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1 Corinthians 6:12-20: Glorify God with Your Body Print E-mail
1 Corinthians
Sunday, 04 October 2015

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Christians have consistently struggled with the topic of the human body. Many heresies have arisen due to faulty understandings of the spiritual and the physical. For example, the Gnostics taught that all matter, including the body, is evil. The Manicheans taught a similar idea concerning the body, along with the followers of Marcion. These heresies all rested on the Greek idea of dualism: the spirit/soul is good while the material/body is evil. The idea that matter is evil led these groups to develop unbiblical ideas concerning God, Christ, man, and salvation. For example, if all matter is evil, then how could God really come in the flesh? Such ideas led to false teaching on the nature of Christ (fully divine, but not fully human).

But the Bible does not teach such dualism. Unlike these groups, the biblical authors do not see matter as evil. Outside of theological issues like the nature of Christ, which are critical, why does such teaching matter? It matters because such teaching about the physical world and about the human body can lead to sexual license. If the spirit is good and body is evil, then what I do with my body does not matter.

Ideas have consequences, and the consequence of the idea that all matter is evil is freedom to do whatever one wants with their body, including sexual immorality. This might sound like a stretch, but it is exactly the situation that is happening in Corinth. Apparently being influenced by the surrounding Greek culture, the Corinthians had come to the conclusion that sexual immorality was no big deal. ‘Our bodies won’t make it to heaven so who cares what we do with them on earth,’ might be their claim. ‘We are saved by grace and free from the law, so what does it matter if I go sleep with one of the temple prostitutes?’ Such activity was common in Corinth due to the pagan religions and it seems some from the Church were participating.

But Paul will have none of it. He tells them emphatically: Flee from sexual immorality (v. 18). So glorify God in your body (v. 20). When you put these commands together you get Paul’s point in this passage: Glorify God in your body by fleeing from sexual immorality. But why should we do this? I mean in a culture like Corinth and in a culture like our own, why should we flee sexual immorality? Paul gives us at least four reasons to flee sexual immorality in this passage.

We flee sexual immorality because it enslaves (v. 12)

Let me let you in on a little secret: the world is lying to you about sex. Sexual freedom is viewed as the means to a happy life. ‘Sleep with who you want, when you want and you will have the best life ever,’ they tell us. But it’s not true. Just ask Solomon or any other Hollywood star who has lived that lie. A good sex life is not the key to happiness.

In fact, Paul tells us that such sin enslaves. Look at verse 12. The repeated phrase, “All things are lawful for me,” was probably a slogan of the Corinthians. It was a misunderstanding of Christian freedom and the gospel of grace. ‘Christ has saved us from the law, so we can just do whatever we want!’ Paul counters: ‘Not all things are helpful and sin will enslave.’ People think they can control their sexual sin. The husband thinks he can just flirt with another woman and nothing will come of it. The wife thinks she can watch that romantic movie with just the one sex scene and not be impacted. The teenager thinks he can be in a physical relationship without ‘crossing the line’ or visit that website without being addicted. But sexual sin will master us and enslave us. Don’t believe the lie that you are in control. Flee from it.

We flee sexual immorality because it is not what our bodies were made for (v. 13-14)

We see the Corinthians’ struggle with dualism in verses 13-14. Look at those with me. For the Corinthians, sexual immorality was as natural as eating. ‘Our stomachs were made for food just like our bodies were made for sex. It’s natural. After all, we won’t need these bodies in heaven.’ But Paul counters them again. The body is not made for sexual immorality but for the Lord. We are to use our bodies in service and obedience to Him. Their dualism is wrong, for just as Christ was raised physically from the dead, so we too will be raised. The Lord gave us bodies not for sexual immorality but for future immortality (see ch. 15). If our bodies will be raised on the Final Day, then how can we use them for sexual sin in the present? We should not. We should flee it.

