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Bought with a Price

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2022 6:00 pm

Bought with a Price

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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February 20, 2022 6:00 pm

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Well, please turn with me this morning to 1 Corinthians 6. We're going to be looking at verses 12 through 20. Paul continues his letter to the Corinthians here by addressing yet another problem that had come to characterize their conduct and thinking.

This time the error had to do with their sense of morality, of right and wrong, specifically as it related to sexual purity. Let's see how Paul addresses this issue here in 1 Corinthians 6, beginning at verse 12, and I'd like you to stand with me in honor of God's Word as we read our text together. 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. 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. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Will I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?

Never. 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. But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

You may be seated. And let's go to the Lord in prayer as we ask His blessing on His Word this morning. Lord, we bend over backwards oftentimes to justify our sin, but you did not become a man and walk among us and die on a Roman cross just to give us license to sin. You came and redeemed us that we might be radically changed into something we weren't before. You saved us that we might be made holy and blameless in the sight of our God, our Creator.

You washed us that we might be indwelt by the Spirit of God. And so as we consider these verses before us today, help us. Help us learn from the mistakes that our Corinthian brothers and sisters made centuries ago. Help us to respond in humility to what you tell us. And may we go from this place eager to walk in the newness of life that your Word says we have in Christ. We pray these things in your name.

Amen. Our text this morning is part of a larger section that began all the way back in the first verse of chapter five where Paul began to deal with a particularly heinous sin that was sexual in nature. This led him then into a discussion of discipline within the context of the church court, which led him in turn into a discussion of litigation courts outside of the church. But now Paul returns to this issue of sexual sin, only this time he brings it up in a much broader context than he did back at the beginning of chapter five. Back in five, he dealt with a specific instance of immorality. Here in our text today, he's going to deal with immorality in a general sort of sense. We'll see next time that chapter seven continues addressing this topic, giving special attention to the matter of sexual purity as it relates to marriage.

So all of chapters five, six, and seven have some aspect of sexual purity as a backdrop. Perhaps it goes without saying that Corinth in the first century was really a moral cesspool. Looming above Corinth on a mountain just south of the city was the temple of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Nothing impure going on there, I'm sure. A rumor had it that a thousand prostitutes served in this temple. In fact, the sexual promiscuity that characterized the city of Corinth at this time was so widely known that terms were coined with Corinth in mind. The word Corinthianize became a verb. It meant to practice immorality, or Corinthian girl was a common colloquialism for prostitute. Well, the decadence of Corinth had rubbed off on the Christians, the church in Corinth, perhaps far more than they realized, particularly in this area of sexual immorality and promiscuity.

Not only had they embraced the immoral practices of their culture, they were embracing the thinking, the rationale behind those practices, and they were justifying all sorts of depravity. And so Paul had to address this sinful tendency in the church. And essentially he's going to tell the Corinthian Christians, hey Corinth, contrary to what your neighbors are telling you, your body belongs to God. You're not free to do whatever you want to with your body. Instead, you ought to use even your physical body to bring glory to God.

Now that seems like an obvious principle to us, doesn't it? I mean, duh, of course we're supposed to not sin but glorify God with our bodies. But this wasn't obvious to the Corinthian Christians. Now mind you, they had Christ just like we have Christ. They had the indwelling Holy Spirit just like we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. So how in the world could they not know any better or obey any better than they did?

And I think that's an important question. In fact, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves, if Corinth can have such major blind spots in their understanding of Christian ethics, if they can be so blindly immersed in the secular culture in which they found themselves, well then what ethical blind spots do I have? In what ways am I, perhaps unknowingly, so immersed in the thinking and the moral reasoning and the habits of my own culture that I don't even realize how antithetical some of those things are to the faith I profess? Church, the pool of the world is not just dangerous, it's subtle, sometimes beyond recognition. So let me encourage us to not walk through this passage today as if we have arrived and we are safely out of the reach of this world's pull towards sin. Corinth's immorality is shocking, but we need to be shocked at the right thing.

