πας ο μισων τον αδελφον αυτου ανθρωποκτονος εστιν και οιδατε οτι πας ανθρωποκτονος ουκ εχει ζωην αιωνιον εν εαυτω μενουσαν εν – τουτω εγνωκαμεν την αγαπην οτι εκεινος υπερ υμων την ψυχην αυτου εθηκεν και ημεις οφειλομεν υπερ των αδελφων τας ψυχας θειναι 1 John 3:15-16

Body Ministry

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”John 7:38 

The greek word used in John 7:38 for “inner most being”is κοιλία. It is the same word used for the belly and the womb. Hence: He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. KJV. It is used metaphorically in this verse to denote the individual cavity of the soul. It is the sense of an infilling and is expressed in the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. The interesting thing about such a usage of κοιλία lies in the fact that it would have been just as easy for John to have used the word πνεμα (spirit) if he had emphatically intended to communicate the idea that our souls and bodies are somehow separate from our service to others. Yet John uses the word κοιλία (belly) instead. It is inconceivable that John made a mistake and intended that we understand the Lord as saying that those who come to Him would thereafter promote natural appetites. So why the metaphorical use then? I believe it is because John must express that which is fully true. The life which we receive when we come to Christ is spiritual life as distinct from natural life. This new life passes through the vessel of the soul and is expressed through the physical body itself.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

The simple reality for believers is this. We yet live in this physical body. We have independent minds, emotions and our will is our own. We are also spirit born of Spirit. We are in Christ seated at the right hand of the Father and Christ is in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. If we were to claim that the Holy Spirit operates through our own spirit independently of our minds and bodies we would have formed a basis for an aesthetic life in which we deny every natural instinct of the body and every activity of the soul as well. Such a life would be extreme and would lead us into a mystical life with no practical outworking whatsoever. We would be better hermits than husbands, or wives. Yet every true believer regardless of their own lives has a part to play in the church as well. How can we play that part if we are so removed from basic physical realities? And instead lay hold of a mystical ambition in the neglect of our own souls and bodies! If we did do that then pastorally we would be pretty useless to others.

Reaping & Sowing

In practical terms we are vulnerable to our own bodies and our own inclination of the natural mind. So long as this remains true, we have no way of denying this reality in order to minister to others nor will it produce an effective attitude in receiving ministry from others. As long as we do not comprehend the way appointed by the Father in Heaven through Christ to deal with this problem, we will never truly know the renewing of our minds and the liberty of our bodies. Not only this but we will be vulnerable to deception made possible through our own bodies and the activity of demonic powers working through the air.

We will be especially vulnerable to men and women who labour before our very eyes and can reach out in a familiarity of our bodies and speak into our minds through our ears. Deception may well come from without but is comes just as effectually by way of our eyes and ears as well as by outward and inward sensations of the body itself; than it comes by demonic spirits. Indeed the body is capable of expressing the life of the soul to such acute levels of concentration that it would be very easy to believe that such things are spiritual in nature. Whereas we can only know demonic spirits if we can discern them. Deception is not defeated by doctrine, neither is truth proven by experience.

We are of course familiar with this verse of Scripture from John 7:38 and we are equally familiar with the idea that believers themselves are instruments of grace and life to those whom they serve. In seeking to understand how to receive from others, as well as to give to others in service of Christ, the distinction cannot be the atmosphere at all. It is the instrument itself which ought to concern us. If men labour out of their souls and do not know the reality of that precious dependence upon the life of Christ working in them, they will not know the true meaning of the life of Christ working through them. What men and women, labouring in their own strength are in danger of exhibiting and giving out, is their own thoughts and feelings exercised in the power of their own will. If they are fleshy, unrepentant and worse still, greedy and boastful, they will infect the hearer with their own ideas and the one affected will be taken prisoner by the mechanism of their own flesh.

If we seek that which is outward and visible and cannot comprehend the necessity for the strengthening of the inner life on a daily basis through repentance and self denial we may find that we will either reject all of the blessing of the Holy Spirit or lay ourselves open to demonic deception working through a man. This is very different to claiming that demons themselves induce every response as a mechanism for deceiving believers. It is the very fabric of the body itself and its relationship to the soul that facilitates the outcome through the mind. Only in some circumstances can demons invade the mind to such an extent that they can direct that experience to their own ends.

As believers we have a responsibility to serve one another and to do so in such a way that we do not render our ministry as oppressive, or else as an inducement. Our ministry must be for the sake of the other and not our own. If we minister for our own sakes in some fleshy manner then all we will do is enslave others to our own fleshy ways, or worse, we will cause them to stumble because we will draw them into their own flesh. Effectual ministry must be to liberate others and that liberty must be our own experience first of all. Otherwise how will living waters flow from our inner most part? Yet we also have to see that our souls and our bodies whilst they are not removed from such ordinary body ministry; they are not the source of life. It is Christ and no other.

Pastor Robert Chisholm

NBLC (Study)