The Stewardship of the Body
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost
which is in you,which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
In this passage of Scripture Paul has an excellent view of the body.
The care and discipline of the body were an essential part of Paul's thoughts.
Paul would have agreed with the proverb that "cleanliness is next to godliness."
There is no doubt that Paul would have said, "cleanliness is a part of godliness",
especially so if we understand this to include ethical and moral cleanliness.
Paul did nothing to impair the functions of his body or to enfeeble its powers,
or to prostitute it to immoral uses.
Concerning the relation of the body to religion, human opinion has oscillated between two extremes.
On the one hand, some have considered the body to be the seat of sin, and have set themselves to delegate
and degrade it with every indignity and torture.
But sin must be dealt with in the heart and soul where it has its inception. (James 1:14-15)
if we overcome bad thoughts and evil suggestions, we will not have so much trouble with the body.
The other extreme was represented in the Greek religion.
The temples that stood in ruins; the works of art which have survived the ravages of time;
the poetry and literature which have survived all sustain demonstrate the devotion
of the Greek mind to beauty.
Surely it ought to be evident that our modern society with its cult of "body beautiful,"
it's worship at Aphrodite's shrine of sex-appeal, is more inclined to go along with the Greeks
than with those who suppressed and debased their bodies.
Both extremes are wrong.
There are two ways not to be spiritual.
Undue and unnatural suppression of the body will make one materialistic,
as well as unbridled and uncontrolled indulgence.
Both put a disproportionate emphasis upon the body.
You cannot do that and be a spiritual person.
The Christian position is that the body is the temple of the Spirit, the instrument of the mind,
and the dwelling place of the inner man.
In considering the stewardship of the body, we will present four questions.
First, the Body: Whose is it?
The body is God's.
This is why, as far as our bodies are concerned, we have a stewardship.
The body is God's He designed it.
From ancient times man has studied the heavenly bodies; yet, until the modern era,
he never dared to investigate his own body.
Scientific study of anatomy dates back to the work of the Flemish anatomist,
and the publication of his book, "On the Fabric of the Human Body."
Today, what doctor would say, even after 400 years, that medical science has no need
of further knowledge of the body?
Centuries ago, the psalmist said: "I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
(Psalm 139:14, ASV)
What would he have said had our modern knowledge of anatomy been available to him.
He would have still said that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."
Think of those giants of the body the brain, heart, the lungs.
Even primitive man sensed that these organs played dramatic roles within the body,
though their functions long remained clothed in mystery and superstition.
Think of those remarkable sentinels of the body the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin.
They keep us in contact with the world around us.
They introduce us to its delights, and protect us from its dangers.
Think of the marvelous teamwork of command and control.
Together the muscles, nerves, and bones give man the controls he needs to carry out
the incredibly complex commands of the brain.
Think of the laboratories of the body the stomach, the liver, the colon, the gallbladder,
the pancreas, and the kidneys.
Think of the chemical wizardry of the blood and glands.
God designed the body, and only God could have done it.
Second, the body is God's He created it.
In the simplest language possible the creation record tells us the true nature of man.
We find it in Genesis 2:7: "And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (ASV)
It is the fact that "God breathed" which makes man different from animals.
In this sense man is like God, for God's breath is in him.
Because he has a body, he is like the animals.
So, man enjoys the privileges of participating in a good world with the capacities of growth
in fellowship with God.
Third, the body is God's He redeemed it.
Long ago, God spoke thus to His people:
"But now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel:
Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine." (Isaiah 43:1, ASV)
First, the body is the dwelling place of our minds, our rational nature.
In the creation record we are told: "And God said, Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness." (Genesis 1:26)
Created in "the image of God" could not refer to man's body because "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24)
and has no body such as we have.
It must be, then, that the rational, moral, and spiritual nature of man are all included in "the image of God."
In the twinkling of an eye our minds can travel to the moon's surface and frolic about
with two men walking on its surface.
Our minds can fly with a spaceship as it passes within a few thousand miles of Mars and Venus.
That is not physical, but the mind is physically based and physically housed.
Second, the body is also the dwelling place of the human spirit and soul.
Man has a body he is a soul.
It is well to care for the body, but only as we would care for a complex and fine piece of machinery
which is to serve us.
For the Christian, the body is the dwelling place the instrument of the soul.
