Your Body Belongs to Christ
1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Your Body Belongs to Christ
I again begin this study with the warning that it deals with mature subject matter in addressing sexual immorality. Because of the conditions the believers in Corinth were living in it was necessary for this subject to be addressed in Paul’s day and because of the conditions we live in here in North America it is necessary for us to address this subject still today.
Corinth was one of the most immoral cities in the Roman Empire. Corinth was built at the base of a very prominent mountain. On the top of this mountain was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love which was staffed by 1,000 female slaves (prostitutes) dedicated to the sensual worship of Aphrodite. (Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p.235) At one point in its history this city had such a bad reputation that the Greeks coined a new word, “to Corinthianize” meant to flaunt sexual immorality without shame or reservation. A Corinthian girl was an expression that referred to a Corinthian prostitute. (Ibid)
This gives insight into why so much emphasis is given in this letter to addressing sexual and marriage related issues. The believers in the church at Corinth lived in this immoral environment and were influenced by it. Corinth was not an easy place to keep your life let alone your thoughts pure. Therefore there is a lot of instruction in these verses for us today living in North America where we are bombarded with sexual immorality.
In verse 12 we saw that as children of God, Christians are free from the law. Because we have died to the law the law no longer has any legal authority over us. However we are not free to act independent of God. We saw that each of us are a slave to someone, either a bond slave to God or a slave to sin, but none of us are independent of a master. Romans chapter six tells us that our master is determined by who we choose to obey. The Lord is to be our master. Therefore we are to let the Lord have control of our bodies.
And in verses 13 and 14 we saw that our bodies are meant for the Lord and that He alone can fulfill the ultimate purpose and desires of our bodies. The sensual desires of our body do not need to be gratified through sexual indulgence because ultimately the body is not for sex but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. However the Lord does not relate to us externally or sexually in order to fulfill the needs and desires of our body. Instead the Lord meets our needs from within by the ministry of His Holy Spirit. As we yield to Him, He is able to fully meet every need we have for love and acceptance and He fills us with a sense of being very significant, not just another face in the crowd but very important to God.
Now in this study we will continue with this theme as we see that not only are our bodies created for the Lord and not only is God the greatest source of fulfillment for our bodies, but as Christians, our bodies have become Christ’s body and His Spirit lives with us inside our body. We share this physical body with the Spirit of Jesus who has bought our body with His own blood and He now owns it, though we still live in this body, it is no longer our own. Our bodies are therefore not our own to do with as we please. Our bodies belong to God.
1 Corinthians 6:13 “. . . Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
Then in verse 15 the Bible makes a practical application of this principle to an area of immorality that was a problem among some of the church members at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 6:15 “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 harlot? Certainly not!”
It seems that several of the men in the church saw nothing wrong with becoming involved with the Corinthian prostitutes (harlots). They seemed to be justifying their conduct with the misguided argument that under the grace of God they were free from the law of God which forbids sexual relationships outside of marriage. Paul addressed this argument in verse 12.
Also they seemed to justify their involvement with prostitutes by saying something like this: “Our hearts are right with God, and our inner man has been made righteous through our faith in Christ. Therefore what is done on the outside with our physical bodies doesn’t affect our inner life with Christ. “And besides, God gave us this sexual appetite for a reason, and since our bodies are only temporary and will die one day anyhow, therefore what we are doing with our bodies is only natural and doesn’t really matter so long as our heart is in the right place with God. After all it is the inner life that counts.” Paul began responding to this attitude in verses 13&14 where he made it clear that our bodies are not temporary, they are important to God and they were made for God, not for sexual immorality. In fact our bodies don’t need sex in order for us to be fulfilled, nor do we need a spouse in order to be complete. Colossians 2:10 tells us that we “are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
Now Paul continues under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to explain why sexual immorality is wrong. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” The word “members” means limbs and body parts. All of us corporately as believers make up the body of Christ. But each one of us individually is a part of that body.
1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 18-21 “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ 14 . . . For in fact the body is not one member but many. 18 “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
It is not only our spirits that have been united with the Spirit of Christ, but our bodies also (though they have not yet been made new) have become part of His body.
Vs. 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 harlot?”
When a child of God becomes sexually involved with a person they are literally involving the body of Christ in that act. Shall we unite the body of Christ with a prostitute? “Certainly not!” The idea is blasphemous. The only righteous, honorable and pure way to sexually involve the body of Christ (also known as your body), is with a marriage partner who is also a believer and therefore also a member of the body of Christ.
Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”
(What if you are a believer married to an unbeliever? 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 addresses this issue.)
“Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!”
Vs. 16-17 “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
The Corinthian believers had not thought through the implications of their sexual immorality. Anyone who joins himself together with a prostitute by that act becomes one body with her. There is no such thing as casual sex. Outside of marriage it is always an act of sacrilege. (Morris, p. 98)
Paul quotes from Genesis 2:24, “The two shall become one flesh.” He is responding to Christians who misunderstand what it means to be free from the law. Therefore he takes them back to the beginning, before the law, in fact before sin and the fall, to make a very important point. Sexual purity is not about keeping any law; it is about fulfilling God’s original purpose for marriage. Paul has taught all these things to the Corinthians before, that is why he repeatedly uses the expression, “Do you not know?” (verses 15, 16 &19). He is incredulous that after all the time he has spent ministering to them that they still don’t understand these things.
