MAN BEING A VESSEL OF GOD
Now we need to see what the Word says that we are. The holy Word tells us clearly that we are vessels. Man is a vessel (Rom. 9:21, 23). Not many Christians have paid adequate attention to the fact that we are vessels of God. Christians talk about men being God’s creatures or men becoming God’s people. Some even go to the highest point by saying that man can be a child of God. But in Romans 9 we are told that man is a vessel of God. A vessel is a container. It is different from a utensil or an instrument. A vessel is not used to do something but to contain something.
We are not supposed to do something for God. Forget about your doing. We are destined to contain God. We were made to be containers of God. The human concept is that we have to do something for God. Even in Christianity many teachers tell people again and again that they need to do something for God, to work for God. I do not say that this is wrong, but it does not touch God’s central thought. We have to realize that we are vessels unto God. God, strictly speaking, does not need us to do something for Him. God needs some containers. According to Romans 9, God desires that we be vessels unto honor, vessels unto glory, and vessels of mercy to contain Him. Brothers and sisters, you have to realize that you are vessels unto God!
The age today is the age of recovery. The Lord’s recovery today is to bring back the young generation to His purpose. Mankind, the human race, has continually been falling away from God’s purpose. Now at the end time the Lord is going to bring the human race back to His purpose. God’s purpose with man is to have man as His container.
In the United States the young people are enjoying and tasting all the material things. After the enjoyment of all the material things, after the experience of all the things invented in human culture, they get nothing. There is an emptiness, a vacuum, within them. This is because they were made to be vessels of God. Nothing can fill you up but God. Education, religion, science, physics, marriage, and all the things in human culture cannot satisfy man. Nothing can fill man up and satisfy him but God Himself. Now is the end of time, the end of all the ages. God is going to do something in a fast way to bring back this generation to His purpose.
Romans 9:21 indicates that when God created man, He formed man as a vessel. Man is a vessel of clay, but he was destined unto honor and unto glory. So Paul says that we are vessels unto honor and vessels unto glory. Of course, we are vessels of mercy (v. 23). God had mercy upon us because He has destined us to be His containers.
A Coca-Cola bottle is a vessel made to contain Coke. Man is not a Coca-Cola bottle. Man is a “God-bottle.” Man is a bottle made of clay, but this bottle is different from the Coca-Cola bottle. This bottle has something wonderful within it. Genesis 2:7 says that when God created man, He formed man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. The Hebrew word for breath in Genesis 2:7 is the same word for spirit in Proverbs 20:27, which refers to the “spirit of man.” This proves that the breath of life breathed into the nostrils of man is the spirit within man. God breathed into man the breath of life because man needs a spirit in order to contain God.
A radio has a receiver within it so that it can receive, contain, and express the radio waves from the air. The outward box of the radio is not good enough. It needs an inner recipient, an inner receiver. Within us there is also a receiver, and this receiver is our spirit. Man has a human spirit (Job 32:8).
Darwin tells us that men are the descendants of monkeys. Of course, that is nonsense. Eventually, as Darwin was dying, he repented of his devilish teaching about evolution. Man is not the descendant of a monkey. A monkey does not have a spirit, but every man has a spirit.
Nearly all the Christians have neglected Zechariah 12:1. This one verse in the Bible ranks the spirit of man with the heavens and the earth. It says that the Lord is the One who stretched forth the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him. The heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man are three great items. Do you realize that you have something within you which is as important as the heavens and the earth? Oh, the heavens! Oh, the earth! Oh, my spirit! I have a spirit that is as important as the heavens and the earth!
According to Zechariah 12:1, it seems that God created only three prominent things: the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man. This shows that only these three things are important and vital in this universe. The heavens are for the earth, the earth is for man, and man has a spirit for God. Here you have the purpose of the universe, the meaning of the universe. The heavens with all the stars and planets are for the earth. The earth is not for the heavens but for man. Without the earth, man could not exist. The earth is just right for us to live to fulfill our purpose. Man is not for education, for clothing, for food, for housing, or for entertainment. Man is good only for God. Man is a God-bottle, a vessel to contain God.
