So, we have been learning about the wisdom that descends from above over the past couple of months. We have learned that God’s wisdom is the principal thing. This means that it is the top thing, the first thing, and, therefore, the best thing. So, we’ve learned that wisdom is “higher” than even some of those other virtues that we know are so vitally important to our lives. Therefore, wisdom is to be at the top of man’s desires and what we should strive to get more than anything else. Amen!
And we’ve seen several reasons why wisdom should be the most prized virtue that we acquire in our lives:
The first thing we looked at were all the myriad of benefits that wisdom yields in our lives. And, church, there are a lot of them! Then we began to define wisdom and saw various definitions such as that it is being “skilled” or an “expert” in life. In other words, wisdom is knowing how to live rightly according to God’s perspective. Then we began to look at one of wisdom’s primary characteristics, which the Scriptures call the beginning of wisdom - the fear of the Lord. In essence, the fear of the Lord is respecting and reverencing the Lord, which also includes respecting and reverencing His things and His people. So, as we begin to respect the things of God more and more, our wisdom begins to increase more and more.
Then we began looking at some of the practical elements of wisdom: First, we looked at “wisdom for holiness” by looking at the passages in Proverbs that talk about the utter foolishness of sin and how to overcome the “seductresses’” temptations. Then we looked at “wisdom in the Word” by looking at all of the proverbs that talk about the absolute importance of listening to our Heavenly Father’s instructions. Now at the casual observance of these verses, one could simply read them as Solomon talking to his physical children, but we know that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Therefore, these are appeals given to us – God’s children – by our Father in heaven.
Then, last week, we talked about the “wisdom of our own words.” We learned that there are so many verses in the Book of wisdom that talk about the importance of our mouth, tongue and words:
We began by looking at Proverbs 18:20-21 which says, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
So, since there is both “death” and “life” in the power of our tongues, we looked at some of the specific examples contained in the Book of Proverbs. We saw that some of the ways that our tongue has the power to bring “death” is through lying – which we saw is one of those abominations in the sight of God, gossiping – which Proverbs describes as being a “talebearer,” and through simply talking too much – which ends up resulting in an abundance of sin as Proverbs
So, we saw that the saying that we’ve all heard – “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” – is totally false! Words do hurt, and they do cause great damage!
But on the flipside, we saw how there is also “life” in the power of the tongue! We can actually minister life, health, light, etc. to others and to our own selves.
We saw that in Proverbs 18:20-21 that the other saying the world has – “You will eat your words” – is actually true! Yes, we actually are satisfied and filled by the fruit of our lips according to several Scriptures in the Book of Wisdom.
So, we learned that when things get tough and our flesh wants to say, “Oh, it’s just so hard! I can’t do it!” we need to not say what we feel; we need to say what heals! In other words, when things aren’t going well, do not speak how unhappy and dissatisfied you are! Why? Because you will not “eat good” that way! It will only produce death in your soul and will attract more of that discontentment. Rather, what should you say when you are tempted to get down in the “mully-grubs”? Say, “I am an overcomer! Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! My God will satisfy me! He satisfies my mouth with good things! Etc., etc., etc.” In other words, don’t talk about what you can’t do, what you don’t know, and what you don’t have. This will only minister darkness to your heart! Reverse what you feel like saying by saying - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I have the Anointing and I know all things! I have the mind of Christ! In Christ, I have everything I need! I am blessed, I am anointed, I am strong! Amen!” Yes, when you are feeling weak in a particular area, don’t say, “Oh, I am just so weak!” Rather say, “I am strong!” (see Joel 3:10).
Church, our words are indeed powerful! They can build up and they can tear down - both others and our own selves. Therefore, wisdom will love this power that is in the tongue - that is, it will respect it and utilize it the appropriate way. So, let’s appropriate this wisdom pertaining to our words today and become wise in our words. Yes, as James said, our words have the power to start a fire and destroy things around us, but they also have the power to start the good kind of fire too! Let’s use our tongue wisely, church!
So, this week, I want us to move into another practical area of wisdom. Today, I want us to look at “Wisdom in our Bodies.” In other words, I want us to look at what both the Book of Proverbs and the Bible itself has to say about what God’s will is concerning our physical bodies.
So, let’s begin by looking over at Romans chapter 12:
THE TEMPLE OF GOD
Romans 12:1 teaches us the following – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Now when most read this, they automatically apply this presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice to putting the flesh under in regards to holiness and righteousness. But I also believe that one of the ways in which we are called to offer up our bodies unto Him is in the simple, everyday putting under of the flesh and its appetites.
You know, our flesh has a voice and its own cravings, and I believe that we are to let our spirit man run the show, not letting our body get everything it wants. But what we need to be mindful of is that our bodies are living sacrifices, not dead ones. That means it is going to try and get off that altar and will kick and scream if you try to keep it there.