What great truth is Paul seeking to stir up in the memories of the Corinthian believers when he quotes Genesis 2:24, about “the two shall become one flesh”, and immediately follows that with the statement of verse 17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”? He is reminding them that there is a powerful relationship between sexual union and our spiritual union with Christ. Look with me to Ephesians to see what teaching Paul is reminding them of.
Ephesians 5:31-32“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
When you read the entire passage beginning in verse 31 it becomes clear that God has patterned marriage after Christ’s covenant commitment to His bride, the church. God’s highest purpose in marriage is to illustrate or dramatize to the world through the relationship of the husband and wife what the covenant relationship between Christ and His church is like. So when Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”— he is reminding the Corinthians of what he has taught them that sexual union communicates. That leaving parents and holding fast to a wife, forming a new one-flesh union, is meant from the beginning to display this new covenant—Christ’s leaving His Father and taking the church as His bride, at the cost of His life, and holding fast to her in a one-spirit union forever. (John Piper, “This Momentary Marriage”, p. 30) “Christ will never leave His wife. Ever. Our Lord keeps His covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that permanence.” (Ibid, p. 25)
Paul is not saying in 1 Corinthians 6:16 that a man is married to every prostitute with whom he ever had relationships. For Jesus said to the woman at the well who had been through five husbands that “The one you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). In other words, physical union by itself does not make a marriage. Marriage is a covenant till death. But any sexual union outside of marriage is an utter betrayal of what becoming one flesh is meant to represent. Paul is saying: “Your sexual immorality is desecrating the act of sexual union. Sexual union has the meaning of “one flesh” and “one body” in marriage—something profound pure and spiritual. But you are desecrating that sacred truth with a prostitute.” (Ibid. p. 31)
The word “joins” (or unites), used in both verses 16 and 17, is a word that means to glue or to weld together and it describes a very close and strong tie. (Morris, p. 98) Those who share together in the sexual act become one in body. When it’s with a prostitute, though they have entered into something permanent they part and go their separate ways. The perverse temporary nature of the union between a man and a prostitute is contrasted with the permanent spiritual union between the Lord and a believer. God’s relationship with us is permanent and any sexual union that does not portray this permanent fidelity is absolutely wrong and out of place and a perverse misuse of Christ’s body.
Vs. 18 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
The word flee is a present imperative indicating a habitual action. In other words it is saying, “Make it your habit to flee sexual immorality.” (Morris, p. 98) The temptation to sexual sin will not be a one-time occurrence that you overcome once and you are done with it. You will be tempted again and again and each time you must respond by fleeing from it, like Joseph who fled from the temptation to sleep with Potiphar’s wife. If you hang around the temptation or flirt with the temptation or entertain it for a while, just for fun, you will be overcome by it. There is no other recourse but to flee from the very thought.
The Bible does not say that this is the worst of all sins. But it says that sexual immorality, like no other sin, is a violation of the body, which really is not ours but Christ’s. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the most serious of all sins, but sexual immorality is a desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit. There is something very powerful, tremendously spiritual and deeply mystical about our sexuality that none of us fully understands. In Ephesians chapter five it is described as a very great or profound mystery. But God understands it and wisely warns us to handle it with great care. For consider this: of all the sins that harm our bodies, such as drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, gluttony, smoking and even suicide, verse 18 says that every [other] sin that a man does, no matter how damaging it is to the body, its effect is only external in comparison to the penetrating impact of sexual immorality. Therefore flee sexual immorality.
Vs. 19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The Bible reaffirms that our body belongs to God for two reasons: First of all because His Spirit lives in our body; it is His temple. The Corinthians were very familiar with temples. Corinth was full of temples. A temple was the house or dwelling place of a god. Here Paul reminds them that their body is the home of the Holy Spirit. We live in our body, but so does the Holy Spirit.
And secondly using the analogy of the slave market which was also very common in Corinth, Paul says that our body belongs to God because the Lord bought us like a master would buy a slave. We now belong to Him. And the price He paid for us was the sacrifice of His own life on the cross.
Therefore, the Lord has bought our body with His own blood, and He has moved in and has made our body His temple or His house. But He is not a stranger living in our house, He has joined His Spirit with our spirit and has made us His bride. We now share the same house with God just as a bride and groom share the same home with each other. It is our groom’s home but we are His and live together with Him in His temple, which is our body. How then can we, who are married to Christ, possibly consider sharing and defiling something so sacred with a prostitute (or any other outside of the sacred marriage covenant)?
“Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are [both] God’s.”
It’s not just my heart that belongs to Jesus, but my body too. Perhaps you have been caught up in sexual immorality and are wondering where this message leaves you. It is important to notice that like these Corinthians, no matter how badly you may have sinned with your body, there still exists for you the opportunity and the invitation to glorify God in your body. To glorify God in your body is to let the Lord have His way with your body, acknowledging that it belongs to Him.
Copyright © 2008 by Parkdale Grace Fellowship
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