We should not think about doing something for God. We have received many wrong impressions from fallen Christianity. We think that we have to worship God, serve God, do something good for God, glorify God, and be nice, loving, and humble. I would ask you to forget about all this. God has no intention to have you be so humble and nice. God’s intention is to have you filled up with Him.
No one would teach a Coca-Cola bottle to worship the Coca-Cola, serve the Coca-Cola, and do good to please the Coca-Cola. If the Coca-Cola bottle could speak, it would say that this is nonsense. It would say, “I was not made for this. I was made just to be filled up with Coca-Cola. I don’t know anything else. I know just one thing: to be filled up with Coca-Cola! As long as I am empty, I am nothing! When I am filled up with Coca-Cola, that’s wonderful!” In the same way, when we are filled up with God, that is wonderful. We are God-bottles who were made to be filled up with God. I do not care for being either humble or proud. I care just for one thing—I have to be filled with God! I am a container of God! To contain God is my destiny!
Some may argue with me by saying that there are verses in the Bible which tell us that we have to serve the Lord. I agree with you, but what about Romans 9:21 and 23, which say that we are vessels unto honor and vessels of mercy unto glory? What about 2 Corinthians 4:7, which says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels? In this chapter I am not emphasizing the fact that we are servants of God or children of God. I want to hear you declare, “Hallelujah! I am a vessel of the Lord! I am a vessel of God.” As a vessel, do you need to bow down and worship? We need to be filled with Christ because we are His vessels.
As God-bottles, we need a God-receiver. God is Spirit (John 4:24). Since God is Spirit, we need a spirit to receive Him. Only our spirit can receive the Spirit. Only our spirit can touch the Spirit. Only our spirit can contain the Spirit. Thus, God created the heavens and the earth and then man with a spirit.
Proverbs 20:27 tells us that man’s spirit is the lamp of Jehovah. A lamp is a container. It contains the oil that gives the light. We have a human spirit, and our human spirit is a vessel. It is the container of God as the oil to give the light. The Christian life is not a matter of outward doing but a matter of inward containing. It is not a matter of how much we do, work, and act outwardly. It is a matter of how much oil we are containing today. We do have a container within us. That is our human spirit. The human spirit is the lamp of Jehovah.
Then Ezekiel tells us that in God’s salvation the first thing God does is to renew our deadened spirit, to make our spirit a new one. He puts a new spirit within us, and then following this He puts His own Spirit, that is, Himself, into our spirit (36:26-27a). Then the Bible says clearly, “The Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22). Who is the Lord Jesus? He is God. He is the treasure. Second Corinthians 4:7 says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. Now we all can declare, “We have this treasure in our earthen vessel.” I am earthen, yet I have the treasure because I have a spirit within me as a recipient to receive the Lord Jesus. Now He is here within me, and He is my treasure. You have to exercise your spirit to release your treasure, to share with others the treasure you have in your spirit.
The suitability of a human to be a vessel is innate. Castiel makes reference to this while possessing Claire Novak, saying that it is “in her blood.” It appears that angels are tied to certain human family lineages. Michael, when he is using the young John Winchester as his vessel, tells Dean: “You’re my true vessel, but not my only one. It’s a bloodline… stretching back to Cain and Abel. It’s in your blood, your father’s blood, your family’s blood,” with this statement being reinforced by Michael’s later use of Adam Milligan, John’s son and Dean’s half-brother, when Dean refuses to consent to Michael.
Not all vessels are as suitable or durable as others. When unable to secure Sam Winchester as his vessel after his release, Lucifer is able to use Nick as a substitute, but Nick’s body is clearly shown to be decaying as time goes on, requiring him to consume gallons of demon blood to sustain him. After the angels are expelled from Heaven by Metatron and fall to Earth, some angels become so desperate for vessels that they take the first available option as hosts, resulting in host and angel exploding; the angel Hael was so desperate to find a suitable vessel that she attempted to force Castiel to consent to possession after the loss of his Grace and subsequent humanity.
