A Voice in the
"But refuse profane and old-womanish tales, and exercise yourself to godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life, and of that which is to come. Faithful is the Word, and worthy of all accept- ance." (1Tim4:7-9)
Should we exercise? Should we not? The experts say that good aero- bic workouts keep the lungs and heart healthy, and will ensure longer life. And yet, not long ago an Olympic gold medalist, presumably in ideal physical condition, died of heart problems. And against all arguments against smoking, some ol' codgers, like George Burns, have proudly puffed their way into old age.
What is the Christian outlook on this? Gluttony is certainly spoken against. (Pr28:7,Rom13:13,1Pt4:3) We are exhorted that our "body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" Who is in us. (1Cor6:19) The context of this verse is related to sexual sins, but is often thought of as supporting the notion that we should, at least, take reasonable care of these bodies which God has entrusted us with. The whole Jewish codes of cleanliness and being sanitary was related to the care and health of the physical BODY.
And yet, you notice Paul's emphasis. Sure, bodily exercise has merit. But of greater benefit is to be in God's Word. After all, if a trained athlete can die of heart problems, and a chain smoker can live to be 100, what determines the length of our lives? Where does life come from? "In [God] we live and move and have our being.." (Acts17:28) Because it is by Christ that "all things consist." (Col1:17) And when it is our time to die; that, too, is by God's determination, "this night your soul shall be required of you.." (Lk12:20) As death is by "appoint- ment." (Heb9:27)
If we use the common sense God gave us, we might conclude that regular exercise might not be a bad idea. But what kind should we do? Years ago, when I was married, my wife and I decided to check out a Karate studio. We thought it might provide both exercise, as well as a knowledge of self-defense. So, we went to observe a session, to see what we might be "in for." At the end of the session, the teacher and all the students faced a picture of a "master" on the wall; bowed, and clapped three times.
Having grown up in Japan, and observing worshipers at the temples, I immediately recognized what they had done (bowing and clapping). Although the teacher later passed it off as being, merely, "showing re- spect" I recognized it as being a form of "worship."
You see, this is an "eastern way" which has permeated our western cultures. Israel was chided for "becom[ing] full from the east (eastern ways).. And they clap their hands with...strangers" (Is2:6)
Once Yoga and TM were discovered to be "religions" these eastern Hindu/Buddhist missionaries changed tactics and labeled them as "scien- tific methods." (see: Dave Hunt's "Occult Invasion") So, western society has been duped into embracing eastern Yoga and TM meditative "WORSHIP" techniques. It may become easy to understand this as people sit around, being quiet or humming, and doing various mind-emptying exercises. But people don't realize the same infiltration via exercise.
The Martial Arts, particularly, are the vehicle for the "physical" aspects of this. The commercial will show a white-clad individual meeting a black-clad person in the middle of the oriental arched religious bridge. A few karate-judo moves are made, and the "white-clad" person has won by kicking/punching the black person into surrender. "Release the AWESOME POWER OF THE MIND!! Temple Kung-Fu." Temple == Worship.
Star Trekkies, of course, are familiar with Enterprise's crew workouts, "Tae-Chi." (I think it's called?) And there are always reli- gious overtones every time they show that.
The latest craze for aerobics workout is "TAE-BO", and its modern guru, Billy Blanks; "fitness guru to the [Hollywood] stars". As I saw the TV promo for it, I thought..."wow, what a workout!"
However, as one watches and listens, what one realizes is that Tae-Bo is a head-to-toe Religious System. And it begins with working on the "inner self." Billy Blanks has become a little god. The testimonials hold up "Billy Blanks" as he "represents THE TRUTH!" This truth, which comes "from within." And if you do exercises with his program, he will teach you how to achieve "Truth." He promotes, "if you've got the will - I've got THE WAY." Uh, let's see...I thought Jesus said, "I am THE [way], THE [truth] and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." (Jn14:6) And to further illustrate their point, the testimonials contin- ue on the order of, "when you see him [Billy Blanks] walking around, as- sisting people, you can always see HIS SPIRIT IN FRONT OF HIM." And... this is "the way to the next millennium."
They claim that when they look into his eyes, they can see this "spirit" that goes in front of him. However, when they did camera zooms on his face and eyes, what I saw was "evil." The very evil of Satan. These "blood-shot" eyes, and facial expression of deep oppression. They claim "happiness" and "peace" to anyone who takes up this system, because not only will the body get "in shape" this "fitness" will be a result of the "inner being" being trained, as well. And this "guru of happiness" (my expression), himself, full of sorrow and darkness!
Not to mention the modern "feminist empowerment" POWER WALKS. You know. You see them every day as you commute to work, etc. And feminine beauty products, now, are not to "get their man" as much as it is for "self-realization" because they are "worth it."
So...is it "sin" to exercise? Not hardly. Is it wrong to be in shape and beautiful? Of course not. Otherwise Isaiah, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, would not have referred to the beautifying of a bride with ornaments and jewels (Is61:10) as being a favorable thing, as an illustration of salvation. But Peter helps to put things in perspec- tive. Don't allow the physical beauty to be the primary thing, but rather, let the beauty be that "of the heart in that which is not corruptible." (1Pt3:4) You see, these bodies, while being temples of the Holy Spirit, are "corruptible." (1Cor15:50) They will either pass away [at death], or will be "changed" to "incorruption." (1Cor15:53) But what endures is the heart.
But, in taking care of the body, the Believer needs to be aware of Satan's snares out there. The family of the Eastern "Martial Arts" and other New Age fads. Be healthy, but be careful not to become unequally yoked with the world's forms of demon "worship." ..remembering that the spirit through God's Word is foremost.
"For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live." (Rom8:13) "..having put off the old man with his deeds and having put on the new, having been renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Col3:9-10)
Related article: Carnal Weapons?