Your Body is for the Lord
1 Corinthians 6:13-14
Your Body is for the Lord
I want to begin with a word of caution. Today’s study is of a mature nature dealing with the subject of sexuality. It is not inappropriate to study this in the church because it is part of a letter written to a church and was publicly read in the church.
Let me take this opportunity to urge each of you who are parents that in light of the conditions in which we are living in Canada it is very important that you begin explaining the true facts of life from a biblical perspective to your children while they are quite young, certainly before they reach their teens. If the parents and the church fail to tell our kids about the biblical pattern for sexual intimacy when they are young then they are most likely, by default, going to learn about it from the gutter; from the world with its perverted and hedonistic philosophies, from misinformed peers, from T.V., the movies, pornography and other ungodly sources. It is absolutely imperative that as parents we equip our children with the truth about God’s intended purpose for human sexuality so that they will be able to resist the lies of the world and the bondage of sexual immorality. In John 8:32 Jesus said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Remember that this epistle of First Corinthians is a letter that the Apostle Paul has written to the believers in the church at Corinth in which he is addressing some problems that have been reported to him. He is also responding to a letter they sent him and now he is answering some questions that they had asked in their letter.
There seems to have been a common colloquial expression that was used in Corinth to justify self indulgence in gratifying the desires of the flesh. The saying was, “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.” (Morris, p. 96) In other words, “Our stomach has an appetite that craves food because it was made for food, and food was made to satisfy the craving of the stomach.” This simple truth was then broadly applied to justify the indulgence of other appetites: “Just as our stomach was made to enjoy food so our body has a craving for sexual indulgence because it was made for sex, and the purpose of sex is to satisfy the craving of the body just as the purpose of food is to satisfy the craving of the stomach. Therefore, their reasoning concludes, both food and sex, even sexual relations outside of marriage, are harmless things our bodies need and were made to enjoy. After all, Paul has taught us that all things are lawful, hasn’t he?”
We looked at the “all things are lawful” statement last week and saw that though we are free from the law we are not free to act independently and do what we want. We are either a slave to sin and Satan or we are a slave to God and righteousness. Today we look at our bodies.
Now Paul agrees with the first part of this expression, that “foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.” However under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he disagrees with their application of this same principle to sex, particularly when they used it to justify indulging in sexual immorality. According to the teaching of God’s word, our sexuality is much more than a physical appetite to be indulged. Though it is a physical expression, sexual intimacy is a deeply spiritual experience. The physical relationship between a husband and a wife is small scale model of a greater spiritual reality. It points us to a spiritual intimacy that God calls us to experience. It symbolizes the passionate love between the bride of Christ and her groom which when entered into is far greater than the limited joy of any physical experience.
Notice what the Bible says, and what it doesn’t say, half way through verse 13: It says, “Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” Notice carefully that the Bible does not say that the purpose of the body is for wholesome intimacy in marriage. The Bible does NOT say that rather than seeking to gratify the desires of the body with sexual immorality you should instead seek to gratify the desires of the body with a spouse in marriage. That is the way we commonly think, but that is not what the Bible is saying here.
There is a higher purpose for the body than marriage and a greater means of finding fulfillment and gratification than indulging in sexual activity. The Bible says that, “The body is . . . for the Lord and the Lord for the body.” In other words, the body (including its desires) is designed and created for the Lord and the Lord is the only one who can truly fulfill the body’s purpose and the Lord is the only one who can truly satisfy the desires of the body, because the body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.
There is a common misconception in our society today that God made us to be sexual creatures with desires which absolutely must be gratified through some form of sexual indulgence. Our society finds the concept of complete sexual abstinence to be incomprehensible and ridiculous. But the Bible teaches abstinence as God’s only alternative to sexual intimacy in marriage. If you believe the deceitful message of the world, a message which originates with the flesh and with Satan, you will be convinced that the body was made for sex and sex for the body and if you are not married then you must find some other way of gratifying your sexual desires outside of marriage. We have been misled to believe that this appetite of the body simply must be satisfied either through sexual indulgence in marriage or through sexual indulgence outside of marriage. Therefore if you are not married you are justified, according to the deception, in meeting your need through self stimulation or through pre-marital relationships or through re-marriage if you have lost your spouse. The lie persuades us to believe that one way or another, just as you must satisfy the craving of the stomach for food by giving it food, so you must also satisfy the craving of the body by giving it what it desires.
However, contrary to what most people think, the Bible does not teach sexual gratification as a necessity, nor does it even teach marriage as being preferable to abstinence. The Bible does not teach that there is greater potential for fulfillment in life as a married person than there is as a single person. Nor does the Bible teach that sexual gratification in marriage is God’s ideal intention for mankind.