Sex appears to be irrelevant for angels; Castiel, Hannah and Raphael have all used both male and female vessels. While angels do refer to each other with gendered terms such as “brother” and “sister” when interacting in vessels, it is unclear if angels have any concept of gender as humans would understand it in their natural state, and what influences their choice of vessel.
While demons can possess any human against their will, in order to manifest angels must obtain the consent of the human before they can enter him or her. This consent can be coerced as demonstrated by Zachariah‘s treatment of Dean, with Dean’s continued refusal to act as Michael‘s vessel prompts Zachariah to torture him, Sam, and their half-brother Adam Milligan. However, it would appear that the consent still requires the subject to say ‘yes’ as themselves, as Zachariah always tried to force Dean to accept rather than simply changing his memories, a feat that he has been shown to be capable of, to make Dean willing to consent (demons were more willing to attack and threaten Sam, at one point trying to trick Gary Frankel, who had temporarily switched bodies with Sam, into saying “Yes” in Sam’s place, but they may simply be relying on more limited knowledge of angels.
After consent is obtained, it appears that an angel may occupy a vessel for as long as necessary, though it can be forcibly removed. Having left a vessel, it would appear that the angel requires new consent from the vessel to resume using it as a host; Castiel had to use Claire Novak as a vessel when Jimmy was not currently an option. This apparently only applies when the subject is mentally capable of doing so, as Raphael was able to re-use Donnie Finnerman after being banished from him despite Donnie being virtually catatonic and unlikely to give new consent to Raphael’s use of his body. Angels can apparently re-occupy a body that has been restored without its soul, as Castiel has confirmed that Jimmy Novak was killed and passed on to Heaven after he was killed by Michael and yet he has continued to operate in Jimmy’s soulless body for several years since. Anna Milton had her human body regenerated as a soulless vessel for her to use, by calling in ‘old favors’. These are the only examples of angels using soulless vessels.
While occupying a vessel, the original consciousness of the human is suppressed, though it can come to the surface in rare instances; Lucifer allowed Sam Winchester to experience some moments of his actions when he destroyed some of the demons that had monitored Sam during his life in an attempt to convince Sam to submit to him, while Jimmy Novak was at least aware of enough during his time as Castiel to recognize the Winchesters when he met them after Castiel was expelled from his body, as well as knowing how to set up a salt barrier to protect his family from attacking demons. Hosts have also been able to regain control from the angel; when Sam and Castiel were acting as Lucifer’s vessel, they were each able to at least temporarily regain control while Lucifer was still inside them, although he was able to regain control of Castiel after a few moments (Sam leapt into the Cage before Lucifer could retake control of his body). Conversely, angels can also suppress themselves while in vessels, as shown when Gadreel, masquerading as Ezekiel, erased Sam’s knowledge of him and retreated into Sam’s subconscious in order to allow them both to heal.
According to Castiel in his second conversation with Dean, angels are “walking among” humans for the first time in 2,000 years. Uriel made a comment in the 1970’s that it was against orders to manifest on Earth in a vessel. At least two angels have been on Earth during this period: Anna Milton and Gabriel. Anna fell, cutting out her grace, and was subsequently born as a human. When she regains her grace, her body is destroyed, but is later regenerated for her to occupy as a vessel. If Gabriel has used the same vessel since arriving on Earth after Lucifer‘s fall, it must have been serving him for thousands of years. While some angels enjoy their time on Earth in vessels, others resent it. Uriel holds disdain for humans, and Zachariah in particular, whose vessel is never identified, despises the prospect, as illustrated by the following quote:
|Dean: Oh, great. That’s all I need is another one of you guys.
Zachariah: I’m hardly another one, Dean. I’m Castiel’s superior. Believe me, I had no interest in popping down here into one of these smelly things.
Sam and Castiel learn that when an angel leaves a vessel, they leave behind a bit of their grace which can be extracted and used to track them. However, repeated healings of the vessel over time causes the grace to be eliminated.
