This Old House - Body Trouble!

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  6 : 19-20
Subject: Bought with a Price; Human Body; Christian Living
Introduction

IiIn the early days of the evangelistic ministry of Billy Graham, a singing cowboy came to Christ. Billy Graham led Stuart Hamlin to the Lord in a motel room near Los Angeles, California when Graham was there in what became the revival that propelled Graham onto the national stage. Hamlin was well-known and was intimate friends with many Hollywood movie stars. One of his friends was The Duke, John Wayne. After Hamlin’s conversion, he was walking on the lot of a movie studio with John Wayne when the Duke asked him if it was true that he had "got religion." Hamlin unashamedly answered, "Well, it's no secret what God has done. It's true alright, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior." The words of his own answer to John Wayne's question stuck in Hamlin's mind. From his answer Stuart Hamlin wrote the famous song, "It Is No Secret What God Can Do." Hamlin wrote other songs, one of which became very popular in the early fifties. He wrote the song, "This Old House," sharing an analogy between the aging of an old house and the aging of the human body. Hamlin was drawing upon the Biblical idea of the human body being a house out of which we must move one day in the future. Today we shall look at the house called the body - a house that we must one day vacate.

2 Corinthians 5:1 tells us that this body is a house or a tent that shall one day be folded up and laid aside. In Job 4:19-20 death is described as pulling up the tent cords and folding up the old tent – our body – and moving on.

I want us to look at the body from the biblical and divine viewpoint. Our text today tells us four things about the body which can serve as a springboard for us to understand this very important subject.

So, first let’s look at…

I. The Problem of the Human Body

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to the church in Corinth, which was a place of extreme wickedness. Drunkeness, immorality, prostitution, homosexuality, perversion, gluttony, and other sins were rampant in that city where Paul preached the gospel of Christ. These acts were not looked upon as evil by the Corinthians but were accepted as a way of life for them. This presented a problem to the church that Paul established there. It was important for Paul to make sure that the Christians understood God’s will for the human body.

Corinth was so bad in Paul’s day that if you wanted to insult a person in the ancient world all you had to do was call that person a Corinthian. In the midst of this vile world system there stood a church, a church that like of many in our day, influenced far too much by the environment surrounding it. The church at Corinth was meant to be salt and light, but was instead being absorbed by the culture in which it existed.

To the Greeks, the body was evil and of little value. They held that the heart or spirit of a person was all that was important, so they further concluded that one could appease or please any bodily desire in any way they wished. After all, if you believe that the body and spirit are totally separate, you can sin with the body and worship with the spirit. This idea had seeped into the church at Corinth, just as it has in the churches of our day in America.

Today people say, "Well, all that really matters is what you have in your heart!" Really? Did Jesus teach that? Does the Bible teach that? No, a thousand times no! The problem is that many people are ignorant concerning spiritual issues and their relationship to biblical, moral behavior in the body.

I heard about a woman who was ignorant about Jehovah's Witnesses who whas visited by one of them came carrying a satchel and asked to come in to talk with her. It just so happened that the lady was busy, so she told the Jehovah's Witness to come back later and she would see her. The Jehovah's Witness said that she could not come back later but she would send someone else over. After the Witness left, the woman became concerned about her lack of knowledge regarding Jehovah's Witnesses, so she called a friend and asked for help. The friend said, "You must establish that the woman is a Jehovah's Witness. If she is, do not let her in. The other woman asked, "Well, how will I know if she is a Jehovah’s Witness?" The friend said, "A Jehovah's Witness will not say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States, nor will they sing a song like Amazing Grace." Just then the doorbell rang and looking out the window the concerned woman realized that a lady was standing at her door with a satchel in her hand. She told her friend, "Well, the Witness must have sent someone else, for I see her at my door right now. Thanks for your help, I know just what to do." She hung up the phone, went to the door, opened it and without hesitation said, "You want to come in to talk to me don't you?" The lady standing at the door nodded and said, "Yes." Then the nervous woman said, "Alright, if you want to come in to my house say the Pledge of Allegiance." The woman at the door never hesitated, but dropped her satchel, threw her hand over her heart and said, "I pledge .....,” and completed the entire Pledge of Allegiance. The housewife never blinked, she just said, "Now, sing Amazing Grace." The woman stood on the door steps and sang all the verses to Amazing Grace. The lady of the house said, “Great, you can come on in now." The woman on the porch picked up her satchel starting in and said, "Gee, thanks, I just wanted to drop by to visit since I'm the new Avon lady."

