1 Cor 6:12-20
SS Lesson for 07/06/2014
Devotional Scripture: Rom 6:5-14
The lesson teaches us to Glorify God with our Bodies. The study's aim is to understand clearly the principle of life that follows the fact that God owns our bodies. The study's application is to take responsibility to respond to life with the knowledge that God owns us in every circumstance. (From the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary).
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
The words, Everything is permissible for me, had apparently become a slogan to cloak the immorality of some in Corinth. The statement was true but it required qualification. Paul qualified liberty with the principle of love applied to both neighbor and self (cf. Mark 12:31). Liberty which was not beneficial but detrimental to someone else was not loving (1 Cor. 8:1; 10:23) and was to be avoided. So too, liberty which became slavery (I will not be mastered by anything) was not love but hatred of self. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food was another slogan by which some Corinthians sought to justify their immorality. They reasoned that “food” was both pleasurable and necessary. When their stomachs signaled hunger, food was taken to satisfy them. So too, they argued, sex was pleasurable and necessary. When their bodies signaled sexual desire, they needed to be satisfied. But Paul drew a sharp line between the stomach and the body. The body (sōma) in this context (cf. 2 Cor. 12:3) meant more than the physical frame; it referred to the whole person, composed of flesh (the material) and spirit (the immaterial; cf. 2 Cor. 2:13 with 7:5). The “body,” therefore, was not perishable but eternal (1 Cor. 6:14), and it was not meant for sexual immorality (porneia) but for union with the Lord (vv. 15-17), which is reciprocal (cf. Eph. 1:23). The eternality of the body, the future destiny of the individual, was made certain by Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 6:14; cf. 15:20). So too the work of the Spirit (cf. 12:13) has affected Christians’ present destiny and joined them to Christ (6:15). Could a Christian practice immorality without grieving Christ? (cf. 12:26) Never! The union of two people involves more than physical contact. It is also a union of personalities which, however transient, alters both of them (6:16). Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 (The two will become one flesh) not to affirm that a man and a prostitute are married but to indicate the gravity of the sin (cf. Eph. 5:31-32). A Christian’s union with Christ likewise affects both him and the Savior, and one cannot act without affecting the other. Corinthian Christians, when faced with immorality, should respond as did Joseph (Gen. 39:12)—they should run. Flee from sexual immorality. Immorality was a unique sin but not the most serious (cf. Matt. 12:32). It was, however, an offense against the sinner and those with whom he was related. It is possible that the statement All other sins a man commits are outside his body (the word “other” is a translator’s addition and is not represented by any word in the Gr. text) should be taken as a third slogan (cf. 1 Cor. 6:12-13) bandied about by some in Corinth. If so, then Paul’s rejoinder (he who sins sexually sins against his own body) is a straight-forward denial. The Greek construction is similar to that in verse 13. Among those grieved was the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian (who is in you; cf. 12:13; 1 John 3:24). Also God the Father is grieved, for He seeks honor (Matt. 5:16), not shame, from those who are bought at a price (cf. 1 Cor. 7:23), that price being “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19).
The Corinthian church had the same problem we see in our country and, sad to say, in many of our churches—loose sexual morals. This text concerns sexual sin. It was apparently being rationalized away by some of the believers, and the Apostle Paul had to put it right. We are to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18)! It is not even to be named among us (Eph. 5:3)! Let us not get in the habit of rationalizing what we know to be ungodly and sinful practices. How is sexual sin rationalized today? Some say, "Everyone is doing it." Not really. Not everyone. Some say it will not hurt anyone. Paul said we sin against our own bodies when we engage in sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18). Some say it is a biological need and enjoyable; so why not indulge ourselves? Paul argued that sexual behavior is designed only for marriage and should be kept within its proper realm. There are many rationalizations for indulging in sexual activity outside of marriage; our society today is filled with them. We often see the same attitudes cropping up in the church. But as the Bible makes clear, sexual sin is not for believers. We need to remember two things from our text. First, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies house the very presence of the Living God. Let us remember that at all times. Whatever we do, the Holy Spirit goes with us. Wherever we are, the Holy Spirit is with us. I have heard many people say in casual conversation, usually when speaking about nutrition or exercise, that the body is a temple. They seem to be saying that the body is some kind of religious entity that must be cared for properly. That is not Paul's meaning here. The last part of this truth—that as believers, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit—is forgotten. But we should not miss it: our bodies are the temples of God. There is a sacred presence within us. Therefore, it is a kind of physical desecration to allow our bodies to take part in an act of sexual immorality. It grieves the Holy Spirit and compromises our spiritual growth. We must live pure lives and honor the presence of God within us. A second point to remember is that we are not our own. When the Lord Jesus saved us by His precious atonement, He purchased us fully and forever: soul, spirit, and body. The body is going to be redeemed, changed, and wedded to our spirits for all eternity, even after physical death. The Lord is not indifferent to His ownership over all of us, including our bodies. We should be asking the Lord's permission with regard to whatever we do with our bodies. As stewards of what He has given, we live under His dominion and authority. Our bodies belong to the Lord and are to be used for His purposes. Nothing He disapproves of should be done with or in or to our bodies. This is strong biblical teaching. Have we come to terms with it? In the totality of the Lord's salvation, His great and powerful grace has swept us into His kingdom so that we have become His own prized possession. We therefore have but one choice—we must glorify God in our bodies.
