More from Gordon Fee’s book, God’s Empowering Presence. This passage gets at a problem that can sometimes plague our thinking–the temptation to misunderstand the scriptures’ teaching about the soul and the body, and to begin to think that because Jesus saves our souls, our body doesn’t matter. Fee tackles this head on, first by thinking about what the word “sanctification” (the idea that God is making those who’ve trusted in Jesus Christ holy) really means in the bible.
Sanctification includes the body, which through Christ’s resurrection has been made his own possession and is thereby destined for resurrection. To be Spirit-ual, therefore, does not mean to deny the physical side of our human life; neither, of course, does it mean to indulge it.
The presence of the spirit means that God himself, who created us with bodies in the first place, has taken keen interest in our whole life, including the life of the body. The creation of the body was pronounced good in the beginning; it has now been purchased by Christ and is sanctified by the presence of God himself through his Holy Spirit. We must therefore “sanctify” it as well (“therefore glorify God in your bodies”), by living the life of the Spirit, a life of holiness.
The message of this text needs to be sounded repeatedly in the face of every encroachment of Hellenistic dualism that would negate the body in favor of the soul. God made us whole people: and in Christ he has redeemed us wholly. According to the Christian view there is no dichotomy between body and spirit that either indulges the body because it is irrelevant or punishes it so as to purify the spirit. This pagan view of physical existence creeps into Christian theology in any number of subtle ways, including the penchant on the part of some to “save souls” while caring little for people’s material needs. Not the immortality of the soul but the resurrection of the body, is the Christian creed, based on NT revelation. That creed does not lead to crass materialism; rather it affirms a holistic view of redemption, which is predicated in part on the doctrine of creation–both the physical and spiritual orders are good because God created them–and in part on the doctrine of redemption, including the consummation–the whole fallen order including the body, has been redeemed in Christ and awaits its final redemption.
The unmistakable evidence of this [now] is the presence of the Spirit [in our churches and in our personal lives], which does not move us toward false, Hellenistic “spirituality,” but toward the biblical view noted here. (pg. 137)
So…does being spiritual mean we don’t care about physical things, like our bodies–that they don’t matter? Not at all. And it’s the fact that the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us–within our bodies–that starts to help us see why.