Our health-related behaviors can easily become influenced by the ways of the world – the ways of the unbeliever. We can also be influenced, in a negative way, by other Christians.
Social norms and the practices of those around us can be so influential that our ways and habits can end up being indistinguishable from those who are not followers of Jesus.
But, as Christians, we are called to be holy – set apart from the unbeliever, in all our ways. “For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”" 1 Peter 1:16
This applies to what we eat and how we care – or don’t care – for our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Living God. I confess that this applies to my life too.
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and 2 Corinthians 7:1
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
To be separate from the world, and its practices, does not apply only to blatant sinful behaviors such as those that Paul speaks of – “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21) This ought to extend to how we spend our money, how we use our time, and how we attend to our health.
We are each called to “work out” out own salvation. (Philippians 12:2) Part of ‘working out’ our salvation is to become more and more set apart from the ways of the world. As we are aware that what we are doing is sinful, then we are instructed in God’s Word to purify ourselves of this type of behavior.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 2 Corinthians 6:19-20
So, in light of the verse above and Romans 12:1, here’s a few key questions we each ought to ask ourselves. Is habitually eating food and drinking beverages that are not good for our bodies a sin? Is being slothful, being inactive, a sin? Is eating more calories than we expend in physical activity – and putting on a lot of excess weight – a sin? Is repeatedly engaging in any unhealthy behavior a sin?
Sit with those questions for a minute. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to them.
If these unhealthy behaviors are sinful, why do we continue in our sin?
Have you been, like I have, so influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of others – even by those in the body of Christ, the church - that it’s affected your attitude concerning these behaviors? It’s an easy thing to do. It’s easy to become complacent. I think that the church at large has become complacent with this issue. The term ‘sloppy grace’ could apply here.
The more removed we are from the events of Holy Week, and what Jesus did on the Cross, and the less frequently we think about God’s holiness, and his call for us to be holy, the easier it is for us to be lulled into behaviors that do not honor Him and His temple, our bodies.
Another motivator to caring for our bodies in ways that are different than the unbelievers is that it’s a good witness. Others will see in us behaviors that are different. Those who know that we are Christians may connect the dots between our behavior and our faith. Those who may not know about our faith may ask why we have the lifestyle habits that we have, and we can explain our motivation for caring for our bodies.
This post is not meant to be a scolding, it’s meant to be a reminder and an encouragement. And I need the reminder as much as many of you might need it.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17
So fellow Christ-follower, I encourage you to be connected with at least one other person who is like-minded about this issue so that he/she may encourage you and hold you accountable. So that he/she challenges you to grow and be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ.
And you don’t have to do this in your own self effort. The Holy Spirit, within you, will help you do this! He is faithful.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18