While the generic goal of improving one’s health for a better quality of life is commendable, Christians have a more serious motivation. The Bible reveals the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:9-20). Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 3:17 says, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Wow! This is an eye-opening statement.
In his commentary Matthew Henry writes, “Every Christian is a living temple of the living God. God dwelt in the Jewish temple, took possession of it, and resided in it, by that glorious cloud that was the token of his presence with that people. So Christ by his Spirit dwells in all true believers.
The temple was devoted and consecrated to God, and set apart from every common to a holy use, to the immediate service of God. So all Christians are separated from common uses, and set apart for God and his service. They are sacred to him-a very good argument this against all fleshly lusts, and all doctrines that give countenance to them.
If we are the temples of God, we must do nothing that shall alienate ourselves from him, or corrupt and pollute ourselves, and thereby unfit ourselves for his use; and we must hearken to no doctrine nor doctor that would seduce us to any such practices. Note, Christians are holy by profession, and should be pure and clean both in heart and conversation. We should heartily abhor, and carefully avoid, what will defile God's temple, and prostitute what ought to be sacred to him.”
Therefore, on a personal level, believers are to keep their temple holy. If choices are made to defile the temple (for example through immorality as described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-20), then a believer invites the discipline of God which manifests in both the natural results of sin against the body and the withholding of God’s gracious favor whereupon the reckless believer finds no place of healing.
My advice to you is to begin treating your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 3:7-8 adds light to this subject. This passage says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”
The bigger goal for every believer in a new year is the pursuit of holy living. Improving your health begins by departing from evil! Such behavior shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones. For the believer, temple maintenance begins with holy living.
The next point to be made in pursuit of taking care of your body has to do with the care of the inner man. Consider these verses on the subject:
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
It is an established fact of medicine that prolonged anxiety, despondency, and depression cause a variety of illnesses in the body. These problems are issues of the heart (the immaterial nature of man; our spirit/soul). Our spiritual life has the potential of effecting our physical health. We need a spiritual remedy for anxiety, despondency, and depression. That remedy is found in a growing walk with the Lord.
I would remind you of the words of our Lord found in John 10:10. In this verse Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The abundant life of which Christ speaks is first connected to the inner life. We need peace with God, and we need the joy of His salvation. We need the settled hope only found in a growing personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once the Lord is our shepherd, he will lead us beside still waters and cause us to lie down in green pastures. We will find rest for our souls (Psalm 23; Matthew 11:28-30). We find in Christ the answer to our anxiety, worry, and fears. In Christ we find our hope and joy. He alone has the power to calm the troubled waters of our soul.
Learning to yield to him as we cast our care upon him (Phil. 4:6-7) is part of the antidote for anxiety. Learning to trust him with our life (Matthew 6:25-34) is the other part. In prayer we exchange our cares for his peace that passes understanding. Rising from the place of prayer we walk in confident faith in the One who takes our burdens (Psalm 55:22) and assures us he will provide for every need. Learn to spend appropriate time with the Lord in prayer and he will grant grace to relieve your anxieties. He will replace your fears with faith and a restful confidence in him.
Such a prayer life contributes to a joyful inner life. Remember, we need a merry heart that does good like a medicine. A low spirit effects overall health, so we need to cultivate a merry heart. Since our prayer life deals with the cares of the heart it naturally cultivates inner joy. A sense of joy blossoms as we experience a release from the cares weighing upon the heart.
Remember this simple statement: happiness is the Lord! Meditate on him in prayer and learn to make him the center of your life through-out your day. Let the Lord himself be your joy! Meditate on the Lord and be thankful. Find your contentment in him. Rejoice in his salvation daily and let your hope in Christ sooth the soul.
We do not need to be cast down in spirit regardless of the difficulties in life. Our hope in Christ is the anchor of our soul. The Bible says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalms 42:11).
Remember, taking care of the inner life is a key to good temple maintenance.
Next, we need to strive for consistency in several practical areas of life. Physical examinations, exercise, diet, and proper sleep are important elements of temple maintenance.
A common benefit of a physical exam is the detection of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be controlled through a combination of diet and medicine. Controlling high blood pressure helps avoid damage to the body later in life. Thus, it is wise for younger adults to have annual checkups to catch health issues long before they can work significant damage to the body.
Physical examinations have a way of calling attention to bad habits defiling our bodies. If we are unwilling to identify these habits and avoid them, then we are inviting a shorter life directly connected to God’s discipline.
I cannot speak at length about exercise, diet, and sleep except to point out a few obvious things. It is widely known that a brisk twenty-minute walk four times per week has good health benefits. This is a minimum and needs to happen! Regarding diet if we simply drink plenty of water daily and avoid overeating anything, we are making a big contribution to temple maintenance. Also, adding good sleep before midnight is a good habit that fosters better health.
Here are a few concluding thoughts from Scripture to encourage our hearts:
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee (Prov. 3:1-2) . . . Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).