13. The Redemption of the Body
Is there a groaning inside of you, dear believer? Is there a deep, unending longing for something you know you don't have? You may not realize it, but what you want is the redemption of your body. All the things you long for, all the questions of life, everything you desire, is found in this one experience, the redemption of the body.
13. The Redemption of the Body
I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 2:1-2
Who are we?
God created man in His image and after His likeness. We do not know the extent of what that means. But we see in the New Covenant that God commands us to be just like Himself. Love just as He loves, be holy just as He is holy, forgive just as He forgives, walk just as He walks.
God created us to contain God. God is an invisible Spirit who cannot be seen, felt, or handled. God wants a body so that people can come to His body and know who He is and what He is like, how much He loves them. Jesus was sent into the world to reveal the Father to us. We don't know what God is like, but we know Jesus, and Jesus teaches us what the Father is like and who He is.
From the very beginning, God purposed in His heart to have many sons just like Jesus. God is not satisfied with one expression of who He is. He wants many sons walking together as a living body in order to express the many facets of God's nature and His love and His heart for His creation.
God created man as a living soul, with the heart at his center. God gave us two bodies, a physical body by which we relate to the physical world, and a spiritual body by which we relate with the spiritual realms, with heaven.
When we asked Jesus into our heart, we were born again, conceived of God, and the seed, the very genetic code of God Himself, came into union with the human seed, faith. We believed what God said, that seed birthed itself inside of our faith, and we were conceived of God.
But we have not yet been born; we are in this in-between time of development. We have not come into the full light of day when God is revealed through us for all to see. In the present, the life of God in our spirit transforms us by the renewing of our minds, by changing the way we think. We see as God sees and believe in our hearts the Lord Jesus, that what God said is true, that what God said MUST BE! We confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, we speak what God says about us. We don't look through human eyes at our situation, but we look through God's eyes, seeing as He sees. We are being transformed.
But the focus of God's salvation is on our physical body; it is in our physical body that death still resides. We are in a fight. We do not live in the law of sin and death, we live in the law of the Spirit of life.
It is extraordinary that Christians still die. We would expect since the Spirit of God is working right now in our physical body, bringing life to it, that we should live and not die. That is the expectation of the gospel.
However, the law of sin and death spoken by God is still in effect, not because God wants it to rule, but because God spoke it and cannot change it. Therefore, God spoke a new law, the law of the Spirit of life, and in that law we fight for our life. We fight for our life by expecting the will of God within the body. Though our bodies are dying, they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. The battle of our lives is the battle over the body. God intends to prove His will in our bodies.
Jesus said, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
It is no great glory to God that His will is performed in heaven. How could anything else be? Angels do God's will automatically they were created to do so. There is no death there, no sickness, no sin. But God intends to prove His will where it really counts - in our dying bodies. The goal of the gospel is that the life of Jesus be revealed in our mortal flesh, that we be just like Him.
God's work is accomplished in our lives by faith; we celebrate the victory before it happens. Let's look at the greatest jeopardy passage in the New Testament.
But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm until the end.Hebrews 3:6
The children of Israel, leaving Egypt, were stopped by the Red Sea. Seeing the Egyptian army behind them convinced them they were doomed to die. So they said to Moses, "Why did you bring us here to die?"
Yes, they rejoiced once God proved Himself, won the victory, and destroyed the Egyptian army. They rejoiced on the other side of the sea. But the moment they faced another impossible situation, they were right back to not believing God.
For who, having heard, rebelled?… and to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief… For indeed the gospel was preached unto us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.Hebrews 3:16-4:2
That is not where God has us. God has us in front of the difficulty, the barrier, with the deceit of Satan accusing us, trying to deceive our minds into believing that God will not come through, or maybe it's us who won't come through.
Our victory stands upon one thing: Holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
We dance on this side of the sea. We are not like the children of Israel. The victory is won, yes! But God always leads us in triumph right now, and we exult boastfully in the victory of Christ in us before we see it with our eyes. We dance on this side of the sea; we celebrate the victory before it comes to pass. We rejoice in hope of the glory that will yet come through the victory.