Ignorance can be embarrassing,  but it can also be dangerous. That is why Paul phrased his question, "What, know you not...?" Paul realized that the Corinthians did not know God’s will concerning the subject of the human body and Christian living. What does the Bible teach about the body? This became an interesting question as I studied for this message. I discovered that very little material exists concerning a biblical view of the human body. To be sure, there is an occasional mention of it in a sermon on immorality, abortion, drinking, and other sinful habits, but very little exists on the broad subject of the body. So let's look at the subject for a moment from God's point of view.

A. The Beautiful Body

At the end of Genesis, chapter 1, the Bible records that God looked at all he had made, including mankind, and he saw that it was "good." The Lord never meant for us to look upon the human body as something inherently wicked. God made man and said, "It is good." Then he made woman and said, "It is good," though most women think God made woman and said, “Now, that’s better!” The point is that God made the human body beautiful in His sight.

Note a second truth about the body...

B. The Blessed Body

God told Adam and Eve to eat of the trees of the Garden of Eden and He told them to be fruitful and multiply. The enjoyment of food, sex and bodily comfort is not sinful within the parameters of God's will. One can see that God meant for man to see his body as a blessing and every blessing that God has given must be appreciated, protected and committed to His purposes in our lives. Granted, we can eat too much an endanger our health and that is not good. We can use products that destory our lungs, drugs that confuse our behavior, and we can act in ways that violate God's clear teaching on the body, but at the foundational the human body is blessed. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Think of yet another thing concerning your body...

C. The Blighted Body

Though the human body is beautiful and blessed, a terrible decision was made by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden regarding their bodies, one that brought blight and ruin upon the human frame. It all began with the sin that Adam and Eve committed.

Sin entered the world as an intruder, but sinful attitudes did not begin in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Even. Sin started when Lucifer rebelled against God, and later Lucifer, the devil, turned the earth into a battleground. The incident with the serpent in the Garden was beginning of 'human' sin and it involved the desire of the human body for something God had forbidden. The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a temptation for Eve to disobey God. Eve surmised that the fruit was something good to “eat.” She desired that which God had forbidden, and Adam partook of it as well. Some think the original sin in the Garden of Eden was a sexual one but that is absolutely impossible. After all, God told Adam and Eve to multiply. The sin Adam and Eve committed was desiring that which God had forbidden. Indeed, the sin was one that involved the body, for it was a temptation to eat a divinely forbidden food, but it was much more. The sin involved pride, and a desire to be like god. That is how Satan tempted Eve in the beginning.

Often I am asked why God put the tree of temptation in the Garden of Eden in the first place. The answer lies in the fact that God did not desire the love and devotion of robots, but a love that was reciprocal – a love based on accepting His love and returning it. True love always demand an alternative. A wise guy once quipped, “Eve asked Adam, ‘Do you love only me?’ In response Adam said, ‘Who Else!’” Indeed, there was no other human for Adam to love. There was no way for Adam to prove his love to Eve. But, there was an interloper for the soul in the Garden and he tempted Adam and Eve to forsake their devoted love to God. That was the essential element of the first sin. It was a matter of love! Would Adam and Eve love God first and foremost, or would they love themselves first? We know the choice they made and we, too, have made that same choice. We are sinners by birth and by choice.

It is important to note that the temptation Satan used was the body's desire for food. There was nothing wrong with wanting food, but Satan lured Adam and Eve outside God's parameters. There is a sense in which the body is bad, but actually your body does not know good from evil. Yet, the person within the body knows what is right and has been given clear instructions in God's Word regarding what is correct and what is sinful in regard to the use of one's body. Eve knew better than to eat that fruit, and Adam knew better as well. The body may desire something God has forbidden but the person occupying the body must decide to obey God through love for God over and above love for self.

After sin entered the world things went from bad to worse for our bodies. Hard labor, painful childbearing, sickness and death entered the world and afflicted our bodies because of sin. Some people will say, "Hey, it's my life. I'm not hurting anyone else when I sin." Really? Take a look at the painful, deadly, sad world in which we live and you will admit Adam and Eve's sin cast a worldwide net of agony over this earth.

Now, notice a sad thing about your body and mine...

D. The Burdened Body

Since sin entered the world, our bodies, which were meant to be a blessing, have become in many ways, a burden.

Ask Job, who sat among the ashes and scratched his sores with a broken pottery shard, just how sin affected the human body.

