Dealing with Our Spiritual Bullies

In this study, we find the spiritual and physical are not as separated as many of us assume.  So it comes as no surprise that God uses physical aspects in our lives to streghten us to say no to our spiritual “bullies.”

Dealing with Our Spiritual Bullies

Feb 6, 2011

The Link between the Spiritual and Physical Concerning God’s Wrath

In Scripture, in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, we see the effects of God’s wrath are both spiritual and physical.  (Because of the difference between the New Covenant and the Old, the corporate punishment and reward does not take place like before).  Yet, we see the physical and spiritual effects of God’s wrath are many. 

For instance, there is:

  • sickness (Numbers 12:9-10; 1 Sam. 5:2-6),
  • destruction (Exodus 9:18-19; Ezra 5:12; Luke 21:20-24),
  • hardening of the heart against God (Exodus 9:12; Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:13-16),
  • the increase of sin (Isaiah 63:17; Romans 1:24-26),
  • abandonment by God (Ezekiel 10:4; 11:22-23; Matthew 27:46),
  • military defeat (Exodus 15:1ff.),
  • terror (Exodus 23:27; Leviticus 26:15-16; Psalm 6:1-3),
  • exile (Genesis 3:22-24; 4:11-14; 2 Kings 18:9-12; 24:8-16),
  • death (Genesis 2:17; 2 Samuel 6:7; Romans 6:23),
  • and eternal damnation (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). 


–          Discussion Question: When Adam and Eve fell into sin, what type of death resulted, physical, spiritual, or physical and spiritual?

–          Read Romans 6:23.  What death is Paul referring to, only spiritual, only physical, or both?

The Link between the Physical and Spiritual in our Salvation

–          Discussion Question: To save us, did Jesus only suffer and die spiritually, physically, or spiritually and physically?

Read Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Peter 3:21, and Acts 2:38

–          What does God do through the physical element of water?

Read Matthew 26:26-28

–          What does God do through the physical bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper?

Since we are both physical and spiritual beings, God uses physical things that are made participants in His spiritual kingdom to distribute salvation to you.  

The words for worship in both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek both mean “falling prostrate.”  This is a physical action of the body.

–          What does this say about the physical and spiritual link in how we worship?

Read Psalm 95:11, Matthew 11:28, Galatians 4:9-10, and Hebrews 4:1-13.

–          What blessings did God intend for our Sabbath rest?

–          Discussion Question: Will eternal life with God be ultimately only spiritual, physical, or physical and spiritual?

God Uses the Physical to Strengthen Us to Defy our Spiritual Bullies

As we have seen such tie in between the physical and spiritual in our Fall and salvation, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would bring up physical activities for his disciples to do to combat our spiritual bullies.

Matthew 6:2: “When you give to the needy …”

–          What does such almsgiving involve?  What is a person “forced” to give up when he gives?

Matthew 6:5: “And whey you pray …”

–          What does prayer involve?  What is a person “forced” to give up when he prays?

Matthew 6:16: “And when you fast …”

–          What does fasting involve?  What is a person “forced” to give up when he fasts?

–          As food (physical matter) provides nutrition for our bodies, God provides us what through the physicality of Word and Sacrament:

–          As physical exercise strengthens us contend against physical adversaries, God accomplishes what through physical acts of giving money, fasting, and praying:

–          How does God spiritually feed us (the “Yes” of the Faith)?

–          How does God strengthen us using spiritual disciplines (which involve real-world physical acts in our lives) to help keep the world, the devil, and our sinful natures from bullying us (the “No” of the Faith)?

–          Discussion Question: What is the state of the North American Christian Church?

–          How many routinely participate in the “Yes” of God feeding them?

–          How many routinely participate in the “no” not to get spiritually bullied?

–          Knowing now what you do, how will this change your everyday life?