In Heaven, angels can appear in human form to souls there. When Dean and Sam are captured by Zachariah in Heaven, they still see Zachariah as he appears on Earth in his vessel. According to Zachariah the reason they perceive him the same way in Heaven is because they’re limited. Joshua is also seen in human form in Heaven by Dean and Sam, but it is unclear if his appearance reflects a particular vessel or if it was something he chose at random. In 5.14 My Bloody Valentine, Castiel demands that a cherub reveal itself, and it instantly appears in human form. Whether or not it needed a vessel is unknown.
At the end of season six, Castiel absorbs the souls of Purgatory to gain their power and defeat Raphael. Balthazar worried about the instability inherent in Castiel acting “as the vessel” for the souls. This could result in the destruction of Earth. Whether the souls are also housed in Castiel’s vessel or are a part of his spirit is not known. He is still using his vessel after declaring himself the new “God”, although it is quickly established that the strain of holding these souls- as well as the leviathans– would have been too much for his vessel to hold them long-term, forcing Castiel to discard them or self-destruct.
Despite being actively used as a vessel for the angel Gadreel, Sam was simultaneously possessed by the demon Crowley so that Crowley could alert him to Gadreel’s existence and allow him to expel Gadreel from his body. However, this possession may have been aided by the fact that Gadreel had already been weakened by Dean and Castiel’s efforts to bring Sam to the fore rather than being an example of standard demon/angel interaction in a host.
Faced with a lack of options after the Darkness was released onto the world, Castiel consented to act as a vessel for Lucifer when he claimed to be the only one powerful enough to defeat their new foe in the absence of God and the other archangels. It is unclear if Lucifer would have been able to possess another angel under normal circumstances or if this is only possible because of Castiel’s unconventional circumstances, inhabiting a vessel after its original owner has passed on. In Castiel and Lucifer’s case, its shown that Castiel continues to exist inside his vessel as a human soul would when an angel possesses them. Castiel even displayed the ability to overcome Lucifer’s control for a short time, but lacked the strength to hold it for long or expel the archangel. Lucifer could also switch control with Castiel at will like Gadreel could with Sam.
Strengths and Weaknesses
An angel in a vessel can withstand injuries that would kill a human, and can heal the vessel of almost any wound they receive, unlike demons who merely suppress the damage their “meatsuits” sustain while they are in control. Even so, acting as a vessel is a trial. Jimmy Novak described his experience as a vessel as “like being chained to a comet.” Although Jimmy came through his time as Castiel’s vessel physically and mentally intact, apart from being hungry as Castiel never ate, he still recalls having been shot, stabbed, and healed while his body was being “used” by Castiel. Castiel also warns Jimmy that he will not age while occupied by an angel, however long he serves as a vessel.
In the case of archangels, the human host takes on even greater risk, as the sheer power of an archangel can inflict permanent mental damage on a vessel (however, this does not seem to be something the archangel cannot control. Michael was able to protect John Winchester from suffering significant damage when he took John as a host for a few minutes in the 1970s). Donnie Finnerman suffered brain damage after his occupation by Raphael, and Castiel tells Dean, were Michael to possess him, Dean would suffer even greater damage. Lucifer‘s presence causes Nick to deteriorate slowly during his time as a vessel; he says that Nick can barely contain him, forcing him to consume gallons of demon blood to retain enough stability to operate in Nick until Sam will consent to him.
Vessels are sometimes destroyed. It has been shown that an archangel has the power to obliterate the vessel of another angel, and the angel himself. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can harm occupied vessels, as demonstrated by Famine and Pestilence exerting their influence on Castiel (although his weakened condition at this time may have contributed to their ability to attack him – Pestilence noting in particular that his powers affecting Castiel while in a vessel was a sign that he was “out of angel juice” – making it unclear how the Horsemen would deal with an angel at full strength). Holy fire can destroy an angel and its vessel if the angel walks through the flames, although archangels are at least able to recover from this attack if given enough time. Powerful artifacts of Heaven, such as Lot’s Salt, can permanently destroy a vessel (although Raphael was able to escape the vessel before being destroyed himself). Another angelic weapon, the Staff of Moses can harm angels in a vessel. As mentioned above, Anna‘s human body was destroyed when she regained her grace, but was recreated as her vessel.