We flee sexual immorality because it joins what is Christ’s with sinful actions (v. 15-17)

Paul gets pointed with the next part of his argument. Look at verses 15-17. As believers, we are members of Christ, joined with Him through the power of the Spirit. If that is true, then how can we join ourselves with a prostitute or in a sexually immoral act? Going back to Genesis 2:24, Paul reminds them that the sexaul act makes the two parties one flesh. How could someone pretend like that is no big deal? How could we ever believe that there is such a thing as ‘casual sex’? Truth is, sex is more than just a physical act. It is more than just something we do with our bodies. It involves the whole person being joined with another person.

Now follow Paul’s logic: If sex joins two people together and you are joined with Christ through the Spirit, then how in the world can you sleep with a prostitute and think it is alright? Paul takes his argument to the very edge of crudeness for us to see the ugliness of sexual immorality for the Christian. We are meant to be disgusted. We are meant to shake our heads and tremble.

So let me get practical for a moment. What Paul is saying is that Christ is always with us. He is constantly present through our union faith. If that is the case, then He is present for every sexual sin that we commit. Let me encourage you to try this: next time you are tempted to look at something you are not supposed to look at, or flirt with the woman at work, or go too far with your girlfriend, just pause and ask Christ: ‘Are you ok with this? Are you alright with me joining myself to this sinful activity?’ Are you willing to drag Christ into that situation? If not, then flee!

We flee sexual immorality because it is a sin against our own body (v. 18-20)

After giving the command to flee sexual immorality in verse 18a, Paul gives one final reason to do this in verses 18b. Look at that with me. It is hard to know exactly what Paul meant by saying that every other sin is outside the body, but however you take it, Paul is pointing to the severity of sexual sin against ourselves. We must be careful and fight against viewing sexual sin as worse than other sins or unforgivable. The Bible does not teach that. Yet, we do know that the consequences and impact of sexual sin are far-reaching. Such sin will hurt those around us and it will hurt ourselves. It is a sin against our own body.

Why is committing a sin against our own body so significant? Paul gives two reasons. First, our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 19a. The Spirit was given at Pentecost and everyone who turns from their sins and believes in Jesus’ death on the cross is indwelt by the Spirit. Paul has already reminded the Corinthians that they have received the Spirit (2:12), now he is driving home the truth of how ugly and wrong it is for us to use our bodies for sexual sin if we indeed have the Spirit within us. How could we do that? How could we use our bodies in that way? Again, in moments of temptation we must ask the Holy Spirit: ‘Are you ok with me using my body for this purpose? Are you ok with this action?’ If the answer is no, then we should flee that sin.

Not only are our bodies a temple of the Holy Spirit, but second, they were bought with a price. Look at verses 19b-20. Our bodies no longer belong to us. Christians do not have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. Quite frankly, many people do not like this thought. They want to do what they want to do. Nobody owns them. But the reality is that everyone is owned. We all have a master. We either belong to Christ or we belong to the Enemy. We are either slaves of righteousness or slaves of sin (see Romans 6:15-23).

And what Paul is reminding the Corinthians and us is that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have been redeemed, purchased by the blood of Christ. Through the free grace that Jesus won for us at the cross, we are no longer slaves to Satan, no longer slaves to our sin. Instead of using our bodies for rebellion which leads to death, we are now free to use them for the glory of God. The precious blood of our Savior has set us free. He gave His life on the cross so that we could use our bodies to bring God glory. One of the ways we do this is by fleeing sexual immorality.

The world has repeatedly lied to us about sex. People act like it is all you need. People tell you that the key to joy is having as much sex with as many people as you possibly can. But free love is not free at all. It is slavery. You want to know the truth about sex? The Lord has given sex to humanity as a great gift to be used in the way that He commands. Not because He is trying to limit our enjoyment or steal our happiness. No, just the opposite. The Lord wants us to have maximum enjoyment and he tells us how to do it: one woman with one man in marriage. Paul warns us against sexual immorality in chapter six and then shows us the better way in chapter 7. Sex in marriage is not settling for second best, it is realizing that the Creator, the one who created our bodies and created sex and created joy, knows what is best for His creation. Don’t listen to the lies. Jesus gave Himself for you at the cross so that you could be free to use your body for the glory of God. May we flee sexual sin and do just that. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~


Last Updated ( Friday, 16 October 2015 )

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