– Duke Jeyaraj
Gayathri Devi writes about the conversation between a husband and wife in her ook, “A Calm Brain: How to Relax into Stress-Free, High-Powered Life”:
Wife to her husband: “My husband says Yoga would be good for me because I’ve become so hyper….When the (Yoga) teacher says, empty your mind, I think, what do you mean…”
While Yoga teachers might say, “Empty your mind…” the Bible tells us quite the opposite.
Jesus did speak about the dangers of keeping your inner-being empty.
Eugene Peterson renders Jesus’ words when he pointed out this danger this fabulous, unforgettable way: “When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place” (Matt. 12:43-45, The Message).
Please notice the word, “Vacant”. If your inner self is kept vacant, that’s an invitation for Satan and his team to storm in! Also notice here that “seven other spirits” came back into that soul that was vacant. The number seven in the Bible is linked with “completeness or perfection”. Here, what Jesus is saying is perhaps this: “The completely swept and kept empty heart has potential to be completely demon-possessed!” Satan only comes to steal, kill and destroy, the Bible teaches. But Jesus, the only God-in-flesh came to give us, life, life to the full (John 10:10). What the world and its pleasures cannot give, Jesus gives! A life of meaning, purpose and true joy – only Jesus can give us that. That’s why he died for us on the Cross. His blood can cleanse us from every sin, when we repent and turn to Him, in faith, the Bible teaches (John 1:12).
The message of Jesus in the Bible passage I first quoted is this: trying to live a clean, moral life (the imagery of the house, “empty, swept and put in order” (Matt. 12:44) with one’s OWN help, without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit who can fill us if only we invite Him into our hearts, is very dangerous. Those who try to live holy in their own strength can return to a life of sin that is far worse than it was before their coming to Christ. This is Jesus’ point.
Trying to be holy with your strength is also impossible. You can’t pull yourself up, with your bootlaces can you? That’s why we need a Savior. The only Sinless Savior there is, is Christ Jesus.
Don’t keep your heart, mind, soul, inner being empty. Let the Spirit of God fill you constantly (Eph. 5:18).
Elsewhere in the Bible the challenge to fill our hearts and minds with Scripture is often-repeated. Here are passages from five different Bible books which pose this challenge:
“Your Word have I HIDDEN IN MY HEART, That I might not sin against you!” (Psalm 119:11, NKJV).
When we talk of God’s Word when we sit in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, when we rise up, pretty soon, that Word from God, will be hiding in our heart (Deut. 6:7). “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads”(Deut. 11:18 HCSB).
When we keep God’s Laws (WORDS) as the “apple of our eyes” and “write them in the tablets of our hearts”, they would empower us to “keep from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her WORDS” (Prov. 7:1-5).
Jesus, the Word in Flesh, told his disciples that His Words should “sink into their ears” (Luke 9:44, NKJV). That way, it was enroute to permanently stay in their hearts!
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” That was Paul’s way of saying “hide God’s Word in your heart” in Colossians 3:16.
Don’t keep your mind empty. Fill your heart, mind, inner being, soul with God’s Written Word!
So, in CONCLUSION what am I saying?
Yoga has three elements (as some respected Bible teachers have put it): a PHYSICAL ASPECT, a MENTAL ASPECT and a VERBAL ASPECT.
ABOUT THE PHYSICAL ASPECT: Yes, Yoga is a form of physical exercise. There is nothing wrong with physical exercise as long as we know that our spiritual fitness counts more with God who told us through Aposle Paul this: “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Tim. 4:8). “Over-weight” Israel priest Eli could not even survive a simple fall (I Sam. 4:18 NLT). Did Eli take his physical fitness like most of us do, lightly? Am I advocating Yoga purely as a physical exercise? Hang on.
We already talked about the MENTAL aspect of Yoga first up: Yoga tells us to empty our mind; but the Bible tells us to fill our minds, hearts, souls, inner-self with God’s Holy Spirit and God’s Word. To see Yoga as a way of worship of the Sun is absolutely unacceptable for we are called to worship the “Sun of Righteous who rises with healing in his wings”, even the Lord Jesus (Mal. 4:2). We worship Yahweh who gives orders to the obedient Sun and not the Sun itself (Josh. 10:12-13). To see Yoga as a way of Salvation is also ruled out for we know that that Jesus claimed to be ONLY way of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). To practice Yoga as a way of Salvation is to insult Jesus’ work on the Cross.
Finally, we will talk about the VERBAL aspect of Yoga, which involves various chants. R. Stanley, respected Indian Bible teacher put it brilliantly: “Even chanting the name of Jesus in vain is forbidden in Scripture!”
So, I would not recommend that Yoga even be used a pure physical exercise because of the MENTAL AND VERBAL BAGGAGE THAT COMES ALONG WITH IT. Let’s use forms of physical exercise that are not questionable biblically.