Must Our Bodies Always Oppose God?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Ephesians 2:1-3

So far in Ephesians 2, we've heard plenty of bad news. We used to be dead in our trespasses and sins. We were in bondage to the evil ways of the world and to Satan.

Yet the doleful tidings aren't over. Verse 3 reveals that we were "gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts." It appears that our bodies are also involved in the conspiracy to oppose God and the life he seeks for us. This seems to support the view, common among many Christians, that our bodies are necessarily evil and the only true good is spiritual (that is, non-physical).

But this understanding of our bodies does not take into account the full revelation of Scripture. To be sure, our sinful, human flesh is the source of "cravings" and "desires" that lead us away from God. Yet, we must not forget that God created human bodies to be good, part of the original goodness of creation. In the end, God will raise us and our bodies will be restored, though in an imperishable form (see 1 Cor. 15:35-57).

In the meanwhile, we take seriously the power of our sinful flesh to lead us away from God's life. Yet, this does not mean our bodies are necessarily opposed to God. Consider Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 6, for example. There, he instructs those who were having sex with prostitutes to stop. Why should they not sin with their bodies? Because their bodies are "temples of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, the Corinthians should "honor God with [their] bodies" (1 Cor. 6:20).

There is something inherent in our bodies that resists God, to be sure. But God is in the redemption business. He is redeeming, not just our spirits, but also our bodies, that we might use them for his purposes and glory.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What "cravings" and "desires" of the flesh do you struggle with in your life? In what ways do you glorify God with your body?

PRAYER: Gracious God, even though I have been saved by your grace, I can still feel the cravings of my sinful flesh luring me to turn away from your life. Help me, I pray, to desire you more than anything else I might want. Give me the strength to resist when my flesh tempts me to sin.

May I live each day with the understanding that my body is a temple of your Spirit. May I honor you, not just with my mind and heart, but also with my body. Amen.