Those that think, "Well, I'm just a little old me, I'm just a sinner saved by grace. I have this fleshy nature, and I don't know if I'm going to get it under control, I don't know if I'm going to make it, if I'm going to win," stand with the children of Israel, those who fear and who don't believe, wondering if they will make it or not.
The Spirit of God says, "Don't be like them. Keep your confidence and expectation of hope firm all the way through."
What is the victory that God intends to work in our lives and in our experience here in this earth? Let's see.
This man, Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering, He has perfected forever, those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12
By one offering He has perfected forever those who are "being sanctified," that is this in-between place of development in the womb of the church. Conceived of God, waiting with earnest expectation for that birthing into the full light of day.
Jesus, when He ascended to the Father, sat down at His right hand. From that moment until now, He expects something that has not yet happened.
The phrase, Till His enemies are made His footstool comes from Psalms 110, the Psalm of the victorious Messiah. It is the most quoted passage from the Old Testament: Till His enemies are made His footstool.
Jesus is expecting it to happen. The Father, when He had finished His work of creation, rested on the seventh day. Jesus, when He had finished His work of redemption and salvation, said, "It is finished," and sat down at the right hand of the Father, waiting. The Holy Spirit was sent into the world to draw out those who are called, to teach them, to guide them, and to fill them with strength.
The Holy Spirit is not given the task to bring Jesus' enemies under His feet. But the New Testament does present those who overcome.
And they overcame (their enemies) by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.Revelation 12: 11
How does this victory come? And through whom does it come?
Are all of these things irrelevant or peripheral to the Christian life? Or does the New Covenant teach us that our focus, the groaning that works inside of us, is for this moment when the enemies of Jesus are made His footstool?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility (to the curse) not willingly but because of Him who subject it in hope. Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Romans 8:18-20
Yes, God subjected the creation to futility, to emptiness, but He did so in hope. Hope is that which sets itself on what must be.
God has subjected the creation to the curse because He has a hope. God Himself has an expectation of a company of sons who come into His liberty, bringing that freedom into the creation, setting it free, delivering it from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves . . . Romans 8:22-23
There is no peace in the creation, no acceptance of things as they are. Creation is groaning, longing, desperately crying. You see birth pangs; you see a creation reaching forward to its deliverance, knowing that it must come.
The whole creation groans in birth pangs together until now. Is there a groaning inside of you, dear believer? Is there a deep, unending longing for something you know you don't have? Do you find yourself weeping on your bed in the night, longing to know the living God? Yes, we rejoice in the full expectation of victory, but we know we have not come into the full experience of it yet.
Eagerly waiting . . . Eagerly waiting for what? This is so very sad. So many of God's people eagerly wait to go to heaven when they die. Their defining verse, when they read about hope or salvation, they immediately translate it into, "I'll go to heaven when I die, and whatever any of this is talking about, I'll find out, cause it's all over in heaven somewhere, and I'll see it after I die."
Eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body.
This is what we want. You may not realize it, but what you want is the redemption of your body. All the things you long for, all the questions of life, everything you desire, is found in this one experience, the redemption of the body.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:24-25
What do we hope for? We hope for the redemption of our body.
Jesus sits and waits, expecting that His enemies will be made His footstool. We groan and labor inside ourselves, longing for the redemption of our body.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man death, by Man also the resurrection of the dead… Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming… For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
Jesus is waiting for His enemies to be put under His feet. But Paul says that He must reign till He has put all of His enemies under His feet. Both are true. Jesus is our life, and He is bringing His enemies into subjection under His feet in us and through us. On the one hand it is He doing it through us, but on the other hand, He is waiting for us to bring His enemies under subjection.
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. Romans 16:20
We are Jesus' feet under which His enemies are made subject. Paul said that the head of the body (Jesus) cannot say to the feet (us), "I have no need of you."
The last enemy to be eliminated is death. We battle from the law of the Spirit of life against the law of sin and death. What is the moment when death is defeated?
