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Give up the belief that you live in a material body! You are the temple of God!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Soul and Body”
for May 18-24, 2020

Prepared by: Kathy Fitzer

When I was recently awakened in the middle of the night by an upset stomach, I turned to this Lesson for inspiration and healing. What I gleaned was that our identity is not defined by a material body. We are subject to the government of God alone. We are the shine of Soul and respond to Soul’s infinite freedom. Freedom was quickly restored without having to go through any kind of physical “process”.

Looking up the word soul in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, I liked these definitions: “the spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man”; “vital principle”; “Spirit, essence”; “Life; animating principle”. How important to understand that our sense of body — or identity — reflects this Principle, each one in a special, unique way. But, our immortal nature is never trapped in a body, subject to it, or waiting to be released from it. We are entirely the spiritual shine of Life!

The Golden Text tells us that we are “the temple of God” and that temple is holy. As used here, the Hebrew translated as holy means sacred, which includes the idea of being physically pure and morally blameless. Paul was writing to the church at Corinth, speaking to them as a community. But, the description certainly applies to each of us individually, as well. The temple was known in the Bible as “the house of the Lord.” It was conceived of primarily as a residence for God rather than as a place of public worship and prayer. As used here, the temple refers to the Holy of Holies where God was understood to dwell. Only the high priest could enter, and only once a year — on the Day of Atonement. So … if we are the temple of God, to me that means that God resides in us — though not confined by a material sense of identity. Truly, God is the source of identity. There is, therefore, no separation between the holiness of God and our expression of that holiness. As God revealed Himself to the High Priest, he reveals Himself to us. His ever-presence is the very Soul of our being.

To me, the Responsive Reading describes the relationship between God (Soul) and man. Our desire should be to serve God. As we move forward in our service (ministry) to God (honoring Him in all we do and bearing witness to His ever-presence), we will be sustained by Him. Outwardly things may seem hard, but we are being strengthened by Soul. Our God-given identity (the inward man) is being strengthened and refreshed constantly.

I’ve always been impressed that despite all the hardships Paul went through, he spoke of trials as “our light afflictions.” It reminds me of Mary Baker Eddy speaking about how God had been “graciously preparing” her through the many challenges she faced. I think the point is that as we are challenged, we are forced to turn to God for strength. As we lean on that “sustaining infinite” and acknowledge our unity with our Father-Mother “I Am” we discover a glory that far outweighs the trials. And we don’t wait for this glory until after we die. It is here and now.

Looking at the original Greek word, doxa we can think of glory as a majesty that belongs to God and is expressed in man as magnificence, excellence, dignity and grace. The key is in focusing on what may appear as invisible, but that we know is eternal and real … rather than on what appears before the material senses and is always temporal — limited in scope and time. We must dissolve the false sense that we live in a mortal body.

Choosing to be “present with the Lord” we are unimpressed with the reports of matter — whether good or bad. As we keep thought focused on our oneness with God, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love — the Soul of our being — we find ourselves dwelling in infinite Mind. The outward expression that we call body must naturally express Soul’s freedom and harmony. We, like Paul, must always give God the credit and glory as we overcome every trial.

Section 1: You are God’s blessed servant and witness — upheld by the grace of God.

It was fun to think about the co-dependent relationship that exists between God and man. Big blessings will come from getting that relationship straight. As we look at this section, we see God represented as the everlasting King, clothed with honor and majesty (B1 & B2) He’s in charge!! Majesty and honor are closely linked in the original Hebrew. Both include the ideas of beauty, comeliness, excellency, glory, and being goodly. Those are attributes of God, and by reflection, attributes of man. How wonderful to realize that we have been clothed by God with righteousness (rightness, justice, and prosperity) and with beauty. I love the imagery of being clothed like a bride or bridegroom. I don’t think anyone ever looks as good as they do at their wedding! (B3)

It always helps me to keep things in perspective when I remember that Isaiah was written during a period when the people were in exile in Babylon — being held captive by their enemy. And yet, so much hope is expressed here. God never stops caring for His creation! We could feel like exiles at the moment — if we allowed that. Rather than the Babylonians, our enemy appears to be fear of disease and economic disaster, as well as isolation. The sense of uncertainty is part of both scenarios. But, God has never stopped caring for each and every one of us, just as He did Israel.

