9. Victory in the Physical Body
The Spirit of God lives in our bodies, and He is working with the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit, right now this moment, is working in our body to bring the very life of God into our our dying body.
9. Victory in the Physical Body
Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, let him have dominion over the fish of the sea . . ." So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over . . . every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:26
We have no idea the extent of the meaning of Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness. We will continue to be overwhelmed as we learn more and more of what it means through all the ages to come, the extent to which God reveals Himself to His creation through us. God who is invisible, made visible through us.
David asked, What is man that you pay so much attention to him? "I feel like a worm," he says in another place. We see ourselves as so low. Why does God focus His attention on us?
When we were born again, our second birth followed the same steps as our first birth. But we have a different father and mother than in our first birth. In our first birth, we had a natural father and a natural mother, and we were made up entirely of the traits of our natural father and our natural mother merged together.
When we were born a second time, we had a Father and a mother as well. In our second birth, our Father is God Himself and our mother is the church of Jesus Christ, Jerusalem which is from above. The seed of God, His word, coming into union with the seed of the woman inside us, faith, brought forth the new life that we are. That life is Christ Himself. Eternal life is an intimate communion with the Father and with Jesus. Christ is our life.
Throughout the New Testament, the Spirit of God commands us over and over, "Be just like God," in many different ways. Be perfect as He is perfect, love as He loves, be pure as He is pure, because God is taking us to His throne. We say to ourselves, "How can this be?" We come back to the question, "What is man?"
So the church, for the last 2000 years, has been convinced that man is a disaster, and that God is having pity on man. That, even though we deserve to be "in the fires of hell," God had pity on some of us and we get to be happy forever - and that's all man is.
But we know that God's purpose for man from the very beginning is that God wants many sons just like Jesus.
We find ourselves at the present time not waiting till we die and go to heaven. Rather, we are in a place of development in the womb of the church, in between the conception, when we were born of God and the birthing, when we come forth in the full light of day, revealed for all to see.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19
That word "revealing" is the word apokalupsis, taking off the veil. It is when we come forth in the full light of day as the true sons of God. This is our goal. Romans Chapter 8 is the capstone of Paul's argument of the gospel. Verse 19 is central to that argument. There is coming a day when God will take the cover off of His sons and they will stand upon the earth!
Because the creation itself also will be delivered 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, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:21-23
Sadly, the redemption of the body seems to have vanished from Christian thought. Yet we find it central to the gospel and to the work of God in our lives.
This development, as we grow up into Him in all things, awaiting that birthing into the full light of day, revealed in all the glory of who we are, this development is centered upon the human body. Paul shows us how important our physical bodies are in our salvation. It is in the body that the conflict of the ages comes to its fulfilment, that God proves Himself in us.
First, Paul has established every person descended from Adam under sin and in need of redemption. Those who have attempted to obey the law have demonstrated that the law saves no one. God cannot be pleased by human performance, but only by Christ in us. So now, Paul begins building the gospel with Abraham.
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith . . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who (Abraham), contrary to hope, in hope believed, . . . And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead . . , and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore, it was accounted to him for righteousness. Romans 4:13, 16-22
Abraham heard a word from God; He believed that word. He realized that his natural body could not fulfill that word. But he did not concern himself with the fact that his body could not bring forth life. Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised, He would perform. And it is upon this faith of Abraham that the gospel of Jesus Christ is built.
. . . shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4
The "just as" verses show us how much God wants us to be like Him, to walk as He walks. This is like Jesus walked as He is raised from the dead. The life that is in us is the raised-from-the-dead life of Jesus; we walk in that same life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:5-7
This is absolute truth. I am dead. I am freed from sin. That which needed to die, that fallen human spirit, the old man that permeated my whole being with sin and iniquity, that body of sin is dead. Everything in me that needed to die is ended. I know it.
I am free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also reckon (consider, put to your account, confess, believe, call it to be so) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:8-11
This last is one of the most important commandments of the gospel.
That which needed to die is dead. God commands us here to reckon that it is so. Yes, there is a battle to fight, an overcoming. But we are not putting the old man to death. We are not "dying to self" or dragging some part of our human person towards the cross, trying to get it nailed to the cross - and it jerks loose, and we hammer it back down, and it jerks loose, and we hammer it back down!
Listen, this is not the gospel. Romans 6:11 is God's command. That which needed to die is dead, ended - reckon it to be so, speak it to be so, and go on in your walk with God understanding that the cross is behind us. We go forward from the cross into the Holiest of all. We are not at war with our self. Christ lives in us. We do not choose between Christ and self. When we choose Christ, we choose our self, for we have no other life. We are alive unto God!!!
Paul then establishes, in Chapter 7, this principle of our death. He enters into the turmoil, the question that all of us struggle with. If I am free from sin, then why do I sin? If I am dead to sin and alive to God than why is this propensity to do what is wrong still so prevalent in me?
