A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 8 present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). Worship of God involves obedience and growth in holiness. And sanctification, increasingly being conformed to the image of Christ in holiness (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18), necessarily is lived out in one’s body (Gal. 2:20; 1 Thess. 5:23). While the term “sanctification” can refer to once-for-all cleansing that happens when a person receives Christ, it more commonly describes a Christian’s growth in Christlikeness. In Romans 6, Paul explains how our union with Christ in his bodily life, death, and resurrection transforms us and impels us to pursue holiness. Through our union with Christ in his death, our “old self” was killed and abolished. And through our union with Christ in his resurrection life, we are given new life in holiness. Christian sanctification includes this understanding of our transformative union with Christ (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:1) and the act of committing our bodies to God in holiness (Rom. 6:12–14; Rom. 12:1; Col. 3:5). The empowering means of sanctification is God’s Spirit working in the life of the one united to Christ (Rom. 8:1–17; 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:13), so that the Christian life is characterized as walking by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22–26; in contrast to non-Christian rebellion Gal. 5:19–21). It is impossible to grow in Christlikeness if one is not growing in Christlikeness with the use of one’s body. Thus, Christians should be characterized by self-control (Gal. 5:23; 1 Tim. 2:9; Tit. 2:2, 5, 6, 12; 1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:6), particularly with the way that they use their bodies: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3–5; see also 1 Cor. 6:14). While nonChristians are so driven by the simple impulses of bodily desires (Phil. 3:19), Christians dedicate their bodies to worship of God and service of others. Although Christians use their bodies in a sanctified way for the worship of God, all human bodies still suffer the decay resulting from sin. The human body was not created for suffering and death, but they are tragic results of sin. Thus, even while bodily suffering and bodily death are experienced universally, they are unnatural in that they are not part of what God declared over his creation to be good. Following the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, they experience the suffering of broken relationship with God (Gen. 3:8– 13), health issues (Gen. 3:16), relationship struggles (Gen. 3:16), struggles to provide (Gen. 3:17–19), and ultimately death (Gen. 3:22–24). Written on nearly every page of the Bible are stories of suffering, struggle, and death resulting from sin, sometimes one’s personal sin, the sin of others, or just the effects of living in a sin-cursed world. Since the exit from Eden, bodies age, sickness ravages, and death reigns (Rom. 5:12; Heb. 9:27). The decay of the human body is one example of the larger category of natural evil, the terrible things that result from living in a world downstream from the fall in Eden. In Romans 8,