Third, but most importantly Christian, the body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Our text tells us this.
Of the Holy Spirit Jesus told His disciples on the night in which he was betrayed:
"He abideth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14coin 17, ASV)
This is the full impact of our text:
"Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?"
Paul admonishes me Ephesians: "Be filled with the Spirit" (5:18), but too often
we are filled with something else.
We are apt to be filled with ourselves, instead of Him.
Third, The Body: How to use it?
Here are two sides of a coin to consider.
On the one hand there are the wrong uses of the body.
This is to be unfaithful in our stewardship.
1) Whatever impairs the body's normal functions is wrong.
We know that the habitual use of beverage alcohol can cause and aggravate cirrhosis of the liver
and damage certain parts of the brain.
Who has the right to treat his body in this way?
No faithful steward of the body can do it.
It is now well established that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases.
How can any pleasure from smoking compensate for such damage to the body?
The point is: whatever impairs the body's normal functions is wrong, it is sin.
It is a failure in the stewardship of the body.
2) Whatever enfeebles the body's power is wrong, whatever makes it old before its time is sin.
"Confound these legs of mine," Lord Northhampton said as he came tottering out of a long court session.
"If I had thought they would one day carry a Lord Chancellor, I would have taken
better care of them in my youth."
3) Whatever prostitutes the body to base and immoral uses is wrong.
In the paragraph from which I text comes, fornication, or sexual impurity, is the concern at hand.
There is a corporate application in 1 Corinthians 6 verses 15-18.
Fornication, unfaithful to God, has no place in the church -- in the life of a Christian.
There is a personal application in our text.
Fornication characterized worship in the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth.
It has no place in the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is the body.
In verse 16 Paul said that the Holy Spirit cannot be joined to a harlot. (Verse 16)
4) What ever defiles the body is wrong
In the city of Strassburg on the Rhine in Europe there is a world-famous cathedral
which was more than four centuries in building.
When Napoleon captured the city, he stable his horses in that cathedral.
Think of it!
He let those horses live in the light of jeweled windows and before the altar which was meant for prayer.
He defiled the temple.
How often we do the same to the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
5) Whatever permits the body to become a vehicle of uncontrolled passions is wrong.
When we study the Parable of the Prodigal Son, remember that everything the boy had came from his father.
His body, which he used for immoral purposes came from his father.
His body became a vehicle of uncontrolled passions.
Make no mistake about it, this prodigal is dramatizing our lives.
As we look at him, we are compelled to say, "There am I. I am that boy."
Second, But on the other hand, there are the uses of the body which God intended.
1) God intended us that our bodies be used as instruments of His worship and praise.
The body has an important part to play in worship: the eyes, the tongue, the mind, the emotions.
2) God intends that our bodies be vehicles of righteousness.
For the Christian a two-fold process is going on as the years pass.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "Wherefore we faint not; but as though our outward man is decaying,
yet our inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)
The body decays.
Time destroys it.
But while we're wearing out of body, we are growing a soul.
3) God intends us that our bodies the instruments of His glory.
"The resurrection body of Jesus Christ bore the print of the nails in His hands
and of the sword thrust in His side." (John 20:27)
Paul's battles for Christ left their scars on his body, but he didn't consider them a disgrace.
They were a badge of honor.
He wrote to the Galatians: "Henceforth that no man trouble me; for I bear branded
on my body the marks of Jesus."
(Galatians 6:17, ASV)
Paul prayed that Christ might be magnified in His body. (Philippians 1:20)
I pray that his prayer may also be ours.
4, The Body; What of it?
To what conclusion are we to come?
In ancient Greece there was a thinker named, Porphyry, who was so devoted to the life of the spirit
that he was ashamed of his body.
There could be no greater error than this.
The supreme revelation of God was in His taking on of human flesh in the person of His Son.
"The Word became flesh." (John 1:14, ASV)
This is why Christians must think of the body as sacred.
Jesus, our Saviour, and the human body subject to all the ills and pains that "flesh is heir to."
He shared all our sorrows and woes, except our sins.
Wherefore, let no man despise his body, abuse it, polluted, defile it, or forget that he is a steward of it.
God Himself once took on a human body.
To speak thus is to put our finger upon one of the most precious elements of Christian hope.
Paul wrote: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
So let us treat this physical body with a good steward in the sight of God.
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White