We need to be shocked not simply at Corinth's lewdness, but at the ease with which they justified their lewdness. We, like the Corinthian Christians of 2,000 years ago, are also vulnerable to the lies of the world, to the lies of Satan, even to the lies of our own flesh. And so we need to be vigilant.

This is war, not a gossip column. And so we need to take Paul's correction and instruction to heart. Now I'll be honest, this is a passage of scripture that I've often quoted and alluded to over the years.

There are some foundational principles of Christian ethics and some wonderful one-liners in this text. But as I began to study the text as a whole in depth, it was as if the more I studied, the more confusing things got. There seemed to be contradictions and inconsistencies and just paradoxes all over these couple of paragraphs. And I was about to panic thinking there's no way I can make sense of this text. I just couldn't seem to track with Paul's train of thought. Then I found a commentary that suggested a key to unlocking the text, and it suddenly just all made sense. Now, I don't like novel approaches to scripture texts.

I tend to be old school. And if someone is claiming to have come up with some insight or nugget of truth that the church has just overlooked for 2,000 years, I'm skeptical. But one particular commentator was very convincing. And so I began looking into it. And to my delight, I discovered that this interpretive key was really not novel at all. It wasn't new at all. In fact, it represents a huge consensus among Bible scholars who have written commentaries on 1 Corinthians.

And I had just overlooked it. I even discovered that John Calvin, my hero, flirted with the possibility of this interpretive key 500 years ago. So I say all that at the outset here just to hopefully convince you that the way I'm going to approach the text today has some very credible scholarship behind it, even though it may not be the way we've always read or understood Paul at this point.

So here's the key. In these verses, Paul is addressing several slogans or catchphrases, maxims, that had been circulating in Corinth, slogans that were being used by the Christians in Corinth to justify immoral living. Paul will quote three different Corinthian catchphrases, and then he's going to correct each one of those in turn. Jesus did a similar thing in the Sermon on the Mount, didn't he, where he would quote a common misconception, misunderstanding about the moral law, and then correct it. So for example, he said, you have heard that it was said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. So it's an incorrect or an incomplete quote that had come to be normative, followed by a correction from Christ. And Paul's going to do the same thing in our text.

Now what makes it less obvious in 1 Corinthians 6 is that Paul doesn't introduce these Corinthian slogans with any kind of you have heard that it was said statement to make it obvious. He just writes the quote. The other tricky thing is that in New Testament Greek, there are not quotation marks. So if a person wanted to quote something, there was not some sort of punctuation to indicate the quotation. And so various translations in English provide these for modern readers, but they aren't in the original. Quotation marks aren't in the original. So for example, the King James Version and the New American Standard don't include any quotation marks in this passage. And so in this, they're the most literal and also the most unclear by refusing to interpret anything for us.

We're on our own. The NIV, on the other hand, New International Version, is at the other extreme of this. It not only includes the quotation marks but even adds words to the Greek text for the sake of clarity. So verse 12 in the NIV says, quote, I have the right to do anything, close quote, you say. And the you say is simply not in the Greek text, but it makes explicit what I'm going to argue is implicit in the text.

I hope all that makes sense because that's the key. That's the backdrop to where we're going through this text. Well, let's walk through the text together and see how Paul corrects these first century errors, errors which, by the way, are still alive and well in the 21st century. The first Corinthians, the first Corinthian catchphrase that Paul brings up is in verse 12, quote, all things are lawful for me, close quote. Paul repeats that slogan two times here in verse 12.

He'll repeat it two more times over in chapter 10. It was evidently an overused Corinthian saying that was being bandied about to give the Corinthians license to sin. We put yellow signs that say thank you Jesus everywhere. I guess the Corinthian sign was all things are lawful for me. It had become commonplace. I can almost picture the Corinthian Christian right behind home plate at the Colosseum wearing a rainbow wig and holding a all things are lawful for me sign.

