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Why Sex Matters

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2023 9:00 am

Why Sex Matters

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 7, 2023 9:00 am

In this message from our series in 1 Corinthians, Pastor J.D. explores a topic that is as contentious to us today as it was to the people in Corinth—sex.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. As we continue through the book of 1 Corinthians, Pastor J.D. explores a topic that is as contentious to us today as it was to the people in Corinth. And that's the topic of sex.

Our society has a lot of competing ideas about what sex is for and what makes it good. But God has ideas, too. And since it was his idea, I think it's well worth listening to the wisdom that he has to share. And as you can probably guess, today's topic may not be appropriate for younger ears. So you might want to take a moment to put in some earbuds or just listen later at J.D.

Greer dot com. So grab your Bible and turn to 1 Corinthians and let's get started right now. 1 Corinthians 6. As I have told you, Corinth was a highly sexualized society. Sexual promiscuity was so common in Corinth, in fact, that Corinthianized had actually become a verb. If someone was Corinthianized, it meant they had become sexually deviant.

Corinth had over a thousand prostitutes in the city, and that was for a city about, let's say, 120th the size of Raleigh. So it is not surprising that the church in Corinth was dealing with these things. And by the way, if that could just be an encouragement to some of you, maybe some of you feel a little off being in church because of a sexual past. Like you feel like if people found out about your history, they would not want you here. I just want to tell you, that is not true.

You should be encouraged. Jesus' original band of disciples included a number of people with sexually dysfunctional pasts. And his earliest churches were filled with people with sexual issues. So please understand, you belong here.

It's okay. This is what the gospel is for you. And Jesus' first churches were filled with this. And so we're not surprised when many of us bring these same questions and issues into the church.

So fill no stigma, fill no shame, realize that this is the place for you. Specifically, with the church in Corinth, there were some who were even saying that the occasional visit to a prostitute was just not that big of a deal. After all they said, it's just biology, right? When you're hungry, you eat, and then you feel better.

It's natural. So in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul wants to show them that there is a spiritual dimension to sex because God made us, here is your nerdy word for the weekend, God made us a psychosomatic unity. All that means is that our soul, psycho, and our body, soma, are one.

You cannot really separate one from the other. Yes, it is true that when our body dies, our soul goes on to be with Jesus, and it is disembodied for a while, but that's not the way our soul was created to be. And so when we are in that state, Scripture says that our souls are uncomfortable. We are longing to be clothed with our resurrected bodies because our soul was created to be united to a body.

This is not just like a temporary little machine that we're in. Our soul was created to be a part of a body. And thus Paul says, he's going to argue that because our bodies and our souls are one, sex is far from a meaningless physical activity. Sex has an extremely spiritual dimension to it. In fact, it's actually really tied up in how you know God.

Check it out. Verse 9. Don't you know, Paul says, that the unrighteous will not inherit God's kingdom.

Do not be deceived. No sexually immoral people. No idolaters. No adulterers. No males who have sex with males. No thieves or greedy people.

No drunkards. Verbally abusive people or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom. Now sexual sin is not the only sin that he mentions in that list, but just note how many times he brings it up in just those few phrases there. Verse 12. Everything is permissible for me, they say, but not everything is beneficial.

Now I want you to notice the quotation marks around that phrase, everything is permissible. You see, to make sense of this passage, you got to understand what Paul is doing. Paul is quoting some of the popular slogans of the day.

I don't know if he got them from literature or poetry or they were song lyrics, but they were popular sayings in Corinth and then he is going to rebut them. It's kind of like if I were to say to you, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That doesn't mean that I approve of that statement. I'm just highlighting a horrible phrase in our culture and then I'll offer an alternative.

It's like me saying, whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the regrets and the venereal disease stay with you forever. That's kind of like what Paul is doing here. People sometimes, they see these phrases in quotes and they think that Paul is affirming what's in the quote.

He's actually doing the opposite. He is contradicting what's in the quote. Everything is permissible for me, the statement goes, and Paul responds, but not everything is beneficial. Some of the Christians in Corinth were like, hey, we've been freed from the law and now we can do whatever we want. And Paul says, look, even if that were true, your freedom from the law was to love God and love others. Are casual, open, sexual relationships, are they loving and beneficial for either you or your neighbor? Paul continues, everything is permissible for me.

He repeats again, but Paul counters a second time. I will not be mastered by anything. Being freed from the law does not mean just giving myself over to sinful desires. You're trying to tell me that just because my body desires something, that makes it right?

