The Body of Worship

Steve Viars July 26, 2003

- this morning I’d like to begin our time with a two-question quiz...
- but this quiz is a bit different...
- often I start with a few questions that are easy, everybody agrees, everybody gets them right, and then off we go...
- these questions aren’t like that...these questions are hard...
- so I would encourage you just to answer these in your own mind this morning until you see where all of this is going...I certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone on the spot [at least not yet]...
- so we’ll call this a silent true/false quiz....
1.  True/False –The human body is intrinsically evil.
2.  True/False -- When the Bible uses the word “flesh”, as in Romans 7:18 – “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh...” it is speaking of the physical body. 

- now, you might say, PV, can you give me a hint?
- yes...the answer to both questions is the same...so either both those statements are true, or both of them are false.
- are you ready?...Both of those statements are false.
- now, I realize that you might say...so?
- well, the “so” is, having a biblical understanding of the body is of critical importance if you want to live in a way that is pleasing to God today.
- and the reason I’m bringing it up this morning is because in the next few weeks we are finishing up a series on worship and music [Passionately Pursuing our God in Worship and Music]
- friends, it is impossible to get this topic right without developing a biblical theology of the human body.
- and what I’ve been suggesting to you all summer is that the music and worship discussions and arguments [and some have even said wars] that have occurred throughout the history of the church and seem to be especially prevalent today are many times being waged apart from the foundation of sound biblical and systematic theology.
- often persons begin with their preferences, their theories, their opinions, their experiences...and then move to the Scriptures in a proof-texting kind of way...
- and invariably, in some cases ignore key truths from the Word of God, and in others attempt to make the Bible say more than it does.

- so what we have been attempting in this series is to let the Scriptures speak for themselves...
- as one man said to me several weeks ago – let’s not be afraid to be biblical...and let God’s Word take us wherever He wishes...
- and even for those who aren’t particularly interested in music, or agitated about music...this series is seeking to model a reasoned theological approach to every question you and I face each day.
- where we can truly say as individuals and a congregation, Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- with that in mind, please open your Bible first of all to Genesis chapter 2...page 2 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.
- we’re talking this morning about The Body of Music.
- in a sentence, my point to you today is, Music in the church should reflect a biblical understanding of the body.

- now, we’re going to be turning to a number of places in the Word of God today.
- attempting to be systematic means covering a lot of ground...so please check your seat belts...
- read Genesis 1:26-28, 2:7, 2:22-24.
- [point out that chapter 2 expands on what chapter 1 has said, especially about the specific details regarding the creation of human beings]

- our understanding of the body begins right here...


I.  The Human Body is Part of God’s Perfect Creation.


A.  God created the male body – Genesis 2:7
- and while we won’t take the time to do so for sake of time, we could discuss aspects of the creative design of God that just take your breathe away.
- when David thought about this in Psalm 139, he couldn’t help but exclaim... Psalm 139:13-14 - For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
- by the way, I’m happy to tell you that we will have the privilege of hearing this fall from two nationally known speakers  who can really help us grow in our understanding of these matters...
- Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis will be with us as part of a 4 part series Pastor Dutton will be doing this fall on creation and evolution.
- and Scott Klusendorf, from Stand to Reason Ministries, who will be speaking to us about the sanctity of human life...
- we also read in our verses that....
B.  God created the female body – Genesis 2:22-23
- nothing lewd about that, or sinful about it --- it was created at the hand of our loving and holy God.
- we also read that...
C.  Humans were given purposes that could only be fulfilled with their bodies – Genesis 1:28-30
- they were told to be fruitful and multiply...
- they were told to exercise dominion over the other aspects of God’s creation...
- they were introduced to the idea of working and laboring with their bodies...
- the fact that they had been made in God’s image was to be reflected by the way they used their physical bodies to honor and glorify Him.
- so their bodies weren’t the most important aspect of their existence, but nor were they evil or wicked...
- many of the purposes human beings were given could only be fulfilled by their bodies...
- we also know this....

