The gnostic impulse lies deep within us, close to the bone. But God in His mercy has placed the resurrection of Jesus Christ right at the center of our faith. This means that in order to give way fully to gnosticism, we have to abandon the faith. And in the meantime, the saints are forced to deal with all their peripheral gnosticisms as part of their ongoing sanctification.
Whenever matter as such is disparaged over against that which is immaterial and “spiritual,” we are being tempted to gnosticism. Of course, it would be foolish to reject that which is truly spiritual—the point has to do with how the word spiritual is rightly defined. When the spiritual (as a term of praise) is assumed to be the opposite of the material, we have a problem. But when the spiritual is understood as that which is in submission to the Word of God, we are on firmer ground.
The devil is a spirit, a prince of the powers of the air, but this does not make him spiritual. But a man who makes love to his wife with a Biblical understanding shows that his carnal act is a spiritual act. A man who helps a non-Christian neighbor plant some shrubs has real dirt under his spiritual fingernails. But many Christians have a definition of what it means to be spiritual that requires them to try to become more like the devil. You believe there is one God? Good for you; the demons do, too. True spiritual knowledge is exhibited in what you do with matter—how you handle stuff.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He showed His disciples His resurrected flesh. A spirit does not have flesh, as they well saw. When He appeared to them in the Upper Room, He went back and rummaged around in the fridge. A spirit does not eat. We therefore have, at the center of our faith, a stark, material fact. There He stood. Spirits don’t stand. There He walked, on the Mount of Olives, before He ascended.
The ramifications of this work outward like ripples in water. When Christ appears, we will become like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Our lowly bodies will be conformed to the image of His glorious body. This means, incidentally, that we shall have bodies—forever and ever. We do not affirm, in any gnostic sense, the immortality of the soul. Our central hope is the resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of the body, 10 toes and all.
Of course, these bodies will be glorious beyond our comprehending. But this glory is not ethereal, weightless. The word glory brings with it the connotation of weight, a material concept.