That's crazy talk. If my body says eat a dozen donuts, which it does quite often, that doesn't always mean it's the right decision. If my body feels like violently raging at the person who just cut me off in traffic, and I may or may not be talking about a real situation, I should not obey that impulse. Scripture tells me what is right. My mind and my reason tell me what is right.

My body is the least reliable thing in telling me what is right in a particular situation. Verse 13, Paul addresses another Corinthian slogan. Verse 13, it said food is for the stomach and the stomach for food.

And God will do away with both of them. Now, unfortunately, the CSB that I'm preaching from ends the quotation mark after the word food. But I actually think that's wrong. By the way, the quotation marks were not in the original Greek because they don't use quotation marks in Greek, so the English translators added them. And I think it's the wrong place to add a quotation mark.

I think the quotation mark goes after the end of the whole statement because the whole statement is what Corinthians would say. And what it meant was this. It meant this. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food.

Basically, that just means when you're hungry, you eat. That's what it's there for, right? That's what you're created for. And that's all that's happening with sex. Your body has a desire, and so you satisfy it.

It's nothing more than any other biological urge. And God will do away with both of them. The second part of that phrase, that was the idea that God was mostly unconcerned with the physical body. What He cares about, what God cares about is the Spirit. One day, in fact, it was said, He's just going to do away with the physical body and what will remain with God in eternity.

All that really lasts is your Spirit. So the place that you know and love God, that's going to be your heart. God's not as concerned about the body, it's the heart. That's the place that you know God.

That is something called, you ready for more nerdiness here? That is something called Platonic dualism. The belief that the physical body is basically worthless and only the Spirit matters. Plato, you might know, was a major figure in ancient Greece. He'd lived not too long before all this took place and the place that Plato philosophized was, you know, about an hour away by car, about 70 miles or so from Corinth.

And so Plato's ideas were a major influence in this part of the world. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food and God will do away with both of them because what really matters is your Spirit. But y'all, here's the thing, the Bible never teaches that God's just going to one day do away with your body. In fact, scripture always talks about our bodies in terms of resurrection and redemption, not discarding. So the Corinthian lie about sex has two parts. I would summarize it this way. Part A, sex is just physical. It's like any other biological need. And then part B, what you do with your body really has no bearing on your soul.

Now, before we get into Paul's answer, could we just ask, do people still believe versions of this lie today? Yeah, it sounds like this. You know, casual sex between two consenting adults doesn't really hurt anybody. And we just had some fun for a while. We were both lonely, it was no big deal. There were no strings attached. It was just a harmless little affair to break up the monotony. We both agreed it was nothing serious. We're like Katy Perry said in one of her songs, I don't even know your name.

It doesn't matter, you're my experimental game. It's just human nature. And I know some of you are asking, how is he up on the latest Katy Perry songs? While others of you are like, that song is 13 years old. My kids consider Katy Perry in the genre of classic rock, which hurts me just a little bit, okay? But I'm telling you, when I think of secular lyrics to illustrate a point, I'm always go to Run DMC or REO Speedwagon or Reba McEntire. So at least appreciate my attempts to get within this millennium, okay? All right, or how about this one? For those of you that are 50 and above, Woody Allen.

Woody Allen, remember him, the screenwriter and actor? He says, I know sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty as experiences go, it's one of the best. Both him and Katy Perry are saying the same thing these people were saying in Corinth. It's just physical. It's just biology. That's all that it is. Here's another variation of the Corinthian lie that you'll hear today. I should be able to love whomever I want because God doesn't really care about who you sleep with, who you have sex with. Love is love. So just figure out what works for you. What God really cares about is that you're a good, honest person and that you love people and that you're compassionate and that you're happy. Y'all, that's just another way of saying the physical design doesn't really matter. Only the spirit matters.

So yes, the Corinthian lie about sex is alive and well in the world today. Satan is a master deceiver, but he's not very original. He just recycles the same stuff over and over and over again. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and we'll be right back with the rest of today's message in just a moment. First, I wanted to tell you about this month's featured resource. It's called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in 1 Corinthians. These short five-minute devotionals are the perfect tool for the person on the run, drawing our attention to the importance of God's word regardless of time or schedule. And our goal here at Summit Life is to make disciples and each of our resources are designed exclusively for that purpose as well. Maybe this study is a way for you to help disciple someone else, an easy way to introduce the Bible to an unbelieving neighbor or to go deeper with a friend who is seeking. However you use it, I know that you'll want to get your copy today.