The outline of the lesson came from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary and from the points revealed by the study of the Scriptural text.
Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him
We live in a permissive society. To be "permissive" normally means to grant permission or to be tolerant and lenient. It also includes the concept of allowing the freedom to behave in ways that some might call unacceptable. Today this applies especially to sexual activity. The moral restraints that once governed the bulk of the population in our country are no longer viewed as necessary. Leviticus 18 is a detailed explanation of some of God's expectations regarding sexual relationships. Even though we no longer live under the Mosaic Law, there are many principles still applicable today. The clear teaching of Scripture is that sexual activity is the privilege of married couples. Believers should be especially concerned about the increasingly open acceptance of homosexuality in our culture. God views this activity as an abomination (Lev. 18:22). Even the unsaved world commonly uses the phrase "your body is a temple." They may use it to mean it is the temple of your own spirit. The truth of Scripture is that for the saved person, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This has many implications for practical daily living. It adds a whole new dimension to the way we are to take care of our bodies and to what use we may put them.
One of the things Paul seems to have been battling in the Corinthian church was the ill-advised use of slogans. Such mottoes appear to have been used by various factions within the church to champion their causes and batter their opponents. We should be careful of doing doctrine by slogan. Without context, slogans can be half-truths, as today's lesson makes clear. Today's lesson deals with the touchy subject of sexual immorality and a misunderstanding in the Corinthian church regarding the damage it can cause. We need to consider as a backdrop the standards of morality in the Greco-Roman culture of the first century, which were different from what is accepted today. Consider the issue of prostitution as an example. In the vast majority of American and Canadian cities today, to pay for sex is seen as both illegal and immoral—and an adulterous violation of marriage vows for a married person. The ancient Greeks did not see it this way. For them, adultery was a narrower concept. Adultery was committed when a married woman engaged in sexual activity with anyone other than her husband; if a married man had relations with another man's wife, that too was wrong. But if a married man visited a prostitute, well, that was to be expected. Thus Greek marital expectations regarding fidelity were more for the wife than for the husband—a double standard. Public parties might include prostitutes to entertain the men after the wives were excused from the banquet. This was not considered improper or sexually immoral. In contrast, Christian preachers like Paul taught a much broader definition of what constituted sexual immorality: any sexual activity outside of marriage was sinful and forbidden. Shockingly, some members of the church at Corinth were engaging in illicit sexual activity that even the pagan Gentiles disapproved of (1 Corinthians 5:1)! Paul would not stand for this, for he saw sexual sin as a threat to the unity and purity of the entire body of Christ.