Have you ever noticed this when you have decided to fast? Man, our flesh will throw a fit and throw up a big fuss when the term “fast” is even used. Well, that is because our flesh has a voice and it does not want to be crucified. However, if we want to truly live in the spirit, then we are going to need to die in the flesh. It is that simple.
But many in our circles devalue the importance of our body, thinking that the only thing that is important is the spirit-man. We emphasize the importance of being born again and place all of the importance on who we have become spiritually. But the body is evidently important to God too, or else He would not have made provision for the redemption and glorification of our bodies, right?
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians chapter 6: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
You know, a temple does not do its own thing, does it? It was built simply for the use of the one who built it. Well, our body here is called the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our body is not our own any longer. We were bought at a price - the high price of the precious blood of the Lamb! So, we ought to glorify God in both our spirit and our body because they are both His purchased possession!
In 1 Corinthians 10:23, the Apostle Paul, in reference to eating meat that is sacrificed to idols, made the following statements: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify…” In 1 Corinthians 6:12, he made reference to “not being brought under the power of any.” What this means is that there is nothing that is “unlawful” for us to eat any longer. So, we can have all the bacon & pork chops we want now, praise God! 😊 But is it helpful to our bodies to eat just anything our flesh wants? Of course not. Not everything will build our bodies up. Not everything helps our bodies. Our bodies should not be under the power of having to fulfill cravings or addictions. Therefore, while we are not bound to any dietary laws, we also must consider this: are the things we are putting in our body helping us or hurting us, are they contributing towards building our bodies up or tearing them down? Now I understand that the primary focus in these statements is us helping and edifying others through our actions, but I believe we can apply them to our own physical health as well. We see this in the following verses:
Notice verse 31: He goes on to say, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So here is just a great summarization of the matter, which also answers a lot of other doctrinal questions: Whatever we do – including what we eat and drink – we are to do it all to the glory of God. In other words, everything we do with our body needs to be done to glorify the Lord. And as Warren Wiersbe once was quoted as saying - “If something cannot be done for the glory of God, then you can be sure it is not the will of God.”
You see, the bottom line is - are we glorifying the Lord in our actions and our decisions? This is the real question, and this certainly applies to the decisions we make concerning our bodies. Are we glorifying God in our bodies? So, a good question that we should all ask the Lord is - Lord, how can I better glorify you through this, Your temple? - and then listen to what He might tell you. For some of us, He might say, “Get up a little earlier and worship me for bit.” To others, He might say, “Miss a couple of meals this week.” Still others, He might encourage us to start walking a couple of miles a day. The possibilities are endless, but I believe this what we are all called to do: live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered and Spirit-led life, to where the Holy Ghost is calling the shots with what we do with these temples. (We will get more into this in a moment)
So now, let’s look at some things that He has already told us. In other words, let’s look in the Scriptures and see where He has already given us God’s wisdom regarding our bodies. In doing so, we will learn how He has instructed us to truly glorify God in our temples. Amen?
FROM THE INSIDE TO THE OUTSIDE
I believe that one of the most important aspects of wisdom concerning our physical bodies is that the condition of the outward man is reflected by the condition of the inward man. What I mean by this is that a healthy life internally tends towards a healthy life externally.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible teaches us this. So, let’s look at 3 John 2: It says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
This is a verse that I include on my signature, but what I want you to see is that this verse does not just express my will for you, nor does it just refer to the Apostle John’s will for his original recipient of this letter that we call “Third John”; this passage expresses God’s will for all of our lives!
Let me explain: Some have commented on this verse, saying that the truth contained in it was simply the Apostle John’s desire for Gaius, to whom this short letter was written. Therefore, they say that this verse does not express the will of the Lord for all believers for all time, but this is simply incorrect. For who are we to determine what parts of the Bible are intended only for the original recipients of the letters and what parts are applicable to us? If this were so, how would we know if what was written to the Romans were just promises applicable to the believers in Rome? Or how would we know if what was written to the Ephesians was just meant for the select church in Ephesus? How then would we know what parts of the Holy Scriptures were written to us?
The truth is that all of the Bible was written for our admonition and instruction! All Scripture is given by inspiration of God - being God-breathed so that we can know and understand God’s will for all of our lives. He is no respecter of persons! Therefore, what He moved the Apostle John to say to Gaius is what God wills for all of His children along with Gaius to receive and embrace. So, 3 John 2 is God’s will for all of His children, for all time!
So, what is God’s will for us: Notice that divine “health” is specifically mentioned here. Therefore, this verse alone should dispel the popular Christian doctrine that sometimes God sends sickness into our lives to teach us something. No, God’s will is that we are healthy, not sick. To live in sickness, disease, and infirmity is no more God’s will for our lives than for us to live in sin, transgression, and iniquity! And this is exactly what you see in Jesus’ ministry, which was a perfect reflection of God’s will (see John 14:7&9 and Hebrews 1:3)! Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil! Why did He go about doing good and healing everyone who responded to Him in faith? It was because this was (and always will be) God’s will!