D.  God declared that every aspect of His creation, including the human body, was very good – Genesis 1:31.
- anyone who says that the human body is intrinsically evil has an argument with God Himself.
- that theological determination has already been made.
- one last observation from these verses...
E.  This doctrine of the human body impacts marriage and human sexuality – Genesis 2:24-25.
- some people were brought up believing that sex is a dirty word and ought not to ever be mentioned in polite company and certainly never in Christ’s church.
- that kind of prudishness has no place in the household of God.
- in fact it’s a direct contradiction of passages like Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

- now, for the next piece of this puzzle, we need to turn to Matthew 15 – page 13 pf the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...
- for sake of time, I’d like to give some of these verses on the screen...but here’s the point...


II.  The Human Body is Controlled by the Human Heart.


- in other words, your body is an important part of the way God made you, but it’s not the most important part.
- what’s most important is your heart, or your inner man...
- now please be clear about this, the heart isn’t simply the seat of the emotions...its much more than that....
- it includes your mind, your will, your desires, and your emotions...
- the word is used over 700 times in the Bible and it could really be translated as “control center” or “inner man”...its everything about you that’s not material in nature.
- what we do with our bodies reflects the condition of our hearts...
A.  God gave people commands for their heart to impact choices for their bodies.
- so all that business about being fruitful and multiplying, subduing creation, working, leaving and cleaving, seeking physical and spiritual oneness...
- those were good things they could do with their bodies if they made proper choices in their hearts...
B.  God instructs us to guard our hearts so we will use our bodies correctly.
Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
- the point is, God didn’t just give you a body, He gave you a heart that can direct the use of your body properly.

- now please look at Matthew 15:16...the Pharisees were all uptight because the Lord’s disciples were not following all their man-made rules about ceremonially washing their hands before they ate...
- and Jesus explains that they are putting the attention on the wrong thing...
- read Matthew 15:16-20

C.  Jesus wants His followers to pay careful attention to their hearts.

- now, there is a lot more we could say about all of this...but essentially we’ve made two points...
1.  Our bodies are not intrinsically evil, they were created by God and declared by Him to be very good
2.  God has not only given us bodies but also hearts to direct/control our bodies...
- so if we want to get our bodies right, we have to get our hearts right...

- now, you might have been sitting here the last few minutes thinking...PV, this is well and good, but you’re leaving a rather significant point out the equation...
- like the fall of man...what you’ve spoken about is truth about creation prior to Genesis 3...prior to fall of man...that’s exactly right...let’s talk about that....


III.  After the Fall, Humans Apart from God Use their Bodies in Sinful Ways.


- the Scripture teaches us that when Adam and Eve sinned, they plunged the human race into an eternal conflict...
- Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
- and the Bible describes the effects of sin on mankind in comprehensive terms...
A.  The totality of the fall.
Genesis 6:5 - Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

- now you might say, but PV, those are verses about the inner man...
- that’s right...but the reason people sin after the fall is not because our bodies are intrinsically and eternally evil, it is because the human heart has rebelled against God, and no longer seeks to use the body in ways that honor Him.
- but please get this, the problem is not the body...the problem is the heart that is directing, or controlling the body.

- now from this point, regrettably, the story gets bad in a hurry...
- because apart from God...apart from having a pure heart that loves God, and worships God, and seeks to honor God...what does a person have left to worship?
- try these verses on... Philippians 3:19 - Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
- Romans 16:18 - For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

B.  Without God, the body becomes an object of worship.
- your body can either be something that you use to serve and worship, or it can be something you use to serve and worship yourself.
- what a person chooses to do with his or her body is a great indication of the nature of their God.
- and we could illustrate that all over the place...
- for example, its summertime...look at the way many people in our culture dress...
- what’s that all about...drawing attention to their body parts...
- you have to guard your eyes in a big way in our culture...why?
- mark this down...if a person doesn’t have a vibrant relationship with God in their heart, the only thing they’ve got left is their body, and material things...
- and they’re going to flaunt it, and they’re going to draw attention to it...and they’re going to worship it.
- and again, its not that the body is intrinsically evil, its that what a person does with his body often reveals the existence of a very godless heart.

- we could saying the same thing about eating...”whose god is their belly, or their appetite”
- some of us worship the refrigerator...and that has nothing to do, necessarily with weight...there’s a lot of factors that go into that...
- but let’s face it...some of us try to get from food what God intended for us to receive from a relationship with Him...
- so we’re into recreational eating...also known as gluttony...or grazing...
- but that’s where we find our joy, and our peace, and our joy, and our satisfaction...

