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February 20, 2022 6:00 pm
We start with me this morning to first Corinthians chapter 6.
Looking at verses 12 through 20. Paul continues his letter to the Corinthians, hereby addressing yet another problem that had come to characterize their conduct in thinking this time the error had to do with their sense of morality, of right and wrong, specifically as it related to sexual purity.
See how Paul addresses this issue here in first Corinthians chapter 6, beginning at verse 12 and on 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.
You not know that your bodies are members of Christ.
So 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 residence 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. 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 work 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, 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 5 where Paul began to deal with a particularly heinous sin that was sexual in nature, and this led him into a discussion of discipline within the context of the church court which led him and turn into a discussion of 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 5 back in five. He dealt with specific instance of immorality here in our text today. He's going to to deal with immorality and a general sort of sense will see next time. The chapter 7 continues addressing this topic giving special attention to the matter of sexual purity as it relates to marriage.
So all of chapters 5, six and seven have some aspects 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 characterize the city of Corinth.
At this time was so widely known that that terms were coined with Corinth in mind the work Corinthian eyes became averted, meant to practice immorality or Corinthian girl was a common colloquialism for prostitutes. Will the decadence of Corinth and 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 have they embrace the immoral practices of their culture they were embracing the thinking the rationale behind those practices in and they were justifying all sorts of depravity and so Paul had to address the 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.
That seems like an obvious principle to us. Doesn't mean God of course were supposed to not sin but glorify God with our bodies, but this wasn't obvious to the Corinthian Christians. 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 they not know any better, or obey any better than they did. 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 within what ethical blind spots do I have in what ways in my perhaps unknowingly so immersed in the thinking and that 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 encourage us to not walk through this passage today as if we have arrived and and we are safely out of the reach of this world pull toward sin accordance immorality is shocking, but we need to be shocked at the right thing. We need to be shot not simply accordance lewdness, but at the ease with which they justified their lewdness. We like the Corinthian Christians of 2000 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 so we need to take Paul's correction and instruction. The 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 the of Christian ethics and some wonderful one-liners in this text, but as I began to study that the text as a whole in depth. It it was as if the more I study the more confusing things got there seem to be contradictions and inconsistencies in and just paradoxes all over these these couple paragraphs and I was about to panic thinking there's no way I can make sense of this text back. I just couldn't seem to track Paul's train of thought.
Then I found a commentary that suggested a key to unlocking the text in it and it suddenly just all made sense now. I don't like novel approaches to Scripture text 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 is just overlooked for 2000 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 it all it wasn't new at all.
In fact, it represents a huge consensus among Bible scholars who have written commentaries on first Corinthians, and I had just overlooked it.
Ivan 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 and Corinth slogans that were being used by the Christians in Corinth to justify immoral living. All will quote three different Corinthian catchphrases and is going to correct each one of those, in turn, Jesus did a similar thing in the sermon on the Mount Nittany, where he would 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 incomplete quote that had come to be normative, followed by a correction from Christ's opposing to do the same thing in our text know what makes it less obvious in first Corinthians 6 is that Paul doesn't introduce these Corinthian slogans with any kind of you have heard that it was said statements to make it obvious that he just writes the quote. The other tricky thing is that in New Testament Greek, there are not quotation marks as so if a person wanted to quote something that was not some sort of punctuation to to indicate that the quotation and so various translations in English provide these for modern readers, but they are in the original quotation marks are in the original. So for example the King James version and the new American Standard don't include any quotation marks in this in this passage, and so in this there. The most literal and also the most unclear by refusing to interpret anything for us were on our own.
The NIV on the other hand, new international version is at the other extreme of this not only includes the quotation marks. But even add 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." You say in the you say is 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 the where were going through this text let's 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 printing.
Skip the first Corinthian catchphrases that Paul brings up is in verse 12, quote all things are lawful for me," Paul repeats that slogan two times here in verse 12, Hill repeated two more times over in chapter 10. It was evidently an overused Corinthians 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 common place I can almost picture the Corinthian Christian right behind home plate of the Coliseum, wearing a rainbow wig holding a all things are lawful for me, sign.
Maybe I just dated myself. Another thing about a good lie is that it needs to be believable.
There is usually an element of truth in it were to notice that all three of these Corinthian catchphrases have an element of truth in them, and so one can 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. There is 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 oppose those lies in his letter to the Galatians with the problem in Corinth was not legalism. It was not Judaism. It was licentiousness antinomianism anti-law 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's so Paul supplies the qualification he says you are free in Christ, Corinth, 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. 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 were not under the law. It's a true biblical statement.
