This will be the last post in a little three-part series on the subject of man’s spirit, soul, and body. This time we’ll deal with man’s body. I’ll grant you that the body is more easily understood than the spirit or the soul, but my guess is that there are still some important things that you need to learn about it.
The best way to describe yourself is like this: You are a soul; you possess a spirit; and you live in a body. Really, the only thing that others see of you is your body. Furthermore, whatever you get done in this world, you’ll do it via your body. As mysterious and wonderful as the spirit and soul are, they aren’t much for mowing the yard, cooking a meal, holding down a job, reading the Bible, going to church, witnessing, etc. You need body parts (eyes, ears, arms, legs, feet, a brain, a skeletal structure, etc.) to get those things done.
This is why, at the moment of a person’s salvation, God the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the person’s body, not the person’s spirit or soul (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:5-11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:5). Just as a pilot flies an airplane, a captain steers a ship, or a driver drives a car, the indwelling Holy Spirit wants to be at the controls of the person’s body. Also, having God the Holy Spirit inside your body automatically turns your body into a temple. Please understand that everyone’s body is not a temple. That honor is reserved exclusively for the Spirit-indwelt believer (the genuine Christian). The body-builder, the yoga instructor, the fitness guru, and the health- food advocate may all have bodies that are in peak condition, but if these people don’t know Christ as Savior their bodies aren’t temples. Only Christians have “temple bodies.”
Still, though, just because a Christian’s body is a temple and the indwelling Holy Spirit is in there, that doesn’t mean that the Christian has handed over the controls to the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul understood this and said to the Christians of the city of Rome:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
That term “living sacrifice” is an odd one, isn’t it? How can a sacrifice survive an altar of death? How can it live once it has become a sacrifice? The answer is: The Christian’s body remains alive, but the inner will, which is sin-tainted, corrupt, and prone to take destructive paths, dies on the altar. The body will now be used to carry out that which is “holy, acceptable to God.” The indwelling Holy Spirit will be given the controls unreservedly. He will now fly the plane, captain the ship, and drive the car.
But would you believe that even the indwelling Holy Spirit will not stop the aging process? Mark it down, the bodies of non-Christians and Christians alike wear down over time and eventually cease working. This goes back to the sin in the garden of Eden. Genesis 2:16-17 says:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Hebrew scholars tell us that the original Hebrew behind the words “you shall surely die” literally mean “dying you shall die.” You see, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit their bodies began the long, long process of dying, and eventually that process culminated in their physical deaths. Genesis 5:5 says that Adam actually lived 930 years, but that verse ends with the words “and he died.” And the members of his race have been dying ever since, haven’t they?
But did you know that when all of the various stages of God’s sweeping, eons-long, prophetic program have played themselves out, not one body will be left unresurrected? This isn’t the time or place for me to go into every last detail of that prophetic program, but concerning the resurrections John 5:28-29 is a good summation passage. There Jesus says:
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
Notice that Jesus spoke of two categories of resurrection. There will be the resurrection of life, and there will be the resurrection of condemnation. Scripture teaches that the saved believers from all of history will have their bodies resurrected and glorified, even though there won’t be one general “resurrection day” upon which it all happens. (As I said, there are multiple stages to God’s grand plan of prophecy.) But what about the bodies of the lost people from all history? Well, those bodies will all be resurrected too, but for them the resurrection will not involve glorification. Also, their bodies will all be resurrected on a single day. This day will occur at the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign upon this earth, and it is described in Revelation 20:11-15.
You can read that passage for your homework, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that the bodies of the lost are called forth from wherever their final resting places are (graves, the sea, etc.). Each body is then reunited with the soul that once inhabited it, as each soul is called forth from that unimaginably horrific place we know as “hell.” And it is then that the lost person will be cast resurrected body and reunited soul into an even worse “hell” that is known as “the eternal lake of fire.” There the souls will not be annihilated and the bodies will not be burned up. Instead (and this is beyond tragic) each lost person will spend all eternity, body and soul, in that place of torment.
The Greek word for this eternal lake of fire is Gehenna, and Jesus says in Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).”
You see, the “Him” who is able to cast both soul and resurrected body into the eternal lake of fire called Gehenna is Jesus. But listen, He doesn’t want to do that to you! What He wants is for you to experience salvation by placing your belief in Him as your personal Savior. Once you do that, you won’t have to ever worry about the eternal fate of either your soul or your body, and you’ll be able to present your body as a living sacrifice to Him in this life and enjoy the awesome rewards of the afterlife. So, if you haven’t made this decision for Christ, won’t you do so right now? And, one last thing, get used to that body of yours because you’re going to be spending all eternity in it.