There is so much that the church in Corinth had in common with our time. The Roman world and the city of Corinth was a place of sexual promiscuity. In fact, it was widely accepted in the city. The Corinthian Christians thought they had the liberty to use the services of temple prostitutes. This was culturally accepted in the city of Corinth and in the religious pagan community, who saw nothing wrong in a “religious” person sleeping with temple priests. Sexuality and religion went together at that time.
Today we are moving toward a similar time - sex and sexual expression is the religion of our time. Is the god of our time, and whoever will not bow the knee is seen as backward, bigoted, and on the wrong side of history. Sex has become a commodity. The body is what we trade in. Pornography which is the word from pornea in the Greek is floods our homes.
Sex has been cheapened, the body was degraded, and the sorrow and brokenness is heart breaking. Sexual immorality is normalized on our screens, in our songs, and in the books we read. But it is not like it is just out there, the battle rages within the church. And we can thank God for this passage. For Paul is clear that our bodies have eternal significance, and sex is more than just a physical act.
Body and soul you belong to your faithful savior Jesus Christ.
- The Body is for the Lord
- The body is a member of Christ
- The body is a temple of the Spirit
The Body is for the Lord
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. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food – and God will destroy both one and the other.
Now what we have here is Paul answering some statements made in the Corinthian church. They were strong believers in Christian liberty. They argued that the stomach is meant for food and food was meant for the stomach, and both would one day be destroyed. So, in the end what I do with the body does not really matter. My stomach wants food, so I eat. My body wants sex, so I sleep around.
They thought the body is only physical and temporary. And all we need to do is satisfy its needs. It’s similar to today’s mindset. There was a song back in the 90s that went something like, You and I are not anything but mammals so let’s do it like they do it on the discovery channel. That is the attitude of the world. It is an attitude of it does not matter what I do with my body. Like our culture they had the idea that there was such a thing as casual sex. A one-night stand. It does not affect me. Its my body after all. No one can say what I do with my body in private. Well I think the word of God does and can have a say.
Paul’s short response is The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
The word used here is “Pornea” from which we get the word pornography. It is a broad term to include different kinds of sexual immorality. There is something about our bodies that is eternal. The stomach may digest food, but death will not totally digest the body. In Christ the body will one day be resurrected.
The word body (soma) here refers obviously to your physical body! The body was not made for pornea, which is a very broad term for all sexual immorality. This body that God has made is made for God! The body is meant for so much more then sex – it is meant for the Lord! The material creation matters. We are not somehow disembodied creatures. Our bodies were made for a purpose – and it was not sex – but God.
And not only that but the Lord is for the body. This is an amazing statement. He was playing off what they were saying. The stomach is for food and food for the stomach. They match each other. And he is saying its not the body that matches up with sexual gratification but with the Lord. The body and the Lord fit each other. We are not only committed to the Lord, body and soul; but he is committed to us body and soul. We are not only in Him, but he is in us. And in some way this indwelling is not only some kind of spiritual indwelling but a physical indwelling of our bodies in a spiritual way.
And rather than the body destroyed, he says they body will be raised. In fact, God has raised the body of the Lord already. And that resurrection is the first fruits and the guarantee of our resurrection. We will get much more into this when we come to 1 Corinthians 15. And he will also raise us up by his power.
The body is a member of Christ
Then the rest of the section goes on to explain what Paul is saying. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Again, we have this reoccurring idea that will come back again and again in this book – the idea of union with Christ. It started all the way back in Chapter 1:2 “Called to be sanctified in Christ.” In 1:30 he says, “because of him (God) you are in Christ.” In Chapter 2:16 he says, “We have the mind of Christ.” In chapter 3:1 he calls them infants in Christ, and later calls them temple of the Holy Spirit, and ends the Chapter with the statement that “you belong to Christ.” In Chapter 4 he calls them “wise in Christ.” And I can keep going but you get the point. Body and soul in life and death you, individually and personally, are united to Christ through a living faith.
If that Is the case, then the next questions take on a whole new level of seriousness, “Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?” This word members is so well known we don’t really grasp the shocking nature of it anymore. It might be better to translates “limbs and organs.” He saying, “Shall we take the limbs (Hands feet, head, fingers) and organs (heart, lungs) of Christ and make them part of a prostitute! Now the church itself is not Christ, but there is a way in which the church reveals the ongoing life of the resurrected Christ to the world. If we are the body of Christ – when we use our bodies for sexual immorality –we are not defiling ourselves, but the body which belong to Christ and in whom Christ dwells. Shall we do this?! And in the strongest negative possible in the Greek language he says, NEVER!!
And again he asks, “Do you not know?!” You should know better. “Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? As it is written, “The two will become one flesh. But he who is joined to the Lord becomes on spirit with him.” A person who is one in spirit with the Lord cannot be one flesh with a prostitute. You see either you are pursuing the flesh and becoming one in the flesh, or you are pursuing the Spirit and growing in the Spirit. Growing in union with God or this world. Again, here the Spirit and flesh are not contrasted in terms of physical and non-physical but in terms of fleshly (from the earth) and spiritual (from heaven). Just because we are spiritual, does not mean we are immaterial. The material world – our bodies are of massive importance!