So call us at 866-335-5220 or go online to Now let's return to our teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. So look at how Paul counters this, verse 13. He says, however, however, contrary to what the Corinthians will tell you, the body is not for sexual immorality. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body. God, verse 14, raised up the Lord Jesus after all, and he will also one day raise us up by his power. That is a direct refutation of Platonic dualism.

And if you lived in Corinth, you'd immediately recognize that he was picking a fight there with Plato and his followers. Verse 15, don't you know that your bodies are a part of Christ's body? So should I take a part of Christ's body and make it part of a prostitute?

Absolutely not. Don't you know that anyone joined to a prostitute has become one body with her? For scripture says, Genesis 2, second chapter of the Bible, Genesis says, the two, when they have sex, become one flesh.

But anyone who is joined to the Lord is already one spirit with him. Now y'all, if nothing more, notice that he is saying there's an extremely spiritual dimension to sex. You just cannot have sex with somebody and not become one flesh with them. And if you've got Christ in your heart, you're actually making him one at that point with that person that you're having sex with also, because you just can't separate body and soul. Paul's answer to the Corinthian lie is sex is not just biology. It's not just physical. There's something deeply spiritual about it. Now, again, before we unpack Paul's reasoning, can we just take a moment and acknowledge that we all know this is true?

Again, whether you're religious or not, just ask yourself and be honest, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the question, if sex is just physical, why is rape so much more psychologically damaging than other forms of physical abuse? The National Domestic Violence Center says that both men and women are much less likely to report rape than they are other forms of physical abuse because they say there's a trauma and a shame that is attached to rape that usually makes it difficult to talk about even when you know that you're only the victim. Or how about this? If sex is just physical, why is it that when a child experiences sexual abuse, it can be so difficult for them to shake off even after becoming an adult?

It's not just that an authority figure let them down. No, it's deeper than that. It's a lot more complex than that.

Or how about this? If sex is just physical, why is adultery so hard to get over? If sex is just physical, why is that the one sin in a marriage that seems so hard to forgive and forget?

Or one more. If sex is just physical, like all our songs and all our movies say, if sex is just physical, why is it that so many people's deepest regrets are sexual? When somebody comes to me, okay, and they're like, Pastor, I need to talk to somebody. And I gotta tell you something I've never told anybody before. I know exactly what it's going to be about. It's not usually like last week, I overate like you would not believe.

Or in 11th grade, I cheated on this test or I hadn't paid my taxes in five years. I never hear that. It's almost always about some sexual regret that hangs over them like a dark cloud that they can't shake off. You see what I'm getting at? If sex was just physical, none of those things would be true. There's something about sex that touches our deepest and our most intimate selves. Here's why, Paul says, and here's your theology lesson for the weekend. He says, number one, number one, God created the soul and body to function as one. I showed you that when we went through verses 16 and 17. You can't do something with your body and not do it with your soul. Again, look at verse 16. You'll notice how Paul goes back and forth between the spiritual and physical oneness in those verses. You join with them when you have sex.

You become one with them. Notice how Paul uses for his illustration the cheapest kind of sex imaginable. Sex with a prostitute. If there were ever sex that was just physical, it would be that, right?

I mean, think about it. It's with a stranger. It involves no commitment.

You likely will never see each other again. Yet Paul says, even in that 30 minute encounter, there is a soul joining. So that's peg one. You just can't separate soul and body. Number two, peg two, he says Christ died to redeem our bodies also. Do you note in verse 14, how he says God raised up the Lord Jesus in a physical body.

One day he's going to raise you up by his power. Christ did not just die on a cross to pay the guilt for our sins. Part of the salvation process was he resurrected.

That wasn't just a cool magic trick to show everybody that he had awesome power. It was part of salvation. He resurrected in a physical body to redeem our bodies. Had our body been unimportant, God would have just accepted Jesus' death on the cross as the payment for our sins and just been done with it. But no, he resurrected Christ in a physical body showing that God cares about our physical bodies. He wouldn't have resurrected Jesus' physical body if he didn't care about it. Thus Paul says, verse 13, the body's not for sexual immorality. The body's been resurrected for the Lord.

It is not the stomach for food and the food for stomach. All of it is for Jesus now. Whatever Jesus purchased with his blood, whatever he raised from the dead, he should have Lordship over.

That includes your body. In fact, the word body is used eight times in this passage. All of it is for Jesus, which leads to number three. Number three, God designed sex, Paul is basically saying here, to reenact the most intimate parts of our relationship with him. Let me see, where do you get that out of those verses? You see where it says the two shall become one flesh, that phrase?

