c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Our Quadripartite Being, Part One, The Body

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Quadripartite Being, Part One, The Body

This is how human personality breaks down relative to the project of becoming spiritual.  We have a quadripartite (four in one) nature: body, emotions, intellect, and spirit.  These form a hierarchy of challenges: beginning with the most difficult at the bottom, the near-hopeless body; less difficult and able to be improved, the emotions; next higher is the mind, considered spiritual and lawful, being the most likely to help, with some help itself with instruction; and the most easily satisfied and loved by God, the spirit.  James says, for instance, that God especially likes the human spirit:

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5 ESV)

The body itself is the least spiritual aspect of our being and the most difficult to reclaim for spiritual purposes.  Some say that the Biblical word “flesh” refers to the sinful nature and not to the body.  But this is wrong.  According to Romans 8:13, it is “deeds of the body” that should be put to death so that we can have the life of Christ.  Here is the moral history of the body: The first thing that Eve saw about the forbidden fruit was that it was “good for food.”  The whole world went downhill from there!  The first redemptive act of Christ was to be conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary as the incarnate God.  He had a body but did not serve it and was anxious to shed it (John 14:28).  He did not marry and lived as a wandering ascetic with “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20/Luke 9:58).  He said not to worry about food and clothing (Matthew 6:25) not even to work for the bread that perishes (John 6:27).  Jesus commented to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41/Mark 14:38).  He demonstrated not only what happens to the body but what we should do with it: take it to the cross (Matthew 16:24/Mark 8:34/Luke 9:23), figuratively speaking, so that we can have a new one in glory.  Therefore, since we will cast off this “tent” of our body (2 Corinthians 5:1, 2, and 4), the Apostle Paul wrote that with food and clothing we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:8) and, “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV).  Even in his corrective exposition of faith completed by works, James is modest in his plan of care, saying only that we should provide food and clothing to needy brothers and sisters, which he calls “things needed for the body” (James 2:14-17).

Please, do not mistake me.  This discussion is limited to spiritual formation at its core, beginnings, and origins.  We must first deal with the incessant demands of the body.  There is a war going on inside us between the spritual and carnal (1 Peter 2:11).  The body is the enemy!  We must strive along with God to let his side, the soulful side of our nature, win.  The fruit of that work may include ministry to the body, soul, and society at large; it may involve artistic expression, work in a business or trade, agriculture, construction, all of which are very materialistic endeavors – and  inherently dangerous.  Therefore, beware, the more “worldly” the pursuit, the more it is attached to the body and things of the flesh, the more problematic it becomes for spiritual development:

I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:16-24 ESV)

No comments: