Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:13-14
Learning to partner with our bodies is a challenge because they seem to demand things from us. It’s as if our bodies are continually telling us “I am hungry, I am tired, I hurt, I need sex, and on and on.” Our five physical senses demand such attention don’t they? Yet Paul’s challenge in Romans 6 is not to suppress the body but instead to give, “your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” Our bodies are instruments for something, either for unrighteousness or righteousness. God intends our physical world to submit and serve our will, spirit, and mind. How is that done?
That question is why we talk about “practices” here at South Fellowship Church. It is through practice that we present our bodies as instruments for righteousness. God designed our physical bodies as habit-forming machines. When we leverage that design, we gain a HUGE asset in the task of becoming like Jesus. Imagine a day when you no longer have to try to convince yourself to react to people with grace. Through practice, it is possible to become more habitually gracious. Your body can actually be a holy partner in your sanctification. Once it is trained, it can actually be more accessible to live as Jesus taught us to live.
Granted, our five physical senses make this process difficult. Our senses are powerful and it is hard to remember that we don’t need to obey every physical hunger. Again, we often react to our bodies rather than training them. Spiritual disciplines (practices) are powerful because they help us to bring our bodies back into submission to our souls. Fasting seems to be a long-lost practice of the Christian faith. We may think it is old-fashioned or legalistic to fast. If we fast to earn favor with God, it is legalistic, but if we fast with the right motives, it can be a powerful tool to train the body. Fasting is a practice of abstaining from some longing. It’s a way for your will and soul to remind your body, “you are not in charge.” It’s a way to flex your spiritual muscles and put your body in its place.
This week, try to spend some amount of time fasting. You can start small by skipping a lunch or dinner. Instead of eating, give some of your time to feeding your soul. Pray or read a psalm. As hunger sets in, remind your body that it does not rule you. No, the spirit of God is your master, not your body. As you practice these kinds of disciplines, you may be surprised how this added spiritual strength enables you to bring your body into submission to your will.
By Aaron Bjorklund