Updated: Jul 15
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God referred to our bodies as temples because of the significance and symbolism of the metaphor. Temples were well known in Biblical days and had special significance to new Christians from Jewish backgrounds. The temple was a place of sacrifice, for prayer and praise, for dedications, for remembering the Law, fellowship of believers, and the revelation of God. How does each of these aspects play into our health?
Health is more than physical wellbeing or the absence of diseases; the five aspects of holistic health are spiritual, mental, emotional, social, and physical. Spiritual health is your purpose or motivation in life. Mental health is your cognitive function, usage of the brain, and your thinking patterns. Emotional health is your mood and encompasses how well you recognize, express, and control emotions. Social health is the ability to make and maintain meaningful relationships. Physical health is the body and if it is free of disease and injury.
Read the first Installment:
TABLE OF CONTEXT
Why did the Israelites sacrifice burnt offerings to God? In Leviticus 1:9 it says, “He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”
The sacrificed animal would go up in smoke and that smoke was a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Sacrifices pleased God and were made to renew the relationship between a Holy God and a sinful man. The temple, the dwelling place of God, is the perfect place to sacrifice an animal because he is in the vicinity to smell it.
Today, we no longer need to present animal sacrifices, because when Jesus died on the cross He became the ultimate sacrifice. We use him to reach God. Jesus didn’t eliminate sacrifices but changed them.
Hebrews 13:15-16 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise一the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews says our new sacrifices are praise and good works. They reach God through Jesus who is in us.
What are good deeds? Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith一and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God一not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When God saved us, we were changed. The Holy Spirit entered us and brought us back to God. It restored the image of God in us and freed us to become who we were created to be. The Holy Spirit prompts us to do things that glorify God. Those things are good works.
Does brushing your teeth glorify God? Is wearing sunscreen a good work? Does taking the stairs instead of the elevator glorify God? Is loving your body a good deed? Does eating carrots glorify God? Is taking care of yourself a good deed?
Why wouldn’t it be?
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godーthis is your spiritual act of worship.” Our spiritual act of worship is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. In other words, the true nature of our service to God is to offer our daily life to God.
Our daily life includes our habits, thoughts, and the things we do with our body一like snacking, exercise, journaling, sitting, water consumption, complaining, sugar intake, praying, walking, caffeine intake, etc. Taking a two-mile walk every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will please God more than drinking four cans of Mtn Dew every day, because having healthy habits and taking care of his creation, our bodies, glorifies God.
Romans 6: 13 says, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”
Just like in the Old Testament when an animal sacrifice made an aroma pleasing to God and tried to right our relationship with him, a daily life lived for God pleases him and is part of our reconciliation.
Our body is a temple or a place of sacrifice. For a Christian, a sacrifice is praising God, good works that glorify God, and a daily routine that pleases God. Our deepest motive must be to please the Lord. Everything we do is to fulfill our relationship with God, and that should include having healthy habits.
For Prayer and Praise
“‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’’” Matthew 21:13
“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7
God wanted his temple to be a house of prayer, a place where his followers could praise and worship. In the Old Testament, the only place the Israelites could talk to God was in the temple where he dwelled. When Jesus died, the temple veil, which separated God from the people, was torn in two. This signified that Jesus' sacrifice was a sufficient atonement for sins. God was no longer restricted to the Holy of Holies but could dwell in all people through the Holy Spirit.
Since we are the temple of God, he dwells in us and we can talk to God anywhere, at any time, and under any condition. Prayer is more than talking to God. It intimately connects us to God and makes us aware of his presence. Praying is a way to strengthen our relationship with God, to worship God, to thank God, to recognize Him for who He is, and to ask for God’s will to be done. When we pray we can also intercede for others, asking God to help those around us. The different forms of prayer are lament, praise, and worship.
One form of prayer is lament. According to Mark Vroepog, lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. To lament is to express deep sorrow, regret, or grief. When praying this way, the key elements are turn, complaint, ask, and trust. First address God; acknowledge his presence and cry out to him. Second, complain in blunt, clear terms about what is wrong. By doing this, you acknowledge the Gospel and that fact that isn’t not working in this situation. Next, ask for God’s intervention. Seek the fulfillment of the Gospel. And lastly, trust that God has a plan. Lament is a Christian’s path to joy. It is a tool to get you to rejoice about a situation you previously mourned.
Prayer is a way to praise God. Praising God is thanking God for anything and everything. Christians can also praise God by singing, dancing, and shouting. King David praised God this way in 2 Samuel 6:14,15 when the ark returned to Jerusalem.
Worship is a form of prayer. What does it mean to worship? In the Christian faith, worship means to align your heart with God’s and to make his will your will. John 4:23-24 says, “The hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
When the Bible says the truth, it is referring to the Gospel or the word of God. John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” In other words, John 4 is saying to worship God in the gospel or the word of God. The word of God is his will; we must worship him by aligning our hearts with God’s will.
Worship comes in many forms. The Greek word for worship, therapeuo, can also be translated to serve or heal. In Acts 16:14, Luke uses the word sébomai, which means to revere or adore. The word proskuneó in 1 Corinthians 14:25 means to pay homage.
The only prerequisite to worship is that your heart is in the right place. What comes after that can take different forms including service, healing, honoring, reverence, or adoration to God. In other words, worship is not just singing and isn’t reserved for Sunday church service, but everyday life.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God一this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is一his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
As we talked about in the previous section, Of Sacrifice, Romans 12:1 says our daily lives are our sacrifices to God一that is worshiping him. Romans 1:2 goes on to state, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Worshiping God or aligning our will with his renews our mind aka our mental health.
If we align our cognitive function, the usage of the brain, and our thinking patterns with that of God's, our mental health should improve. I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude that Paul is saying prayer and worship improves your mental health.
For example, when I had an eating disorder I often lied to myself about how I looked, what I needed to eat, and my self-worth. My thinking patterns were negative, degrading, and self-absorbed. Through my recovery, I was constantly taking thoughts captive, thoughts that didn’t serve the Lord. The more I aligned my mind with who the gospel told me I was, the better I got.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t seek professional help or medical intervention if we have a mental illness. Sometimes mental and emotional issues are bigger than a simple realignment. When mental and emotional health issues are a result of spiritual health, professional help must be sought.
Notice the Bible never says, “cleanse your emotions” or “have the feelings of Christ.” but always talks about the mind of Christ. Emotions can be deceiving and require a strong mind to manage them. Where the mind goes the will goes and the emotions go. God didn’t design you to be ruled by your emotions.
Our body is a temple or a house of prayer. We can talk to God whenever and wherever we want; no need to go to a temple, synagogue, or church. Lament, praise, and worship are all tools we can use to conform our hearts to God’s will and improve our mental health.