Getting Healthy with the Holy Spirit

Most people aren’t getting any healthier. Some just aren’t motivated to do anything in that regard. They may be in denial about their problems or simply accept their poor health as normal. Don’t let that be you. Being a good steward of your body, mind and spirit requires that you take a good look at your health and your lifestyle. Perhaps some changes are indicated.

Others may be frustrated. Some motivated individuals have “learned” that positive change is impossible for them. Repeatedly trying and failing can sometimes result in this idea. After trying twenty (or a hundred) times to lose weight or to begin an exercise program, only to “fall off the wagon” each and every time, it’s easy to conclude, “I just can’t do it.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the wrong conclusion to make. It’s not helpful, except to help them stay stuck. A more accurate statement might be, “Everything I have tried so far hasn’t worked.” Much better. Because there will be ways they haven’t tried yet. (Usually a lot of ways, in my experience.)

In fact, many have really only tried one way over and over, relying on their own willpower or determination to help them change, repeatedly failing and then “trying harder” the next time. It just doesn’t work. The fundamental problem is our sinful nature, and what’s missing here is the Holy Spirit. So the best conclusion might be, “I can’t do it by myself.” Very true. But we can do all things through Jesus.

Now, describing how Christians get better from sin is a tricky issue. I’m not a theologian, but here’s how I explain it: The Holy Spirit changes us from the inside and that results in a change in our behavior on the outside. Here’s what Paul has to say:

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.     Galatians 5:16-17 NLT

Yes we do have to exercise our wills and make good choices, but God has given us the Holy Spirit for guidance and power. I need to remember this too. God gave me more than the average amount of willpower and determination, but I am still not able to change myself by myself. Yet gradually, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, I am growing some “fruits;” one of which is self-control (Gal 5:22-23).  And who doesn’t need more self-control?

If you’re stuck in your change effort and failing at your own self control, perhaps you’re working alone. Or maybe you’re simply ahead of the Spirit. Relax. Pray. Ask God to guide you, change you from the inside and give you strength to be different. He will.

Comments

  1. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

    And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3)

    The gifts of the Holy Ghost help us by making us more alert to discern and more ready to do the will of God.

    Some of the effects in us of the gifts of the Holy Ghost are the fruits of the Holy Ghost and the beatitudes. The twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty, continency. (Galatians 5:22-23)

    The eight beatitudes are:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
    Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
    Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of
    Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    (See Matthew 5:3-10.)
    http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson10.html

    My opinion now: our bodies are the temple(s) of the Holy Spirit. As such, temperance and prudence (two of the four cardinal virtues) are called on to get and remain healthy — to the extent that it is the will of God. For those of us who have not had any disease or intractable condition beset us, we glorify god by exercising these virtues. Good health is one positive benefit. Growing closer to the will of God is primary.

    As always, thank you, Pete, for promoting this discussion.

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Thank you Bill. You make a good point that God is first. We don’t want to make idols of our health or the appearance of our bodies, but rather to take good care of ourselves as God intends for us to do. And God will help us in that effort.

  2. Todd Bauerle says:

    Pete I applaud your willingness to facilitate this discussion, when was the last time you heard a good sermon on gluttony? Virtually all of us in developed nations eat far more and far worse that we should and the result is a less effectice temple to carry out our God given missions. Peace be with you.

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Thanks Todd. I have never heard a sermon on gluttony. Probably never will. We need to remember that there is no condemnation in Jesus, but we ought to want to do better.