An angel can be pulled from its vessel by other angels, or even powerful demons; Alastair once attempted to exorcise Castiel from his vessel using a spell, but he was interrupted before he could finish, leaving it unclear whether he would have been able to actually banish Castiel from Jimmy. According to Castiel, there is an open connection between an unoccupied human vessel and its angel. This connection can be used to summon an angel back to its vessel using the proper incantation.
If the vessel has a great enough strength of will, they are capable of overpowering the angel controlling them for a time to varying degrees. Sam managed to overpower Lucifer‘s control of him and move around without a visible apparent struggle while Castiel was visibly struggling with holding Lucifer back and stated it was taking all of his strength to do so to the point he couldn’t expel the archangel.
Vessels possess the ability to expel the angel using them if they are strong enough and aware of the possession. Gadreel kept Sam from knowing about his possession to prevent exactly this, especially as he was vulnerable in his weakened state, but was eventually expelled by Sam when Crowley possessed him to bring the truth to his attention. Castiel later regained control from Lucifer but was unable to expel him, telling Sam it was taking all of his strength just to keep Lucifer from killing Sam and he had no strength left to expel the archangel.
Even if a vessel doesn’t remember it, they are aware of everything the angel is aware of and can access their memories.
The term “true vessel” is used several times to described someone preordained to host an angel. It is particularly applied to the vessels of Michael and Lucifer, but any vessel with the right bloodline can host the angel tied to it.
- Dean Winchesterwas preordained to be Michael‘s vessel, being described as “Michael’s sword.” Zachariah tells Dean that Michael needs him as a vessel, so that Michael can lead the the Host of Heaven in the final battle against Lucifer.
- Sam Winchesterwas preordained to be Lucifer‘s vessel. Sam was present in the Chapel not just to kill Lilith, but also so that following Lucifer’s release he could become his vessel. According to Castiel, consuming demon blood strengthens the person’s body, making it possible for him or her to host Lucifer, which is the reason Ruby fed large quantities of demon blood to Sam prior to this.
- Donnie Finnermanwas chosen by Raphael to be his vessel. Donnie was a mechanic in Maine prior to his consent to Raphael; by the time Raphael vacated his body, his presence within Donnie left the man badly brain-damaged. It is unclear if Donnie was Raphael’s true vessel. Using Lot’s Salt, Balthazar killed Donnie and rendered his body unsuitable for Raphael to remain in, forcing Raphael to find another vessel.
- Jimmy Novakwas chosen by Castiel to be his vessel. While he initially consented, Jimmy is keen to resume his life with his family after Castiel is forcibly summoned back to Heaven. He does resume his former angelic occupation as Castiel’s vessel. Unlike Dean, Jimmy can hear Castiel’s true voice and perceive his true visage unharmed. Since the loss of his grace, Castiel has apparently become a vessel as Hael attempted to force him to consent to her when her originally chosen vessel began to deteriorate.
- Claire Novakis Jimmy’s daughter and is briefly a vessel for Castiel. After Jimmy is shot by a demon possessing his wife, Castiel possesses his daughter Claire. Jimmy, near death, begs to be allowed to take her place. Castiel agrees.
- Alfie was a young man who worked at a fast food place called Wiener Hut. He was chosen bySamandiriel to be his vessel, though he may or may not be his true vessel as Samandiriel refers to him as the nearest vessel when he needed one. Samandiriel was primarily known to Dean by his vessel’s name. Both Alfie and Samandiriel were killed by Castiel in 10 Torn and Frayed.
- Sam Winchesteris able to act as a vessel for Gadreel so he can heal both himself and Sam. Although not Gadreel’s true vessel, Sam is able to bear Gadreel for an extended period of time, possibly because he is the true vessel of the more powerful angel Lucifer. Sam expels Gadreel when he learns of the angel’s presence in 10 Road Trip.