Those who are under grace are not under law but there is 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 that we are not morally obligated to pursue obedience to God's moral law once were justified through faith in Christ. The worst justification doesn't nullify sanctification and obedience. The claim that it does is to fall into the same error that the Corinthian believers have 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's 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 are unrelated, are mutually exclusive, that the physical world doesn't affect the spiritual world and vice versa is called dualism. This dualistic view of of reality is nothing new. Platonism, Epicureanism, Gnosticism and Ope a 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 this dualistic idea that the physical and spiritual disconnected and an unrelated have some 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 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 as part of the Corinthian misunderstanding food and the organ that digests food are meant 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 just 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 the look at Paul's rebuttal. The body is not meant for sexual immorality goes right to the sin that the Corinthians are committing body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body just cuts to the chase and says Corinth you're wrong. The body does matter because God made the body for his own glory but is on verse 14 God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power towards Paul is showing the inherent value of the physical body by pointing out that God raised Jesus his 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 us 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. It will be eternally resurrected, or they will return eternally tormented but they will not be annihilated because contrary to courts slogan our bodies are not insignificant. Temporary objects. They like the physical body of Jesus Christ bear internal 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, but it must never be put into the category of things that will be in consequentially destroyed therefore resurrection itself forbids us to take the body likely Paul doesn't stop there. He goes on 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 see another reason why sexual immorality is not morally neutral is a 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 were committing the writer of Hebrews describes it is trampling underfoot the son of God. Alden quotes Genesis 2 and God's institution of marriage, and he draws an analogy. He points out that in marriage to people become one through the marital act that 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 look at that in just a moment, but in the latter half of verse 18 we find 1/3 what I believe to be another Corinthian slogan is not." In most of our English translations look with me at the second half of verse 18 and ESV it says every other sin.
A person commits is outside the body, the sexually immoral person sins against his own body now. I believe that the first half of that compound sentence is, is the Corinthian slogan another no quotation marks around in our English translations.
In the second half is Paul's reputation of the slogan limit only walk us through that real quick. First of all, the word other in that verse is not in the original Greek of the King James version captures that it says every sin that a man do with is without outside the body, but every other sin. Besides this one, but all sin that's that's closer to the original. It doesn't make sense then for Paul to finish that thought by saying but 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 the 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 1430 says a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but NZ makes the bones rot go so far as to say that most sins have an adverse effect on the body. The sleeves 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 the previous slogan. The Corinthians were claiming that since Sam 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 hearts 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 hearts I know my words were harsh and angry, but I didn't mean anything by it. God knows my heart. Sorry I offended you in 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 action lungs. I didn't mean to sin. I'm innocent. It's just the Corinthian slogan all over again repackaged for modern sensibilities. Paul says no Corinth, the very same 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. 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 fact of the matter is, your body is itself a temple and not just some lame.
God it's the temple of the Holy Spirit of God, when user body to gratify impure, ungodly and lawless desires. You not only to fire yourself you outrage and grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you.
So not only ascending with the body an affront to Christ, with whom we are united is also the front of the Holy Spirit who indwells believers all 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 a 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 know 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 the glory of God. Paul spent the bulk of this text, correcting misunderstandings, but he he does give to explicit commands. Words of instruction in light of these corrections one is negative. The other is positively look at each of these as we close.
First he says in verse 18 flee from sexual immorality is a wonderful insight in the original Greek, the word flee means fully 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 is true that the sinfulness of sexual immorality begins in the hearts just because you haven't outwardly acted on a simple impulse doesn't mean the desire to sin is not itself sinful brothers and sisters don't twist that into convincing yourself that preventative measures are pointless taking preventative measures against simple impulses does not deal fully with the heart issue behind her simply goes a long way. There's nothing unspiritual about having an accountability partner is nothing unspiritual about putting filters on your devices or getting rid of your devices. One preacher said you live without it before you can live without it now fleeing from sin may feel drastic may feel over reactionary, but that's how we mortify it. That's how we put those desires and opportunities to sin to death. Flee from immorality, 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. We put our desires and appetites in this 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.
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 Briggs. He demands that we enjoy his rich blessings. Even the material once. Yes, we have a tendency to turn blessings and titles, 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 of poignantly you should cringe at spiders and be amused at puppies and chair 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.
Just 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 body's church at Corinth and swallowed the lies of their culture. We often unknowingly swallow the lies of our own culture demeans Christ grieve the Holy Spirit. It robs us of joy and robs God of glory with the flipside of that is that we don't have to be mastered by sin because we have Christ you 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 rely on his strength in us, we will be happy and holy, so Christians honor God with both body and soul spring or do 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 that 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 or not. I pray she would let us see real progress. Even this week in our sanctification, particularly in this area of sexual purity.
Pray for the sake of your glory in us.
In Jesus name, amen