Maybe I just dated myself. Now the thing about a good lie is that it needs to be believable. There is usually an element of truth in it. We're going to notice that all three of these Corinthian catchphrases have an element of truth in them. And so one could read all things are lawful for me and think, yes, there is a sense in which, for the Christian, we are free in Christ to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and dance and go to movies. There's a time and a place to defend our liberty in Christ like when it's being opposed and attacked by legalism and self-righteousness.

Paul vehemently opposed those lies in his letter to the Galatians. But the problem in Corinth was not legalism. It was not Judaism. It was licentiousness, antinomianism, anti-law. It was lawlessness. And so this mantra all things are lawful for me desperately needed qualification in Corinth.

The problem was they were not qualifying it. So Paul supplies the qualification. He says, you are free in Christ, Corinth, but the question is not always what may I do. Sometimes the question is what ought I to do because not all things are helpful. Furthermore, not all things are safe. Some habits are enslaving to our fallen nature. Some morally neutral activities lead to immoral activities and you need to be wise, Corinth, in your use of this freedom in Christ that you like to tout. Some things are, in fact, unlawful for the Christian.

Some things are reprehensible to God. And we who are in Christ are simply not at liberty to do those things with impunity. Perhaps a modern day equivalent of this Corinthian slogan would be we are not under the law. Believers often quote that when some moral imperative is mentioned that maybe strikes their conscience.

We're not under the law. It's a true biblical statement. Those who are under grace are not under law, but there's a very specific context in which that statement is applicable. Paul says we are not under the law, both in Galatians and Romans, as a reminder to Christians that they are not under the condemning power of the law with regard to their justified status before God. But never does Paul imply that God no longer reveals His will to us by means of the moral law or that we are not morally obligated to pursue obedience to God's moral law once we're justified through faith in Christ. In other words, justification doesn't nullify sanctification and obedience. And to claim that it does, I think it's to fall into the same error that the Corinthian believers had fallen into. Paul says, no, you ought not do that which is spiritually unhelpful, and you ought not do that which is morally enslaving.

But there is a reason why the Corinthian Christians were susceptible to an exaggerated view of their liberty in Christ. You see, they had come to accept the erroneous idea that the body and the spirit in a person are unrelated, are mutually exclusive, that the physical world doesn't affect the spiritual world and vice versa. This is called dualism.

This dualistic view of reality is nothing new. Platonism, Puritanism, Gnosticism, and a whole lot of other isms are all philosophies that to some degree or another try to split the physical realm from the spiritual realm in ways that God never does. Now, this dualistic idea that the physical and spiritual are disconnected and unrelated have some pretty serious ethical implications. It often leads to the notion that the physical world and everything in it, including my physical body, is morally neutral and unimportant because it's temporary. While the spiritual world, that's inherently good and significant and enduring. And so if the body is morally neutral and temporary, then what I do with or to my body is really inconsequential.

All that matters is the spiritual side of me. In light of that misunderstanding, look at the next slogan that Paul corrects, verse 13. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food and God will destroy both one and the other. And just a note, I would move the closing quotation marks to the end of the sentence because that's part of the Corinthian misunderstanding. Food and the organ that digests food are merely physical objects and as we all know, God is simply going to destroy those things one day so they really don't matter.

They're just temporal. This was the gist of that Corinthian catchphrase. Again, the slogan reflects the faulty dualism of body and spirit. Body bad, spirit good. Body inconsequential, spirit eternal. Therefore, do whatever you want with your body.

It's the spirit that God cares about. But look at Paul's rebuttal. The body is not meant for sexual immorality. He goes right to the sin that the Corinthians are committing. The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.

