PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Corinthians 6:12-18; Know When To Run Away!

10/13 1 Corinthians 6:12-18 The Body is For The Lord; Know When To Run Away! Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20131013_1cor6_12-18.mp3

1Cor 6 [SBLGNT]

12 Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν· ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει. πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν· ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος. 13 τὰ βρώματα τῇ κοιλίᾳ, καὶ ἡ κοιλία τοῖς βρώμασιν· ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ ταύτην καὶ ταῦτα καταργήσει. τὸ δὲ σῶμα οὐ τῇ πορνείᾳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ ὁ κύριος τῷ σώματι· 14 ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ τὸν κύριον ἤγειρεν καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐξεγερεῖ διὰ τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ. 15 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν μέλη Χριστοῦ ἐστιν; ἄρας οὖν τὰ μέλη τοῦ Χριστοῦ ποιήσω πόρνης μέλη; μὴ γένοιτο. 16 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ὁ κολλώμενος τῇ πόρνῃ ἓν σῶμά ἐστιν; Ἔσονται γάρ, φησίν, οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν. 17 ὁ δὲ κολλώμενος τῷ κυρίῳ ἓν πνεῦμά ἐστιν.

1Cor 6 [ESV2011]

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised 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 prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Paul addresses sexual immorality and lawsuits in the church as evidence that this church was not understanding the implications of the gospel and not walking in the way of the cross. We want to be wise, not with worldly human wisdom, but with the wisdom of God, the wisdom of the cross. In this passage, the apostle addresses the issue of Christian liberty, specifically as it applies to human sexuality.

Paul was passionate about Christian liberty. He wrote a letter to the believers in Galatia warning them against defecting from Christ to a different counterfeit gospel, a false gospel of law keeping. He affirms that ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law’ (Gal.3:13). He affirms that it is ‘for freedom that Christ has set us free’ and he exhorts us to ‘stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’ (Gal.5:1). He affirms that those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law’ (Gal.5:18). In his letter to the Romans he boldly states ‘For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law’ (Rom.3:28), and he affirms that ‘you are not under law but under grace’ (Rom.6:14). He says that we have ‘died to the law through the body of Christ’ (Rom.7:4) and ‘we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive’ (Rom.7:6).

All Things Are Lawful

There was a slogan going around that attempted to encapsulate the apostle’s teaching on liberty; ‘all things are lawful’. Paul quotes this maxim twice in this verse and twice in 10:23. Whether Paul said this himself or someone else coined the phrase in an attempt to capture the essence of his teaching, this slogan was popular in Corinth. The problem with catch phrases and slogans is that they are open to misinterpretation. And that is the problem in Corinth. In chapter 6, the issue is sexual immorality. In chapter 10 the issue is food sacrificed to idols. ‘All things are lawful’. Apparently this phrase encapsulated their attitude to all things gray and many things black. Paul has just warned them against self-deception. They were in danger of fooling themselves on the most important of all issues. He said in no uncertain terms that those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. All those things can be forgiven and you can be washed clean through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but those who willfully continue in those kind of lifestyles demonstrate that they have not been transformed by the grace of Jesus.

Not All Things Are Helpful

He starts by giving two qualifying statements to this slogan ‘all things are lawful for me’. First, although all things may be lawful, not all things are helpful or profitable. The question of Christian liberty must not be ‘what can I get away with and not forfeit my salvation?’ or ‘how close to the edge can I get without unwittingly plummeting to my eternal ruin?’

Jesus uses this same word ‘helpful’ or ‘profitable’ in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 And if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it from you! For it is better (profitable) for you that one of your members be destroyed than your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you! For it is better (profitable) for you that one of your limbs be destroyed than your whole body go into hell.

Jesus uses it again in Matthew 18.

Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

If we are asking ‘what is permissible?’ we are asking the wrong question, and it is evidence of a heart problem. We ought to be asking instead ‘what is best?’ ‘what is the ideal?’ ‘what is the goal?’ Paul sums up this idea in Philippians 4:8.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

In Galatians, Paul holds up for us a higher standard.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We are no longer under the law; we are now free to fulfill the law of love.

I Will Not Be Dominated By Anything

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

Paul’s second qualification of this statement is that he will not be brought under the power or authority or control of anything. I am not under law but under grace. I could say that it is within my Christian liberty to smoke or drink or gamble or view porn or overeat or indulge in the latest fashion or gadget or whatever, but what happens when my so-called Christian liberty begins to control me? There is a word play here in the original that is difficult to capture in a translation. Some attempts are ‘all things are in my power, but I will not be overpowered by anything’ (Edwards) or I have ‘liberty to do anything, but I will not let anything take liberties with me’ (Thiselton, p.462). There is a danger that our rights and freedoms and liberties will begin to control us. Paul says in Romans 6

Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Many who claim Christian liberty have become slaves to their various ‘freedoms’. Any freedom that allows you to plunge yourself back into slavery is not genuine freedom. True freedom is freedom to do what is best, freedom to be who you were created to be, freedom to love and serve the Lord Jesus.

