[This post is part of a series covering eight little known theological truths about the Christian’s body]
When battling lust it can feel like it is your body that is warring against you.
There are countless times in my battle against lust where no matter where I direct my thinking, my body’s urges seem to make it virtually impossible to turn away from lust. I know that I am a new creation, but so many times it doesn’t feel like it at all. I know that God always provides a way out of temptation but it seems like my body always blocks the exit. Over the last year I have been seeking answers to a lot of questions about my body:
What does it mean to have a body? What happens to my body when we become believers in Christ? Does God care about my body or just my soul? Is my body being sanctified or just my soul? If our body is going to be resurrected then why work so hard to take care of it now?
The following is the first of several things I discovered from my biblical studies about a believer’s body that I never really heard growing up in the church (we’ll cover the others in the days ahead):
Taking care of your body is not just about stewardship but also your body’s sanctification
It is not just your soul that is being made holy, but also your body.
I’m not talking about a change in physical appearance. Rather, I mean your body changes in the way it functions so that you are more like Christ.
We do take care of our body because it is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). But we also do it as a part of pursuing Christlikeness. We are to be like him in every way, from our heart to our thoughts to our actions.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Modern science has shown us that all of our emotions, memories, fears, beliefs, personality are physical realities in the brain. That does not mean that there is no soul but rather that our body and soul are intimately related. (We’ll get to that in tomorrow’s post.)
The renewal of your mind is both a spiritual and physiological renewal. It is a change in your heart and a change in the way your brain functions. By the grace of God and power of his Spirit, you need to reprogram your mind to take different neurological paths in response to temptation.
Much of the urge to fall into sexual sin is a natural (sin nature) response to non-sexual stimulus like stress, grief, or disappointment. You have to retrain your mind to react differently to those things. You renew your mind to run to God for comfort during those times instead of running to the goddess of beauty.
Getting enough sleep, eating healthily, exercising, and rest/meditation are all activities that contribute to your overall sanctification. It is not just good stewardship. It aids in the pursuit of holiness.
Psychotherapy cannot do what the Gospel does, though the results may look similar.
The psychotherapy world has done an incredible job of understanding how to reprogram the mind to respond more positively to addictive urges. But the best, absolutely the best that they can do is redirect idolatry to an apparently less harmful idol.
As Christians, our response to sex addiction (which is idolatry) has to go beyond idolatry-shifting to idolatry repentance. This involves both a spiritual and physiological turning away from sinful desires and acts. Your body is not dragged along in the process of sanctification while your soul is made right. It is intimately involved and also made right.
Tomorrow we will look at another little known truth about the body.
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