Thursday, January 20, 2022

Duality of Man (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

"Or do you not know … you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19b–20).

In the previous lesson we discovered that even though man has fallen from his original state he is still made in the image of God. Yet something has changed. To what degree have we retained the image of God? Does this image involve the body and the soul, or just the soul?

Man was created to be obedient to God. But when our first parents sinned, we lost that ability. Our ability to obey and live righteously before God can be restored only through faith in Christ. But one aspect of the image of God has remained—our humanity. After the Fall, we retained our mind, will, affections, and body. Even though these faculties have been affected by sin and are enslaved to unrighteousness, they have not been totally obliterated.

Man is composed of body and spirit. Both were created to conform to the character of God. Some philosophies and religions consider the physical to be evil and only the soul, or spirit, to be good. This philosophy is called dualism and was prevalent in the ancient world. Christianity has always insisted this is heretical. Though God is Spirit and we reflect His character in our spiritual being, our bodies are also involved in doing God’s will. At the heart of Christian theology is the belief that God created man soul and body, and both will be resurrected. Therefore, we must not devalue the physical, calling bad what God has called good.

We must also avoid the heresy of trichotomy—that man has three components: body, soul, and spirit. Its underlying assumption is that because the body and soul are irreconcilable, the spirit must mediate. Defenders of this view build an entire anthropology from verses that refer to the body, soul, and spirit. But Scripture uses soul and spirit interchangeably and refers to the destiny of just the soul and body (Matt. 10:28). Since Scripture divides the soul into mind, heart, spirit, and more, according to the trichotomy logic there would be six or seven components to humanity instead of just the three they maintain.

The duality of man (not dualism) includes soul and body, which were not lost in the Fall. Only through Christ Jesus can holiness, righteousness, and conformity to God’s character be restored.

In what ways has the mindset that the physical has no value infiltrated the church? Think through church history as well as contemporary issues today. What can you do to avoid these tendencies? Honor God with your body, thanking God that you are being conformed to the image of Christ.