But as great as healing is, I want you to notice that 3 John 2 does not say that God wants us to prosper in all things and be “healed”; it says that God wills that we be in “health!” In other words, this verse tells us that God not only wills that we experience healing, but that we experience divine health. For example, God’s perfect will is for our bodies to be so charged with His resurrection power that when germs or viruses touch our bodies, they die immediately. His perfect plan for our lives is that everything from our eyesight, hearing, and overall health is strong and living well above the norm.
And this not only includes wholeness in our physical bodies but also health in our mind and emotions. The prophet Isaiah said that the chastisement needful to obtain our peace was laid upon Him. The Apostle Paul said that the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that we can have a “sound mind.” This describes a soul that is whole, not weak and sick. Jesus purchased not only wholeness in our bodies, but also wholeness in our mind, will, and emotions! He wants us sharp and strong in our soul too. Thank you, Jesus!
So, God evidently has a greater vision for our lives than most people do themselves. He wants us to be whole and strong in every area of our bodies as well - which includes being healthy physically, healthy mentally, and healthy emotionally!
Someone then might say, “Trey, if this is truly God’s will for everyone’s life, then why do we see so little of it fulfilled in our lives?” That is a good question; I’m glad you asked: The reason God’s will is not automatically experienced in a person’s life is because we have a part to play in God’s will coming to pass! It is true! Contrary to popular belief, just because something is God’s will doesn’t mean that it automatically will come to pass.
For instance, it is God’s will to save everyone, is it not? Sure, God wills that none perish but all be saved and come into the knowledge of His Beloved Son (see 2 Peter 3:9). But not everyone gets saved, do they? Why? It is because each and every person born on this earth must respond in faith to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, the grace needful to obtain God’s will has already been provided, but in order for us to obtain this grace, we must receive God’s will by faith! This is the only way to salvation! Likewise, the only way to receive every other part of God’s will - which is briefly listed here in 3 John 2 - is also by faith.
And this is exactly what the Apostle John said at the very end of this powerful verse: 3 John 2 ends by saying that God wants you to prosper in all things and be in health “just as your soul prospers.”
Now, first of all, we don’t have any problem believing that God wills for our soul to prosper, right? Sure, we all believe God wants us to grow up spiritually, for our hearts to be clean and hungry for God, and for our minds to be filled with thoughts of good and not of evil. We have no problem believing that do we? Well, if we believe that, we also need to believe that God wills for us to prosper in all things and be in health as well, based on this Scripture. Amen?
Now the two words “just as” are extremely important because they show us how God’s will of health is going to come to pass in our lives: These two words literally mean “according to”, or better yet “in proportion to.” So, what the Holy Spirit was saying was that our health is “in proportion” to our soul prospering. In other words, our health outwardly is in proportion to our health inwardly!
So, I suppose we better find out what it means for our soul to prosper if every other area of our prosperity is tied to that, don’t you? In other words, if our experiencing God’s will for living in divine health is according to our soul thriving and flourishing, then I for one want to discover how my soul can prosper!
Let’s look at a couple of Proverbs that describe this “prosperous soul” and see how this truth from 3 John 2 is reflected in the Book of Wisdom:
Proverbs 14:30 says that “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”
The Hebrew word that is used for “sound” here literally describes “healthy.” So, a “sound heart” would describe a healthy and whole heart within us, correct? Therefore, what the Holy Spirit is telling us here is that a healthy heart within us is what gives life to our physical bodies. In other words, sometimes when our physical bodies are not experiencing the life that they should, it is a result of an unhealthy heart. Of course, this is true naturally, but it is also true spiritually.
We see an example of this in the second half of this proverb when Solomon goes on to say that envy is rottenness to the bones. In other words, when one allows envy in their heart, it yields death and decay in their bones. Now to be envious or jealous is an indication that one’s heart is not whole, that it is discontent and incomplete. This is why things like unforgiveness, bitterness, etc. open us up to illness.
Therefore, we see the absolute importance of having a heart that is whole, complete, satisfied and in good health. This goes a long way in producing life, health and wholeness in our bodies.
In fact, we see that it is the strong and healthy spirit within us that will actually sustain one through and fight off sickness in our bodies, but if we have a “broken spirit”… (Well, you know the rest)
Look over at Proverbs 18:14. In this verse, we are told, The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?
The Good News Translation says, “Your will to live can sustain you when you are sick, but if you lose it, your last hope is gone.” I also like the Contemporary English Version here. It says, “Being cheerful helps when you are sick, but nothing helps when you give up.” In other words, when one quits on the inside, it’s over. But having resolve and being strong on the inside can bring you through. And this positive attitude is a part of having a prosperous soul. Amen?
