Our Holy Temple
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Introduction: For the past few weeks we have dealt with some of the problems that the Corinthian believers were struggling with.
1. They were applauding themselves for how tolerant they had been with a man in the church who was involved in immorality.
2. They were confused over how to distinguish between dealing with fellow Christians and dealing with those who are outside of Christ.
3. They were making the mistake of taking each other to public courts and ruining the testimony of the church.
Paul was pretty upset with them and many times throughout the passage he asks the question: “do you not know”?
He reminds them that they were washed, sanctified and justified the very moment that they received the Lord and that it should make a difference in all their actions and thinking.
In our text today, he questions what they were doing with their bodies?
The city of Corinth was perhaps the most immoral place to live in that day. Consider that there were a 1000 temple prostitutes that by their actions were supposedly bringing worship to the goddess Diana. Sexual promiscuity was the norm of the day and those who had been saved were struggling with their past and present sins. It was no wonder that the church had not dealt with the man living in sin with his step mother because many of those at the church were still involved in immorality. They had bought into the philosophies of their time and were destroying their testimonies in the process. Paul writes to instruct them as to how they were to act in such an evil culture.
Of course we live in a world that is increasingly sinful and increasingly more sexual. We have become desensitized to this fascination because of the continual bombardment of provocative messages that have surrounded us.
If your modesty makes you a little uncomfortable with this topic, that’s okay. That’s good. There is an important book that was written by a gal named Wendy Shalit a couple of years ago entitled A Return to Modesty. In it, she notes that the freedom and ease of which we in our culture talk about sex is not healthy. Shalit is not a Christian. She is Jewish, but she recognizes that sex has been trivialized by all the attention it has received in our day and has lost much of the mystery that makes it beautiful and special. So if you have retained your modesty in this culture, congratulations.
Paul wants the Corinthians, people living in a culture like unto ours in the area of sexuality, to understand a couple of things.
1. Flawed perceptions about the temple vv.12,13
a. There seemed to be two slogans that these early Christians had embraced even though they were incorrect.
i. “All things are lawful for me” They erroneously had taken that to mean that they could do anything that they wanted. They had mistakenly taken the freedom that was theirs in Christ and used it as a means to rationalize their sinful desires.
Paul makes it clear that although there is freedom in Christ we are not free to do as we please i.e. sin as much as we like. We have been set free from the law of sin and death. The Corinthians were returning to a sinful, enslaving lifestyle. They were doing so with the belief that it was all O.K. Paul said it was not!
ii. The second slogan of that day which they had embraced was this: Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. This had a much deeper meaning to them than our “see food diets”
Their reasoning was this: “indiscriminate sexual behavior is completely natural and normal”. Just as you need to eat, so you need to have sex. Just as your stomach gets hungry and you satisfy your hunger, so to when you get sexually hungry you are supposed to satisfy your sexual urges. “Sexual expression is just part of being human and its no big deal.”
If you listen closely you will hear the same argument by people today. Some would even take it a bit further and blame it all on God. “If God didn’t want us to be involved in sexual activity then why did He give us the desire for it?
Sexuality is a wonderful gift from God when it is used within the context of marriage where He designed it to stay.
These were the two reasons the Corinthians gave for doing whatever they wanted sexually.
1. a pseudo Biblical reason-- Christian liberty
2. a pseudo logical reason --get hungry feed stomach—get sexually hungry, satisfy desire
It is against these arguments and reasons that Paul responds.
NOTE: We all have our excuses for sinning. You might have reasons of your own for sinning sexually and being in an immoral relationship. Whatever our reasons they are just as baseless and faulty as the Corinthians were.
Now having addressed their reasons for sinning, let us consider the reasons Paul gives for our staying sexually pure.
