Christ – the resurrected Lord – lives on within the heart and life of the true believer. We have a strong stewardship responsibility to take care of our body – God’s Temple. As Christians we must realize that if anything is to be done on Earth for Jesus it must be done by us. We think in Spiritual terms, but while on Earth we act through our physical bodies. Whether we are spreading the Good News, ministering to the poor and sick, or helping our fellow Christians, we need our physical bodies. So if we are to be effective Christians we must do everything in our power and control to care for our bodies. Medically we know that 75% of all chronic health problems are due to poor choices we make about how to care for our bodies. We also know that people who maintain good health habits - eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise daily, do not smoke or do drugs – have less health problems (less heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, etc.), take fewer medications, and spend less time at the doctor’s office and hospital. Therefore, they are better able to do the work of God on Earth. We are not made into “better” Christians by being healthy, but, the healthy Christian can do the work of God better. So realizing that your “body is God’s Temple” is a key step to acknowledging why as a Christian you MUST take your health seriously and do everything in your power to care for your body.
In 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 Paul makes very clear to the Christians in Corinth that the body does matter. The Corinthians believed that since they were Christians all that mattered was their spiritual state. As long as they believed in Jesus their sins of the flesh did not matter. They believed that when they died their bodies would be destroyed and the Spirit would be raised. Therefore, anything done with their bodies did not matter spiritually. The sin the Corinthians were actually committing was sleeping with prostitutes, but, this is just one example how their belief in the body/spirit separation leads to sinning. In verses 12-20 Paul makes the argument that how Christians treat their body does matter to God. In verse 13 Paul says “The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.” In 12:15 he states that “Your bodies are members of Christ.” Here Paul uses the word “Christ” to refer to the Christian community. He is making the point that each Christian, in his or her daily life, makes up the various body parts of the Christian community and through them Christ’s work on Earth is performed and the personality of Christ is expressed. Anything that is to be done on Earth for Christ must be done by individual Christians, using our God given flesh and blood bodies. With these bodies the lost are witnessed to, the sick are comforted and the poor are uplifted.
In order for us to effectively do the work of Christ on Earth we must keep ourselves as healthy as possible. Satan will attack us both spiritually AND physically, knowing that if a Christian can be made ineffective in the world through physical illness, less good will be accomplished in the name of Jesus. Knowing this, we must make sure that we do not do anything to our bodies that will increase the chances of illness and lead to physical destruction such as eating too much (gluttony), drinking too much, taking harmful chemicals into our body by smoking or doing drugs, and not keeping ourselves physically fit (slothfulness). Paul concludes this section in verses 18-20 by saying “the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."