There are a lot of things that make up the "physical" part of our lives. For the sake of Biblical Minimalism simplification, we will divide them all into two basic categories —the physical body and tangible, material, physical possessions.
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14
Before we go a step farther, let me reiterate once again that I have NOT arrived, and I fall very short of God's glory. I fail miserably. I see the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, but I am nowhere near attaining to it. As I weigh myself (pun somewhat intended!) against the Word of God and how I should be as a follower and lifetime disciple of Jesus Christ, I feel pretty hopeless. I long to be like Jesus and walk in His footsteps, but there is still so much excess in my life that holds me back and hinders me from being "all-in." I am working on it, though, and just the pressing toward that mark gives me a sense of hope.
One of the key points in these verses is to forget those things which are behind. Today is a new day. We are starting a new page. Never mind the times we have tried and failed in the past. We are going to forget about what happened yesterday. God has forgiven us, and we are going to forgive ourselves and move forward. No more wasted energy on regret and wishing we had done things differently. God's grace covers all, and we are going to walk in the light He is shedding on our path.
Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
Sometimes, we see the excess in our lives, and we are paralyzed from doing anything about it because we simply do not know where to start or how to begin.
Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Finding the truth and facing up to it are the first steps toward making a change. This requires a great deal of courage because uncovering the knowledge of where we really stand can be intimidating and overwhelming. Ignorance can be bliss, but life cannot be improved if we insist upon burying our heads in the sand and not owning what is real. There is real freedom in knowing the truth and embracing it for what it is.
Our Physical Bodies
This is a subject that many of us try to avoid. Yet, next to the spiritual slice of the Whole-Person Pie© it is the most important and comprehensive part of us.
We obviously only get one body to go through this life, and sadly there are no do-overs. It is human nature to make allowances for excess in this category because we tell ourselves it is "our" body, and the things we do concerning our physical bodies only affects us and that we aren't hurting anyone else by indulging in sinful or abusive behavior. As Christians, we could not be more wrong in making these justifications.
I Corinthians 6:19,20 says, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Jesus paid the ultimate price for our redemption, and when we choose to follow Him, He deserves a whole-person surrender, with nothing held back.
We live in a day that the prophets of old only longed for and saw from afar.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13
They saw, through prophetic eyes of faith, what you and I have the great privilege of experiencing. In their day, God's glory would come down and fill a building, but He promised us something greater.
"Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Ezekiel 37:26-27
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." Acts 17:24,25
"For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, 7:1
The Temple of God
Words and Music by Daniel S. Warner & Barney E. Warren
Not in the temples made with hands,
Though beautiful by art,
But God in mercy condescends
To dwell within my heart.
Oh, glory to Jesus so sweet in me,
My body, Thy temple shall forever be.
How wonderful that He would take
This poor abode of sin,
And wash me in His precious blood,
And now abide within.
No more I think of God afar,
But see Thee, Lord, within;
Oh, shine in me, Thou morning star,
And keep Thy temple clean.
O Lord, enshrined within my breast,
My constant joy and peace;
My soul can now forever rest,
Secure in Thy embrace.
No longer do we view God from afar, but we see our Lord within! When we present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, we relinquish total control to Him and our bodies literally become the sanctuary in which He dwells. What a glorious thought and revelation to know that the very Holy Spirit of God lives within these mortal bodies!
What a glorious thought, yes, but what a sobering thought, at the same time. Imagine how differently we would live our lives, moment by moment, choice by choice, if we lived with the continual realization that the spirit of God is ALIVE inside of us, looking out upon every single thing we do, hearing every single word we speak, knowing every single thought we think, and observing every single thing we allow to come in to His temple! Would we not be more careful? What would we do differently? With these thoughts in mind, what do you readily identify that needs to be cut off and minimized from the physical slice of your "Whole-Person Pie"?
I Corinthians 3:16, 17 says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
There are countless ways we can abuse our physical bodies, thus defiling the temple of God. When I think of this, the first things that come to my mind are blatant sins and unhealthy habits that need to be laid aside and minimized, such as smoking cigarettes that have been proven to damage the lungs and heart; drinking alcoholic/intoxicating beverages that impair thinking, cloud judgment, stun senses, damage the liver/stomach/other organs; using illegal drugs that alter brain activity, cause aggressive behavior, modify personality, cause strokes and heart attacks, and inflict irreparable damage to all bodily systems; abusing prescription narcotic drugs that are addictive and lead to all sorts of health repercussions; participating in illicit/adulterous/unBiblical sexual relationships and activity; and pornography. Of course, this "off-the-top-of-my-head" list is far from exhaustive, and there are many other individual acts of disobedience to God's Word that, if participated in, are detrimental to the temple in which God dwells.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
It is one thing to identify those "off-the-top-of-our-heads" issues and sins, but what about the "weights" that need to be laid aside? Common sense things like overeating/gluttony, eating foods that are damaging to our physical health, not taking care of our bodies the way we should, carrying around excess literal "weight" in the form of obesity, not exercising, slothfulness, laziness, not getting enough sleep, depriving our bodies of nutritious foods, overindulgence in stimulants, salt, etc.
This is where it cuts close, and I will be the first to tell you, that my heart is heavily convicted right now. As God reveals things to include in the Biblical Minimalism Bible Study Guide that will accompany the book "Biblical Minimalism©", my heart is very stirred, and I am very much in need of His forgiveness and grace. I feel very unworthy to write the book at all, for I fall so incredibly short. I am learning and repenting as I go and doing my utmost to correct the areas in which I so sorely lack.
We will delve into the physical category more deeply in the next post. I hope you will stay tuned!