He just cuts to the chase and says, Corinth, you're wrong. The body does matter because God made the body for his own glory. Paul goes on in verse 14, and God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. In other words, Paul is showing the inherent value of the physical body by pointing out that God raised Jesus' physical body from the dead and that he will also raise us, his children from the dead, on the last day. So it turns out the destruction and deterioration of the stomach and of the rest of my body when physical death occurs is simply a temporary state until Judgment Day, at which time God will raise us up, stomachs and all. Our physical bodies will certainly be transformed and glorified. They will be better bodies than we have now, but they will not be eternally destroyed. They will be eternally resurrected or they will be eternally tormented, but they will not be annihilated because, contrary to Corinth's slogan, our bodies are not insignificant temporary objects. They, like the physical body of Jesus Christ, bear eternal consequence and importance. One theologian said this, he said, the fact that the Father raised the Son from the dead shows something of the dignity of the body. If the body is to be resurrected, then it must never be put into the category of things that will be inconsequentially destroyed. Therefore, resurrection itself forbids us to take the body lightly.

But Paul doesn't stop there. He goes on 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 prostitute?

Never. So yet another reason why sexual immorality is not morally neutral is the fact that Christians are united to Christ. Our bodies are members of Christ. And to use these bodies to willfully sin against God is to drag our perfect and holy redeemer into the sin we're committing.

The writer of Hebrews describes it as trampling underfoot the Son of God. Paul then quotes Genesis 2 and God's institution of marriage and he draws an analogy. He points out that in marriage two people become one through the marital act.

That oneness is defiled if a prostitute is brought into that union. Likewise, when we who are united to Christ by his death and resurrection use any part of our person, our minds, our hearts, even our bodies to sin against him, we are marring the union that exists between Christ and his elect. Verse 18 continues with a very direct command from Paul. We'll look at that in just a moment, but in the latter half of verse 18 we find a third, what I believe to be another Corinthian slogan. This one's not in quotes in most of our English translations. Look with me at the second half of verse 18.

In the ESV it says, every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Now, I believe that the first half of that compound sentence is the Corinthian slogan, even though there are no quotation marks around it in our English translations. And then the second half is Paul's refutation of the slogan.

Let me walk us through that real quick. First of all, the word other in that verse is not in the original Greek. The King James Version captures that. It says, every sin that a man doeth is without or outside the body. Not every other sin besides this one, but all sin.

That's closer to the original. It doesn't make sense then for Paul to finish that thought by saying, that sexually immoral person sins against his own body, unless of course he's refuting the first half of the sentence. But even if you supply the word other, it's not a true statement. To say that no other sin besides sexual immorality affects the body in a negative way is simply not true. Drunkenness certainly affects the body. Suicide affects the body. Even sins of the heart can affect the body negatively. Proverbs 14 30 says, a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. I would go so far as to say that most sins have an adverse effect on the body. This leads me to conclude, as do many of the commentators on this verse, that the first half of the sentence is another maxim that the Corinthians had embraced and that Paul is refuting. Just like their previous slogan, the Corinthians were claiming that since sin is not a bodily function, it doesn't matter what you do with your body. So go ahead and indulge in whatever physical activity you want to indulge in.

Just make sure your heart's in the right place. How often do we reason the same way? We downplay the significance, the consequence of the external and visible aspects of some action on grounds that God just looks at the heart. I know my words were harsh and angry, but I didn't mean anything by it. God knows my heart. Sorry I offended you.

I wasn't trying to be offensive. God knows my heart. We explain our sin away by convincing ourselves that sin is merely a matter of one's intentions and not one's actions.

As long as I didn't mean to sin, I'm innocent. It's just the Corinthian slogan all over again, repackaged for modern sensibilities. But Paul says, no Corinth, the very sin you're indulging in, the sin of sexual immorality, is a sin against your body. It is consequential.

It is defiling. It defiles you and it defiles the Holy Spirit who indwells you. Look at verse 19. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? Corinth, you go to that temple of Aphrodite and engage in all sorts of lewd perversions and then justify yourself on the grounds that it's just your body so it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is your body is itself a temple and not to some lame false god, it's the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. And when you use your body to gratify impure, ungodly, and lawless desires, you not only defile yourself, you outrage and grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you. So not only is sinning with the body an affront to Christ with whom we are united, it's also an affront to the Holy Spirit who indwells believers. Paul says, Corinthian Christians and Grace Church Christians, you are not your own. You're not free to do whatever suits your sinful fancy. You were bought with the price. You were bought with the blood of the Son of God, so stop excusing your sin on some sort of philosophical notion that God doesn't care about your body.

