Thomas Cosmades




Human Body



By Thomas Cosmades

More than any other creature, humans are corporeal entities. While created in the image and after the likeness of the Maker, we are primarily recognized by our physical appearance.  Man is a spiritual and mental being, and also a physical phenomenon. Such is our composition.  This puzzling makeup has led a vast number of people to think of humans as bodily realities alone.  From the day that man appeared on earth humans have sought an explanation concerning other areas of our being than the physical.  Thinkers and philosophers have wrestled to find answers to our identity.  Ancient religions gave much time and space to this question; Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Grecian and all other systems of thought delved into the question of the human structure.

 This study will approach the physical part of us humans since there have been erroneous teachings and heresies regarding our physical and spiritual existence.  Many views have strayed from the rationale of the overall makeup of man.

 Right at the outset of the Christian faith we encounter Gnosticism, which actually has its roots in ancient Hellenistic religions.  With the appearance of Christianity Gnosticism found a fresh challenge to its mode of interpreting the secrets of the human body.  In a broader perception Gnosticism regards matter as being contaminated and evil.  Against this speculation the spirit is supposed to be pure and undefiled.  This school of thought stretched its stance so far as to deny anything of good and commendable in the physical essence of man.  By virtue of this teaching the principal reality about the incarnation was rejected: “The Word became flesh” (John 1:4).  Jesus would not have assumed impure flesh; therefore the teaching of the incarnation deserves to be dismissed.  Gnosticism gave birth to Docetism, which teaching not only subverted the reality of the incarnation but also the physical miracles of Christ, his atoning offer on the Cross and naturally, his resurrection.  The home of Docetism was in Alexandria, Egypt, where it even influenced some early Christians such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen.  Later manifestations of this precept are to be found in Apollonianism, Eutychianism, and Monophysitism. 

 Within the realm of current religious views, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and on a wider scale, Hari Krishna, Transcendental Meditation, and New Age bear some relation to the precursor of misguided views on man and his physical makeup.  For all these interpretations there is no concern about sin since the body is not the prime consideration here.  Against all teachers of this ilk the apostle Paul could boldly declare, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead”   (I Corinthians 15:20, 21).

 The letters of John are God’s inspired refutation of all kinds of notions proliferating the earth during these turbulent times.  We are living in a period of history when the human body is being battered by an alarming spectrum of iniquitous practices: sexual deviations of unimaginable dimension which make the hosts of angels cry, destructive intakes such as narcotics, alcohol, nicotine and tablets to tranquilize stress-ridden lives. People deliberately scar their physical beings with denigrating displays: nose, lip, tongue, belly-button piercing, tattooing of every body part. What about the physical harm of abortion on the woman’s body?  Last, but not least, is the Islamic genital mutilation of girls, leaving them in perpetual misery.  More can be added to the distressing list of shame.  The Christian needs to direct his attention to the divinely-inspired Word to get more precisely acquainted with the body in which he carries on his earthly life.  Look at the warning in God’s Word: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7, 8).

 In Christ’s teaching there is no ground for considering matter intrinsically evil and thereby irreparably defective.  There is no need to seek ingenious innovations on how to tackle the problems of the human body.  The fundamental Biblical teaching centers on man’s sinfulness through the Fall, with God in his infinite love coming to our world to effect a supernatural provision for man’s redemption.  God’s eternal Son, Jesus Christ, became incarnate, bearing man’s sin in his sinless body (cf. I John 1:8-10; 4:1-3; 5:9-12). The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the apex of divine and human history (cf. Galatians 4:4; Colossians 1:9; 2:9-11).  The Almighty’s concise declaration is the master-stroke against all trends of human thought, supported by an actual event: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).  The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals and declares his only begotten Son who lived and walked on earth in an actual flawless body. 

 The parts of the body that activated sin are clearly described in the event following the creation: “The tree was good for food… a delight to the eyes… desirable for gaining wisdom…” (Genesis 3:6).  Adam made his body and his whole generation’s body sinful by yielding to his desire in these three areas.  The Incarnate Christ repelled Satan’s onslaught in each one of the three-fold temptation: “Eat…throw yourself down…see…” (Matthew 4:1-11)  Again the apostle John states these three areas in which sin dominates the body: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (I John 2:16).

 The Scriptures describe the slavery of our bodies in the exercise of these three indulgences.  Against these, through the Incarnate Christ, body and soul reach a perfect realization about what sin and holiness are.  The Incarnate Christ was the Victor from the moment of his birth until the hour of his crucifixion.  His victory was announced with the utterance of the word ‘tetelestai’ (it is finished) from the Cross.  There is an ongoing fierce warfare between the body and the spirit of Christ’s believers, which is clearly described in Galatians 5:17: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would” (cf. I Peter 2:11).   All praise to God, this will culminate in a glorious ‘telelestai’ when Christ ushers his believer into the sinless state.  There are apparent considerations in regard to the relationship between the body of the believer and that of his/her triumphant Savior. 

