Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness
(Isaiah 40, Matthew 15, 1 Corinthians 3, John 5)
Introduction: Is there a difference between good ideas and Godly ideas? Is everything that makes common sense required by God? For example, is it a sin to drive without wearing a seat belt? If you say, "yes," is it a sin to buy an old car when new cars have numerous safety systems? If you say, "yes," is it a sin to buy a small car because large cars are demonstrably safer in an accident? If you say, "yes," then is it a sin to buy any car other than a Mercedes Benz S-Class - which is probably the safest large car in the world? What about our decisions on activities that do not cost us Mercedes money? These behaviors have an impact on death: 1)tobacco; diet/exercise; alcohol; microbial agents; toxic agents; firearms; sexual behavior; motor vehicles; illicit use of drugs. Are decisions in each of these areas a matter of righteousness and sin? Let's plunge into the Bible and see what God suggests!
- Bird Health
- Read Isaiah 40:30-31. Exercise is high on our list of decisions which have a clear impact on health. What kind of exercise is involved in these verses? (Flying, running, walking.)
- No one ever told me I should fly for exercise. Are we talking about physical exercise in this text? (We know we cannot fly like an eagle, so the references to soaring, walking and running must be spiritual (or at least psychological) rather than physical.)
- Let's assume that I am wrong, and we are talking about physical health. What does the text say gives us this physical health? Is it spending each morning in the gym? (No. "Hope in the Lord," gives these benefits.)
- What does "hope in the Lord" mean? (Trusting God.)
- Read Luke 12:22-26. In this second bird comparison, what is the connection between worry about our physical well-being and length of life? (None. Ravens do not plant food, reap food or store food - yet they eat.)
- Is this an instruction to be lazy? (I doubt it. The two bird comparisons have the same point: trust God. Perhaps we should reorder the list of things that prolong the quality and quantity of life and put "trust God" at the head of the list.)
- Mind and Body
- Read Job 14:5, Psalms 55:23, and Exodus 20:12. As you consider the statement in Job, do you think that his unhappy statement is about specific persons or a general statement about the human life-span?
- If you take all three texts together, what is the primary key to long-life? (Our life-span is in God's hands. It appears to be more a spiritual matter than a physical matter. This reinforces our original conclusion about trusting God.)
- Read Matthew 15:15-20. How does Jesus compare our body with our mind? (What we think and say is much more important that what we eat.)
- Read Matthew 15:12-14. What did Jesus call those who placed their emphasis on eating? ("Blind guides!")
- Context is very important. Read Matthew 15:1-2 to see what triggered these remarks by Jesus. What does the context teach us about Jesus' remarks. (Jesus' statements are very broad, but what caused them was a hygiene dispute, rather than a dispute over diet.)
- After the texts we have read, we might conclude that our physical health is of no spiritual importance. Is that true? What does 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 suggest?(Our body is where the Holy Spirit lives. Therefore we need to keep our body in good order.)
- Does the text tell us how to do this? (No. It is not clear what we are to do to preserve our body.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-13. In the introduction, we discussed the difference between good ideas and what is required for righteousness. What does Paul say about diet here? (He makes that same distinction. Something may be "permissible" (meaning, "not sin"), but not a good idea (not beneficial).)
- What is the ultimate end of food and diet? (God will destroy both.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:13-20. We now see what Paul means by taking care of our "temple" and not destroying it. Does Paul's instruction have anything to do with diet and fitness? (No. Paul tells us that sexual immorality is inconsistent with the Holy Spirit living in our "temple." Christians often refer to their "temple" with regard to diet, smoking or fitness, but Paul specifically says he is not writing about food.)
- Supernatural Intervention
- There is much scientific evidence that diet and exercise increase the quality and quantity of life. In Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 11 and Leviticus 17:13-15 God gives advice on diet. Has what we have discussed so far given us reason to ignore that advice?
- Read Genesis 6:7-8. If you could choose to be Noah or someone who had a great diet and worked out every morning, which would you choose? (Your life expectancy would be much longer if you chose to be Noah.)
- You know the story of the destruction of Sodom. Read Genesis 19:12-13. What would be your life expectancy if you were not related to Lot? (Short.)
- Read 1 Chronicles 10:13. Why did Saul die? (Because of unfaithfulness to God.
- We have read three texts (and there are many more) that record that God supernaturally intervenes to take the life of some humans. What does this teach us about physical and spiritual fitness? (We have to keep the spiritual and physical in proper perspective. God cares about what we eat. He cares a lot more about our spiritual fitness.)
- How do we become spiritually fit?
- Spiritual Diet and Fitness
- Read John 6:51 and John 6:53-58. What is the miracle diet for eternal life?
- Is this actual food? (Jesus says it is "real food" and "real drink" but I think He means the principles are real, not that we are cannibals.)
- Read Leviticus 17:11-12. How do you think Jesus' listeners reacted to His statements? (The Jewish leaders would have thought He was advocating something that was prohibited by God!)
- I need some practical help here. What does it really mean to eat Jesus' flesh and drink His blood? (Think again about Leviticus. Life is in the blood. By accepting Jesus' blood (death on the cross) we look to Him for salvation. We look to Jesus for guidance and protection (the trust we discussed earlier). We must eat and drink to live. Jesus teaches us that we should be as constant in seeking Him as we are in seeking food and water.)
- Read 1 John 5:12 and John 5:24-25. If you want to live a long and healthy life, what is the formula? (We "cross over" from our life here on earth to eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Savior!)
- Friend, a healthy diet and exercise are very good ideas which will likely increase the quality and extend the quality of your life. I am a vegetarian and I walk the beach in the morning. When I lived closer to the university, I used to ride my bike to work for exercise. I take the stairs instead of the elevator. However, these good ideas for physical fitness pale in comparison with the importance of spiritual fitness which frees us from worry, and allows us (right now) to cross over to eternal life. Will you commit right now, to eternal life and health?
- Next week: The Water of Life.