2. Biblical mandates for the temple vv. 14-20
a. Six reasons for why we as Christians should flee from all sexual immorality.
i. The Lord didn’t create the body for immorality. He made us to be used for Him. It is for furthering His Kingdom.
ii. God has an eternal purpose for our bodies. They will have to be changed into incorruptible ones, but he is going to raise them one day. They are important to Him. The Romans said the body didn’t matter because it was temporal and that only the immaterial part of man counted. God says it all counts!
iii. Our bodies are members of Christ’s body so why would we take part of Christ’s body and involve it in immorality? When you and I came to Christ we became united spiritually with him. We are connected by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. We are now one with Christ and as such it can be said that our bodies are members of Christ. Our total person belongs to him and is part of his kingdom. As ones who have a share in Christ and who are members of him we must stay sexually pure. We must not associate our Lord with that which is evil. Paul says emphatically, may it never happen!
iv. It is a sin against our own bodies. All sin has its consequences the effects of sexual sins seem to be especially devastating. Think about the person who has defiled themselves in such a way: think about the physical consequences they may face, think of how many have shattered self esteems by their actions, think of all those burdened by a load of guilt and shame. God wants us to be free from this kind of guilt by never having to deal with it. He will forgive us, but the damage done is irreversible.
v. Our body is where the Holy Spirit resides and He is grieved when we defile His home with sin of any kind. How would you like to live in a dump?
vi. Our body is not ours, it has been purchased by the pure shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are not free to do what we want. We are God’s property and He has put out a “no trespassing sign” to sinfulness. Our responsibility is clear we are to glorify God with our body.
b. Now let’s get real practical here. Are we putting our body to use for God’s glory? I am not simply talking about sexual purity. That is a great place to start but it doesn’t go far enough. Is it true that I am using my body to bring glory to God? How? Am I putting it to use doing anything? What is my body used for most of the time? How much time is it involved in ministry? Do I realize that God is observing the way that I am using or not using my body to glorify Him?
Author John Piper tells this story:
Friday morning I looked out the bedroom window as I was buttoning my shirt and saw a parable of modern American life. A middle-aged man in a three-piece green suit was walking westward toward our house on the north side of 18th Street. He had something yellow in his right hand, perhaps a banana peel or potato chip bag. I couldn’t tell. As he walked along he looked to his left across the street. Then he turned and looked behind him. And then he tossed the yellow thing over the fence by the freeway.
In that little episode there are at least two marks of secular American life. One is practical atheism. And the other is physical hedonism.
1. The freeway fence was on his right concealing him with bushes. He could see to the front as he walked. The ground was underneath. And he covered himself to the left and behind with a glance. Why didn’t he look up? Because at that moment he was a practical atheist. There might have been someone to the left or behind that mattered. But there was no one in heaven that mattered. American life is by and large atheistic when it comes to bananas and potato chips. What people say is not what shows their practical atheism. It’s whether they look up when they think they are alone.
2. The other mark of American life I saw was physical hedonism. Why did this fellow want to throw the yellow thing away instead of carrying it to a can? Because it was inconvenient to carry. It was annoying, unpleasant.
But why did he look over his shoulder before he tossed it? Because his conscience told him it was an action that is not good and that people would disapprove. So a minor skirmish went on in his soul. It lasted about five seconds. "Shall I opt for the pleasure of not carrying this thing? Or shall I opt for the pleasure of a clear conscience?" It clearly was not much of a battle. The physical pleasure won out. And that is another mark of our culture. Physical hedonism. If it feels good to your body why deny yourself? The curse of our culture is that physical pleasures are desired more strongly than spiritual joy.
And of course the two things go together: practical atheism and physical hedonism. Once God is out of the picture, then my conscience has no ultimate significance as a part of God’s image, and so "Let us eat drink and litter the freeway, for tomorrow we die –– and that’s it." If you can just keep God out of the bananas and potato chips of your life, then you can proceed with your indulgences.
What a picture of the way that many live their lives. The fact is that many Christians don’t look up. We cover ourselves by looking around maybe, but we don’t bother to look up as if someone up there was really watching. But the reality is that someone is up there watching all the time. And he can even see when it’s dark!
Whether anyone is looking or not God is and He expects us to bring glory to Him with our bodies the holy temple of the Holy Spirit!
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NASB95)
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!
16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”
17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.