Food For The Stomach and the Stomach For Food

In verse 13, Paul addresses another slogan that was used to justify a whole lot of things. ‘Food is for the stomach, and the stomach for food.’ This idea is still popular today. When your physical appetite is hungry, you should eat. When your sexual appetite is hungry, you should satisfy it. God made us with appetites and needs, and he meant for those appetites to be satisfied, not frustrated. The implication becomes clear in the rest of the verse. ‘Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food; sexual pleasure is for the body and the body is for sexual pleasure’.

One difficulty in understanding this passage is what part of these statements are the popular slogans and what are Paul’s rebuttals. There were no quotation marks in the original, so we have to try to understand from the context and content where the quotation ends. Probably the statement ‘and God will destroy both one and the other’ is also part of the slogan. The idea is that food and the stomach, and the body and sexuality are temporary and therefore unimportant. They are part of the lower physical life. In Greek thought there was a division made between body and spirit, material and immaterial. What was done in the body had no effect on the spirit. Those who had achieved a higher plane of spiritual understanding knew that they were free to do whatever they pleased with their bodies, because they believed their bodies would ultimately be destroyed and only their spirit would live on. This is not a biblical idea. Jesus, in his resurrected body, ate food. Jesus spoke with his disciples about eating and drinking at his table in his kingdom (Lk.22:30). Paul combats this thinking by pointing us to the resurrection of the body, a topic he will treat more fully in chapter 15.

1 Corinthians 6:13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

The Body is for the Lord

The stomach may be designed for food, but it is not meant for gluttony. The body is designed by God for sexual pleasure within the marriage covenant, but it is not intended for sexual immorality. The body has a much higher purpose. Paul gives us an amazing statement here. The body is not for sexual immorality, the body is for the Lord. Our ultimate purpose, our physical design is to bring glory to God. We were made to worship God. We were made to serve him.

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

We, our physical bodies, were meant for the Lord. We are meant to bring glory to God.

The Lord is for the Body

The second half of this statement is even more amazing. The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. As food satisfies the hunger of the stomach, only Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings of who we are.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

The Lord is meant for the body. Only in relationship with Jesus can we find true fulfillment, true satisfaction, true joy. Our bodies were meant for the Lord, and the Lord for our bodies. This raises the value and worth of the physical body, and it points us to our true purpose as physical human beings.

Do You Not Know?

Paul asks two more rhetorical questions ‘do you not know?’ implying that they ought to know these things, and they ought to be drawing the appropriate conclusions from these truths. They are acting as if they are ignorant of these things, so Paul spells it out for them.

1 Corinthians 6:15 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 prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

The first thing we ought to know is that our bodies are members of Christ. As someone who has been transformed by Jesus, we are possessed by him and have become part of his body. Christ now lives in me. To tear away the body parts of Jesus and force them into intimate contact with a prostitute is unthinkable!

He asks a second question: ‘Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?’ and he defends this from God’s statement in Genesis ‘The two will become one flesh’. This extends beyond prostitution to any immoral sexual relationship, any sexual intimacy outside of the marriage covenant. Sexual intimacy is a powerful force that is meant to create unity and intimacy in the context of lifelong commitment. There is no such thing as casual sex. Sex cannot ever be a temporary one time event. There is a joining, a gluing or cementing together. This is the same word from the Genesis passage translated ‘cleave’ or ‘hold fast to’. There is a spiritual union created through physical intimacy. We were not meant for immorality. Our bodies were meant for the Lord. We were made to be joined to the Lord, we were designed for intimacy with our Creator, to enjoy that inseparable bond of love and union with the only one who can truly fulfill us. What a high privilege! To be joined to the Lord, to become one spirit with him! We get a glimpse into what this means when Paul says:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

He loved me. He gave himself for me. He now lives in me. When we realize this, the thought of sexual immorality becomes as repulsive and offensive as it ought to be.

Run Away!

Paul has some very practical advice for us.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

Flee sexual immorality. Flee porn. Run away! Keep running! Make it your habitual continual practice to run away from immorality. In the words of Kenny Rogers ‘You’ve got to know when to walk away and know when to run’, and when there is sexual temptation, that is when to run. Leave you coat, leave your computer, just run. Don’t linger. Don’t delay. Run and don’t look back. Sexual sin is unique. Sexual sin is against your own body in a way that no other sin is. Not that sexual sin is worse than any other sin, but sexual sin has effects and implications that run deeper than any other sin. The body is sacred. What you do with your body affects your soul. It affects your relationship with the Lord. Listen to the wisdom and warning of Proverbs.

Proverbs 5:1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, 2 that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. 3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. 7 And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, 10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, 11 and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, 12 and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! 13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. 14 I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” 15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. 20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Be wise! Flee sexual immorality! Do not be deceived. The sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified. You were made for so much more! Your body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for your body.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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October 13, 2013 - Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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