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The Body

Just look at the brain and how it works, its relation with all other organs; if the brain is damaged, no physician can fix it no matter how genius he is!! If we observe the heart and how it works, its relation with the brain, and the relation of each the heart and the brain with life! Or if we watch the precise performance of kidneys or liver, of the nervous system in the human body as well as the digestive organs, metabolism, blood and the relation of each with the body! we are amazed by the wonders which we observe, and hence we glorify the Creator who created the body in such an extraordinary accuracy…For this reason, medicine was taught during the old days in theological seminars. When examining how every organ operates, they discovered how the whole science of organs’ function demonstrate the glory of the Creator…

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In spite what is being said that the body is related to sin, we do reassure that the body is not a sin in itself…

+ This is clearly evident. Because if the body was a sin in itself; God would never created it at the first place. God does not create sin. On the contrary, when God completed the creation of man “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve were so simple and pure when God created them; they are an example of how God created the very first body…

+ If the body was in itself a sin; Jesus Christ would not take a body for Himself, and we would not venerate the Saints’ bodies and build churches on their remains treating even one of their bones as a great blessing…

+ If the body was a sin, the apostle would not say “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ …Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:15, 19) (1 Cor. 3:16).

+ If the body was a sin; it wouldn’t be born in baptism free from sin and sanctified! And the Bible wouldn’t say that “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Ga 3:27). If the body was a sin; we wouldn’t be able to partake from the Holy Communion!

+ If the body was a sin; God wouldn’t permit the resurrection of the body after its death…!

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So, why then harsh things were said about the body?

Why did the Bible attack the way of living according to the flesh? It was said “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1)…and why was it said “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:6, 7). And why was it also said “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), and: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13)?

St. John the apostle also in his epistle said: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Fr. is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:15, 16). What is it about these expressions attacking the body: the lust of the flesh, deeds of the body, the carnal mind, living according to the flesh…?

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The body is considered to be sinful if it resists the spirit…or if it commits psychologically deviated kinds of manner…

When the apostle said: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (Gal. 5:16, 17), he is speaking here about the body only if it resists the spirit and commits sin…

Not every body goes wrong and not all bodies are resisting the spirits. The saints had bodies which didn’t go wrong, and didn’t resist their spirits. And un-doubtfully there is bodies which are pure, pious and holy, bodies which repent and bodies which serve. There are bodies which were for saints who lived at the optimum elevated level by sacrificing their own selves. Jesus Christ said in His mount sermon: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Mt 6:22). There are therefore bodies which are full of light, or could be full of light…

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The problem of the body is its relation with the material, as the body was made of dust (Gen. 2:7). But the spirit is the breath of life which God breathed it into that dust… For that reason, the body has its materialistic conflicts in which if it wins, God then will glorify it… And despite that the body is related to the material, yet it is not necessary that the body is also materialistic because it can be elevated above the level of the material if it follows the advice of the apostle which says” but I discipline my body and bring it into subjection”. That’s the point where a body enters into conflict; if it wins, it will be glorified… At that point the body is living according to the spirit. The body has its instincts too, but those instincts are not in themselves a sin. How easy and how nice is it when those instincts are utilized in good deeds, but if they go wrong then the body sins… The body’s instincts are not themselves wrong; only if those instincts go wrong… The lust of the flesh means the lust if it deviates towards materials , but if this lust is moving according to the leadership of the spirit then those lusts would become spiritual leading to spiritual deeds…

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The body may go wrong. And so does the spirit…The spirit could go wrong alone, and it can also go wrong drawing the body to follow it.

+ The spirit do goes wrong, and as an evidence for that we see that in the absolution of the third hour prayer we say “purify us from all defilement of body and spirit”, and in the Divine Liturgy prayer we say “purify our souls, bodies and spirits…”, so the spirit could be defiled and hence it will need to be purified…

+ The very first sin in the world was a sin of spirit (I mean Satan). And that’s when he said in his heart “will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation” (Is. 14:13, 14).

+ And so, pride was a sin of spirit, because Satan is a spirit and has no body. And so, Satan had fell- as a spirit- into a sin of a body. As we always say in the Divine Liturgy Prayer “and death, which entered into the world through the envy of the devil, You have destroyed”. Satan, as a spirit, fell into the sin of lying and deceiving when he said to mother Eve “you will not die…” (Gen. 3:4). And God said about Satan that he is “for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

+ The spirits fall into sin alone, and another proof for that point is the saying of the bible about devils that they are “evil spirits”, “unclean spirits”.

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When the spirit falls into sin, it usually draws the body with it into sin.

+ The soul may commence feeling pride, and then the spirit draws the body to participate with it, so the body starts moving or walking with pride or starts talking with pride and then pride starts to appear in the features and in the voice.

+ Do any of us consider that the sin of our very first fathers was just a sin of the body which was eating from the forbidden tree?! No, it started as a sin of the spirit according to the temptation of the serpent through the lust of divinity and the lust of knowledge when it said”… For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”, and then when this temptation entered into the spirit “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate”.

+ The same goes for Cain, as the sin first started in his spirit before it drew to it his body as he murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4).

+ And the same thing happened when Josef’s brothers envied him and then they threw him into the well and sold him (Gen. 37).

But despite all that; the body could be as well utilized in making good things:

As when the hands are raised for praying, or when the knees bend down in bowing, and hence the body is participating with the spirit in worshipping God.

The body is sometimes torn of making good deeds, in visiting others as when Paul the apostle was doing “in journeys often” “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently” (2 Cor. 11:26,23). In addition to what his body exerted of efforts in the service testifying for the Lord as he said “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned…” (2 Cor. 11:24, 25).

The body carries out good deeds also by sacrificing and giving own life, by donating blood or may be by donating one of the body’s organs in a surgical operation to save someone’s life… In general, body shows the virtues of the soul, and participates with the soul as well in its virtues…

How beautiful is the phrase said by Paul the apostle: “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).

Let us think practically on how we can glorify God in our bodies which are God’s…with pure bodies which follows God’s will in life. And if bodies glorify God; then God will glorify it as well. So how would that be?

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Transfiguration of Bodies:

God cares so much for the body that He made the body transfigures here and in Eternity.

Here, on earth, as what happened with Elijah who went up into heaven in a chariot of fire, and the three young men in the furnace of fire whom the fire had no effect on their bodies. As for Eternity, bodies will be raised in glory (1 Cor. 15:43) “conformed to His glorious body” (Phil 4:21) it is raised a spiritual body not a natural body (1 Cor. 15:44). If the body is raised this means that it will enjoy Eternity. If the body was an evil thing; it would be just enough to get rid of it.

Rather, the body rises from the dead and enjoys Eternity in Heavenly Jerusalem where “tabernacle of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3), so that is an evidence for how precious the body is to the extent that it is glorified.

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

April 9, 2009