Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life

With All Your Strength — Body


Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not your own. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

1 – In considering the five components of the human person Jesus referred to in Mark 12:29-31, we now come to strength (the body). It too must be re-formed.

2 – Our body is the one component of our person that is physical. It locates us in the material creation. We are spiritual beings who have physical bodies.

3 – Life in a rebellious, darkened, material world has negatively impacted my body. This in turn has affected my heart, soul, mind and personal relationships.

4 – We must avoid all attitudes of body-hatred. The wrong that resides in our bodies is not the fault of our bodies. It was caused by the impact of sin upon our bodies.

5 – God created the human body good (Genesis 1:31). When the second Person of the triune God came to earth, he took on a human body (Hebrews 10:5).

6 – In a human body, Christ:

  • bore the consequences of our sin (1 Peter 2:24)
  • was raised from the dead (Luke 24:39)
  • will come again (Acts 1:11).

7 – How did wrong enter our bodies? A vital feature of the human body is the capacity to learn behaviors and then store them. This makes human life work.

8 – Countless behaviors are stored in our bodies: how to tie our shoes, speak a language, engage in a sport, drive a car, do our job, relate to others.

9 – At first, this learning happens consciously—we have to think about it. Then it is gradually stored away and becomes habitual. We access it subconsciously.

10 – Our problem: Our bodies can learn and store away habitual behaviors that are unlike God and therefore damaging to us and others.

11 – “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Romans 6:12). My body was not created with sin; it learned sin.

12 – How does sin “reign” in my body? Through sinful behaviors I have learned, stored and now habitually practice. How can this “reign” be broken?

13 – Three processes shape the re-formation of my body:

  • I take steps to retrain my body.
  • I trust the Holy Spirit to transform my body.
  • I honor and care for my body.

14 – I take steps to retrain my body:

  • I unlearn destructive behaviors.
  • I replace them with behaviors I learn from Jesus.

15 – “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness” (Romans 6:13a). “Members” certainly includes bodily parts.

16 – What if at times I simply do not have the ability to avoid presenting my members for unrighteousness? This was true even of Paul!

17 – “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:23).

18 – This points us back to some of the previous chapters we have studied, such as Chapter Eight: Spiritual Practices.

19 – I choose spiritual practices, not to punish myself (or my body!), but to open myself to God. I learn them from Jesus and Judeo-Christian fathers and mothers.

20 – An example of how spiritual practices can support the re-forming of my body is the effect of fasting from food. Jesus taught it. Jesus practiced it.

21 – What benefit does voluntarily, temporarily, fasting from food have? I learn that I am not required to give in to every demand of my body.

22 – A mega-theme in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles is that new life comes forth from death. Paul wrote that he died every day (1 Corinthians 15:31)!

23 – Why would anyone choose to die every day? In order to exchange what is damaged for what is new and deeply desirable. This includes the body.

24 – “Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:10).

25 – But the re-training of the body is certainly not all negative. Key to understanding the biblical teaching on death: death is the pathway into life.

26 – I trust the Holy Spirit to transform my body. “Present yourselves to God” (Romans 6:13b).

27 – This is primary. We present our whole being to our Creator. We went away from him. We suffered the consequences. We now accept his invitation to return.

28 – Learning how to present ourselves to God takes us back to Chapter Five: Practicing God’s Presence. Living in God’s Presence, I am transformed.

29 – Presenting my whole being to God includes presenting my bodily members to God (Romans 6:13c). This may require healing. See Chapter Seven: Inner Healing.

30 – Saying “No” to destructive bodily behaviors, and saying “Yes” to presenting my members to God—this is what obedience is.

31 – “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

32 – Obedience is teamwork between heart and body. Heart decisions find expression in bodily actions, even if these actions seem hard at first.

33 – Obedience is teamwork between my choices and the Spirit. I choose to learn to obey. I follow spiritual practices. I rely on God. The Spirit re-forms my body.

34 – Motivation to obey grows stronger as the fruits of obedience become sweeter. The ultimate fruit: A life characterized by the experience of God’s love!

35 – Jesus: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

36 – I honor and care for my body. Contrary to punishing my body, I honor my Creator by honoring the body he made in the areas of rest, food, stress and medical care.

37 – Rest. I am responsible to give my body the rest it needs. How much physical illness is caused by stressed-out bodies driven by chaotic souls?

38 – A rested body is a vital pre-requisite for practicing God’s Presence. It is hard to focus on God when I am falling asleep.

39 – Rest is central to the principle of Sabbath. God worked. Then he rested. We are to do likewise. God invites us to enter with him into rest (Hebrews 4:9-11).

40 – Food. I am responsible to give my body the food it needs—not too little, not too much, and the kinds of food that will nourish, strengthen and protect it.

41 – Stress. I am responsible to moderate the call of compulsivity-driven activity all around. Much stress is inflicted on the body by a striving for significance.

42 – Medical care. I am responsible to take the medical needs of my body seriously and make provision for their care. Denial is not an effective response.

43 – “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a).


Last edited—April 21, 2017

Copyright © George Miley. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. To obtain permission to use this material, contact us.