You see, the condition of our inner man has so much to do with the condition of the outer man. Many of us are familiar with Proverbs 17:22. It says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” What this proverb is saying is that being happy, joyful and light-hearted works good in our bodies like medicine does.
You see, we need to lighten up and not be so stuffy. We need to learn to enjoy life, being happy and joyful in our salvation. Simply laughing will add so many years to our lives. I have heard testimonies of people who had cancer and had been written off as good as dead. Then they got a hold of this principle and were completely healed. In one situation, I heard of a woman who had stage-4 cancer. Then she and her husband got some Three Stooges videos and watched them for several hours a day and she ended up getting completely healed. Now how many of you know that this was not a “spiritual” thing she did? But she did operate according to this natural law that says laughing works like medicine in our bodies. It has been well said that if the devil can’t steal your joy, he can’t steal your goods.
Notice that a “merry heart” is differentiated by a “broken spirit” here, and it is a broken spirit that dries up the bones. Again, we see our physical bodies affected by the condition of the inward man.
Saints, Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And, as we have seen, rejoicing and having a happy heart goes a long way in experiencing life in our body. This is wisdom for the body!
But do you know what else goes a long way to bringing health to the body and acts as medicine to all of our flesh? The Word of God! Let’s go over to Proverbs chapter 4:
Proverbs 4:20-23 says, “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”
Now, again, the words “My son” should be read as our Heavenly Father giving instructions to His children. So, let’s read this that way - not just as black letters on white pages but as it is in truth, God speaking to us His sons and daughters.
Now exhortations like these to give attention to His Words, incline our ears to His saying, etc., are done solely in love just like we tell our children things like, “Now make sure you brush your teeth, take your vitamins, etc.” Now why do you tell them things like that? Because you understand things they don’t yet - that doing certain things are for their own good and you are trying to help them not get sick, have cavities, etc. Amen? Well, this is why God tells you and I things too. Jesus said that if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts (including instruction) to our children, how much more does our Father in heaven know how to give good gifts (including instruction) to His children? Amen! Yes, saints, God is not trying to get something through you; He is trying to get something to you. He loves you so much that He gives you specific instructions like this to make your life better. Thank you, Lord!
So, again, what did He say to us, His children? Verse 22 specifically tells us what His Words and His Sayings will do for us when it says, “For they (They what? They - His Words and His Sayings) are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”
But notice that the latter part of verse 22 does not say that God’s Word is “healing” for all our flesh. No, it says that His Words are “health” for all our flesh. Again, while healing is certainly good to experience, it is actually better to live in divine health because if we are not ever having to focus on our own healing and getting ourselves well, we can devote more of our focus and energies on others on the outside who need healing. We need to be so crammed full of the Word that it expels any sickness out of us. God’s Word is preventive medicine, Hallelujah!
Now, of course, this does not mean that we won’t ever need healing or have something try to come against us. But it does mean that we can hear God’s Word to the point where our body will actually repel many of the things that plague this world. But the truth is, so many Christians are trying to live off miracles and supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Again, don’t get me wrong; we certainly need to see signs and wonders following us wherever we go, but these miracles are mainly to be for the world we come in contact with, not for God’s children to constantly be depending on.
You see, why does God manifest these various gifts of the Spirit like gifts of healings and working of miracles and then only a few out of many receive? It’s to get our attention and to get us in His Word for ourselves. We cannot determine when God’s power gifts operate. Gifts of the Spirit like the gift of special faith, gifts of healings and working of miracles are given as the Spirit wills, but God’s Word is always present and available. Therefore, we don’t have to wait for one of these manifestations of the Spirit to get healed; we can give attention to His Words and incline our ears to His sayings anytime we want, as much as we want, and receive God’s healing power in our bodies by faith! Amen!
Now if you look in the margin of your Bible, you will likely see that the word “health” literally describes “medicine.” This word comes from the Hebrew word marpe which is defined as “restoration of health, remedy, cure, medicine.” This word occurs 13 times in the Old Testament, coming from the verb rapha which means to heal, cure, or repair. This is obviously the word where we get God’s name “Jehovah Raphe” from, meaning the Lord who heals. (We will see this in a moment) So, God’s Word is medicine, a remedy and a cure to all of our flesh! Amen! This is why Psalm 107:20 says that He sent His Word and healed us.
We see this principle of God’s Word working like medicine in our bodies in a couple of other places in the Book of Wisdom. Let’s quickly look at them:
Proverbs 15:30 says, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy.”
Notice that this proverb says that a “good report” makes the bones healthy. Well, the Gospel is the good report! The Prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:1, “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed.” Then he goes on to describe what Jesus would accomplish on the Cross! Amen.
So, while I am sure there is truth that any good report can tend towards a healthy life, there is no greater “good report” than the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s Word concerning it! Therefore, what part of God’s Word that we hear plays an important factor in healing, because we need to hear the good news of what Jesus did for us on Cross when He Himself bore all of our sicknesses and carried our pains! We need to hear the gospel that by His stripes we are and were healed! We need to hear the Gospel of our Salvation! According to this Scripture, it makes our bones healthy!