- Corey was a pop singer chosen byThaddeus to be his vessel; Thaddeus possessed Corey because he wanted to enjoy Corey’s pop star lifestyle. It is not mentioned if Corey was Thaddeus’s true vessel, though Corey was evidently capable of containing angels in general. Corey and Thaddeus were both killed by Gadreel in 10 Road Trip.
- Alexander Sarver was a man who was married to an unnamed woman and had a daughter named Delilah. Alexander was an unlikeable, abusive person. For this reason,Abner feels justified in using him as his vessel and supplanting his life. It is not stated one way or the other if Alexander was Abner’s true vessel, but he was serviceable for angels in general, as his body did not appear to deteriorate under Abner’s possession. Alexander, along with Abner, was killed by Gadreel in 10 Road Trip.
- A woman named Darlene Foster was chosen byRebecca to be her vessel. Whether or not Darlene was Rebecca’s true vessel is unknown. When Bartholomew killed Rebecca, he also killed Darlene.
- Hannahused a woman named Caroline Johnson as her vessel until she returned to Heaven so that Caroline could return to her own life.
Alternate vessels, referred to by Lucifer as “an improvisation” and “Plan B.” are vessels that angels use for short periods of time, or as a last resort. It is implied that the archangels require their true, preordained vessels in order for them to operate at their full capacity.
- Nickassents to Lucifer near the end of 01 Sympathy for the Devil. He serves as a plan B vessel for Lucifer in 5.03 Free to Be You and Me, 5.10 Abandon All Hope…, 5.19 Hammer of the Gods and 5.22 Swan Song. Castiel says that Nick must be drinking gallons of demon blood to remain intact, and Lucifer himself notes that Nick is wearing a bit thin.
- John Winchesterassents to Michael to save his wife from Anna, with Michael assuring Dean that he will protect John from experiencing too much damage during his time as Michael’s vessel.
- Adam Milliganis taken by Michael in 18 Point of No Return. He serves as a plan B vessel for Michael in 5.22 Swan Song when Dean refuses to accept the responsibility himself.
- Haelmanifested after being banished from Heaven by possessing a woman in 01 I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here, identified as Gloria Lewellen Jacobson in 9.03 I’m No Angel. However, Gloria’s body eventually began to deteriorate as she was not strong enough to hold Hael, which forced Hael to try and take Castiel as a vessel before he killed her. It is unclear if Gloria would have been a suitable host for another angel or if she was simply a desperate gambit.
- Castiel assents to allow Lucifer to use him as a vessel to fightthe Darkness, but it is unclear if he would have been able to take any other angel as a vessel in this manner or if this is only possible due to Castiel being the only ‘occupant’ of his body after Jimmy’s death.
- Vince Vincenteassents to becoming Lucifer’s vessel after Lucifer appears to him as his deceased partner Jen, using Vince’s grief to let him in.
While still confined to his Cage and restricted by the 66 Seals, Lucifer talks with Azazel via the body of a dead nun inside St. Mary’s Convent, speaking through her mouth. Azazel made a blood sacrifice of at least seven nuns to enable the communication, which was only possible because the convent was positioned on top of the location where Lucifer’s Cage was sealed.
The following angels possess vessels with no (or yet-to-be) revealed profession, background, or history:
- Urielmanifests on two separate occasions by possessing a man.
- Zachariahmanifests by possessing a man.
- Gabrielmanifests by possessing a man.
- Balthazarmanifests by possessing a man.
- Virgilmanifests by possessing a man.
- Raphaelmanifests after his original vessel is destroyed by claiming another vessel, this time a female one.
- Rachelmanifests by possessing a woman.
- Hestermanifests by possessing a woman.
- Iniasmanifests by possessing a man.
- Naomimanifests by possessing a woman.
- Metatronmanifests by possessing a man.
- Gadreelinitially manifests by possessing a man. After being expelled by Sam, he returns to this vessel.