We were made to be God’s witnesses. (B4) As used here, being a witness for God isn’t for God’s benefit (as it may traditionally be in a trial setting.) God doesn’t need our help. But, knowing and believing and understanding God will enable His people (then and now) to return to right relation with Him and find freedom. (New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VI, p. 377) Before the exile, Israel had turned a deaf ear to being taught about God. But, God never leaves His children. He made us to be His shine (to show forth His praise) and perpetually stirs us and awakens us to recognize the inseparable relationship we share with HIm.

According to one Bible Dictionary, the word “servant” is used over eight hundred times in the Bible. The Hebrew word ebed and the Greek word boules normally have the literal meaning of “slave”, but the term can also be translated as “worshippers of God" and even as a form of address between equals. To be a servant involves humility, but look at what is promised … God holds up His servants and has chosen them (“mine elect”) and delights in them and has put his spirit on them. (B5) God LOVES us — knows us and cherishes us!

Understanding our relationship to God as His witness and servant, we can identify ourselves correctly as the reflection of the only identity — the only Soul — there is. (S2 & S3) We don’t operate in separate orbits from God. We express God — who constitutes our very Soul, our identity! That identity isn’t trapped in a material body. (S4) I love the phrase, “the radiance of Soul”! (S5) Like the rays of the sun are the radiance of the sun. To me, that captures the essence of the majesty that is forever ours, by reflection or expression. The beauty (inside and out), excellency, and goodness that are ours don’t originate in us. They never change or diminish and can’t be touched by sin, disease, or death. Soul has designed us, drawn us, and lives us in complete safety as His/Her beautiful design!!

Section 2: Man (you, me, and all) lives in Spirit, not in matter.

If we trust the physical senses, it sure looks like our soul, or identity, is trapped in a material body, and our experience is at the mercy of that body. But, then it looks like the sun and stars orbit around the earth as the center of the universe. That’s what Ptolemy thought. People believed him for 1400 years until that false theory was overturned by the findings of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. (S7) There was great controversy over these new findings. They definitely were not immediately accepted. And, so, the discovery made by Mary Baker Eddy has not yet been accepted generally. The physical sciences argue against the findings of Christian Science. But, whether the truth is accepted or not doesn’t change the facts!

Before Ptolemy established his theories, St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “However, you are not [living] in the flesh [controlled by the sinful nature] but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God lives in you [directing and guiding you]. … for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever.” (B7: Rom. 8:9, 13, Amplified Version) Most today think this is simply comparing succumbing to the temptations of the carnal mind (or the flesh) vs. yielding to God’s government. But, the more inspired view is to see that our identity truly is not dependent on the flesh (or mortal body with its sensuous temptations of pleasure or of pain), but we dwell in the Spirit — literally move at the impulse of Spirit, reflecting and expressing the Life that is the only Soul of all!

Again … Isaiah 2: 22, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” is often interpreted as the importance of not placing our trust in human beings or mortals. (B8) But, Christian Science broadens that interpretation to say we should give up all credence in the belief that we live in a material body or are governed by “laws” of matter. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Rightly understood, instead of possessing a sentient material form, man has a sensationless body; and God, the Soul of man and of all existence, being perpetual in His own individuality, harmony, and immortality, imparts and perpetuates these qualities in man — through Mind, not matter.” (S10)

We need to perpetually check our perspective! Knowing that we have a sensationless body — the expression of our identity, independent of matter — we can feel safe, and know there is nothing to fear! Spirit, Life, Truth, Love is the Soul (identity) of our being and expresses in us all of the health and harmony that is perpetually ours. This is the fact that keeps us safe, immune from the false beliefs and ill effects that come from reversing the order of things and believing that we have a life separate from God — and vulnerable.

It doesn’t matter how long a false view is entertained — it is still false. Identifying with the facts, we find harmony and lose all fear and sense of vulnerability. It’s tempting these days to think that staying away from others is what keeps us safe. But, truly, safety only comes from understanding the reality that we are governed by Soul and that “man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust” (or we could add germs, infection, a virus, economic downturn, loneliness, etc.). (S8) Refuse to waver from these facts any more than you waver from understanding that the sun — rather than the earth — is the center of the solar system!

