"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself " (Philippians 3:20-21).
The resurrection of the body is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian Faith, and very much unique to our religion. Many heathens have, and have had some vague notions of "life after death", but generally are and have been ignorant of the resurrection of the body. Believers in Christ have the promise of, not only the immortality of the soul, but also of the resurrection of the body.
First of all, I will make it clear that the human body is precious to the Lord, and especially the bodies of His children. There is nothing intrinsically evil about the human body as certain heathens and pseudo-Christian groups have erroneously taught. When our text speaks of our bodies as being vile, it refers to the frailties to which we are susceptible due to the Fall of Man and of our sin nature, and the difficulties of this present life. Our bodies are subject to disease and distempers, and finally to death, but there is nothing sinful about the human body per se. God made man in His Image, and although He Himself hath not "body parts, or passions," being pure Spirit (John 4:24), yet He formed man in His Image, body and soul. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the holy Trinity, Who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, became a Man, with a real human body and soul, that He might work out a perfect righteousness for His elect people. "The Word was made flesh" (John 1:14). The Eternal Word of God became a Real Man. He lived as a man; He was crucified as a Man; He was laid in the grave as a Man; He arose from the grave as Man; He ascended back to heaven as a Man; He sits now at the right hand of God as a Man (I Timothy 2:5); He will return in glory to judge the world as a Man. Yet, He is infinitely more than a man, for He is the God-Man. Since our Lord took upon Him a real human body we know that the human body is not evil per se, for our Lord was "holy, harmless, undefiled, [and] separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26). Christ died to redeem us completely, including our bodies (Romans 8:23), and His redemptive work will not be complete until we are raised in His likeness (Psalm 17:15). The God of peace is active in the children of God sanctifying us wholly, in body, soul, and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23). And so we conclude from our creation in the Image of God, the Blessed Humanity of Christ, the redemptive work of Christ, the work of sanctification in us, and God's promise to raise our bodies, that there is nothing evil about the human body in and of itself.
However, the human body is subject to many trials, spiritually and physically. We are subject to physical pain, disease, infirmities and finally to physical death itself. Also, we are subject to many temptations and spiritual weaknesses. Every man is acquainted with physical infirmities, and believers are subject to these and many spiritual trials besides. Though our struggle with sin is primarily spiritual, yet they affect our bodies as well, for the body and soul are so connected that one greatly affects the other. In the Day of the resurrection we shall be set free from all these infirmities because Christ will give us new bodies fashioned after His Own glorified Body.
What shall we say concerning this new body? Why, we hardly know what to say, for it is higher than our human reasoning! But we do know this, we shall be like Him! Not that we shall ever become gods, but we shall be conformed to His Image (Romans 8:29). Christians shall be raised immortal and incorruptible to live with Christ, and worship Him perfectly forever and ever. Amen. (More on our subject next week, God willing.)