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did — and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Some may wish to restrict the application of Paul’s teaching in our text just to the prohibition of sex with a prostitute. I do not think we dare narrow the application in such a way. After all, it is Paul who applies an Old Testament text on oxen to meeting the needs of those who preach (see 1 Corinthians 9:4-14)! I believe Paul addresses sexual immorality with a prostitute because this is a very common sin in Corinth, even among the saints, and it is a sin the church does not take seriously enough. Paul takes the most “casual” sin (in the minds of the Corinthians) and shows it to be utterly sinful; how much more are any other sexual sins condemned? Just because one is saved and spiritually alive is no reason to take our actions in the flesh lightly. We should be greatly informed by the way Paul engages in “sex education.” The term, “sex education” is highly charged with emotion on the part of some Christians, and rightly so. I simply point out to you what Paul’s curriculum consists of in 1 Corinthians. Paul does not describe in intimate detail the nature and practice of immorality. To do so might become a temptation for us. Paul does not seek to prevent sexual immorality among Christians by frightening them with the physical adverse consequences, like pregnancy, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Paul, as always, goes back to the gospel. Paul’s argument for sexual morality is rooted in sound doctrine, specifically the doctrines which pertain to salvation. The gospel is the basis for sexual (and every other kind of) morality. Note also that Paul could very quickly deal with the Corinthians’ immorality by simply referring to the rules. Not only is sexual immorality forbidden by the Old Testament law, it is forbidden by our Lord and by the Jerusalem Council. In Acts 15, sexual immorality was one of the four things specifically forbidden to the Gentiles (see “fornication” in Acts 15:19-21, 28-29). Immorality was “against the rules,” but Paul wants the Corinthians not just to keep the rules, but to consciously serve God by doing that which is consistent with our calling, with the gospel, and with sound doctrine. It is necessary to keep the rules, but let us do so for the right reasons. Here, Paul gives us the reasons for sexual purity. The problem of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church is due, in part, to the fact that such conduct is not considered sinful or illegal by the pagan Corinthian culture. The Corinthians seem to live more in conformity to the standards of their culture than to the standard set by Christ. If a certain practice is legal, some Corinthian Christians seem to think it is moral. The Bible has a much higher set of standards than this. If something is illegal, it is almost always immoral for the Christian (except for those few times when the law forbade what God commands—e.g. Acts 5:29). When the laws of the land allow certain forms of conduct, we must ask ourselves if that practice is permitted in the Scriptures. For example, the law may allow immorality, but the Bible forbids it. Then there are those things which both the law and the Bible allow. These “liberties” may or may not be advisable for the Christian. The use of any Christian liberty should be subject to the following questions:
(1) Does this practice contribute to my own spiritual growth and maturity?
(2) Does this practice contribute to the growth and maturity of fellow-believers?
(3) Does this practice further the gospel?
(4) Does this practice glorify God?
Liberties are those things which the Bible says I am free to do. If any matter is really a liberty, it is something I am as free not to do as I am free to do. I should be free not to do anything which is a liberty. If I am not free, it is not really a liberty. If I am not free, then in Paul’s words, I am “mastered by” it. Let’s assume that eating popcorn is a Christian liberty. If I cannot control my appetite for popcorn so as not to eat it, then I am in bondage to popcorn. I know of people who say something like this: “Oh, I can quit ____ing any time I want. I’ve done it a hundred times.” Whatever we can’t stop doing is probably something which masters us. Paul’s commitment is not to let his body master him, but to become the master of his body (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Our text has something very definitive to say on the subject of abortion. One of the classic arguments of the pro-abortion movement is that “the woman’s body is her own private possession,” so that no one (not even government) can tell her what to do with her body. Of course, the pro-abortion movement views the unborn child as merely a part of the woman’s body. Thus, the woman is free to do whatever she wishes with that unborn child, including killing it. Paul’s words deny the very premise on upon which the pro-abortion position is based (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The woman’s body is not her own, not to mention the child she carries within. She is not free to use her body as she chooses. The Christian should realize that the body is not to be employed for self-gratification (most often, immorality is the cause of an unwanted pregnancy), but for the glory of God. Paul’s words in our text will certainly be judged “foolish” by those who wish to live in sin. Our text reminds me that it is only the Christian who values sex highly enough. The unbelieving world likes to look down on the Christian, as though we have no appreciation for sex, as though we think sex is evil, or at least unspiritual. The truth is that only a Christian can appreciate the true value of sex. In the Bible, the sexual union is a part of the marriage relationship, and this relationship portrays or symbolizes the union of Christ and His church. If sex is a kind of symbol, and what it symbolizes is the ultimate value—the ultimate good—then sex is a most benevolent gift and privilege. It is a great blessing.
The Christian sanctifies sex by restricting it to the sanctity of the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4) and only to one’s spouse. Those who degrade sex make it common. The word “profane” and the word “common” are nearly synonymous in the Bible. Those who restrict sexual intimacy to their marriage partner value it most highly. Those who indiscriminately engage in sex make it common and profane. Let me illustrate. My wife has a set of special dishes. These dishes are more expensive and more beautiful than our other dishes. The special dishes are saved for special occasions. They are not used as often as our “everyday” dishes. Nobody gets upset if an everyday dish is dropped and broken. But there is a little more consternation if a special dish is broken. That which is most precious is used with greater discrimination than that which is common or profane. I have a fairly large collection of tools. Most of my tools I am willing to loan out to others. Some are restricted to a much smaller group. My micrometers, for example, are not generally available for borrowers. This is because they are delicate, precise, and expensive tools. I do not want these tools abused, and so I restrict their use. On the other hand, I’ll loan a crescent wrench to virtually anyone. What is most valued is most restricted; that which is least valued is commonly available. God values sex, and so should we, which is why it is restrictive for the Christian. A prostitute makes sex profane, common.
