Bodily Exercise Profits A Little

As a Christians, we must keep our priorities straight.   Paul wrote: “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  It is a trustworthy statement deserving of full acceptance  For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers” (I Timothy 4:8-10).    Many place great importance upon physical fitness and physical beauty, but these things involve only the outward and the temporal.   In contrast, godliness involves our relationship with God and things that will last forever.    The world places the importance on the body and how to fulfill the appetites of the body, while God places the importance on the spiritual.   

“Set Your Mind On Things Above”

Paul warned against “enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).    The key here is what the mind is focused on.   Godliness refers to living for God, setting our minds on the things above, and this is profitable to us both in this world and also in the world to come.   Those who set there minds of the things of this world have a false understanding of life.   In Col. 3:1-15, we read:  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.  Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,  and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.   Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him--  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed were called in one body; and be thankful.”

What a great passage of substance and meaning!  It clearly defines the hope of a Christian, the sins of the flesh and the characteristics of a true follower of Jesus Christ.  
What Influences Our Lives?

You will notice that virtually all T.V. advertising is directed toward the fulfillment of fleshly and physical desires.  These may include many innocent and worthwhile things but the promises of fulfillment and happiness are way over the top.  If you buy this or that, or if you do this or that, you will find happiness and your world will change.   Prime examples are automobile or beer advertisements.  This is part of the materialistic age in which we live.  I recommend talking back to your T.V. at times, lest you become totally passive and your senses become numbed.   Better yet, just turn if off.   But the Bible clearly states that this is not where happiness is found.  It is a false premise based upon a false hope.  The apostle John stated the matter very clearly when he wrote: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.   (1 John 2:15-17).

Which has the strongest influence on our lives?   Is it modern culture with all of its contradictions and attractions, or is it the values taught by Jesus Christ?   Paul wrote:  Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2).

Is life only spiritual?   No, indeed!   We live on this earth, and man does need bread for survival.  But as Jesus stated: MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD" (Matt. 4:4).   But you object by saying, “Lindy, is life only about reading the Bible and doing what it teaches?”   I answer, “Well, that is a good start, but even the Bible teaches that life consists of many things and that we must live in the real world.”    Yes, I have interest in all kinds of things.   I read “Sports Illustrated”, “National Geographic” and all sorts of publications.   In a limited way, I also watch T.V (taping the programs I want to watch is great),  surf the Internet, continually interact and mix with people, etc.   Just because I strive to see the world through the eyes of God does not mean that I am ignorant or disengaged in what is going on around me.  But as Paul wrote, I am also not ignorant to the ways of Satan: “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.  (2 Cor. 2:11).

As Paul wrote, bodily exercise does profit a little, but in order to be a whole, balanced person, the entire personality must be developed.   Luke refers to this in the development and growth of Jesus:  “and Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).   Jesus was the ideal man.   He grew physically, socially, intellectually and the spiritually.  For example, a woman who is blessed with beauty but has no discretion is compared to a ring of gold in a swine’s snout (see Pro. 11:22) – not a pretty picture.   For those who place no emphasis upon the spiritual aspects of life,  Jesus asked the question:  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).

We see the bad results everywhere in society where the focus is merely on the physical and the social, and the spiritual part of man  (that which is created in the image of God) is neglected.  When God commanded mankind  to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen. 1:28), do you really think that He just wanted people to have babies and fill the earth with human life?   God’s obvious intent when marriage was instituted was that man would produce “godly offspring” (see Mal. 2:15-16).  It was man’s failure to do this that wrecked the ancient world.  At that time the world idolized outward beauty and physical strength.  The author of Genesis wrote:  Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Gen. 6:5-6).   It was man’s failure to do this that wrecked the Roman/Grecian world of Paul’s day so fully described in Romans 1:18-32 and clearly established the need for redemption through Jesus Christ.

There was a time in American history when education was not humanistic and secular as it is today.   There was a time when the Bible itself was the very heart of  the education of boys and girls, even in the institutions of higher learning like, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and so many others.   It first began in the home and was reinforced in the schools.  But now all of that has changed and we are daily seeing the sad results.  So what is sadly lacking today is spiritual component of so many of today’s youth.  American has never been Christian in the full meaning of that term, but, as any good historian will tell you, America’s constitution and laws were built upon the Judao/Christian philosophy or principles.  What can you expect when any teaching about Jesus Christ is outlawed in the class rooms of state schools, and instead, boys and girls are taught that they are merely a product of some evolutionary process.   It we have ascended from the lower animals, then why not act like animals?    Our worship of science, with all of its limitations, is astounding.  That we should get the results we are getting is very logical and not at all surprising.  

I will point out that there are thousands and even millions of boys and girls being educated where the “whole man” (Spiritual, Physical, Social, and Intellectual) concept is being taught.  This is happening mostly in home schools and private schools.  Here the concepts can be taught of putting God first in your lives and “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”    Here the concepts of personal responsibility and accountability are being stressed.   It is not all about “narcissism” and “self-interest”.   In many of these schools, I am allowed to speak and mention the name of Jesus Christ.   It is ironic that during this time of the year, with the celebrations of Christmas, men and women’s hearts are turned to religion, beautiful music and the prince of peace, and yet this is only a pulse in our leap into secular and humanistic thinking.  It is like a giant disconnect between what is real and what is not real.   Even in our sports, were we are continually reading about drugs, alcohol abuse, various forms of cheating, criminal activity, abuse in the home and other horrible stories about misconduct, the talking heads continually scratch their heads wondering why or simply dismiss it as being a part of the times in which we live.   Four National Football League Players committed suicide in 2012.   A football coach sexually abused many boys and went to prison.  Few are trying to find real answers.   We could sure use a big dose of humility and godliness.

Thank you for reading to the end of this article.    – Lindy McDaniel

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