"Harsh Treatment" of the Body vs. "Beating" the Body?



Wondered if you could help me with a question… Here it is in a nutshell: Is there a legitimate role for putting yourself under a strict regimen (eating, sleep, entertainment, whatever) in order to break self-indulgent habits and build a more Godly character? On the one hand, Paul says that “harsh treatment of the body…lacks any value in restraining sensual indulgence”(Col. 2:23). On the other, he himself stated, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever…I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9:25, 27). Could go on listing passages, of course… What is the difference, though, between “beating your body” (which sounds like a good idea!) and “harsh treatment of the body” (which sounds like a very bad idea)? This is more than a theoretical question. Self-indulgence seems to be a “sin that so easily besets” so many people. Not unheard of in my own life, either, as you know. Can you help clarify this point from a strategic point of view? Thanks! : ) xxoxx


Hi…… I can’t find a “handle” at this precise moment to put as much into words for you on the matter as I would like. However, for starters, I would say that denying ourselves attractive things PURELY FOR JESUS (a vertical transaction), is a good thing to do with frequency. As with fasting, it disciplines our minds and bodies and makes us ultimately better to “hear” the “frequency” of His Voice. A rule or law is not NEARLY as useful in this matter (and, in fact, often leads to pride or fear or discouragement or judgment of others, or “binging” indulgences later). Better to make a way of Life out of frequently denying ourselves otherwise “desirable” things, FOR JESUS, as a gift to Him. In so doing, we will be “beating our bodies” by CHOICE, in Connection with Him REALTIME, rather than by some external rule of law. No matter how “well-intentioned,” the external law of “never do this” and “don’t do that” and “always do this” and “do this until ___”—these things generally result in bad fruit, not Good. If one were allergic to peanuts, then, of course: “I probably will not intentionally eat peanuts ever again, or until God shows me He wants me to”—is fine. If one is “allergic” to desserts or pasta or bread, in the sense that they just don’t NEED such things in their mouths, because they continually get into trouble with them… then perhaps “I just don’t do desserts and bread anymore—unless God shows me He wants me to, in this case”—is okay. But, generally speaking, the so-called “disciplines” of new years’ resolutions and promises and vows and goals and laws are nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, and, in fact, tend to yield a harvest of pride, or fear or discouragement, or judgment of others, or “binging” indulgences at some later point. BETTER to simply watch for REALTIME opportunities to offer Him gifts of Love and self-denial, case by case, as we draw near to HIM, rather than to some external pseudo-spiritual “objective”. Does that help?


English Languages icon
 Share icon