Ask Paul, who bore a thorn in the flesh which tortured him, about the pain sin brought into this world.

In Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 5 Paul refers to the fact that we groan in this flesh while waiting to be clothed from on high with our new bodies in our new heavenly home. Yes, and many of us know the pain and suffering of our earthly bodies, all of which is the result of the sin that began in the Garden of Eden.

So, what do we learn? Our bodies are good, God made them and then He said it was good. There is unconscious matter, plants and flowers, then there is conscious matter - animals; and, then there is self-conscious matter - humans. Think of all the different types of plants. Think of all the different types of animals. But, there is only one species of humans. God made only one creature in His own image. We are in His image - our bodies are good and are meant to be a blessing, but they can only be a blessing when we know Jesus as Lord.

While Jesus was in a human body, he ate, slept and enjoyed his body, within the confines of God's will. The body of man, however, is burdened because we do not listen to God regarding the use of our bodies. The important truth here is that we can't let our bodies tell us what to do. We must follow the Lord and instruct our bodies to follow His will. When I hear that ice cream calling out to me in the evening, I have to tell my taste buds calm down! I mean, who is in control here? I am! No matter what I do, I am ultimately responsible for the actions in my body. You and I must listen to God and then we must tell our bodies what to do.

Now think with me about a second major thing related to the human body…

II. The Possession of the Human Body

Paul goes on to say that the Christian has a unique body, for the Christian the body is the temple of God. This is true because Christ lives in those of us who are saved through Him in the person of the Holy Spirit. When a person receives Jesus as Savior and Lord, he experiences something the world cannot understand. Literally, the Christian is possessed! Jesus sets up residence in that person's body and life! We like to say that Jesus comes to live in our hearts, but the Bible says he comes to live in your body! Note with me three things about this possession of your body as a Christian.

A. He Comes Down

Jesus does not get into our lives by reforming us from the outside or trying to make us better so that He can live in us, but rather He comes down into our lives from above and brings cleansing, healing, and saving power into our being. He does not reform us, he transforms us. He does not get us to turn over a new leaf, he gives us a new heart.

B. He Stays In

Jesus does not take out a lease on this house called the human body, but rather He takes ownership of it! He does not mean to live in us for a period of time to see if he likes the place. No! He cleanses it, and moves it for keeps. He never will leave nor forsake the person He saves. He comes to stay! His possession is permanent.

C. He Works Out

Jesus does not work his way into our lives by making the flesh better, but comes to save us, takes up residence and begins to work from the inside out. When I was in revival with Billy Dickerson in South Carolina, Billy took me to his home. On the outside it did not look too impressive. He told me that, and he was right. He said, "Wait till you see the inside." When he opened the door I could hardly believe it. There was the most modern, beautiful home! He then told me how they had decided to rework the inside and then to working on the outside later. That is how Jesus works on us. He works on the inside and then moves to the outside.

I must chose everyday whether to listen to Jesus from the inside or to the world from the outside. Which one I listen to will determine what I do with my body, and it will determine whether I am living to please my Savior, to please myself or to please the world.

As a Christian, I am possessed by the Lord, but I am not a robot and I am not plastic. I am not a department store dummy. Every Christian must decide to listen to God so that He can work in us the way He desires to work, so that He can work through us to accomplish all that He has planned! No joy can come close to that which is produced when a person who is saved allows God to fully possess and bless his or her life from the inside out! Only in that way can we see the Lord achieve and accomplish all He has planned to do in and through us.

Now, a third major thing regarding the body must be considered...

III. The Purchase of the Human Body

I've purchased a few houses in my lifetime, and it is never a trivial matter. An inspection is required and every attempt is made to be sure one is not buying a "pig in a sack," or a "money pit" filled with costly problems. But, when Jesus came to redeem "this old house," my body, He was buying a wreck - a condemned dwelling. Of course, He had his own plans and the cost was no object!

The Bible states, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price." This is declaration concerning the body of the child of God. Jesus died for our salvation and paid the price for our sins with His own blood. He does not force us to accept Him but He calls us and when we come to Him we are in essence opening our hearts, minds and bodies to Him. The Bible is stating that Jesus paid the price for your body on the Cross. He took the punishment that we were to receive. When we accept Him, we are inviting Him in to take control and ownership of our entire lives - and that certainly includes our bodies.