Satan is a slave; his master is Sin. But Sin itself is a slave living under the whip of its master, Death. Death is the antithesis of God. Death is absolutely opposed to all that God is. Death is no friend, no sweet uncle come to carry me into the arms of Jesus. Death is my enemy. Death is everything that is separate from God.
My God, death is trying to kill us! Death is our enemy, our greatest enemy.
Yes, when we die, if our physical body goes into the grave, Jesus will be there, waiting to carry us through that dark passage. For those whose hearts are devoted to Him there is no darkness at all, but only a joy and rejoicing. Nevertheless, death is our enemy. It opposes everything God is. God is life. He is light; He is love.
Death is the last enemy Jesus brings under subjection. Before death is defeated, sin will be defeated, Satan and all of his demons will be defeated in full experience. The kingdoms of this world will be defeated. And yet, still, there is one enemy standing in defiance. There stands Death, alone, still screaming defiance. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed.
To see the moment of victory over death - 1 Corinthians 15: 50-56.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed . . . For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?' The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For our citizenship is from heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philip. 3:20-21
What is man that you are mindful of him, for You have given him all things subdued under his feet?
We don't see all things subdued under our feet yet, but we see Jesus. We know that the power of Christ, His resurrection victory over death, is working inside our bodies. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is working in our mortal bodies. Jesus subdues all things to Himself, especially our bodies. Jesus has given us the victory over death. I have victory over death.
I quote more from The Jesus Secret, Day 119.
Death is my enemy. I do not fear death. I do not fear the cessation of breath in my physical body. I know Jesus will meet me there. But death is still my enemy. Death wants to kill me. Going to heaven when I die is not my goal. My goal is the resurrection, when my weak and lowly body is made just like His glorious body. My goal is the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, my goal is all the fullness of God, my goal is the unveiling, the revelation of Jesus Christ.
. . . The goal of God, the goal of all saints, both those waiting in heaven and those upon earth, the goal of all creation as it groans and labors in birth pangs, the goal of all is the defeat of death!
Death is the last enemy that will be defeated. The moment death is swallowed up in victory and the moment I come forth into the full light of day fully clothed as the image of Jesus Christ, just like Him - that is the same moment. At that same moment when my body is transformed, God fills His temple and becomes visible in His body - the Father.
All things are focused on and moving toward this great final defeat of death.
If you are not aware that this is what the New Testament teaches from beginning to end, you must ask yourself, "Where have I been?"
Further, from The Jesus Secret, Day 119.
Death is already defeated. God tricked death by giving death His own Son. Death, in its mindless greed, reached out to swallow up the champion of God Himself. Everyone imagined death had won. But through death, Jesus destroyed death; He broke its power. Then Jesus turned, He took His mighty victory over death, and He gave it to me!
I died with Christ, I also live with Him. I know that Christ, having been raised from the dead dies no more. Christ took upon Himself my appointment with death. My appointment with death is fulfilled, I do not have an appointment with death! I keep His word, I shall never taste death.
Jesus said, "He who keeps my word shall never taste death." Jesus said that those who hear the voice of the Son of God will live. I shall not sleep, but I shall be changed, when the dead are raised incorruptible, I shall be changed. My mortal, corrupt body must put on immortality, it MUST happen. When my body is transformed, at that moment, when the victory of God works itself completely in my physical body, in that moment, death is swallowed up in victory. Victory over death is mine. It belongs to me. Jesus gave it to me.
In John 11, Lazarus has died, and Jesus has come deliberately late so that Lazarus would already be in the grave.
Jesus said to (Martha), "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (Then Jesus made this claim) And whoever lives and believes in me, shall never die. Do you believe this?"
The church of Christ has taken upon itself Martha's viewpoint, "Oh, it's just going to automatically happen some day in the future. Without any connection to us whatsoever, the resurrection will just happen and we will be raised."
We desperately want to doctrinalize the words God speaks. We want to define them, to spiritualize them; we want to say why they just ain't so. But Jesus doesn't let us do that, because He says, "Martha, Martha, Martha, do you believe what I say? I say to you Martha, that whoever lives and believes in me shall not die." And then He says, "Martha, do you believe the words I am speaking to you."