Then, in Proverbs 16:24 we are told, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
As we learned last week, these “pleasant” words describe beautiful, kind, and gracious words. And while this can certainly describe any pleasant words that are spoken, are there any more beautiful, kind and gracious words than the Words that have proceeded from the mouth of God? I think not! So, if our words hold this kind of power – sweetness to our souls and health to our bones – then what do you imagine God’s Words would do for one’s soul and body!?!
And one major point we can see from this truth is that if God’s Words and Sayings will heal you and bring health to your body, then how could it not be God’s will for everyone to be healed? Let me ask it this way, if God told us here how to get health to all our flesh (and He did), then shouldn’t this be clear that God’s will is to heal?
Someone will say, “How does this prove to us that it is God’s will to heal, Trey?” Well, aren’t God’s Words for everybody? Would you say that it is not God’s will for you receive any of His Words? Of course not! What if a preacher told you, “Sure, the Book of Romans is for you. You can follow that Roman’s road, but the road ends there. Ephesians is not for you, Colossians is not for you, etc.” If anyone said that, you would call them a heretic, right? No, church, God tells us how to receive health and healing to all our flesh and it is through receiving His Words. So, if His Words are for everyone, then healing and health must be for everyone, for His Words are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh. Amen! On top of that, why would God tell you how to get something like life and health and it not be His will for you? No, if He tells you how to get it, then it most certainly is available to be “gotten.” Amen?
Now medicine does not always produce an instant cure, right? Sometimes you have to take it for days before it takes effect. Take antibiotics, for instance: They tell you to take them for 10 days and make sure you finish the full prescription even if you start feeling better before that. Well, God’s Word is a lot like that. But here is the great part: It will work every time because it is a spiritual law and His Word is packed full of life and healing remedies like a capsule or pill has contained within it what you need to be healed.
So, if God’s Words and Sayings are medicine to all our flesh, then do you reckon God has a prescribed formula of how to take His medicine? In other words, if His Word is our medicine, then does God’s Word also give us directions on how to take it?
You see, our Great Physician has given us a prescription - which is an instruction written that authorizes us to be provided a medicine or treatment. Well, that would most certainly be God’s Word - It contains the prescription that authorizes you and I to obtain His medicine. Hallelujah! So, we already have the prescription! It’s waiting at the pharmacy, with our name on it! Our health insurance - the stripes of Jesus - have already paid for our prescription. Amen! No, in God’s kingdom, there is no co-pay. There is no deductible that needs to be met. It’s already been paid for 100% by our Great Physician!
So, it’s not God’s fault if we aren’t taking our medicine - He’s already made available what to take and He’s already paid for it! Therefore, there are no more excuses. We don’t have to wait for the gifts of the Spirit to be in operation to receive healing and health. C’mon somebody! All we have to do is follow His directions for taking His medicine, and those directions are listed right here, in Proverbs 4:20-21. Yes, God’s directions for taking His medicine - which is health to all our flesh- is listed here in Proverbs 4:20-21. Amen!
THE PRESCRIPTION FROM OUR PHYSICIAN
So, let’s look at these verses in more detail: He begins instructing us, His children, by saying, “My Son, give attention to my words.”
Now these instructions of “giving attention” describes the giving of one’s undivided attention to something. Another way of saying this is that you are honoring and respecting God’s Words through paying attention and listening attentively.
Next he says, “incline your ear to my sayings.” This phrase describes putting yourself in a better position to hear like tilting your head towards the one speaking. Do you know what this phrase denotes? It denotes that there must be distractions present because if we have to put ourselves in a better position to hear, there must be a lot of commotion going on around us. And this commotion comes from the world:
You know, in our society today, this is a bigger problem than it ever has been before now… We are a generation that is inundated with all kinds of things that vie for our attention - cell phones, tablets, television, radio, music, etc. We are the information age. Well, while many of these things are good and helpful for promoting God’s kingdom, they can also be a vice, because too much information can be a distraction.
So, in the world that we live in, there are many things that will vie for our attention. Therefore, we have to discipline ourselves to shut out the distractions - give attention to God’s Word and put ourselves in a better position to hear what the voice of truth is saying. Yes, we must train ourselves to give full attention to God’s Word and incline ourselves to hear His Sayings.
Then, in verse 21, He says, “Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart…”
So, we must first give attention to His Words and incline our ears to His sayings, but then we must not let them (His Words and His Sayings) depart from our eyes. Let’s look at an example from the Scriptures: In both Joshua 1 & Psalm 1, we are told to meditate on His Word day and night.
Now most would see that as an impossible admonition. How can one meditate on God’s Word all day and all night? Well, again, he is not talking about physically keeping the Bible in front of your eyes 24/7. No, he is talking about constantly seeing it on the inside.