 I.  The Body of Sin Identified with the Perfect Body of Christ

 The believer’s identification with Christ can best be distinguished in the body. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it….you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 12:27; 6:20): Our bodies are continually restless and bewildered.  Few people realize that at the Fall the body suffered a radical deviation for the worse, against the orderly quality it received at creation.  Man’s fall brought on a catastrophic aftermath, like a momentous cosmic cataclysm that alters the makeup of the physical environment.  The effect of the Fall manifested itself in every single area of our mental-emotional conduct.  Nothing happened for the better.  To the contrary, the masterpiece created in perfect order was suddenly shattered.  However, when the sinner repents and becomes a child of God, the defilement is checked.  The body is renewed and revitalized in the sight of God and man (cf. John 15: 4, 6, 7).   “For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). 

 Numerous references in the New Testament clearly state the far-reaching impact on the defiled body (cf. Mark 7:20-22; Matthew 6:22, 23; Romans 1:28-32; II Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:31; 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5-10; I Peter 4:3).  The transgressions explained in every one of these passages are removed by the mighty Creator who alone can endow fallen humans with the new birth.  When Christ spoke to Nicodemus regarding this supernatural act, he did not theorize about an idealistic state of man.  Conversely, he went to the root of the problem and as the One who administers the new birth, stressed total transformation for time and eternity. Identification with Christ makes the believer one body with him who suffered in his own flesh to make us whole.  “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).  “…that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6; cf. I Corinthians 6:15, 17).  Christ through his Holy Spirit joins the believer to his mysterious body, allowing him/her to draw from his life-giving impeccable, impregnable body of glory.  This is God’s transforming the body of sin to that of conquest and triumph. 

 The believer’s identification with the body of Christ manifests itself in four distinct areas:

a. With his sufferings and death:  “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38; cf. Luke 22:28; Galatians 2:20: 6:14, 17; Colossians 1:24).

b. With his resurrection: “He died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (II Corinthians 5:15; cf. Romans 6:1-5, 8-11; I Corinthians 15:14-19).

c. With his glorification: “The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22; cf. v. 24; Philippians 3:10).

d. With his diakonia: “Even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; cf. Philippians 2:7; Luke 10:37; Ephesians 2:21).   

 II. The Body Indwelt by the Holy Spirit

 The Christian faith assumes ownership of the body by a superior Master “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?  You are not your own” ( I Corinthians 6:19).  In light of this, it is difficult to reconcile the way-out provisions made for the body which is owned by Christ. The apostle Paul underlines this reality for all who place inordinate importance on immoderate eating, caring for, clothing and sustaining the body due to end in decay. He reminds the Christian of the inherent principle that the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  Food is provided for our daily sustenance as our weak bodies need nourishment.  However, the irrefutable fact is that God will destroy both (cf. I Corinthians 6:13, 14).

 Jesus described the mode of worshiping God in the most concise language: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  It is in the Christian faith alone that the worship of the supreme God, unseen to the physical eye, is specified in clear-cut terms.  But how can this holy practice be activated in the absence of a genuine acquaintance with the Holy Spirit?  The worship of God is exercised through the Holy Spirit.  “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).  This basic truth is explained in even clearer terms in another passage: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Most of us are familiar with the Olympics motto: “Citius, Altius, Fortius”: Faster, Higher, Stronger. We admire young men and women who attain with their bodies this achievement.  On the other hand, the Holy Spirit draws our feeble bodies and our spirits through prayer and worship to faster, higher, stronger areas of conquest.   

 It is the Holy Spirit alone who entirely transforms the activities of our bodies, once carefree and sinful, to purposeful and serious involvement. The transformed body is now host to God’s Holy Spirit by whose instruction and illumination it can live a life worthy of a higher calling.  The energizing power of the Holy Spirit stirs the individual to nobler thinking, speaking and behaving. Furthermore, the sanctified individual prays in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). Rituals don’t elevate the person to the Spirit-filled life. Only the positive outcome of regeneration brings the body under God’s control.

  At the realization of his touch, the Holy Spirit takes over all physical activities.  They are no longer stimulated by the desires of the flesh but with the longing to honor and glorify the triune God.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).  “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).  The body which was home of fleshly and often shameful aspirations has now become a spiritual house because it has been offered to Jesus Christ with the redeemed person’s own volition.  “And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:5, 9).  Our physical being once subservient to smuttiness and unrighteousness is now consecrated to God through the body of the Savior. “And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him” (Colossians 1:21, 22).

