I walked into the hospital room of a dying woman early one morning. The sleepless night had been long and hard. Her beautiful face was now only a skeleton draped with skin that was wrinkled and discolored. As I sat there holding her hand, I asked, “How’s it going?”
She replied, “I am well but my body is worn out.”
Within a few hours she died and three days later her body wasÊburied in the family plot. I had to ask myself, “What has happened?”ÊI got my answer from God’s Word. The Bible says, “The body returned to the ground it came from, and the spirit returned to God who gave it.” There are many mysteries in these inspired words which my mind cannot solve but two basic truths are taught that tell us we are an immortal soul clothed in a mortal body.
The Scriptures teach, “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) I am indeed thankful that I have not had to spend the last 75 years wondering who I am. The relationship between the Creator and me was broken when I sinned but He sent His Son to pay the price for my sins and through faith in Christ, I am forgiven. Now the relationship between God, the Creator, and me has been restored for all ternity. I am blessed daily by His presence, offering me His grace and forgiveness. I am even more blessed with the assurance that when my earthly stay is over, I shall leave my worn-out body behind, and clothed in a new body I shall stand in the presence of my God who has created and redeemed me. That’s who I am.
Let’s take a look at the body and what God’s Word says about it.ÊThe Bible pictures God as a potter shaping the body from the dust of the ground. Such a statement is open to much study and debate regarding its meaning. What a marvelous body He has given us. The intricacies of the body continue to challenge the most brilliant of our medical research people. Three thousand years ago the psalmist wrote, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14). Recently a neurologist at the famed Mayo Clinic told me that while they are beginning to understand how to work on the heart to prolong life, the brain remains a mystery to them.
While Plato called the body a prison from which the soul desires to be free, St. Paul referred to the body as the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” As believers in Christ we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is He who dwells within our bodies. But the body is mortal. St. Paul refers to the body as a “tent.” He writes, “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (II Corinthians 5:1-4)
Paul talks about the body as a tent. It is not going to last too long and while we live in this tent we groan and are burdened, but the day will come when we will have a body, not made with hands, that is eternal.
Many of us have trouble accepting this truth that our stay here on earth is very temporary. As we get older, and the body begins to fail in one way or another, we wrestle with the thought of dying. It is common to hear an elderly person say, “I can’t understand what is wrong with me. I never used to have all of these aches and pains. I tire so quickly. My memory is failing me.” I wonder if we do know what is wrong with us, but it is just hard to accept the fact that the body is wearing out. Medical science can keep us going for a while by cleaning out the veins or removing one organ and replacing it with another made by human hands. OneÊfriend has a valve in his heart that came from a pig, another has new hips, knees, ankles, and still another tells how the specialist was able to clean out some of the fat that has clogged the vessels through which the blood flows. For all of this we are thankful for it prolongs our stay on earth with those we love, but eventually we receive the word, there is no more that we can do for you.ÊEnjoy the days you have left and put your house in order. The body is mortal.
Not so with the soul. It is immortal. While the body is important, the soul is of much greater worth, according to Jesus. He said,Ê”Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) On another occasion he tells the crowds,Ê”What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
As the body needs to be fed, so the soul needs to be nourishedÊon God’s Word.
As the body needs exercise, so the soul needs spiritual exerciseÊby reaching out to others and doing something great for God by serving people.
Above all, the soul needs to be prepared to meet God whenever He calls us from this world. This preparation is made when Christ is received as Savior and Lord.
Do you know who you are? Life helps us to answer this question as we honestly examine our thoughts, words, and actions. But God’s Word gives us the basic answer. We are a body in which we live for a while. We are a soul that has been created to live with God forever and this eternal home can be ours through faith in ChristÊJesus. That’s who we are precious and important in God’s eyes.