You see, you are meditating on something constantly - whether you know it or not. Your mind is constantly thinking on something. If I were to tell you not to think on anything for a minute, you couldn’t do it because then you would be thinking about not thinking anything. No, all the Lord is saying in these two Scriptures is for us to put our focus - our mind’s eye - on the things of God. This is not letting God’s Word depart from your eyes! He’s talking about the eyes of your heart.
So, Solomon is not talking about not letting God’s Words and Sayings depart from our physical eyes. That would be an impossible admonition. We have daily responsibilities and activities that would keep us from being able to keep our nose in this book 24/7. But the truth is that you can keep God’s Words and Sayings ever before the eyes of your heart. And you do this by keeping the things of God as your constant spiritual focus.
But, again, let me remind you of the order in which the Holy Spirit inspired Solomon to write this: First, He said “give attention to My words.” Second, He said, “incline your ears to My sayings.” And, third, He said, “Do not let them depart from your eyes.” So, the first admonition was to pay attention - which would involve both the ears and the eyes - for if you are not both inclining your ear to listen and focusing on someone with your eyes, you are not really giving them your full attention. That’s just the way it is.
I know we like to think we are good multitaskers but we will never fully assimilate God’s Words if we are not fully attentive, fully inclined and fully looking at His Words.
The order here is so important to understand because it leads into Solomon giving us the last and final direction for how to take God’s medicine where he says, “Keep them in the midst of your heart.”
Now someone might ask, “Why is it important to understand the order in verses 20-21?” It is important for us to recognize the order God gives us in these directions because, in order to get God’s Words in the midst of our heart where it can do its work, we must first receive God’s Word in through our ear gate and through our eye gate. This is how you take God’s medicine - through the ears and the eyes - because this is the mouth to our heart which is where His medicine can truly take effect. Amen!
But in order for God’s Words and His Sayings to get in the midst of your heart, you must follow the directions preceding. This is how you get the medicine into the midst (or, middle) of your heart - that is, the central place of priority and importance in our lives. This is why “the midst of your heart” is so important. Just like with some medicines, in order for them to take effect, the medicine must go directly into the blood stream through the heart. Why is this so important? It is because the heart is where the blood flows from and throughout the whole body.
So, these are the directions for taking God’s medicine so that it can take full effect in our body: We, first, need to give our full attention to His Words - that is, using both our ears and our eyes. Secondly, we need to incline our ears to His Words - that is, putting ourselves in the best position to hear. Thirdly, we need to keep God’s Word ever before our eyes by meditating on them day and night. And, last but not least, by following these first three directions - His Words will enter into the midst of our heart. Then it is our job to keep them there. And we do this through giving even the more earnest heed to the things we have heard. Amen!
If you follow these four directions that are on God’s medicine bottle, it will be impossible for any sickness, weakness, disease, etc. to remain in your body - because this is some potent medicine! It will work for everyone, regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. Amen! If you, following these specific directions, will take enough of God’s Word for long enough, you will be healed! Amen and amen!
And this is why Solomon went on to say in verse 23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” In other words, “above all, keeping” (lit. “with all diligence”), we need to keep our heart! Why? Because out of it spring the issues of life. In other words, just like the heart is the well spring of blood for the whole body and the blood is the life of the body, likewise the spiritual heart pumps the life to the rest our spiritual body. Amen! Therefore, out of the heart spring the issues of life!
NOURISHED IN THE WORDS OF FAITH
So, evidently learning to guard our hearts is very important. So, how do we do this? The answer is simple: we guard our spiritual hearts, the same way we guard our physical hearts:
We see this specifically referred to in 1 Timothy 4:6-8 which teaches us, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
In these verses, Paul shows us the two keys to developing a strong spirit - nourishment and exercise. These are the two keys, as well, to developing a strong physical body. So, let’s talk about the first key mentioned - nourishment.
An important truth that we need to understand is that your inner man needs nourishment just as your outer man needs nourishment. In other words, your spirit has an appetite and needs to be fed constantly just like your body does. The reason this is so important to understand is because, just as in the natural, if you don’t eat every day, you will get weaker. This is what Paul actually implied when he used the word “nourished” here in 1 Timothy 4:6: The New American Standard more correctly translates the word “nourished” as “constantly nourished.” You see, we have to be constantly nourished spiritually just as we have to be constantly nourished physically. In other words, our spirits must be fed healthy spiritual food everyday so that we can be spiritually nourished.
So, the question now is: What is healthy spiritual food?
Paul specifically said in this passage of Scripture that we are to be “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.” You see, the Word of God is our healthy spiritual food! Let me put it this way… The Word of God is to our spirit what meat, milk, potatoes, and green beans are to our physical bodies. The Word of God is the only real “soul food.”