- and we could say that same thing about alcohol abuse, drug abuse, tobacco, and on and on...
- the point here is...what we do with our bodies reveals the object of worship in our hearts.

- now, this next point is obvious, but it is a very important transition to what comes next...
C.  Without God, humans sin in many ways with their bodies.
- the reason many people think that are bodies are intrinsically evil is because so often our bodies are intimately involved in the sin process...
- and that actually breaks down into...
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
- there’s a list of sins of the body...one of hundreds of biblical examples we could use...
- but the point is...when a person is not directing/controlling their bodies with a biblically informed heart and mind, all sorts of sinful behaviors will result.

D.  Without God, our bodies become habituated to sin.
- Romans 7:15 - For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
- you might say, PV, I know exactly what that is like...well, let’s skip down a couple of verses...
- Romans 7:18-19 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

- when Paul uses the word flesh like this, he’s not referring to your physical body as if that’s the problem...
- he’s speaking about the “sinful propensities that are intertwined with physical propensities and desires”.
- our bodies are not intrinsically sinful, they are intrinsically weak and easily habituated.
- and if you do something with your body long enough, it becomes like an addiction...you feel powerless...you feel like something has taken over you...

- that’s why it is so important to be very careful with your body, because every time you do something with it, either good or bad, it is that much easier to do that same thing again.

- now, you might say, PV, I thought we were talking about music this morning...now we are...
- plus turn in your Bible now to Exodus 32 – page 66 of the front section of the Bible under the chair...
- here’s the point we need to make now...
E.  Without God, people often choose music that involves the body in inappropriate ways.
- Exodus 32 is the passage where Moses and Joshua left the children of Israel with Aaron to go to Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments from God.
- but because Moses took longer than they expected...they convinced Aaron to allow them to make a golden calf so that they could worship instead of a God they couldn’t see...
- and of course God knew what they were doing, and He told Moses in verse 9 that they were an obstinate people...
- after Moses pleaded for their forgiveness, he went down from the mount with Joshua and the two tablets of stone...
- and guess what their first indication was that God’s report about the people’s sin was true?
- it was the music...read Exodus 32:15-25

- now, there is more to the story, but the point is...there are many examples in Scripture where music is used in a very sinful way that includes the body...
- and the problem is not the music nor is it the body...but remember, when people don’t have a love for God in their heart...all they have left is their body, and material things...
- so their music doesn’t just involve the body, it is dominated by the body.

- we won’t take the time to look this one up this morning, but the same thing happens in the NT when John the Baptist was murdered...
- do you remember how that happened?
- Herod had him beheaded?...why?
- because his niece asked him to?...why?
- because his niece’s mother---Herod’s sister in law...hated John the Baptist...why?
- because John the Baptist pointed out that her marriage was an act of incest...
- so how did she convince Herod to kill John the Baptist?
- Matthew 14 tells us that she had her daughter do a sensuous dance for Herod at one of his parties...and in front of all the guests...he foolishly, because he was consumed with lust, told his niece he would give her anything she wished, up to half the kingdom...
- and after consultation with her wicked mother, asked for John the Baptist.
- and the Bible says, Herod was grieved, but since he made the promise publicly, he carried it out.
- the point is, there’s one of many examples of how , when people don’t have a love for God in their hearts...their bodies aren’t just involved in their music...it becomes the dominant element of their music.

- now, it’s not hard to make this case with music today.
- much of today’s music doesn’t just involve the body...it is dominated by the body.
- you can’t even hear the words, or ascertain the words...because that’s not what its about...
- and just like people draw attention to their body parts with their dress because that’s about all they have to offer...
- others draw attention to their bodies with their music because there’s because they have no substantive, and certainly no godly message to give.

- now, at this point, we need to say two very important things....
- one of the main problems with much of contemporary Christian music is that it does not recognize the theological truth that we’ve been studying with you this morning...
- we’re been seeing the importance of our bodies being controlled by a biblically informed heart...
- but too much of CCM doesn’t seem to recognize the creaturely weakness of the body, and how easy it is to move from worshipping God with our bodies to worshiping ourselves with our bodies...
- so the rhythms and the beats are very forceful and very dominant---and the words are pretty much jingle jangle---there’s not much theology there...because that’s not the emphasis or the point...
- and I believe that kind of music is out of balance biblically...
- because the body, apart from the control of a biblically informed heart, is a very dangerous thing.

