A Sanctified Body
There are enough mysteries connected with the human body to convince the most incredulous mind of the existence of an omnipotent God. It is no wonder that the “Sweet Singer of Israel” cried out, “Man is fearfully and wonderfully made. He is made just a little lower than the angels.” And the Apostle says that man is the temple for the Holy Ghost to indwell. There is an impassable gulf between the most poorly developed human body and the brute of the highest development.
Man has been called God’s masterpiece. We get some conception of what he is when we see how God created him with faculties that are capable of God-consciousness, and cravings and longings that are eternal.
All kinds of errors are held concerning the body. Men in the Dark Ages believed the body to be vile, and that the only way to rid it of sin was to punish it. One of their favorite methods was that of flagellation. Every physical torture known was resorted to. Long whips were plaited and applied to the body; the flesh was bruised and lacerated, but still sin remained. Sin is not located in the flesh, bone, blood, nor in the nervous system. You may cut the body to pieces, but still sin is not destroyed. Others of that age retired to monasteries and convents to find deliverance from sin, but some of the wickedest spirits to be found were in the monk in his cell. Oh, the blessedness of genuine Holiness that can be in the world, and yet not of the world!
Another method in those days of trying to get rid of sin was that of fasting. Some fasted so long that they looked like skeletons, and still the old man” remained. Sin does not live on flesh and blood or bread and meat. One of the most refined errors which is now being taught is that of suppression. The trouble with this cult is that it does not “suppress.” The “old man” refuses to stay in the background all the time. This, then, not only robs Christ of His power as an uttermost Savior, but it disqualifies the Christian worker as a real soul-winner. He would like to be instrumental in saving others, but he has himself on hand with this inward foe to keep down. Oh, the beauty and comfort there is in being delivered from the body of death!
Still another theory is that of counter-action. In this teaching the “old man” is said to be overpowered or held down, but not destroyed. One of the expressions used in this doctrine concerning the “man of sin” is that it is made “null and void” and rendered inactive. This is only Keswick belief dressed in a somewhat different robe; it really is not essentially different from the suppression idea, both leaving, as they do, carnality in the heart.
The soul is not to be a cemetery for the “old man.” He is to be put off. Just as there is no more provision made for a corpse in this life, so we are to put off the “old man” and make no more provision for him. There is yet another class which tries to educate the “man of sin.” Their idea is to improve and polish him so that, after all, he will not be so unpleasant. You can educate almost any wild animal, but you cannot take out of them the vicious nature. You may pet and caress them, but some day they will slay you.
The Apostle calls the carnal mind an outlaw. He says it is “not subject to the law of God.” You may dress up old Adam, but you have not changed his nature. Some of the vilest wretches of earth have been noted for their polished manners and their soft, siren-like voices. We will have to go deeper than education, culture and polished manners to get rid of the carnal mind.
Let us notice God’s “more excellent way” for the body, which is to cleanse and make it a temple for the Holy Ghost. The word soma, body, has a two-fold meaning — the outer and the inner parts conveying different definitions. The meaning of the outer division is the organized physical body with its flesh, bones and blood. The inner part is designed as the seat of the passions, appetites and desires. This is the part with which the Holy Ghost deals.
What is a sanctified body? It is a body that is saved and cleansed from all lust and impurity of every form, with its appetites and passions brought under control. God’s plan is for the spiritual nature to control the physical; and the more one lives in the spiritual realm, the less trouble he has with the animal nature. A sanctified body is a dedicated body — all of its members and faculties are dedicated to God.
I. Take the tongue. While it is a little member, yet in its power of evil it is a deadly member. A sanctified tongue is one that is saved, not only from falsehood in every form, but from gossip and from slander, and even from “small talk.” In Deuteronomy we read, “There shall not go up and down the land, a talebearer.” The “shall not” here is just as binding as the “shall not” in stealing or killing. The Bible pictures and figures of the unsanctified tongue are fearful. St. James says, “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth.” A spark of fire is dropped in a forest, and, behold, millions of dollars worth of precious timber that for years has been growing goes up in smoke in a few short hours. An old woman, one stormy night, went out to milk. The cow kicked over the lantern, and a great part of Chicago was wiped out by the flames.