Paul does NOT allow us to take the path that so many Christians take, "Well, that's just what I am, a sinner saved by grace. I'm just waiting for heaven." No, Paul lays out here God's plan for the body.
First, Paul establishes this principle. God gave the law, not for us to overcome sin by "doing" what God says, but so that sin would become exceedingly sinful.
Then in Romans 7:15, For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do . . . But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
How do we interpret Paul's statement "in my flesh dwells no good thing"? The Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies; Christ is revealed in our flesh. This term "flesh" has two definitions. In my "flesh," that is, in the foolish belief that I am a self separate from God, with a life of my own, that God is one thing and I another, that I, separate from God must do what God says - in this fleshy way of thinking and living dwells no good thing.
Then in verse 20 Paul makes a difficult claim to contemplate. Paul says, Now,if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
I didn't do it! There is something in me that did it, and it's not me, it's separate from me. I am not responsible. There is this thing called "sin" still working from outside of me. Sin did it, not me.
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man (that's me)But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (warring against the law of God in me). Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord. So with the mind, I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin. Romans 7:22-25
(Understand that I wrote this article on my path into knowing Christ as my life. I would reference the second half of Romans 7 quite differently were I teaching it in the present. However, I leave this description here as a step along the path by which we are led to life.)
The mind, of course, is part of who we are, our soul. Paul is referring to me. I serve the law of God. But there is this law of sin still operating against my body.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (who do not walk imagining that they are some self separate from Christ). For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
Paul then talks about those who set their minds on the things of the flesh, to be carnally minded is death, the carnal mind that cannot please God.
Those who are in the flesh (that is, those who walk under an anointing from demons, imagining that they are separate from the Spirit of God) cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. . . Romans 8:8-9
We have the Spirit of God; therefore we know that we are not in the flesh but in the spirit. Thus Paul brings us to our present state. He has established that there is still the working of sin against our bodies - but there is no condemnation, it is not us doing it. That means we just live our lives not worrying about it!
You see, God has given us a glorious task, the opportunity to share in His triumph in a very personal and real way. We have these bodies; we do not escape them every moment of our lives. We know that this body, regardless of its faults and weaknesses, is the temple of Almighty God. We also know that God's purpose is that the life of Jesus be revealed in our bodies, in our mortal flesh.
Too many dear believers believe that sin against their bodies makes them in trouble with God. They believe they have to drag themselves to the cross over and over in order to be pleasing to God. But Paul makes it so very clear here. I didn't do it. I am with God. I am in the Spirit. And there is no condemnation because the law of the Spirit of life has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Of course, as Paul taught this to the churches, people accused him of saying, "Let's just go ahead and sin all we want, because it doesn't matter." Paul said, "You're missing my point entirely." Those who want to use Paul's teaching as a license for sin are not interested in what God is doing.
Paul is taking us toward the purpose of God, this glorious experience God has for us with our body. It is in our body that the will of God is proven, that God's power and strength and victory are demonstrated. How could we share in Jesus' victory if we did not have a dying body?
Having a weak human body is not a curse, it is our glory - as we see God's purpose for our bodies.
If Christ is in you (Christ who is our life, your life is hid with Christ in God), then the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10
Yes, our body is a dying body. It still has death working against it; nevertheless, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We give it to God as a living sacrifice. We do not despise the body, we do not curse or punish it. Sin is not in me, Christ is in me. When I look at me, I do not see sin; I see Christ!
I do not look at sin when I look at me. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6 that sin is outside my body; I am not responsible for it. That doesn't mean I don't ask forgiveness if I offend someone or that I don't look to God for the cleansing blood. But I walk in the certainty that I am not under any judgment against sin as long as I am walking with God in the Spirit, trusting in Him, keeping my confidence full. When I look at me, I don't see sin, I see Christ. Because at the same time life is in my spirit because of the righteousness of Jesus. He is my life.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
The Spirit of God lives in our bodies, and He is working, working, working with the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit, right now, is working to bring the very life of God into our dying body.
Now we say to ourselves, "Well that sounds wonderful, but I sure don't see it. My body is weak, it's tired, it's always wanting things that God says it's not supposed to have. It's always tripping me up, bringing me down. I don't see verse 11 happening in my body."
We read again these words, Abraham, not being weak in faith, did not consider his own body, already dead. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Here is our faith. We do not consider the deadness of our body. We consider only what God says. We do not go by the sight of our eyes or by the experience of our body. We go only by what God says. We groan, eagerly waiting for the culmination of this work of God in our bodies. It is not God's purpose that our bodies should just get old and die. That's not what the word says.
Not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead . . . Being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
God's purpose for our bodies right here and right now is LIFE!