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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 12:18-20 The body is not a choice

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 15, 2023

18 Now God arranged the parts in the body, each and every one of them, just as he willed. 19 If they all were one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

This passage is part of Paul’s point about our various roles and places in the church, each and every one of us. But Paul is also making a statement about the human body which is theologically correct and which we cannot ignore. The body itself is made according to God’s design, not by any accidental choice, not by evolutionary choice, and not by man’s choice.

If our bodies were subject to nothing but the caprices or whims of accident, there would be no accounting for the patterns of the human form. One of us would have three limbs, another five, and yet another just one, and none of these would be thought of as abnormal. One man would have two hearts, another three, and another just one. But God has formed us according to his holy will. Job says: “You shaped me and made me” (Job 10:8).

Neither are the bodies of mankind subject to evolutionary choice. God made Adam and Eve as human beings in the form of modern human beings. That is not to say that there were no aberrations of family lines after the fall into sin—certain families have spawned taller or shorter individuals. Certain families like my own tend to produce beautiful women despite what all of the males look like. But God is the designer. Nature, in whatever way God uses nature, is merely a tool. “I praise you,” David sings, “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13).

And our bodies are not to be subject to human choice, either. How wicked it would be if men and women would begin to make choices about unnecessary surgeries, new limbs or digits, or other things. God does not intend for us to make choices that contradict his own sovereign choices for me. He chose to place me into the time I live in, not a hundred years earlier. He chose to shape my life in the era I live in, the family I live among, and so on. The world setting in which we live is to be shaped by us, not avoided by us. We affect the world even though sin causes us to be afflicted by the world. But in this same vein, it is a blessing if a man who has lost his legs can have them replaced by the sort of technologies we’re beginning to see. But would it not be sinful for a man to intentionally mutilate himself in order to obtain mechanical limbs? God also commands us to watch out for those who do evil, who mutilate the flesh (Philippians 3:1). In that verse the Holy Spirit is warning us about mutilating the flesh through circumcision in order to achieve heaven apart from Christ. But to mutilate the flesh through an elective surgery in order to circumvent God’s design for my body would also be sinful.

We must take care what we do with our bodies and to our bodies. Many of the choices that people are beginning to make for themselves are outside the realm of Christianity altogether, and if our secular government wants to insist that the rights of such people are preserved, then that is within the scope or purview of the government. But that doesn’t mean that Christian men and women should be taking those things up and asking the church to change its doctrine about them. For the same thing happened when the governments of most US States chose to make living together apart from marriage a legal practice. But the Bible does not condone breaking the Sixth Commandment, and therefore the church cannot change her doctrine about the Sixth Commandment. Living together is a sexual sin, it causes one’s ‘partner’ (what an awful, ugly, grotesque word ‘partner’ is when used as the unmarried alternate to spouse) to fall into sin, and it leads others into sin who look to the sinners to set an example. Avoid the temptation altogether. “For the lips of the adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, and her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave” (Proverbs 5:3-5).

Returning to Paul’s point, where would the parts of the body of the church be if someone said, “We don’t want you here”? It is not for the body to choose or make choices about its members. And so it is with the human body. God has placed us (Genesis 2:8) and formed us (Genesis 2:7) as we are, just as he so carefully formed man from the dust of the earth and all of the animals as well (Genesis 2:19).

In the same way, then, God has placed the members of the church in the place and time they are in to serve in their moment, at their time. The question for each and every one of us to ask is not who or what would I rather be, but instead, how can I serve as I am?  What does the Lord have in store for me? Where some of us have faltered and stumbled into sin over this in the past, there is forgiveness (Psalm 130:4). God still has a role for each of us, a task for every single one of us. “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). For sin is not your master, nor is that liar the devil, but God is supreme in all things. He has wonderful things in mind for you, things which your very next steps will take you to. “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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