Deliver Me From This Body! (Part 2)
Turning our health goals over to our Savior, Jesus Christ
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-20…24)
If you recall, from Part 1 of this series, this is the same Scripture we began with. Here, in God’s Word, Paul addresses the problem of our body. It’s a body of death that is constantly trying to take us down toward the grave, spiritually and physically. Paul says, “with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25) Surely this point can be argued, but if we just take a look at how we ourselves and the society around us have embraced the countless addictions and ways to destroy the body, we can agree with Paul. In Part 1, we concluded we’re no match for this “body of death” and that Jesus Christ is the only one who can help. In this piece, I aim to address this question: What does it look like to turn diet and exercise over to Jesus?
If you will also remember from Part 1, I’ve worked in every side of fitness since 2002. I’ve watched people talk about goals, set goals, and strive for goals, but rarely achieve these goals. I’ve seen people fail on superficial, short-term goals like wanting to lose 20 pounds for an upcoming vacation. I’ve also seen people fail on major life goals like wanting to be healthier for their grandchildren or avoid another heart attack. I can honestly say that my experience as a fitness trainer, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and a Master’s in Exercise Science didn’t provide the answers, but God’s Word has.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6) So often, people try to control their flesh with a fleshly reason and the result is usually poor. Many say, “I want to lose weight in order to look better in a certain pair of jeans,” or, “I’d like to get in shape so the opposite sex will notice me.” Are these goals coming from a mind set on the flesh or the Spirit?
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Most of our goals focus on glorifying ourselves, right? We want to look better, feel better, or move better for ourselves. Many people say, “I want to be healthier for my family.” That’s definitely not being selfish, and it’s a step in the right direction, but the Scripture doesn’t say, “Do all to the glory of your family.” We love our family and want to honor them, but they don’t have power over the darkness in our lives.
The Bible says it’s the Spirit of Jesus that has power in our lives. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11) If we’re going to get free from our mortal body’s food addictions, poor health, and resistance to activity, we’ve got to do it to glorify God. We’ve got to get the power of the Holy Spirit and live in that Spirit, even when setting health goals. “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9)
The fix is to ditch the traditional health goals and strategies our earthly minds gravitate to Monday after Monday, year after year. Focus on the why. Consider these two plans.
Plan A: To fit into my new jeans in time for my 25th high school reunion (to show my old boyfriend/girlfriend that I’ve still got it), I will stay under 1,800 calories daily this month, walk before work each morning, and hang a picture of a beautiful celebrity on the refrigerator – aiming to lose 10 pounds.
Plan B: To bring glory and honor to God, to respect the body, the temple He’s given me, to be a more energetic, joyful Christian, I will try to stay around 1,800 calories daily this month, prayerfully consider everything I eat, and exercise outdoors before work – aiming to lose 10 pounds.
The difference between these two plans? It’s not the what because they’re doing the same thing and achieving the same result. The difference is the why; it’s all about the why. With a better why, Plan B has power, power from God’s Spirit. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Plan A is the same old thing we’ve all done before – it’s powered by the mind and the flesh. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God…” (Romans 8:7) It’s a bit like putting an an unruly child in charge of another unruly child; the only result is chaos.
Now, it should be said that turning our health over to Jesus takes great prayer and closeness with God. A desire to please God in everything we do will only come by way of a heart hi-jacked by Jesus Christ! This means our primary health resource isn’t Shape Magazine or Dr. Oz, but God. Sure, some achieve good health without seeking God, but, “With him is an arm of the flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32:8) The Christian fight is always a different fight.