PRESERVING OUR BODY
In addition to knowing how to preserve our spirit and our soul, we must also know how to preserve our body. Sin has damaged and ruined our body. For this reason, Romans 6:6 says that our body is a “body of sin.” Furthermore, we have presented the members of our fallen body to sin, to evil, to lawlessness. Romans 6:19 says, “You presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness unto lawlessness.” For instance, in gambling a person presents his hands to things that are sinful and unclean.
In Romans 7:24 Paul goes on to say that our body is a body of death: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” Then in Romans 8:10 Paul points out that although the spirit is life because of righteousness, “the body is dead because of sin.”
If we would preserve our body, we should live a life that never follows the old man, that never follows our soul. Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him that the body of sin might be made of none effect, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves.” If we do not follow the old man, the body of sin will be made of none effect. This means that the body of sin will lose its job and become unemployed. But if we live according to the soul, we shall use our body to serve the old man. Therefore, to preserve our body first requires that we do not live according to our soul.
Second, to preserve our body requires that we not present any member of our body to anything that is sinful. For example, we should keep our eyes away from evil pictures and our ears from unclean things. Many things that are broadcast over the radio are defiling. A number of saints have testified that they cannot bear to listen to certain talk among those at school or at work because that talk is so evil. Many people of the world are able to speak concerning sinful things without any sense of shame. Thus, we need to keep our body from seeing and hearing things that will contaminate and ruin it. This is to preserve our body in sanctification.
Paul illustrates the importance of preserving our body in this way by giving in chapter four the charge to abstain from fornication. To abstain from fornication is to preserve our vessel, our body, in sanctification and honor. Therefore, in order to preserve our body, we should not present our members to anything sinful.
Today’s world is full of contamination and defilement. This makes it very difficult for us to preserve our body. Wherever we go there are defiling elements. Parents need to train their children, even those in elementary school, to keep away from these contaminating elements. Any parent who thinks that children should be allowed to be tested in order to develop resistance is seriously mistaken and in the future will regret this course of action. The parents who follow this way in caring for their children surely will reap the harvest of what they have sown.
As an elderly person, I can testify that we need to preserve our body. Do not think that as you grow older you will not need to guard yourself from lust and defilement. As long as we have not been transfigured and still remain in the old creation, we need to preserve our body.
To preserve our body is actually very difficult. It is much easier to preserve our spirit and our soul than to preserve our body. The most difficult thing for us to do in this defiling, contaminating world is to preserve our body. We need to be careful not to look at anything, listen to anything, or touch anything that will defile our body.
OUR COOPERATION WITH GOD’S OPERATION
In 5:12-24 we see the cooperation of the holy life with the divine operation. In verses 12 through 22 we have the believers’ cooperation in living a spiritual and separated life. In verses 23 and 24 we have God’s operation in sanctifying and preserving the believers. God desires to sanctify us wholly and to preserve our spirit, soul, and body complete. However, we need to cooperate with Him. The way to cooperate is to rejoice, pray unceasingly, give thanks to Him in everything, not quench the Spirit, and not despise prophesying in the church meetings. If we cooperate in this way, our spirit will be preserved from deadness, our soul will be preserved from pollution in mind, will, and emotion, and our body will be preserved from the defilement of this age. Then in a practical way we shall have a holy life for the church life. Paul’s aim in writing 1 Thessalonians, a book for new believers, was that they would live such a sanctified and holy life for the church life.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 24, by Witness Lee)