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What Does the Bible Say About Health? Why Compare Our Bodies to a Temple?

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


Of Sacrifice

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.


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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.


Further Reading:

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.

Further Reading:


For Dedication and Concentration

According to Merriam-Webster, dedicate means “to devote to the worship of a divine being,” “to set apart to a definite use,” or “to commit to a goal or way of life.” The temple was dedicated to God and used to make commitments to him.


Temple building is used to worship God and further God’s kingdom. In 2 Chronicles 7:1-10 King Solomon dedicates the first temple to God. The Israelites meant for it to be a place that God could dwell and a place they could sacrifice to him.


Recently my church opened its doors for children of parents who couldn’t do virtual school. The families that used their service weren’t all from our church. It was our way of ministering to the community and meeting a need. We showed the love of God using our church building.


The temple can also be a place to dedicate people or objects. When a new baby is born, the church often has a dedication. The purpose of infant dedication is for the parents, child, and congregation. The parents and church congregation promise to raise the baby Biblically, teaching God’s ways. The dedication signifies that this child has a purpose in God’s kingdom.


In 1 Samuel 1:21-28, Hannah dedicates Samuel to the work of the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:26-28 says, “and she said to him, ‘As surely as you live, my Lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshiped the Lord there.”


The reason weddings usually take place in churches is because the temple was a place to make commitments. In some marriage vows, it says “Before God and these witnesses.” God made marriage reflect his perfect relationship with himself.


Our body is a temple or a place dedicated to God. Our bodies are set apart to serve God. Just like every Christian has a different calling in life, their bodies have a calling - which oftentimes plays into their overall calling. Tim Tebow’s body must serve him as he serves in the NFL. Your body’s calling could be as simple as keeping up with your kids.

For Remembering the Law of the Lord

It was common and customary for the Israelites to read the Torah in the temple on the Sabbath. Luke 4:16-21 says, “He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”


The law was kept at the temple. 1 Kings 8:9 says, “There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.”


Reading the Bible, both the old testament and the new testament, is important in the Christian faith. It answers life's important philosophical questions like “where do I go after I die?” or “what is the meaning of life?” The Bible also gives us guidance as to how we should live our lives, like how to find a spouse and how to raise children.

The Bible gives us the measuring stick to discern truth and error. We need to study it so we can distinguish between false teachers and gospel-inspired teachings. By reading the Bible, we can learn and understand God better. God’s and mankind’s nature does not change. We can learn from Biblical examples and characters and apply their experience to our lives.


“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4


Our body is a temple or a place for remembering the law of God. What does that have to do with health? Remembering the law of the Lord is crucial to our spiritual health. Spiritual health is your purpose or motivation in life. What is our purpose in life? God’s purpose. How do we know his purpose? By reading the Bible.

Fellowship of Believers

One of the old testament sacrifices was called the fellowship or peace offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34). The act was voluntary and was named after the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace or wholeness. The fellowship offering was the only sacrifice where the offerer eats a part of the animal.

The fellowship offering was given to express peace and fellowship between the people and God, which is why the act resulted in a communal meal. God received the fatty portions of the cow, sheep, or goat when the priest burned them on the altar. The priest received the breast and right thigh while the offerer ate the rest of the animal.

The temple was a place of fellowship. During the three annual festivals, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering, the Israelites would offer a fellowship offering and eat with each other.


Today, we don’t present a fellowship offering at the temple, but we do hang out with each other, at church and elsewhere. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” God has called us to do life together.


What is Christian fellowship? It is a relationship between two or more believers that is beneficial to all parties involved. Like the trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, true fellowship is complete unity. We are united with one another around common beliefs, purposes, and goals. Christians don’t just have friends, they have partners, allies, and comrades.


Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”


Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Hebrews 10:24,25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another一and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”


A relationship between two believers is symbiotic. That is, both parties have something to gain from it. Christian fellowship is also synergistic一when the interaction of two elements creates an effect greater than the effect that would have resulted in by simply adding the two elements together. In other words, two plus two equals five.


When two Christians get married, it’s because they can further God’s kingdom better together than apart, whether that be by raising children, doing missionary work, or by simply witnessing to those around them.



Our body is a temple or a place to fellowship with other believers. One of God’s motivations behind creating us was to be in fellowship with Him and in turn, in fellowship with other believers. We are social creatures by design and having fruitful relationships are part of a healthy lifestyle. Those with the ability to make and maintain meaningful relationships, with other believers or with nonbelievers, are socially healthy.

Further Reading:

Revelation of God

In the old testament covenant, God dwelled in the temple and the prophets spoke God’s truth to his people. The temple was divided into three sections: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. After Solomon dedicated the temple, God occupied the Most Holy Place. 2 Chronicles 7:2 says, “The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it.”


The ark of the covenant rested in the Most Holy Place and was considered the throne of God. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle blood on the ark of the covenant to atone for the sins of the people.

The prophets were responsible for revealing the word of God to his people. For example, Isaiah taught the Israelites about the present and warned them about the future. He rebuked God’s people for the corruption of the day and prophesied about the glory of Israel's future.


Isaiah 25:8 says, “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from the earth. The Lord has spoken.”

In the new testament covenant, God dwells in us and we speak God’s truth. After Jesus ascended to heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in his believers. Acts 2:4 says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”


The Holy Spirit is here to help us. He seals our salvation and intercedes on our behalf. He comforts, regenerates, and renews believers. The Holy Spirit gives us hope, wisdom, and joy. He helps us grow as Christians and is a vital part of our sanctification. It is through him that we receive our spiritual gifts.


One of the gifts listed in the gospels is the spiritual gift of prophecy. A Christian can listen and hear from God; they can foretell the revelations of God. That means there are still prophets today; prophecy isn’t reserved for the select few. Anyone can prophesy, though some people do it more frequently than others.


Our body is a temple or a place for the revelation of God. What are the revelations of God? Revelation “in theology refers to information that comes from God to reveal the truth about Himself or ourselves and the world around us.”


What does that have to do with our health? Similar to knowing the law of God, the truth of God is crucial to our spiritual health. Upon becoming a Christian, God’s will becomes our will and his purpose becomes our purpose. How do we know our purpose? By reading God’s word. How do we carry out our purpose? Through the revelation of God from the Holy Spirit.

Further Reading:

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