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"Body and Spirit"
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Wednesday AM Bible Study
July 4, 2007
Theme: Believers are to 'flee fornication' as that which is incompatible with their identity in Christ.
If you were to review the problems that Paul has dealt with so far in this letter, you'd see that the problems always have their resolve in pointing to Christ. If there was disunity in the church, Paul solved it by focusing on our unity in Christ (chps. 1-4). If there was sin tolerated in the fellowship, Paul solved it by pointing to the holiness of Christ (chp. 5). If believers were suing one another over temporal things, Paul solved the problem by pointing to their ultimate destiny in Christ (6:1-11). And now, we find that the same is true with the problem of believers in the church who were practicing sexual sins. One again, the solution is found in the Person of Christ Himself.
It needs to be remembered that the believers in Corinth lived in a culture in which it was common practice to participate in the worship of the many pagan temples in the city—worship which included the use of ritual prostitutes. What's more, the prevailing philosophy of the day taught that what was done in the body didn't really affect the spirit. This led to the Corinthians—as they did with almost everything else—imitating the practices of the surrounding culture. Professing believers were embracing sexual immorality; and once again, Paul deals with the problem by pointing to Christ—showing that the believer's body is no longer his or her own, but has been made the possession of Christ.
You can break this passage down into three spiritual principles that Paul's words imply:
I. WHAT IS DONE IN OUR BODY HAS SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE (vv. 12-14).
A. The believers were probably using the phrase in v. 12 as a justification for sexual sin. "All things are lawful for me . . ." They may even have drawn justification for this phrase from some of the things that Paul had been teaching concerning the gospel (see Romans 3:8; 14:14). It appears to have been a common excuse among them (1 Corinthians 10:23). Paul does not seem to argue with the fact that all things are, indeed, lawful; but adds that clearly all things are not "helpful" or "expedient". All things do not necessarily advance the cause of Christ in the believer or contribute positively to his or her witness and walk. Similarly, he adds that while all things are perhaps lawful, the believer should not allow himself or herself to be brought under the power of anything (John 8:34; Romans 6:16; Gal. 5:14-15).
B. The words in verse 13 may also have been another phrase that the Corinthians had commonly used to justify sexual immorality. Just as foods were for the stomach and stomach for the foods, they argued, so also the body was clearly made to engage in sex, and sex was clearly for the body. This was an argument based on two false premises; both of which Paul responds to:
1. The relation between the stomach/food connection and the body/sex connection are not the same. God will destroy both stomach and foods. They are temporal in nature. But the body as a whole is destined to be eternal and will be resurrected unto glory. Just as Christ was raised up, so would we be in our bodies. So the body is to be primarily used for the service of eternal causes, not for temporal pleasures.
2. The body is not made for sexual immorality, but for the Lord. And similarly, the Lord is made for the body. He took a body upon Himself like our own; and has given us a body as an instrument by which we may know and serve Him during our time on earth. To use the body for that from which the Lord sought to redeem us unto Himself is to misuse the body (1 Thess. 4:1-8).
II. BECAUSE OUR BODY IS A MEMBER OF CHRIST (vv. 15-17).
A. The Corinthians were to remember that they are now made members of Christ (Romans 6:1-14)—and this included their bodies. It is utterly inappropriate to take that which is a member of Christ and join it to a harlot. Paul uses the strongest negation possible to deny this.
B. What's more, because of the mystery of sexual union that God created when He created mankind (Genesis 2:24), a man who belongs to Christ and then is joined with a harlot makes himself one flesh with a harlot. How utterly inappropriate this is when that same believer is one spirit with Christ!
III. TO COMMIT FORNICATION IS TO SIN WITH THAT WHICH BELONGS TO CHRIST (vv. 18-20).
A. Paul puts the matter in a present tense imperative—suggestion an action that is to be started immediately: "Flee sexual immorality". It's one of the shortest and easiest commands in the Bible to remember. We are not to stay and fight it. We are to flee it. And we are not to flee only certain types of it, but all forms of it. It is dangerous to the soul. It is a sin that is unlike any other. All other sins we may commit involve the use of things outside our body. But sexual sin involves the use of the body itself. We thus sin against that which God has given us for His use and His glory.
B. Paul reminds the believer of his or her essential dignity as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Sexual immorality is a sin that involves the misuse of the dwelling-place of God. The Holy Spirit Himself indwells the believer; and our bodies are no longer ours but were bought with the price of Christ's own body. We are, therefore, not to make a distinction between our bodies and our spirits; but are to be sure that we glorify God with both.
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One of the great examples that God gives us in the Scripture is Joseph. He fled sexual immorality under the argument, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). It was the reverence of God—not the fear of getting caught—that motivated him. May it be the same for us.
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