Human wisdom and the flesh simple looks at the physical act and say that is all it is. Nothing more. But the wisdom from above says there is so much more involved. It is not just a physical union but a spiritual union. There is no such thing as casual sex says Paul – if you sleep with a person, you in a sense are uniting with that person. Your physical connection is a heart connection. He goes all the way back to Genesis to make that point. The union is a gift of God – and the sexual union brings about a heart union.
Brothers and sisters’ sexual sin is serious sin. There is a way in which we might say that sexual is different than other sins. Paul says, “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 congregation! We need to hear this all of us. Flee. Like Joseph ran out of the house the second he knew the intentions of Potiphar’s wife! Drop everything and run. It means run in the opposite direction as fast as you can, as if you are in a war zone and bullets are flying. For the sake of your life – your and soul – FLEE!
Why? Because in sexual immorality you are sinning against your own body. We often use this verse as a verse to argue against smoking or drinking, or eating too much, or not exercising. And although there is truth in there, there is a unique way in which sexual sin in particular is sin against your own body, in a way every other sin isn’t. Whereas drunkenness, greed, and even suicide use means external to the body for the purpose, only sexual acts are entirely and exclusively initiated by, and carried out by means of, the body. Furthermore eating does not establish a bond with another person, like sleeping together.
You see the world thinks that Christians think just in negative terms about sex. Sexual relations is bad. But that is not the case at all. In fact, far from devaluing sex, the very opposite comes about. In this area Paul was far ahead of first-century cultural assumptions in perceiving the sexual act as one of intimacy and self-commitment which involved the whole person; not the mere manipulation of some “peripheral” function of the body. No it brings about something amazing and glorious. On union that is deep and profound. It is something to be treasured and valued, and not used and abused. But more than that the ethic of sex in scripture shows us the importance that the scriptures place on our physical bodies! God honors them as members of Christ.
The body is a temple of the Spirit
Or do you not know?! There you have it again, “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, you were bought with a price.
Your body – your physical actual flesh and blood body. Sitting here is a temple of the Holy Spirit - sanctuary of God. A holy place where the most high dwells. The temple is the place where God dwelled in the hold testament. Where his glory was. That is now your body. Would prostitution have happened within the most holy place of the old testament temple. It was unthinkable. Just so our bodies. God has given us his Spirit so that we might be united to Him.
You are not your own. You don’t belong to yourself to do what you want, when you want. You were bought. God bought you from the slave market of sin. From the slavery market of slavery to your own desires! He bought you. And it cost him a price. It cost him his Son. By having a laissez faire attitude toward sin we are minimizing the very cross of Christ. You see it always comes back to the gospel. And he has not just purchased our soul, but our bodies as well! Body and soul we confess we belong to our faithful savior Jesus Christ! And he will one day restore us body and soul! We are called to live that way in the present.
So if you hear a Christian saying it’s my body, and it does not matter what I do with it, you remind them it is in fact not their body, it belongs to God.
Dear brother and sister, if you find yourself in sexual sin today please hear this word. I know its humiliating to confess. But better now than on the last day! You can be free. It is After all for freedom that Christ has set you free. But in order to be free we need to address the issue head on. Although this letter was written to the Corinthian church, this letter is written to the church of every age. It is one of the biggest struggles of our age. This letter is written for you.
A recent survey done in north America (2022) says that 3 out 4 married men admitted to pornography us. Men under 30 years of age are nearly two and a half times more likely to view pornography on a daily basis than their older peers—17.3 percent compared to 6.9 percent for men over age 30. Almost 1 in 3 men agree that it’s acceptable for teens to view pornography, compared to only about 1 in 10 women. Roughly half of both men and women agree that pornography viewing is acceptable for adults. The only exception is married women, who are generally less accepting of pornography than both men or women in dating relationships. And close to 50% of those surveyed self-identified as Christians. This is heartbreaking. Enough to make one weep. We may not have temple prostitutes, but we still worship at the temple of sex.
We look out there and we get fed up with the sexual revolution in the world. But repentance must begin here. Pornea is the way of death. There is no joy, no satisfaction, not life down that way. Repent today. Turn and be healed. Here in this place there is forgiveness. For such were some of us! When one repents, and grieves, there is no judgment, but help. WE can walk alongside each other. Love each other. As Christians we should expect holiness, but not be surprised or shocked if there is sin.
We are all traveling through the desert of temptation together, being purified together. And it is by confession that we find freedom. Not by hiding the sin. Often we hid sin, because we are ashamed! But Christ bore your shame! He did not die in the body for nothing, he died in the body for you! To carry also this sin! The gospel is real. It is powerful to forgive. Powerful to cleanse. Powerful to save.
But if one continues to live in willful, unrepentant sin, without a true desire to save, then we can say with Paul, they will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Dear church your body was meant for so much more then just sex. It was meant for the eternal God. To enjoy him, to find satisfaction in him, to find our greatest joy in him! Both now and eternally! In body and soul! So glorify God in your body!