There was one who believed. There was one who believed the IMPOSSIBLE! Her name was Mary, and she said to the angel, "Behold I am Your servant, let it be to me according to Your word." Of course it's impossible, it is inconceivable, how could she, a little teenage girl, carry inside of her the very life of God! But she said, "Let it be to me according to Your word."
When Jesus speaks, He is not looking for analyzers or spiritualizers or people who say why it ain't so! He looks for those who will simply believe what He says.
Therefore, we do not lose heart, even though our outward man is perishing. (This is talking about the physical body that is dying.) But the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, that is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
To have a human body with all of its weaknesses is the most wonderful privilege given. Yes, there are billions of people with physical bodies and almost all of them have no idea what those bodies are for, so it does them no good.
But God is calling a people who will believe what He says, who will come to Him and say, "I am Your servant, let it be to me according to Your word."
For we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary but the things that are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
We do not look at death still working in our body. We look at the things which are not seen; we have our eyes fixed on who we are, standing right now in glory. We see ourselves as God sees us, fully conformed to the image of Jesus.
Then Paul introduces here a strange passage. It doesn't make any sense, and so people just skip over it. And yet in 2 Corinthians 5:2, Paul makes this claim, Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Paul reveals to us the unseen realms that God has specifically prepared us for, and given us the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead as a guarantee. A guarantee that this must be!
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.2 Corinthians 5:1
What is he saying? Throughout this passage, Paul switches back and forth between two bodies. Our present earthly body is dying. But it is the place where God intends to prove His will, the place in which the life of Jesus will be revealed, through our physical, mortal, dying body. Yet down through the ages, Christians have died and their body has crumbled into dust. But Paul says, "Look there is a building from God, a body for you, that is eternal."
Paul is talking here about our spirits; those believers whose bodies die and go into the grave themselves continue to live through their spiritual body in the heavens. Unbelievers who die with a dead spirit remain in the place of the dead, with neither a physical body, nor a spirit that can communicate with the godly side of the heavens. They exist in a place of emptiness, a place of desire never fulfilled. But those whose spirits are alive continue in the heavens of God without their physical body. They are waiting, expecting, longing, because we are humans, and we will always be humans. God intends for us always to live in both the heavens and in the earth, in both our heavenly body and in our physical body.
So Paul says here that there is a body not made with hands, our spirit.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation (our body) which is from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:2
Jesus transforms our physical body into one like His glorious body. The model God uses for our future body is the resurrected body of Jesus that the disciples saw after the resurrection. Paul says that as believers, our heart groans, earnestly desiring to be clothed with that new body, that glorious body, just like Jesus' body. Eagerly waiting for the redemption of our bodies. This is our goal.
If indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked (wandering around in heaven without body of any kind.) For we who are in this tent groan . . . 2 Corinthians 5:3-4
We who are in this dying physical body, groan. That is our nature, our present being. We groan. All of our cares are found in a physical body that is dying. Our body is the source of our trouble, and our glory! We just read that.
For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed but further clothed, that mortality (that this physical dying body) may be swallowed up by life! 2 Corinthians 5:4
What is he saying? We don't want to die, to lose our physical body. Paul says, "Here is what we groan for, this is what we are looking to God with all of our hearts for - that mortality may be swallowed up by life!"
Then Paul says that God has prepared us to experience our mortal body swallowed up by life. And He has given us as a guarantee - the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead working inside of us as the proof that this is what God intends. To experience, not the dying of our physical body, but the moment when our physically body is swallowed up by life!
This is the victory Jesus has given to us. This is the goal of the believer. This is the moment when we are fully conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, the birthing into the full light of day. This is an experience beyond anything any human other than Jesus has ever experienced, our physical body swallowed up in the life of our incorruptible body, a physical body that never knows sin, never knows death or weakness or tiredness.
Jesus said to Martha, "He who lives and believes in me shall never die. Martha, do you believe this? Do you believe what I say?"
I am Your servant, let it be to me according to Your word.