No, God created your body and redeemed your body and indwells your body and one day will resurrect your body, so use your body and soul to live for the glory of God. Paul has spent the bulk of this text correcting misunderstandings, but he does give two explicit commands, words of instruction in light of these corrections. One is negative, the other is positive. Let's look at each of these as we close. First, he says in verse 18, flee from sexual immorality. And here's a wonderful insight.

In the original Greek, the word flee means flee. Stop it. Quit it. Run from it. Do not pass go.

Do not collect $200. Flee from sexual immorality. The moment you begin reasoning with yourself why it's okay for you to take a second glance or indulge your sinful desires, you've already started down the path that leads to destruction.

Run the other way. It is true that the sinfulness of sexual immorality begins in the heart. Just because you haven't outwardly acted on a sinful impulse doesn't mean the desire to sin is not itself sinful. But brothers and sisters, don't twist that into convincing yourself that preventative measures are pointless. Taking preventative measures against sinful impulses does not deal fully with the heart issue behind your sin, but it goes a long way.

There's nothing unspiritual about having an accountability partner. There's nothing unspiritual about putting filters on your devices or getting rid of your devices. One preacher said, you lived without it before. You can live without it now. Fleeing from sin may feel drastic.

It may feel overreactionary, but that's how we mortify it. That's how we put those desires and opportunities to sin to death. Flee from immorality. But Paul includes a positive command alongside the negative command to flee. He tells us in verse 12, glorify God in your body. God created us. He knows how we tick. He put our desires and appetites in us.

And he said it was all good. There is a holy and right gratification of every God-given appetite. So church, while it is true that there is a physical bodily component to sinning against God that we need to be careful of, there is also a physical bodily component to living for the glory of God. Glorify God in your body means there are concrete, visible ways in which you can glorify God and enjoy God.

Brothers and sisters, God doesn't call us to be prudes and priggs. He demands that we enjoy his rich blessings, even the material ones. Yes, we have a tendency to turn blessings into idols, but the solution isn't to stop enjoying the blessing. The solution is to rightly enjoy the blessing, to acknowledge God as the source of the blessing and to use the blessing and enjoy the blessing in the manner in which God intends it to be used and enjoyed. You can and should delight in a well-cooked meal.

You can and should pull the car over to stare at an amazing sunset. You can and should laugh and cry over a story that captures some element of the human experience so poignantly. You should cringe at spiders and be amused at puppies and cheer at ball games and sing psalms and notice the stars and study your Bible and drive to the ocean and pray regularly and kiss your wife and climb mountains and sit on porches enjoying the solitude. This is how we glorify God in our bodies.

Yes, show moderation where moderation is necessary. Yes, don't pursue desires that contradict God's law. Yes, don't turn blessings into idols, but positively glorify God and enjoy Him forever in your bodies. The church at Corinth had swallowed the lies of their culture. We often unknowingly swallow the lies of our own culture and it demeans Christ. It grieves the Holy Spirit. It robs us of joy and it robs God of glory. But the flip side of that is that we don't have to be mastered by sin because we have Christ. We don't have to yield our members as slaves to unrighteousness because we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and empowering us. We don't have to be joyless curmudgeons with our physical existence because God commanded us to use our bodies to bring Him glory. To the degree that we trust His promises and obey His commands and rely on His strength in us, we will be happy and holy. And so Christians, honor God with both body and soul. Let's pray. Lord, you have given us richly all things to enjoy.

We have marred those exquisite joys through misuse and abuse. Thank you for the correction of your word. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who empowers us to understand and believe and obey your word. Thank you for Jesus Christ who kept your word perfectly and who credits that perfection to us. So may we now walk in the newness of life that is ours in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I pray that you would let us see real progress even this week in our sanctification, particularly in this area of sexual purity. We pray for the sake of your glory in us. And in Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 18:59:13 / 2023-06-02 19:10:28 / 11

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