Section 3: Humility and Spiritual Baptism

The story of the healing of Naaman is such a rich one — and can teach us good lessons. Although Naaman at first had a lot of pride to deal with, — incensed that Elisha didn’t make a big show of coming out and healing him, and insulted that he should be asked to bathe in the relatively dirty waters of the Jordan River —, he ultimately showed enough humility to follow Elisha’s instructions. And the skin disease that had plagued him was healed. (B13) It had to be clearly evident that it was GOD that healed Naaman. Otherwise, his faith would have remained in the prophet, rather than seeing the prophet as a transparency. Was there something about the river that was a healing agent? No!

The healing came as Naaman’s thought changed and his pride humbly yielded to the power of God. He was washed clean as his thought was purified by Spirit. Part of Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of Baptism quotes Paul: “We are ‘willing rather to b absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (S15) That’s the key. Pride may not be the specific issue plaguing us … but it could be doubt, fear, insecurity in our understanding, dependence on material means or faith in statistics. The point is, we need to be absent from all of that and really present with God — keeping thought aligned with God’s report!

Especially during this time when demands are being made on us to constantly think rightly, it’s important to stay submerged in Spirit as much as possible. That doesn’t mean we ignore the problem — or say there is no problem — or act in any way that is disrespectful to our neighbors. But, we have a duty as Christian Scientists to continually baptize (cleanse) thought — letting Spirit scrub it clean of every false belief. By doing so, not only will we find that we are safe, but also those embraced in our thought are also blessed. Ultimately, we need to expect healing for the world and eradication of the belief of a deadly virus.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote an article called Pond and Purpose that is included in Miscellaneous Writings1883-1896, pages 203-207. It is worth a deep dive. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “By purifying human thought, this state of mind permeates with increased harmony all the minutiae of human affairs. It brings with it wonderful foresight, wisdom, and power; it unselfs the mortal purpose, gives steadiness to resolve, and success to endeavor. Through the accession of spirituality, God, the divine Principle of Christian Science, literally governs the aims, ambition, and acts of the Scientist. The divine ruling gives prudence and energy; it banishes forever all envy, rivalry, evil thinking, evil speaking and acting; and mortal mind, thus purged, obtains peace and power outside of itself. This practical Christian Science is the divine Mind, the incorporeal Truth and Love, shining through the mists of materiality and melting away the shadows called sin, disease, and death.” (Misc. 204:23–6)

The last citation of this section reminds us that as thought changes … “from fear to hope and from faith to understanding, — the visible manifestation will at last be man governed by Soul, not by material sense.” (S17) What an amazing opportunity we have right now to embrace the current situation and see through the lie — humbly immersing thought in the allness of Love, the allness of Spirit. God is leading us. We just need to obediently follow — as Naaman did.

Section 4: The Senses of Soul are Intact and need to be utilized

It is certainly right to expect our senses — hearing, seeing, voice, etc. — to be completely operational and free of any impediment, disease, or pain. So, it is important to again understand that the source of those senses is not matter — or in limited and limiting body parts — but in Soul (the source of all identity.) God is forever speaking. That is, Mind is forever communicating — and sending a message of peace. Are we exercising our God-given ability to hear that communication?

We have to be careful we’re not getting caught up in the static constantly competing with the voice of Truth — static that can seem so convincing that it can deafen us. This might include news reports and statistics about what is threatening our well-being. It might be bad memories of a previous affliction (related to our eyes or ears, or something totally different.) It might just be “yapping” from the body that this or that doesn’t seem right — or hurts. Whatever it is, we need to silence it, and “hear what God the Lord will speak.” (B15) And, what about our voice?

Are we gossiping, complaining, ruminating, repeating false reports, or adding to the fears of the world? It’s mighty tempting!!! But, let’s instead [be found “constantly accentuating harmony in word and deed, mentally and orally…” and so] follow the example of the Psalmist … by being satisfied with the abundance that God is providing and joyfully praise God audibly as well as silently (Misc. 206:19 and Psalm 63:5, B16). By so doing, we are opening thought to the Christ, Truth, which is as present to reveal our perfect Soul-filled senses as when Jesus healed the “deaf and dumb” (B18). As long as we think that our body, or the material senses, are the source of our hearing, seeing, speaking, knowing, etc., we’re in trouble — subject to physical maladies. But, “Divine Science reveals sound as communicated through the senses of Soul — through spiritual understanding” (S21). Spiritual understanding can’t be hurt or lost!

I have witnessed the healing of earaches, eye infections, and loss of voice as thought turned away from a material organ as the source, and spoke “to disease as one having authority over it, leaving Soul to master the false evidences of the corporeal senses and to assert its claims over mortality and disease” (S22).