- Bartholomewmanifests by possessing a man.
- Ephraimmanifests by possessing a man.
- Lucifer, after being ejected from Castiel, goes body hopping — possessing various vessels that burn out on him.
Although he has not appeared on Earth himself, Joshua has appeared to Sam and Dean in human form when he met the Winchesters in Heaven, but it is unclear if his appearance reflected the vessel he would use to operate on Earth or if it was merely an appearance that he chose at random in order to provide something that Sam and Dean could process.
In the spin-off novel Supernatural: War of the Sons, Dean and Sam travel back in time to 1954 to recover the War Scroll, a scroll that supposedly contains a plan to thwart the apocalypse. However, although they recover the scroll with the aid of a father-and-daughter team of contemporary hunters, they learn that the Scroll’s only information is a list of the bloodlines of the angelic vessels; the ‘battle plan’ consists of wiping out all known families capable of hosting angels so that the apocalypse can never take place. Details listed on the scroll include the information that the Novaks are of the line of Ishmael, and Jimmy’s father and Claire’s grandfather was named Gregory.
In the spin-off novel Supernatural: Carved in Flesh, Dean and Sam face off against Hel, the Norse goddess of death, as her agent sets up a chain of events to create a suitable body for her to inhabit. Hel specifically refers to this body as her ‘vessel’, and her mythological ties to Loki suggest that she may have some ties to the angels, considering Loki’s true identity as Gabriel.
Your body is but a vessel
Consider the following phrase without any religious overtones, “your body is but a vessel.” The implication is that the body is just a container for what is truly important – you! In our superficial modern society, we have certainly lost sight of this. The thing that bugs me most is not that people are obsessed with their appearances – external beauty is something everyone is no doubt attracted to, and this attraction is probably hardwired into us biologically. What bugs me is that people’s whole identity is too often controlled by their external appearance. It’s not just “I’m too fat, and I’m not pretty,” but the more disturbing, “No one wants to talk to me, and I’m a nobody.”
Ouch. Since when are we fated at birth to belong in the scrap heap forever? Ok, some things are more difficult to do, like becoming an actress or a model, but even those things are not impossible. What about Danny DeVito and Rosie O’Donnell? And if you can’t make it as an actor/actress, there are so many other things you could be doing with your abilities.
Your sense of self worth should not depend on what you look like. Take the example of Abraham Lincoln. He was not a model by any stretch of the imagination. Lest you think he looked better as a young man, I included a picture of young Abe. He was skinny and tall like a beanpole, had a twangy voice, and looked “like a monkey” according one of his contemporaries. And yet he was intelligent, witty, and became one of America’s most acclaimed presidents.
To truly feel a sense of belonging in this world, you must first be at peace with yourself – this includes being comfortable in your own body! It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, big boned, or rail thin. Sure, there are things I wouldn’t mind “improving” about my body, but that doesn’t define who I am. Rather than trying to be perfect on the outside, why not make yourself the person you want to be on the inside? External beauty is only skin deep and doesn’t last; inner beauty radiates as brilliantly as the sun and shines throughout your lifetime. It may even last forever; just look at the person whom the title of this piece is most associated with
The human body is amazing. It defies our intelligence to believe that there are those who say that they do not believe in creation and that some how all things simply evolved from nothing. There are so many features about the human brain and body that absolutely preclude the notion of evolution, due to requisite co-existing organs, etc. Regarding the human body, please consider these facts:
The average human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells. Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles (274 km) per hour. Your stomach needs to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it would digest itself. It takes the interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech.
Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete. Babies are born without knee caps. They don’t appear until the child reaches 2-6 years of age. Your skull is made up of 29 different bones. The average surface of the human intestine is 656 square feet (200 m). The surface of the human skin is 6.5 square feet (2m). 15 million blood cells are destroyed in the human body every second. Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced.