- and I want to just pause and ask you...what about your music?
- is it primarily about the heart, or is it primarily about the body?

- now, here’s the other side of the equation...many people today, look at how frequently the body is involved in sin, and how frequently the body is involved in sinful music, and conclude...for the Christian, any music that appeals to the body in any way is wrong.
- here’s an example...”If the music causes your body to move in a way that could be construed as sensual or suggestive or, to be precise, causes you to want to thrust out your head, shoulders, or hips, or even tap your toes in time to an additional, identifiable beat it is appealing to the flesh – Kimberly Smith – Oh Be Careful Little Ears.
- what’s lacking here?
- I need to ask you to turn to one more very important passage of Scripture...Romans 6 – page 122 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...
- here’s the other piece of this puzzle that is so often lacking in these discussions...READ Romans 6:12-14.


IV.  God Stands Ready to Help Us Use Our Bodies in Ways that Honor Him.


- Redemption includes your physical body.
- your body is not intrinsically sinful, but it is intrinsically weak and easily habituated...
- so as believers, we enjoy the bodies that God has given us, and our bodily functions, but we control our bodies with a biblically informed heart/mind.

- [discuss how this differs from Greek dualism, the two extremes that developed from this view, and how these two extremes are alive and well in the current music debate]

A.  Illustrated in other areas of life.
- so, for example, we enjoy eating choices [and we should], but we seek to avoid gluttony.
- we enjoy sexual relations, but we exercise our sexuality within biblical parameters
- we enjoy the variety of clothing choices, but we seek to dress in a modest fashion...
- now, note the similarity in each of those examples...
- the body is involved....- we can enjoy using our bodies...
- we can glorify God in using our bodies...
- there is freedom in making choices with our bodies within general guidelines...

- God doesn’t tell us exactly what to eat...
- I’m not trying to be crass, but God does not tell us to the exact detail how to exercise our sexuality...
- and God does not give us exact specifications about our dress...

- now, one other similarity in those illustrations...
- throughout the history of the church...
- there have been people who have abused those freedoms and fallen into sin with their bodies....
- and there have been people who have been quick to establish all kinds of man-made rules about their bodies and seek to apply them not only to themselves, but to everyone...
- and invariably to bolster their case, they have turned to the Scriptures for justification for their positions...and made the Bible say much more than it says.

- and often, when the “rulemaking dust” has settled, the summary position is something very close to “the body is entirely and intrinsically sinful and therefore anything that appeals to it is wrong.”
- and the problem is, that gets all confused with the gospel, and the message we have for the world isn’t the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the new life that is available in Him...its, if you become a Christian, you gotta get a hair cut, or you have to stop wearing those britches, or whatever...

- friends, music is exactly like that.
- and the obvious, and somewhat bizarre example is Kim Smith who says that music that makes you tap your foot is wrong.

- my point is, music can be a marvelous witness to ourselves and our world of what sanctification of the physical body looks like...
- just like a balanced view of eating, and a balanced view of human sexuality, and a balanced view of clothing can be.

B.  The Bible contains many examples of appropriate physical involvement and expression in worship.
1.  Clapping
Psalm 47:1 - O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.

2.  Raising hands
Psalm 28:2 - Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.  
1 Timothy 2:8 - Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

3.  Shouting
Psalm 33:3 - Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

- now, I am not in any way suggesting that men and women have to be physically demonstrative in worship in order to please the Lord...but I am suggesting this...
- if we have allowed our view of music and worship to be infected with the heretical belief that anything that appeals to the physical body is bad...then we’ve allowed ourselves to be out of balance biblically.

Invitation
1.  Unbelievers who may be struggling to control some aspect of your physical body.
- can only be brought under control with a biblically alive heart.

2.  Believers who have fallen into the ditch of believing “what I do with my body doesn’t matter”

3.  Believers who have fallen in the ditch of believing “anything that appeals to my body is bad”

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video