A. Poor Property

Jesus came to you while you were still in your sin. Yet, He paid the price for you! In other words, to redeem you He paid a high price for worthless property! Down in Atlanta, Georgia some years ago, the church I pastored had a ministry. I went down there a few times to pray over that ministry and to visit those who worked there. It was dangerous work for those who served there, because drugs, gangs and every kind of evil lived there. Those who served in that area had a heart for the people afflicted by the sin that dominated so many of people living there. Sometime later, a developer came in, bought up the run-down houses, rebuilt everything and turned it into one of the most beautiful places you could imagine. Within sight of the downtown buildings in Atlanta, there now stands these lovely houses in a clean and safe environment. That is what Jesus does to us when He takes up residence. Our bodies and hearts are a nest of sin, but Jesus comes in and buys up the poor property of our hearts. That is the picture painted for us in the scripture regarding salvation.

B. Prime Price

Jesus paid it all, and the price was high. To save us from the dilapidated nature of our souls, He paid with His own blood at Calvary. That is what Paul tells us. “You were bought with a price!” Indeed, the highest price anyone could pay and the only price that could meet the righteous demands of God. Sin required death. So God's Son met the condition and died in our place. You were not bought with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18). He paid it all! He paid the highest price for the cheapest property, but then he had a plan.

C. Perfect Plan

The Lord intended to move into the dwelling and thereby escalate its value. Indeed! 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 tells me that my body is sacred, because it is God's temple. God has three claims upon the Christian's body:

1. Creation

He made me!

2. Transformation

He saved me!

3. Occupation

He has me!

He made us but we marred His creation. He redeemed us with His blood. He moved in to occupy the space so that the enemy could never come back and run the place down again!

Now, let me hasten to the en with a fourth major point…

IV. The Purpose of the Human Body

What then can we conclude from this about the body? The human body is good, with the potential for evil. God meant for the body to be a blessing but it has in many ways become a burden to the one living in it. God's plan is to redeem us from this body of death by cleansing us from all sin, entering our bodies and setting up residence. Even this will not automatically bring us true peace within our bodies. Even though we are saved, and the Lord is resident in us, the outside world is seeking to draw us away from His Lordship. To truly live in the joy God planned for us in this human body, we need to remember some important things.

A. My Body is a Temple

Ask God if that which you are to wear, eat, drink, and do will uplift or defile the temple called your human body. Remember the Lord lives in your body, if indeed you are saved, and we must ask what will please Him and honor Him.

To care for the body is to seek His guidance in our decisions. Of course, we need to work on the outside in order to present ourselves properly. I tell you that I am sure the Lord is happy that some of us decorate the temple a little, for it needs it - if you know what I mean. After all, when you buy a house you do not leave the land the way you found it. It was God's land but you landscaped it, and you painted your house, and you planted grass and shrubs, trees and flowers. God made the nature that causes the things to grow in your yard and he made the prism by which you can discern color, but he let you decide how to use those elements for your home. The same is true with your body. You can decorate it somewhat, paint a little here and there, color the roof if you like - but you should always ask, "Will what I wear and how I present my body honor the Savior who dwells in me?"

B. My Body is a Testimony

Romans 12 tells me that I should give my body as a living sacrifice. My body speaks to others about God and therefore I must ask if the things I do in my body will HONOR GOD before my neighbors, friends, relatives and associates. I cannot say, "Well, this is my life and I will do what I want." No, you are bought with a price. You have a responsibility to represent the owner, and God is the owner.

One day we will give an account of our lives as Christians. I am sure one thing God will examine is how we lived and presented our bodies. We must give account for the deeds done in our bodies. As surely as we are in the place today, one day we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ

It is plain to see that we should have as our purpose in these bodies to HONOR GOD! 1 Thessalonians 5:23 states that we are present blameless bodies at the appearing of the Lord. We see Paul's desire was for Christ to be exalted in his body (Philippians 1:20). He even stated that he bore in his body the marks of Jesus Christ - his body was physically marked as a result of his willingness to follow Christ totally and completely (Galatians 6:17).

Conclusion

Paul said that one day God will change our lowly bodies and give us a new one (Philippians 3:21). I'm looking forward to that day, because my "old house" (my body) is wearing out! But until that day comes, you and I must live in the body we have. Let us make a commitment today to honor God with our bodies. We are to abstain from that which dishonors Him in our bodies and we are to do those things which honor Him. Let us even now respond with a new commitment to present our bodies a living sacrifice to the One who died and gave His body for us.