III. The Body Activated by the Energy of Resurrection

 The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most profound and pertinent reality in the believer’s earthly existence. “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (I Corinthians 6:14).   Every single believer in Christ, now finite, is a designate for resurrection and immortality.  This distinction is exactly what differentiates Christ’s follower from those who have dismissed him as the hope of their existence: “Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (II Corinthians 4:14; cf. Philippians 3:2, 3).

 In this world there are many sicknesses and physical perils to which all of us in these susceptible bodies are vulnerable.  The clear-cut account in the Scriptures centers on the inescapable destiny of finite man and his mortality.  People do not all die in the same way. Some breathe their last without any agony.  Others suffer indescribable brutality and violence.  A vast number only leave their bodies after experiencing prolonged excruciating pain.  The list goes on.  One must conclude that the ultimate station of a fallen, decadent body is death.  There is no remedy for it. 

 Protracted illness is one of the least desired manifestations of approaching death.  People certainly don’t wish to end their earthly life enduring some incurable disease. But many keep breathing until their bodies are wasted away.  Some have received healing from extreme sicknesses, even incurable ones, by God’s mercy.  The miracles of Christ are again experienced when afflicted people receive the blessing of healing.  The matter of illness and long life is one of the inexplicable mysteries touching our temporary bodies.  A great number of God’s great saints did not enjoy robust health.  They were plagued with various illnesses and afflictions, but left behind a testimony which became an encouragement to many.  “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (I Peter 4:1). 

 The Great Physician who came from heaven felt deep compassion on the sick, and readily healed them.  In certain periods the apostles did the same since Christ had given them authority to do so.  In our time when there is much stress on healing the sad fact remains that not everyone is healed.  Ultimately, all of us die.  Christ sheds light on the matter in Luke 4:27. Absolute healing is not the norm.  Sickness is one of the impairments in our sin-inflicted fallen bodies. Illness comes by the permissive will of a sovereign God. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not” (Job 4:1, 2).  

 Nothing compares with the glorious anticipation of Christ’s believer that he who came to life again from the dead with a glorified body will likewise raise the person whose faith and confidence is in him.  This is a verifiable, God-assured reality to every person who has placed his trust in God’s living Son, who is our life.  While healing in this mortal life is not a fait accompli, the transformation of our bodies to the likeness of Christ’s glorified body is an unquestionable expectation. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).  This assurance is verified in

 II Corinthians 5.  Every genuine believer of Christ can rest his soul in the certainty that Christ’s triumphal resurrection bears immediate pertinence to his/her own resurrection and reigning with him forever.  The fast-approaching reality of resurrection is a constant source of strength and comfort to the believer. 

 IV. The Body Possessed by the Creator-Redeemer

 The person who acknowledges God as the Creator-Redeemer ought also to recognize him as the One who has the right of ownership over his/her whole body.  “The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”  (I Corinthians 6:13b, 15a; cf. Galatians 2:20; 6:14). 

 With divinely verified certitude we come to realize that the body in which we live as well as the spirit are defiled by the universal encroachment called sin (cf. II Corinthians 7:1).  The word sin is rejected world-wide in our time, but man’s denial does not gloss over the fact of sin.  No one has been able to purify the body or the spirit from the mastery and dominion of sin.  Jesus Christ, man’s sole Redeemer, is the only One who can rescue the sinner from the clutches of sin, death and divine retribution.  He can restore the human to new life and then possess that person as his treasure.  His longing is to receive honor and glory from both body and spirit, which had been subservient to sin and displeasing to God

(cf. I Corinthians 6:20; II Peter 1:18-21).

Christ’s believer has no other option than to submit to the Master of our bodies who assumes ownership of our being at conversion.  Yielding to his headship makes for a healthy body.  In this new and enriching relationship there is wholesomeness, hardiness, and surmounting of evil. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Christ has cast out demons from the human body.  His believer can experience inner and outer strength with constant growth in holiness.  He is provided with extraordinary dynamism, enabled by God to regulate his inner and outer conduct.  This person can manifest his new makeup before the angels and his fellow-humans. The Savior in whom we believe is the deliverer, the peerless liberator.

 The sole deliverance for the individual whose behavior is governed by the body’s demands is in Christ. Romans 8 where this corroboration is explained focuses on the deliverance from one’s bondage to his body.  Man’s physical being is governed by the law of sin and death.  No religious, civic or legal code can unshackle any individual from this subjection and offer true emancipation.  God himself has accomplished this amazing act of liberation on the Cross.  The encumbered person now becomes Christ’s possession.  He is owned by him who rescued both body and spirit from the clutches of a merciless master. 

 Christ rescues in order to possess.  He does not set the person free and then say, “Now live your life as you please.”  To keep the redeemed from returning to his/her former owner, he says, “I must possess you by injecting my life-principle to your members, until now controlled by the law of sin and death.”  “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you…For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Romans 8:11, 14).                                                     


Thomas Cosmades – 2010