 23:11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
2Ki 23:12 And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
2Ki 23:13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
2Ki 23:14 And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.

Josiah was zealous about cleaning out the Temple. He did not just say he was sorry and let the idolatry continue; he went in and started chopping and burning. Anything that dishonored the Lord was thrown out and destroyed. It was clear that Josiah was taking the Law of Moses seriously. But this was not all that Josiah did check out a few verses down:
2Ki 23:21 And the king commanded all the people, "Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant."
2Ki 23:22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.
2Ki 23:23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.
2Ki 23:24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
2Ki 23:25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

Josiah was not content with just throwing out the idolatry; he restored the correct and proper worship of God in his Temple. Josiah had a negative reaction to the idolatry but had a positive pro-action to restoring God as the only one who was worshiped.

So, what does this mean for us?

1) In order to know what is defiling our temple-bodies we need to take time look inside.

A daily quiet time is necessary to be able to allow God to speak to you and for you to speak to God, but this goes beyond that. This kind of search requires more than just 15 min and it takes a lot of gut-wrenching, soul-searching that literally makes you broken and sometimes bleeding before God. It is never a pretty thing to look at the dark corners or even dark rooms of our lives; but we have to do it.

2) When we are confronted with our idolatry; we should be broken about it.

When Josiah heard the words of the Law of Moses he tore his clothes, an ancient ritual of deep grief and mourning. When we see the idolatry that defiles our temple-bodies, it should make us mourn with something more than regret…remorse and contrition; a willingness to not just confess but to repent and change.

3) Knowledge leads to repentance; repentance leads to action.

We can’t just acknowledge and feel bad about the idols in our lives; we have to take action against them! Anything that does not exalt and honor Christ as the Lord needs to be tossed out and burned (not necessarily literally…but it may come to that). We cannot expect to ever have pure temple-bodies if we continuously harbor and protect the idols that are defiling us. They have to go or God has no place in our lives.

4) Once we throw the idols out, we must restore God to his rightful place of worship.

It is not enough for us to just throw the idols out; we must also begin to worship God. We must rebuild the altar of honoring God in our lives. We must be proactive in our worship of God. Jesus warned about this in Luke 11:24-26:

Luk 11:24 "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.'
Luk 11:25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order.
Luk 11:26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first."
If we don’t take the time to rebuild our relationship with God; then worse things than we threw out will enter into our lives and we will once again be enslaved to idolatry. We cannot just hate sin; we have to love God!

The Ultimate Body Example

Joh 2:18 So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?"
Joh 2:19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
Joh 2:20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
Joh 2:21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Joh 2:22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus is our example; if there is anyone who shows how to live pure in our current bodies it is he. Jesus’ human body was a Temple of the Holy Spirit just like any of our bodies. So, he lived the perfect sinless life, so that he could set the standard for all of those who would believe in him. Jesus Christ offered his body, his perfect temple, as an offering to God.

Isa 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

A large part of being a temple-body is to endure suffering; we must suffer as Jesus suffered or at least be willing to suffer if we want our bodies to be purely dedicated to God. Paul talked about keeping his temple-body in shape for suffering:

1Co 9:26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
1Co 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Paul was scared to death of preaching to others about the purity in the body and yet neglecting his own purity and end up being disqualified. Any athlete knows that in order to stay in shape you have to be willing to discipline yourself rigorously and that requires pain and suffering. We too, must embrace pain and suffering in order to discipline ourselves for purity. This means denying our bodies things that they crave that seek to usurp God out of our lives.

Did Paul’s talk match his actions?

2Co 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
2Co 11:24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
2Co 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
2Co 11:26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
2Co 11:27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
2Co 11:28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
2Co 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
2Co 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Paul’s resume of suffering is quite impressive; he did not just talk up some faith, he walked in faith. How could someone endure all of that suffering? Paul knew that if was to rejected and even slain, just as Christ as was, he would also be raised, just as Christ is. Paul knew that this life was not the end and that in order to be ready for eternal life he would have to follow Jesus; through rejection, to the cross, and last but not least out of the grave. We suffer now and we live to fullest later; suffering is the only road to glory.

I close with the words of Jesus from Luke 9:23:

Luk 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Here is the takeaway:

- Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; so you need to honor God in everything you do in and with your body.

- You are interconnected with other members of the Body of Christ and choices you make impact their lives just as much as yours.

- In order to cleanse our temple bodies we have to spend time finding the defilement, mourn over the defilement, throw all of the idols out of our temples, and then restore the worship of God to our temples.

- Jesus is the ultimate example of how we should honor God in our bodies; he surrendered himself for pain and suffering so that God would be glorified. If we wish to follow him we must be willing to do the same

- Paul and other Christians sense have been able to rejected and slain in the body, because they know that, like Jesus, they will be raised into a new, eternal body which will endure forever.

Some questions:

- Do you treat your body like a temple of the Holy Spirit? What idols are you allowing in your lives that are defiling your temple?

- Do you need to repent of worshiping things other than Christ with your body? If so, what is preventing you from doing so?

- Do you embrace suffering as a regular part of being a follower of Christ? If not, how can you make suffering a bigger part of your daily walk?

- Do you believe that it is better to suffer now and be happy later? Or is your life spent grabbing all of what you can from this life?



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