This Isn’t Even My Final Form | Daily Office Devotional 2021/20/19

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

1 Corinthians 15.41-50

There are moral implications to our physical resurrection. In chapter 15 of his First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is battling a problematic notion plaguing the Corinthian church. Apparently some Corinthian Christians believed that there is no resurrection of the dead in the future (15.12). Paul bases our resurrection on Christ’s resurrection and insists that if Christ has been resurrected, then so will all who are faithful to him because he is the first fruits (15.20-23). If there is no physical resurrection, then there are no consequences to what we do in our bodies; because our bodily lives will be destroyed we can sin all we want (15.32).

However, because there will be a physical resurrection, then what we do in our bodies matter. As the popular internet meme goes, this isn’t even our final form. Paul uses the agricultural analogy of sowing seeds to convey the concept of resurrection. While a seed looks small and plain, once it is sown into the soil and “dies,” a plant that’s useful grows out. So even though we are sown with a “psychical” body (soma psuchikos) that’s weak and corruptible, after we die, God will raise us a with “spiritual” body (soma pnuematikos) that’s powerful and incorruptible—one that’s no longer “flesh and blood.” This spiritual body is one that’s not only incorruptible by death, but also by sin. In other words, with our radically transformed bodies at the resurrection, we will lead spiritual existences that truly “bear the image of the man of heaven” —Christ—and be impervious to the power of sin.

This isn't even my final form

This future event has present moral implications because we won’t cease to be physical beings. What we do in our current bodies have repercussions in the age to come. Using the same agricultural analogy, Paul writes in his Letter to the Galatians, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (6.8). What we do now corresponds to the life we receive in the resurrection. If we live as sinful individuals, then we are demonstrating we are fleshly beings who live out of our corrupt fleshly desires. Yet “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” because all that’s corruptible will be destroyed by God. If we have already been proleptically given the power of our future spiritual life by the Holy Spirit, then we ought not sin, but remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15.34, 58). Such spiritual deeds belong to the kingdom of God and are the works of an imperishable life. By living spiritually while still in our fleshly “psychical” bodies, we demonstrate presently what “final form” we shall be at the resurrection.

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