Oh, the havoc that can be wrought by a word from a slanderous tongue! A word of slander is dropped, and the reputation and influence of some child of God or Christian worker is ruined, the cause of God hindered, and perhaps souls lost as the result.
Again, an unbridled tongue is likened to a deadly poison. India is the home of the most poisonous serpents of the world. A native was one day out hunting when he was bitten on the toe by one of these vipers. He sat down on a log, deathly sick. In a few moments he said, “My foot seems perfectly dead.” In but another moment he said, “My leg is dead to the knee.” As the poison traveled rapidly upward, his shoulders became benumbed; then, in agony, he fell to the ground and died an awful death. But there is nothing more deadly than the slanderous tongue with its blighting touch. Homes have been broken up and families have been forever separated by this instrument of gall.
Reader, are you sure that your tongue is sanctified, under the control of the Holy Ghost, and seasoned with grace and the law of kindness? An unbridled tongue is a sure sign of an unsanctified heart. You cannot judge one’s piety by the loudness of his profession. James says that the tongue is a test of Christian character. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” A sanctified tongue has put away all evil speaking and repeating all it hears. Even though true, why repeat many things that neither help man nor the cause of God? The Holy Ghost alone can rule and control the tongue.
II. A sanctified body means cleansed eyes that refuse to gaze on an impure object, if you will study the history of the fall, you will find that the entrance of sin was through the channel of the eyes. “The woman saw the tree.” The eye conveys more to the mind than any of the five senses. It is like a camera taking in millions of pictures. It will pay us at times to close the shutters.
Some of the darkest sins that have ever been committed commenced by a look. The woman saw the tree, and “it was pleasant to the eye.” This is where sin has its birth. The impure object becomes fascinating. When an unholy object becomes pleasing to the mind and is permitted to remain until it forms a mental image picture, it is then that impurity is injected. David looked from the housetop at an unlawful object. His lower nature was set on fire with the lust of hell. The animal nature, ascending the throne, dethroned and crushed the spiritual. Lot got into the corrupt city of Sodom, lost his property, a part of his family, and was, himself, saved as by fire. First, he “looked in the direction of Sodom” until the lure of the city got hold of him. Second, he “journeyed toward Sodom.” He was going after the object at which he gazed Third, he “pitched his tent outside the city.” Last, we find him in Sodom with influence gone and angels pulling him out to keep him from being destroyed. All of this began by an improper look. No one can keep sanctified and gaze at the impure, unholy objects of this sensual age. We had better see to it that we close the blinds from seeing evil.
III. A sanctified body is one in which the ears are dedicated to God. They have lost all desire for blood-curdling stories, for gossip, for tattling and for tidings of aught that is evil. “A person who will lend his ears to listen to a slanderous report and feel inwardly tickled, is just as evil as the person who is doing the talking.” Some people permit their ears to become a sloptub or a sewer for all the filth to pass through, and then expect the Lord to keep their souls pure. Sanctified ears are ears that are dedicated to hear the “still small voice.”
IV. A sanctified body is one that dresses for the glory of God. It will never rig itself out with painted cheeks, like a Jezebel, or as do the harlots of Paris, but it will robe itself in modest apparel as becometh saints. The word habit originally meant clothing. “Habit makes character.” Then it might be said that the outward dress is an indication of the inward condition of the soul. The dress that is worn by some of the leading modern church members in our days would have made a harlot blush with shame a quarter of a century ago. A young man in college wrote a piteous letter to a magazine, asking the question, “How can we poor fellows live right and keep pure and clean when the average girl dresses, or fails to dress, as she does?”
A leading rescue worker said that the bathing beach, with its thin, immodest suits, paves the way for the downfall of many precious girls. The standard of morals has been lowered in some circles until modesty is almost a thing of the past. Samples of modesty in dress are needed in this age of laxness, and, be it said, even in our so-called Holiness ranks.
Thank God for a Holiness that touches the threefold nature of man, causing him to live where the Shekinah glory dwells, shedding its influence through every part and faculty of spirit, soul and body. The “old man” has been slain, and Christ is enthroned within.