Two healings of hearing impairment are very dear to my heart. When my daughter was young (barely 3) we realized her language was delayed. A hearing test revealed that she had a severe hearing loss in both ears. When I called a practitioner for help with this, his response was, “That’s easy”! I don’t remember specifically how we prayed, but I’ll never forget his confidence. And, within just a few months it became evident that her hearing had been completely restored — as was her language and speech development. She is now an adult and has exceptional hearing! Years later, I realized I had virtually no hearing in one ear, and the other felt less than perfect, too. I was aware of birds singing outside, but couldn’t really hear them clearly. I had been cherishing a verse from Prov. 20:12, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.” And it came to me that God wouldn’t create the beautiful sounds of the universe and keep His children from hearing them. At the moment of that realization, my ears opened and I could hear everything perfectly! And they remained open. Healing is natural NOW!

Section 5: Man (we) cannot be held in captivity. Let go of the belief of life in matter and be free!

Herod the king may have felt threatened by the growing support the young Christian church was receiving from so many people, or he may have been trying to gain the support of the Jews. At any rate, “the city’s secular authority (Herod) has now come to agree with its religious authority (Sanhedrin) that the Jesus movement is detrimental to Israel (New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X). Many Jews were in Jerusalem at this time for “the festival of Unleavened Bread.” James had been arrested and beheaded. And then Peter was arrested and put under heavy guard in the prison. The Bible Lens (available on shares more interesting details about this account. To me, the best part of this story is that “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” [W: Let’s keep a Prayer Watch going every hour worldwide.]

And, as we know, an “angel” (the touch of God) woke up Peter, broke his chains and led him out of the prison and through gates, without alerting the guards. I also love Peter’s remark that he had been delivered not only out of the hand of Herod, but “from all the expectation of the people of the Jews” (B20). That makes me think about the expectations of general thought today, which would try to imprison thought with fear and the threat of disease and death. As we follow the example of the early church and pray without ceasing, we can expect the chains of this pandemic to fall away and all to walk out of the mental prison, safe and sound!

The bottom line is summed up here, “Sooner or later we shall learn that the fetters of man’s finite capacity are forged by the illusion that he lives in body instead of in Soul, in matter instead of in Spirit.” We do NOT live in a material body. Our identity is free — the full expression of Soul. And we cannot be imprisoned by limited opportunities, disease, fear, or any other mortal concept. Let’s all agree to pray for the world and walk out of this unscathed!

Section 6: Establish in thought the “temple, or body, ‘whose builder and maker is God.’” (S30)

The Lesson comes full circle as we are, again, asked to think about our body as the temple of God (or the Holy Ghost) (B21). I have heard some interpret these verses as a command to treat out bodies with respect — being watchful of the foods we eat and how much exercise we get, etc. But, I think a Christian Science perspective, based on Genesis 1, demands a deeper interpretation. If our body is God’s, it can’t be material. It must be spiritual, because God — our source and maker — is spiritual.

The body must actually be made up of ideas, governed by the Mind that designs us and forms our identity. I found the question from the first citation in Science and Health very interesting. Do we think we have to wait for “more understanding” on our part, or for more people to believe in the teachings of Christian Science before we can demonstrate Soul’s ability “to control the body”? The rest of the paragraph asks us to remember that Jesus, who demonstrated the power of Spirit twenty centuries ago said clearly, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.” And Paul said that “NOW is the day of salvation” (S28, p. 92-93). We don’t need to wait for anything.

We can right now empty our thought of “false trusts and material evidences, in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear” (S30). Then, we’ll make room for “the true” — the fact that we aren’t trapped in or governed by a material body, but totally dwell in the consciousness of Love. Our identity (or body) is the expression of what God has established — forever harmonious, healthy, employed, and satisfied, lacking nothing!

We are the temple of God! Years ago, I had a beautiful healing of a back injury by glimpsing the power of this statement: “our true temple is no human fabrication, but the superstructure of Truth, reared on the foundation of Love, and pinnacled in Life. Such being its nature, how can our godly temple possibly be demolished, or even disturbed?” (Pulpit and Press 2: 27-2) As the freedom I experienced demonstrated … it can’t be disturbed! And that is just as true today in regard to whatever challenges we may be facing! Soul reigns!

[Warren:] Click for other inspiring Bible Lesson GEMs from Cobbey Crisler & others.

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