Let me give you a few Scriptures that further verify this:
Through these verses we can see how the Word of God is likened to “food” but notice again what Paul specifically told Timothy will “nourish” us in the Word of God: It is constantly indulging our spirits “in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.”
Let’s look at what Paul mentioned first: “the words of faith.” This would be better translated “the words of the faith” because there is a definite article in front of the word “faith” in the original text. “What’s the difference?” someone might ask. Well, while “faith” by itself would be referring to the subject of “faith” alone, “the faith” refers to the Christian faith altogether. And “the faith” can be summed up best as “the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of the kingdom of God.” So what Paul was basically describing was being constantly nourished in the New Testament teachings.
The second thing that Paul said would nourish us is, “the good doctrine.” The word “good” means “what is right and correct” and the word “doctrine” simply means “teaching.” So “good doctrine” literally means “correct and right teaching.”
So according to Paul, there are two ways to get nourished through the Word of God:
1. through the written Word of God (primarily the New Testament)
2. through teaching of the Word of God that is good and right.
I want to talk a little further about these words - “good doctrine.” You see, we can hear teaching of the Word of God and not necessarily be nourished. The reasons can be similar to the reasons we aren’t nourished in the natural…
Like for instance, one reason can be how it is prepared. That is how preachers put together their messages. If it is not prepared well it won’t taste too good. Some preachers need to learn how to cook! Another example could be what it is served with. If a preacher always puts a little condemnation in with the Word of God then it won’t be too tasty.
Then, on the other hand, some preachers only serve up desserts. 2 Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.” The word for “sound” is the same Greek word that is translated “health” in 3 John 2. These believers that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 4:3 are like little kids who only want to eat the “sweets.” They only want to hear the preachers that will give them what they want to hear and what makes their flesh comfortable. I call these kinds of sermons “cotton candy sermons.” That’s because they seem great, they are colorful, and they will make people swing from the chandeliers from a temporary “sugar high,” but there is no substance or nourishment in them.
I have heard it said that it would be great if teaching tapes, Christian books, and even preachers themselves would have nutrition labels attached to them. Just think about it: What if there were these labels that said things like, “10 grams of faith, 60% hype, 2 grams of filler, 100% love, 2,000 milligrams of grace, etc.”? 😊 Although this is not possible, there is one thing you can be assured of… The Word of God in itself has no added preservatives and no artificial additives. That’s why “the words of the faith” was mentioned first because the first and foremost way we are to be nourished is straight from the Word of God itself. You see, while we all need to listen to good doctrine (i.e. correct teaching), and God gave the Body of Christ these teachers for the purpose of nourishing us, they are not to be a substitute for our personal time in “the words of the faith.” We are not supposed to completely live off “vitamin supplements” and I can assure you all teaching tapes, Christian books, and preachers have at least a little bit of preservatives and artificial additives contained in them. The key is found in the word “balance”- add some good teaching together with your personal study time in God’s Word.
So, remember, every day - try and make time to nourish your spirit through the Word of God. Take some time to get quiet, pull out your Bible and feed on some “Matthew” and then have “Philippians” for dessert. This is how we become spiritually nourished. His Words are indeed medicine to all of our flesh!
EXERCISING OURSELF TOWARD GODLINESS
Then in this passage of Scripture, Paul doesn’t just refer to nourishing ourselves with God’s Word; He then refers to the importance of exercise in the following verses:
Notice again, verses 7-8: “But reject profane and old wives fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
First of all, notice that in verse 8, he makes a comparison between exercising physically and exercising spiritually. Now I want to make a quick point about what Paul did not say here: He did not say that physical exercise is non-important and profits nothing. The point he was making was that, in comparison to the exercise and condition of our inner-man, the exercise and condition of our outer-man profits little. In other words, our spiritual well-being is by far more important than our physical well-being.
So how do we exercise ourselves towards godliness? The same way we exercise ourselves physically! You see, our spirit is complete with nothing missing and nothing broken. It is born (again) with all that it will ever need like a baby is born with every bone, muscle, and organ that it will ever need, but there is a growth and development that needs to take place. And this growth and development is accomplished, number one, through grace. You see, we do not know why the body grows and changes like it does. This is a product of the grace of God working in us. But in order for the body to reach its full potential, exercise must accompany that grace.
Early in my Christian life I was on a fast and the Lord asked me a question: He asked me, “Do you want to know what the muscles of your spirit are?” Of course, I said “yes.” Then He told me that our spiritual muscles are the fruit of the Spirit. You see, our fruit is the indication of how strong and in-shape we are spiritually. And after He gave me the answer, He gave me the Scripture “you will know them by their fruit.” You see, just as we can recognize people by their physical shape, we can recognize the godliness of people by their spiritual fruit.
So how do we exercise these spiritual muscles that we have? The answer is - the same way we exercise the physical muscles we have - through using them! Hebrews 5:14 verifies this by saying, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age (i.e. grown up), that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Notice that it is by doing what we hear that we are exercising ourselves.
