Holiness Principle #9 – I will be a slave to nothing except Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
12 “Everything is permissible for me”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”-but I will not be mastered by anything.
13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”
17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV)
Before we begin studying these verses, the first thing that I want to say is that although this passage is directly written against sexual immorality, you can apply it to many other sins that we commit with our body besides just sexual immorality. You are not off the hook if you don’t have a problem with sexual immorality.
In the beginning of verse 12, Paul says that all things are lawful for him. Another way of saying this same phrase is that all things are permissible. Paul is not saying that sin is permissible. Within the context of 1 Corinthians, what Paul is saying is that the Christian is not bound by legalism, either to the Mosaic law, or to the customs of their culture. In particular, the letter of 1 Corinthians is written in large part to address the matter of whether or not it is right to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols and then sold in the market.
But even though Paul says that all things are lawful for him, he goes on to say two things in contrast to this freedom. First, Paul says that even though all things are lawful for him, not all things are beneficial to him. Another way to say this is that not all things are helpful or expedient. It is easy to think of some parallels in our society today. Such might be smoking or alcohol. Second, Paul says that even though all things are lawful for him, he will not be brought under the power of any of these things. Paul says that he will not be mastered by anything. In a similar vein, Paul writes in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)
In the first part of verse 13, Paul gives a specific example of what he is talking about in verse 12. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.” (NKJV) Two things that need to be pointed out here. First, notice that all material things have their appropriate use. Food is made for the hungry stomach, not as a drug for depression or loneliness. Drugs are made for healing, not for recreation. Sex is made for marriage, not for experimentation. Second, notice that all material things have their appointed end. Food and the stomach are not worth being mastered by because they will both pass out of existence before too long. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this verse, makes a very good point. “The expectation we have of being without bodily appetites in a future life is a very good argument against being under their power in the present life.”
In the last half of verse 13, Paul extends the discussion of freedom to the matter of sexual immorality. Just as food and the stomach are suitable to each other, the body and the Lord are suitable to each other. And then natural extension of this fact is that the body is not suitable to sexual immorality. Just as the Corinthian church had a problem with what to do with meat offered to idols, it had an even worse problem with sexual immorality in the church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1 Paul writes this: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife!” (NKJV)
Now, we must ask the question “Why?” Why is it that the things we do with our bodies – things like gluttony, illegal drugs, excessive drinking, and particularly sexual immorality – have an eternal impact? In verses 14-20, Paul gives us seven reasons why the things we do with our bodies in the here and now have an eternal impact. Allow me to give you a brief overview of the major theme of these verses. Look through them and see how many times you see the words “fornication”, “sexual immorality”, “harlot”, and “prostitute”. These are all forms of a single Greek word – “pornea”.
The first reason our actions have an internal impact is because we will be resurrected, just as Jesus Christ was resurrected. Verse 14 says “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” (NKJV) Even though Jesus had a new body that was able to do miraculous things, he still bore in him the marks of his crucifixion. Is it unreasonable to think that we might also bear the marks of what we have done with our bodies into eternity?
The second reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies are members of Jesus’ body. This is seen in verse 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!” (NKJV) We learned in our study of spiritual gifts that we are all parts of one body, and Jesus Christ is head of that body. When we do stupid things with our body, we do stupid things with the entire body of Jesus Christ. In Paul’s specific example, if one Christian participates in sexual immorality, its effect is that the entire body of Christ has participated in sexual immorality.
The third reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies are inseparably made one flesh with whatever – or whoever – we choose to join them with. This is seen in verses 16-17. “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.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (NKJV) Two examples are given in these verses. First, anyone that chooses to participate in sexual immorality with another person has made themselves one flesh with that other person. That was God’s rule from the beginning, and while it is blessed in marriage, it is still true outside of marriage. Second, anyone who has made the decision to join with Jesus Christ is one in spirit with him. Do you see the word “joined” twice in verses 16-17? Or perhaps your version of the Bible has the word “united”. It is the Greek word “kolloa”. It is the verb form of the noun “kolla”, which means “glue”. Verses 16-17 might have been much more graphic if the translators had used the literal meaning of the word. You may choose to be glued to another person in sexual immorality, or glued to the Lord. Take your pick.
The fourth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because there are certain sins – particularly sexual immorality – that are sins which directly defile our own bodies, and also the body of another person. In verse 18 we read “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” (NKJV) Another thing to note in this verse: there are many temptations that we are told to stand up against, and to fight. Sexual immorality is a sin that we are told to flee.
The fifth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because we have the eternal Holy Spirit living inside our bodies. We read in verse 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?” (NKJV) When we as Christians choose to sin, we desecrate the temple which the Holy Spirit lives in within our bodies.
The sixth reason our actions have an eternal impact is because our bodies no longer belong to us. That is the message of verses 19-20. “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? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (NKJV) Our bodies were purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. They belong to God. And when we sin with our bodies, we dishonor God who owns our bodies. Take for example a new car. If you wrecked a brand new car, which would be worse, if it was yours or if it were a friend’s? Of course it would be worse if it were a friend’s. Because it does not belong to me.
The seventh reason our actions have an eternal impact is because of the price that was paid for our bodies. We read in verse 20 “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (NKJV) The word “bought” near the beginning of verse 20 is the Greek word for “market”, and here carries the idea of being bought in the slave market. The idea is this: we were a slave to sin, but God paid the price of the blood of Jesus Christ to buy us away from sin and to his glory. When we sin, we run away from God to serve our old master. Go back to idea of wrecking a friend’s brand new car. Would it be worse if it cost $300 or $30,000? The latter, of course. But that is not the order of magnitude we are talking about. When we sin, it is like we are wrecking a friend’s $3 million dollar one-of-a-kind Rolls Royce. Because that is just a hint of the price God paid for you.
This is the conclusion of the Principles of Holiness.
By Berean Husband
Here are the links for the previous Principles for Holiness posts.