[Often Genesis 2:18 is cited as evidence that it is not good for man to be single. But that is not what the Bible says, but rather, “It is not good that man should be alone”. Adam was more than merely single, he was the only human being on the planet. One significant interpretation of Gen. 2:18 is this, “The point is that God made man to be a sharer. God created us not to be cul-de-sacs of His bounty but conduits. No man is complete unless he is conducting grace (like electricity) between God and another person. (No unmarried person should conclude that this can happen only in marriage.)” John Piper]
What the Bible does teach is that sexuality in marriage points us toward an even greater union and greater intimacy and greater fulfillment that is possible in this life through relationship with God alone. Intimacy with God is the ideal ultimate intention of God for mankind and you don’t have to be married to experience it.
The ultimate human being who was more fulfilled in life than any other who has ever lived was a single man named Jesus Christ. The prophet Elijah, Daniel and the Apostle Paul were some of the greatest men in history and they also were all unmarried.
In this passage Paul is establishing a principle that gives sense to what he is going to begin saying just a few verses later in chapter seven. In chapter seven Paul repeatedly prescribes the single life to three groups of people, those who are virgins and have never married; to those who are divorced and to those whose spouse has died. The lie of Satan which has become the common thinking of our world is that it is totally unrealistic to expect a person to remain single and sexually pure. To remain single and abstinent is NOT the pitiful fate of those who cannot find a spouse. It is NOT some kind of a punishment to remain single. When you understand your identity in Christ and His calling to abide in Him as your life you will discover that your capacity to experience fulfillment in life is not diminished if you are single. In fact chapter seven suggests that perhaps the opposite is true. This is because the body is . . . for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
The Creator who made the body is the Lord; the energy that powers the body is the Lord; He is also the provider that sustains the body; He is the wisdom that guides the body; the defender who protects the body and the Savior who redeems the body; the Lord is the healer who heals the body; He is the treasure that fills the body and the one who gives it its worth and finally it is the Lord who is the joy that fills and satisfies the body with His pleasure and goodness. The body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.
It is not the things of this temporary life that bring greatest satisfaction to our bodies nor can the temporary things of this world draw the greatest potential out of our bodies. It is God Himself who can give our bodies their greatest pleasure and God Himself who can maximize the potential of our bodies.
For example: Abraham and Sarah by yielding their bodies to God became fruitful in old age. When Moses was in the presence of God he could go forty days and forty nights without food or water and his skin glowed with God’s glory. The psalmist Asaph discovered this great truth: Psalm 73:25-26 “. . . There is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. When Elijah was drawing life from the Lord his body was enabled to out run horses. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego trusted their bodies to the Lord and their bodies became impervious to fire and could not be burned. When Peter’s eyes were fixed on Jesus his body could walk on water. When Paul’s body was yielded to the Lord poisonous snakes could not harm him. Our bodies were created to run on God like a car is made to run on gas. And they find their ultimate fulfillment from intimacy with God, even more than from sexual intimacy.
This verse is connected to the first sentence of verse 13, “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.” Both our stomach and food are temporary provisions designed for life in this world, but when our days on this world are done the Lord will do away with both food and our appetite for food. In heaven Revelation 7:16 tells us there will be no more hunger or need for food to nourish our bodies.
But when it comes to our bodies (and by implication their desires for intimacy) they will not be done away with. According to verse 14, just as the Lord raised up the body of Jesus Christ from the dead, so also He will one day raise up our bodies from the grave by His power.
1 Corinthians 15:42-53 NLT “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies . . . 50What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”
So we see that our bodies will not be done away with but they will be transformed and resurrected and for all of eternity we will have bodies with passionate desires for intimacy. Mark 12:25 tells us that after the resurrection in heaven there will be no marriage between human beings. So think about this: for all of eternity we will have bodies with desires for intimacy but we will not have husbands and wives. How then will the desires of our bodies be satisfied in heaven? In Psalm 16:11 NCV David was given this revelation from the Lord, “Being with you will fill me with joy; at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.” The Lord Himself is the fulfillment of our desire, both now and forever more. We are the bride of Christ. We have been united with God. For “the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
We cannot say that it is only our spirit and soul which are important, but the Bible teaches that our body also is important. If the body was not important God would not bother delivering it from sin and raising it from the dead. But He will one day. Therefore He declares our bodies to be valuable and how we treat them is important.
Our spirit has been saved from sin and death. Our spirit is completely sinless and righteous. Our soul (meaning our mind, will and emotions) is in the process of being delivered from sin, being transformed by the renewing of our mind and being sanctified to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Our bodies however are still deteriorating because of sin and will one day die. But that doesn’t mean they are unimportant and it doesn’t mean that we will be rid of our bodies. For as we have just read, one day our bodies also will be delivered from sin and they will be resurrected and transformed into immortal bodies that will never die. Then our salvation shall be complete, spirit, soul and body will all be righteous and perfect.
Let us just quickly look ahead to a passage of scripture that we will spend more time with next week, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “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.”
Today can you sincerely say from the depths of your heart the confession of David who declared: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”? (Ps.16:11) Or can you echo the joyful declaration of Asaph in Psalm 73:25-26? “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”.