Again, that's a quote from Genesis 2. In Ephesians 5, Paul takes that same phrase and he says this actually points to a spiritual mystery. Ephesians 5, let me read it to you. Ephesians 5, verse 31. The two will become one flesh.

There's your phrase, okay? All right, verse 32. This mystery is profound. What I'm actually talking about, what Moses was talking about when he wrote Genesis, is he was talking about an illustration of Christ in the church.

In other words, get this, it's pretty mind blowing. The whole marriage covenant and the whole sexual relationship was created by God to reenact Christ's relationship with the church. Now think about all the ways. When you make a covenant in marriage, it's like the salvation covenant. You stand at an altar and you unite all of yourself to the person you're marrying forever. What that means is all that is yours becomes theirs.

The good and the bad, the liabilities and the assets, that all becomes one. Their debts become yours, their assets become yours. And all that was hers becomes yours. All that was theirs becomes yours also, both the good and the bad. Then the wife takes on a new family name.

Now you get the same last name and then you exchange rings and then you celebrate with a meal. And then you have sex as the physical seal of that commitment, out of which God often brings forth new life. Now do you see, every single one of those steps illustrates the gospel.

Do you see it? I mean, salvation, you go to the altar, so to speak, not actually physically alter, but in your heart, you go to the altar of Jesus and there you say, I do to Jesus Christ. By the way, he said, his I do 2,000 years ago, and he's been standing there waiting on you ever since. But you go back to the altar and you say, I do. And in that moment, everything that is yours becomes his.

What was that? Your sin, your shame, your condemnation, your guilt. He took all of it and he died for it on the cross so that it wasn't his sin he was dying for, it was because he was marrying you. And so all your deaths of sin, all your shame of sin, all your deaths of sin, that became his. And in the moment you receive Christ, all that's his becomes yours.

What was that? Righteousness, eternal life, and eternal inheritance with God. All that became yours. You took on then a new family name. Your exchange of rings was called baptism.

We celebrate that union with a meal. It's called communion or the Lord's table or the Eucharist or whatever term you use for it. Then at your salvation, Jesus puts his Holy Spirit into you out of which God brings forth new life in us and through us.

You see it? Every step of the marriage preaches the gospel. The act of sex itself is a physical illustration of the love of God. Psychologists have told us for years that the deepest desire of the human heart is to be known and loved.

Both components are essential. Because to be known but not loved, well, that's rejection. But to be loved but not known, well, that just feels sentimental. It feels like you don't really know me. It feels like you admire me from a distance. Our deepest desire, they say, is for someone to see us completely, to know us fully and still love and accept us unconditionally. That's what's happening in sex as a symbol. Somebody sees you literally uncovered and they embrace and they receive all of you.

It's why sex is not just thrilling. It is beautiful. It is because it is an echo of God's love for you.

It resonates with your deepest heart because it is something that God created to say, this is how, this is how I see you and I see you and you are fully known and you are fully loved. Even the complimentary nature of sex, meaning that it's between two different genders, male and female, even that was given to us as a picture of our relationship to Christ. Our union with Christ is not a union of identicals, right? I mean, Jesus is fully God and fully man.

We're just fully man, or in your case fully woman, some of you, right? It is a union, not of identicals. We are alike, but we are different. But what you see in creation is God wrote this all through the creation.

Do you notice this? He always uses opposite pairs over and over to produce what he calls the good, day and night, sun and moon, land and sea, earth and heaven, right? Birds and fish. And on the ultimate day of creation, what's he create? Male and female, complimentary. All that was a setup for salvation. We humanity are united to Christ. Christ, Christ is the God human and we're the human human. Christ in this relationship plays the role of the male. He's the life giver. We all play the role of female, the life receiver.

That's why C.S. Lewis always said that in relation to God, all souls are female in relation to God. So sex is a picture of our role as the bride of Christ. A strong word straight from God's word here on Summit Life. If you're just joining us in this series, you can listen to previous messages or download the transcript for today's sermon for free when you visit us online at Our aim is to help you grow your relationship with God by providing both shareable teaching and resources to help you reach out to others. So we've put together a set of 14 five-minute devotional studies in the book of 1 Corinthians.

These are great to use for yourself, but they also make an incredible way to help a friend study the Bible, maybe even for the first time. The set of 14 five-minute studies is yours when you generously give to support this ministry today. So give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or give online and request your study at Don't forget to check out the gospel partner page as well to learn more about what it looks like to be a part of our monthly giving family. I'm Molly Bidevich. Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of today's message about God's view of sex. We'll see you right here Wednesday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 10:19:14 / 2023-03-07 10:30:08 / 11

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