God created humans with a body and a soul/spirit. Our current, earthly body came from the dust of the earth. Our body is decaying and will eventually die, at which time it will return to the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7, 3:19, Ecclesiastes 12:6-7). Although we lose our earthly body at death (or at the rapture, whichever comes first), at the resurrection we will receive a new, eternal body.
Our souls are different. Our soul does not die when we physically die, and we do not receive a new soul at the resurrection. Our present soul remains with us, transitioning from earthly life into eternal life. From the standpoint of our soul, we are as alive today as we will be in eternity (Romans 8:9-10).
To summarize, upon death we lose our earthly body, but our soul lives on. And at the resurrection we receive new, eternal bodies, while our soul remains intact.
God created our body and soul for His purposes, and therefore both are inherently good. However with Adam’s original sin, sin is now imputed to all of us, and in body and soul we all fall short of the glory of God. As we know, the story does not end there, and with Adam’s sin God set into motion His plan to redeem mankind. At the cross Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. He died physically and He died spiritually. Both were necessary to redeem man. Christ’s propitious death redeems our bodies and redeems our souls.
One of the major themes of the bible is the value of our souls. Jesus teaches in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Our earthly bodies can be spared, but at all costs we are to guard and preserve our souls. How we invest in our soul on earth impacts the quality of our soul in eternity. But what about our resurrected body? Is there anything we can do on earth that will affect the quality of our body in eternity?
1 Timothy 4:7b-8 states: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
In this passage Paul contrasts bodily discipline with a discipline that leads to godliness. On the one hand, a disciplined pursuit of godliness (the development of our soul) impacts our current life and the life to come. It is of great profit. On the other hand, bodily discipline is only of little profit.
Many people attempt to develop habits that lead to healthy earthly bodies, forming convictions in regards to behaviors such as exercising, eating healthy food, and not smoking. Such behaviors may very well lead to a healthy earthly body, and we do have a responsibility to steward the body that God has given us. But the quality of our earthly body does not affect the quality of our heavenly body. This is why Paul teaches that “bodily discipline is only of little profit.” Furthermore this is why Jesus tells us to “not fear those who kill the body.” If your earthly body is weak and frail, it does not mean your resurrected body will be similarly infirm. Conversely, if your earthly body is strong and healthy, there is no promise that your resurrected body will follow suit.
So let’s pose the question again: is there anything we can do on earth that will affect the quality of our resurrected body? The answer is yes. The one area of life that will affect our resurrected body is sexual morality. In Part 3 we will explore the relationship between sexual purity and our body and soul.
Question For Reflection:
- How are you investing in the development of your soul? Do you believe that investing in your soul in this life will make a difference in your soul in eternity?