May 2, 2018 • Life for Leaders
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Do you ever feel as if your body is on the other side, fighting against you? Perhaps you’re trying to lose weight but your cravings always get the better of you. Or perhaps, as you age, you begin to feel aches and pains that you never had before. Or, more seriously, maybe you’re fighting a disease that threatens to take your life. Your body just doesn’t seem to be on your side.
According to Ephesians 2, our bodies are indeed fighting against us in a way. Not only are we dead in our trespasses and sins, not only are we in bondage to the evil ways of the world and of the devil, but also verse 3 reveals that we were “gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.” It appears that our bodies are also involved in the conspiracy to oppose God and the life he seeks for us. Our bodies seem to be on the side of evil, not on the side of God.
Ephesians 2:3 might be seen to support the view, common among many Christians, that our bodies are necessarily and only evil, and that the true goodness is spiritual (that is, non-physical). But this understanding of our bodies does not take into account the full revelation of Scripture. To be sure, our sinful, human flesh can be the source of “cravings” and “desires” that lead us away from God. Yet we must not forget that God created human bodies as good (Genesis 1:27). Moreover, the good work God gave to humanity in Genesis 1:28—“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it”—must be done with our bodies. Therefore, the dualistic notion that bodies are evil and spirit is good neglects the created goodness of our bodies and the potential for our bodies to be devoted to good work even in a fallen world.
Consider Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6, for example. There, he instructs those who were having sex with prostitutes to stop. Why should they not sin with their bodies? Because their bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, the Corinthians should “honor God with [their] bodies” (6:20). And so should we in everything we do with our bodies and in refraining from using our bodies to sin.
There is something inherent in our sinful flesh that resists God, to be sure. But God is in the redemption business. He is redeeming not just our spirits but also our bodies, so that we might use them for his purposes and glory.
Something to Think About:
Do you think of your body as mainly good? Or mainly evil? Or mostly morally neutral?
What “cravings” and “desires” of the flesh do you struggle with in your life?
In what ways do you glorify God with your body?
Something to Do:
When you get up tomorrow morning, set aside a couple of minutes to consider the fact that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and to offer your whole body to God. After reflecting on the glorious truth that the Spirit of God dwells in your body, offer your body to God, part by part (arms, hands, mouth, brain, etc.). Ask the Lord to remind you during the day that your body is his temple. Live this truth in all you do.
Gracious God, even though I have been saved by your grace, I can still feel the cravings of my sinful flesh luring me to turn away from your life. Help me, I pray, to desire you more than anything else I might want. Give me the strength to resist when my flesh tempts me to sin.
May I live each day with the understanding that my body is a temple of your Spirit. May I honor you, not just with my mind and heart, but also with my body, every single part. To you be all the glory! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
People are Created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:26, 27; 5:1)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.