There are 45 miles (72 km) of nerves in the skin of a human being. The average human heart will beat 2. 5 billion times in its lifetime and pump 48 million gallons of blood. Each square inch (2.5 cm) of human skin consists of 20 feet (6 m) of blood vessels. Human blood travels 60,000 miles (96,540 km) per day on its journey through the body (material taken from Mawlana Faizani on the Internet).
The more one learns of the human body, the more one has no trouble at all understanding the exclamation of David:
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139: 14).
One reason the human body is seen as important in the scriptures is because it houses the eternal spirit of man. Paul wrote thus acknowledging our present housing and alluding to the future body: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5: 1, 2). The Bible also teaches that our present bodies are only temporary and are simply adapted to the present physical environs (Rom. 6: 12, 2 Cor. 4: 16). Let us now consider some additional biblical facts about the body.
We are taught to fear not them which kill the body. While the body is very valuable, so much so that we depend on it for our existence here on earth, the soul, the real person that resides in the earthen vessel, takes priority. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul,” Jesus said, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10: 28). Never should the temporary housing of the soul be compromised for the eternal spirit therein dwelling. It is regrettable that many expend their existence on earth only considering the tangible and relatively mundane.
We can dishonor our bodies. The scriptures accent the importance of the body when they teach that the body is the temple of the Spirit. Paul taught, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6: 19, 20). Just a few verses earlier Paul taught, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (I Cor. 6: 14, 15). Hence, those who commit fornication are dishonoring their bodies and using them for a purpose not intended by the Creator of the body.
There are necessities regarding the body. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6: 31, 33). All of these matters are necessary for the body, food, drink, clothing, etc. Exercise is also acknowledged as being of profit; albeit, comparatively little (I Tim. 4: 8). The scriptures teach legitimate love for our bodies (cp. Eph. 5: 28, 29).
We are to control our bodies. Many Americans have lost total sight of the matter and need of self-control. Whatever the present urge and propensity is, satisfy the body, this is the philosophy of man today. James speaks of “control of the body” (Jas. 3: 2). Paul also wrote about controlling the body, the possibility and necessity of such. Consider his teaching: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9: 27). I think it is important to notice that Paul in this statement also indicates that if we fail to control our bodies, such will result in being rejected of God.
The body is to be a living sacrifice. We are not any longer under a system of animal sacrifice. This is because Jesus was “once offered” (Heb. 9: 20-28). In fact, as Gentiles, we were really never under such a system. One paramount sacrifice of the Christian, notwithstanding, is his body and mind. This sacrifice, however, is a “living sacrifice.” “I beseech you therefore, brethren,” Paul enunciated, “by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12: 1, 2). We thus offer our bodies in doing the will of God.
The body in the husband and wife relationship. Selfishness is so common today, it is no wonder there is so much unhappiness. When two people do marry, they are often miserable and the marriage fails due to self-interest. Marriage involves the body and its conjugal needs, but in an unselfish sense.
“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (I Cor. 7: 2-5).
Regarding the physical body, deity indwelt it. The subject of the incarnation of Jesus or Jesus dwelling in a human body has been characterized by controversy. However, the Bible plainly teaches Jesus’ indwelling a human body. “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me,” the writer of Hebrews states (Heb. 10: 5). Hence, Jesus is fully aware of temptations such as are common to man (Heb. 4: 15, 16).
Based on what we have seen about the body, the body is not exempt from the application of biblical principle and responsibility. The body enters into our service to God due to habitat, conveyance, and stewardship. We do not, then, have the right to ignore or mistreat our bodies. Serious lack of rest for the body, for instance, the inhalation or injection of harmful chemicals, and other too common practices are forbidden, as they can and often do render injury to the body. Just because the body is biblically treated with comparative little importance (compared to the soul or spirit), does not mean we are justified in minimizing the body to unimportance, irrelevance, and even oblivion.
In the end, our bodies shall be “changed” (Phili. 3: 21, I John 3: 2). In the spiritual realm to come, a body that is designed for the celestial will be provided (I Cor. 15: 35). Until then, may we keep our bodies to maximize their service and good health (cp. 3 John 1, 2). (Related reading would be, “Sports and the Christian“.)