A book in our library is entitled, Need, the New Religion. In the self-indulgent society in which we live, need has become a compelling reason for our actions. If we think we “need” something, then it is only reasonable that this need be met. The vast majority of the advertising before us on television and in other forms of the media, seeks to convince us that we have a need, and that their product is the answer to this need. What every man and woman needs is the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life, through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. There is no higher need. And the only fulfillment of this “need” is salvation. God calls on us to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son. We must admit that we are sinners, in need of forgiveness and justification by God’s grace alone. All other needs pale into insignificance in comparison to this need. Let us look to Christ to satisfy this need, and every other need as well. Jesus Christ is all we really need. And having Him by faith, we shall turn away from sexual immorality. Is it possible that you have already fallen, that you are already guilty of sexual immorality? There is forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The good news is that those who have made themselves sexually “unclean” can be cleansed completely. This can be seen in the forgiveness granted the woman at the well in John 4, or in the forgiveness of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8). It can also be seen in the saints at Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Perhaps Paul’s words can best be summed up by Paul, as he writes to the Philippians:
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:19-21).
From URL: https://bible.org/seriespage/relationship-between-spirituality-and-sexual-morality-1-cor-612-20
A story is told about a third-grader who was told to write an essay on the subject of the human body. He submitted this masterpiece: "Your head is kind of round and hard, and your brains are in it and your hair is on it. Your face is in front of your head where you eat and make faces— Your arms you got to have to throw a ball with and so you can reach the butter. Your fingers stick out of your hands so you can throw a curve and add up rithmatick. Your legs is what if you don't have two of, you can't run fast. Your feet are what you run on, and your toes are what always get stubbed. And that's all there is of you, except what's inside, and I never saw that" (Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book, Kregel). The third-grader made it plain that the body is very important in life. What he omitted—understandably—our text for this lesson stresses.
In his letter to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul, led by the Spirit of God, warned those he wrote to about the importance of caring for the human body. The heart of what he said to them was that they were to glorify God with their bodies. The believer's physical body is the temple, or dwelling place, of the Holy Spirit of God. It seems certain that some of the Corinthians were trying to argue that they had freedom in Christ to do as they pleased. After all, they may have thought, we are no longer under the Law of Moses as a rule of life. And Christ did bring to an end the whole Levrtical system as a rule of life when He died on the cross. But that did not and does not mean we now have freedom to sin. "Paul here (vs. 12) insists that Christian liberty is limited by two considerations: Is the practice expedient (helpful) and will it enslave?" (Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Moody). How we treat our bodies and what we do with them are very important. Why is that so? It is true because the Holy Spirit of God dwells within every believer.
The way Paul asked the question "Know ye not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (I Cor. 6:15) means they really did know. Here is a sobering reality indeed: the believer's physical body, as well as his/her spirit, belongs to Christ. This brings great dignity to the human body. Imagine, then, how awful and sinful it is to join our bodies with harlots and become one with them. As Paul told his readers, we as believers need to make every effort to flee from immorality and even from temptations. We need to claim the victory provided for us in Christ. It is hard to keep before us the truth that we are not really our own. We belong to Christ. He and the Holy Spirit indwell us. In Christ we have the resources to say no to sin and Satan. We have indeed been bought at great price. When we say no, we glorify God in our bodies. What steps do you plan to take this week to bring more glory, more praise, and more honor to God? Why not make a short list of some specifics you can do to bring glory to our Lord?
1. Christian liberty should never be used as an excuse for ungodly license (1 Cor. 6:12)
2. God-given desires must be met in God-pleasing ways (vs. 13)
3. Sexual immorality is incongruent with those who claim to belong to Christ (vss. 14-15)
4. Sexual sin always negatively impacts our physical, emotional, and spiritual relationships (vss. 16-17)
5. The temptation of sexual sin is best fought by fleeing it (1 Cor. 6:18; cf. Gen. 39:7-12)
6. If you truly belong to Christ, then glorify God with your spirit and body (1 Cor. 6:19-20)