Now we know that we can exercise with no weights at all, but the best way to develop our physical muscles is through weight training. It is no different in our spiritual exercise. But what are the spiritual weights? They are the adverse circumstances that come into our lives. Let me explain… When we have trials and tribulations come into our lives, aren’t those the hardest times to walk in peace, love, patience, and faith? Of course, they are! It is easy to love people when there are no enemies coming against you. It is easy to have peace when there are no waves of life crashing against your boat. It is easy to have faith in God when you are not walking through a trial of your faith. You see, it is easy to walk in the fruit of the Spirit when your fruit is not being squeezed, but squeezing is the real test to find out what your fruit is made of. It has been well said that you will find out what your fruit is made of when it gets squeezed.
But, you see, we should actually view these weights (i.e. trials and tribulations) as opportunities and not just as obstacles. The reason is because they are opportunities to exercise our spiritual muscles. As a matter of fact, the word “tribulation” that is used oftentimes in the Bible literally describes a heavy, tight, and pressure situation. You see, these “tribulations” are our spiritual weights! When these circumstances come up that tempt us to become unloving, impatient, or not so joyful, this is when we should make the most of the opportunity and resist those temptations - thus exercising ourselves to develop the love, patience, and joy on the inside of us. I guarantee you that, just as it is with natural exercise, when you start off “lifting those spiritual weights” it will be hard at the beginning, but if you keep at it those spiritual muscles will begin to develop and it will become easier and easier as you resist those temptations. So, in short, use those weights the enemy deals you and don’t become bitter, become better! Exercise yourself!
But I believe that the Book of Proverbs gives us some good practical wisdom on how we “exercise” in the spirit:
Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”
Notice the phrase “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” I think sometimes we err in this respect regarding our physical health. So many “lean” to this diet and that exercise plan and totally rely on their own understanding. But what does wisdom say concerning this? Do not lean to your own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all your heart. This certainly pertains to our health - for our health ultimately comes from the Lord. You can tell what you have more trust in by how much time you spend either in the Word and prayer or in researching and pursuing healthy living. Now it’s okay to do the various diets that are out there and to do various exercise routines, just be Spirit-led. Make Him your “personal trainer.” If He tells you put down certain foods, then by all means, do it! If He leads you to exercise a little every day, then follow His guidance. This is how one puts their trust for their own physical health in the Lord.
But then notice that these verses go on to describe the importance of “fear(ing) the Lord and depart(ing) from evil” in regard to us having health in our flesh and strength to our bones. Now as we’ve seen, the fear of the Lord is simply us respecting and reverencing Him, His people and His things, which results in us departing from evil. Again, if we honor the Lord, we will not yield to the things that He says are wrong. It is that simple.
And the fruit of this healthy, reverential fear of the Lord is what? Proverbs 10:27 says it this way - “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.” Well, in order for us to have our days prolonged as opposed to shortened, we are going to have to walk in some semblance of health and healing, amen?
So what I see here is this: As we are both being nourished by God’s Word and are taking it like medicine, then it is imperative that we take the truth we are learning and apply it to our lives out of respect for the Lord. So, it is like exercise! As we do what is right in God’s sight even when we do not feel like it, it is “fearing” the Lord. Our flesh might not want to do it, but hey, does our flesh like to exercise either? I think not!
Well, one of the other ways in which we “exercise” the Word that we are feeding on is by speaking it! And make no mistake about it - this is one of the primary ways that we walk in the health God has for us to walk in. Again, Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” In the original language, the latter half of this proverb simply says that the tongue of the wise is or brings health. So, as we learn to speak what God says, declaring out of our mouth God’s medicine, it will both promote and bring healing in our bodies! Amen!
This is why Proverbs 13:17 says, “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health.”
We are called “ambassadors” for Christ, aren’t we? So, a faithful ambassador for Him will do what? He or she will bring health! And an ambassador does this through his or her words, amen?
So, what we can see is that God certainly wants us to live long and healthy lives. He has sent His Word to both serve as nourishment for our souls and medicine to our flesh! So, just as it is important that we eat good, healthy food in the natural, it is also important for us to eat good, healthy food in the spiritual as well.
But, as it is in the natural, there is more to living a healthy and whole life than just eating right. We must also exercise. Yes, we need to cooperate with these natural laws by doing certain cardiovascular and physical exercises, but there are ways in which we are to exercise ourselves toward godliness - that is, by truly “fearing the Lord” which is actually doing the things that He says in His Word. We also exercise the Word by speaking it. Amen.
I am a firm believer that if we cooperate with both the natural laws of physically eating right and exercising as we are led by the Spirit of God, and also eat right and exercise in these spiritual ways, then we will walk in the physical health that God says is ours and accomplish glorifying God in our temples in another way. This is wisdom for our bodies. Amen.