Scripture is replete with instruction to believers about glorifying God. None is more explicit than that found in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth: “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 . . .” (6:19, 20a). As a consequence of this biblical emphasis, many give much lip service to glorifying God, but how much thought or devotion have we given to this essential exercise? And by what means can we truly glorify (to render [or esteem] glorious) God? Our text provides the first of several answers we will be surveying over the next several weeks: “Therefore glorify God in your body.”
We glorify God by dedicating our bodies to Him. We begin with this means of glorifying God for two reasons. First, it is the reason attached to the specific command to believers to glorify God. And, second, it establishes at the outset that glorifying God is not a nebulous concept. The command is concrete and specific; its demands and their proper fulfillment can be nailed down in the real world. Right from the beginning, Paul eradicates the notion that glorifying God is some amorphous concept touching only the invisible spirit and consequently unable to be seen or measured in any practical way. Banish that thought, Paul says in effect: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . and ye are not your own [including your body].”
Just what Paul may mean by “your body” is not left to interpretation either. For just prior to this declaration, he has spoken specifically about those whose bodily activities evidence their sinfulness and alienation from God. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (vv. 9, 10). Clearly, dedicating our bodies to the Lord requires that we eschew such flagrant sins. But it does not end there. For Paul continues: “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (v. 13). Paul is certainly concerned with the sensual activities that were so prevalent in Corinth. And though he is emphasizing these sins both because of their prevalence and their particular destructiveness, he is not limiting bodily dedication to a mere avoidance of these sins. For when he says “meats for the belly,” etc., he is clearly making reference to all that pertains to the natural body. And in the succeeding passage, he goes on to discuss marriage, explaining that this God-ordained use of the body must be engaged with godly wisdom and care.
In so many words, Paul explains that God is to be glorified by the choices we make that involve our bodies. Where we go, and where we refuse to go should glorify God. What we do, and what we avoid doing should glorify God. What we say and what we refrain from saying should glorify God. What we eat, and what we avoid eating should glorify God. How and when we work, and how and when we rest should glorify God. These are all activities that involve the use of our bodies in practical ways. And, Paul would remind us, glorifying God is a very practical activity. For although to truly glorify God, we must begin with our hearts and minds, such a beginning has a very practical end that is expressed through our bodies. Genuine heart religion is ultimately eye-ear-mouth-hand-foot religion. “With my body I thee worship” was once the vow of many a bridegroom on his wedding day. It was a promise that he would honor his marriage vows in practical and measurable ways. May it be so with us and our Bridegroom.
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