Getting back on track, Friends…we’re at week 8 of “The Pursuit of Holiness” book club. We’re looking at “Holiness in Body,” in chapter eleven.
This chapter is somewhat hard to write about because, as Joyce Meyer has said that her listeners will say of her, “Now you’ve gone to meddling!” But this is truth and we’re discussing God’s standards. Here’s the thing: we need to exercise control over our physical bodies and appetites. Not only is it necessary for living a godly life, but our bodies are actual dwelling places, temples if you will, of the Holy Spirit. As such, we need to take care of ourselves. What’s more, we are to glorify God with our bodies.
“Our physical bodies and natural appetites were created by God and are not sinful in themselves. Nevertheless, if left uncontrolled, we will find our bodies becoming ‘instruments of wickedness’ rather than ‘instruments of righteousness’ (Romans 6:13). We will be pursuing the ‘cravings of sinful man’ (1 John 2:16) instead of holiness.”
Furthermore, how can we expect to serve God and love our neighbors if we don’t take care of ourselves? If we make poor choices that effect our health, our minds, or our well-being, and we one day can’t get out of bed or can’t think straight, (I’m talking about aside from the normal wear and tear on our bodies from aging), how can we help others, make a difference, and be a positive impact?
Last week, I had another experience where I woke up in the early morning hours with words from the Bible echoing through my heart and mind. They had nothing to do with the dream I was having. This is the second time this has happened to me, and I know it’s God speaking to me, giving me a Word. He said, “Don’t let the little foxes spoil the vine.” I found the verse in Song of Solomon 2:15, “Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Apparently, foxes or jackals would hide in the leaves of the vines and eat the grapes. I don’t know if they did any damage to the vines themselves, but they certainly spoiled some of the fruit for the harvest. What does this mean for us? I immediately knew in my heart what it meant and the specific way God was speaking to me. However, I still read the verse in several Bible versions in context, and searched online commentaries and articles to see what others said. The “little foxes” are things that we can choose or allow in our lives that may seem like small “no big deal” things, but if left unchecked, can grow and hinder our connection with God. (Remember the metaphor that God is the Vine and we are the branches in John 15). And as a result of our connection being hindered, we can grow further from God and our fruits (the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patients, etc. that come from the Holy Spirit in us), can be decreased and spoil. (In a growing relationship with Jesus, our main concern should be to make sure nothing is coming between us and God such as unconfessed sin or those little things He might convict about.)
What are some of those little things we can let slip into our lives, sometimes even unconsciously? Apathy, laziness, procrastination, gluttony, overindulgence, pampering ourselves too much, greed, materialism, impurity, lust, and evil desires. They can even include not doing things God’s told us personally to do. (See, this is where someone could be considered meddling.) These are personal affairs and usually battles within ourselves. They are things that bring our bodies pleasure and can become addictive. They can take our focus off of God, become idols, and we can become slaves to satisfying ourselves. They can interfere with our health and well-being, and every time we give in to our flesh, it becomes harder to resist temptation the next time.
Michel Quoist says,
“If your body makes all the decisions and gives all the orders, and if you obey, the physical can effectively destroy every other dimension of your personality. Your emotional life will be blunted and your spiritual life will be stifled and ultimately will become anemic.”
Susannah Wesley wrote,
“Whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind – that thing is sin to you.”
“There must be an attitude of diligent obedience in every area if we are to succeed in mortifying any one expression of sin… We tend to do not what we should do, but what we want to do, as we follow the cravings of our sinful nature… We have to learn to say no to the body instead of continually giving in to its momentary desires… We have to take control of our bodies and make them our servants instead of our masters. The place to start controlling the cravings of our physical appetites is to reduce our exposure to temptation. Do not plan ahead or make provision for ways to indulge your bodily appetites… God expects us to assume our responsibilities for keeping the sinful desires of the body under control.”
“The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Don’t let the little foxes spoil the vine. (Here’s a great article I found: Fight the Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine.)
For your journal:
1. Here are three verses that give practical ways to resist temptation. What areas of your life can these verses help you?
Proverbs 27:12; Romans 13:14; 2 Timothy 2:22
2. Read these verses and write a statement about the importance of holiness in body:
Romans 6:12-13; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Cor. 9:27