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What Is Food For?

Phyllis grew up in poverty during the Great Depression. Hunger was a daily concern for her family. Sometimes they had enough food for only three or four meals per week. On other occasions the entire family had to share a single can of beans. Perhaps because of this, Phyllis became obsessed with food as an adult. She had odd eating habits and often stared at pictures of food in magazines. She suffered physically and emotionally from her inability to eat well.

The Corinthian church had their own food issues—but fundamentally their problem was a spiritual one. They had trouble grasping the spiritual significance of the body. A popular slogan of the day shaped their philosophy of life: “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both” (v. 13).

Some in the church also wanted to extend the gospel’s theology of freedom beyond biblical limits. Rejecting a legalistic approach to righteousness that tied it to certain foods, Paul taught that the kingdom of God “is not a matter of eating and drinking” (Rom. 14:17). Righteousness is not a function of the food you put into your body. Unfortunately, some of the Corinthians extended this notion even further, saying that it did not matter what you did with your body at all. They even concluded that it was permissible to engage in sexual immorality.

This shocking conviction was the result of a kind of a belief that Christ’s salvation was for the spirit but not for the body. Paul offered a sharp correction for this false theology, saying that the body is for the Lord (v. 13). The resurrection was the proof of this. Not only was Jesus’ spirit raised, He was also raised bodily from the dead.

Apply the Word

The question we should ask is not “What is food for?” but “What is the body for?” The Bible says the body is for the Lord. He created it. He indwells believers by the Holy Spirit, making each body a living temple. The body is for His service (Rom. 12:1). He will resurrect it (1 Cor. 15:12–58). How will you glorify God with your body today?

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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