Glorifying God with our Bodies-Pt. 2

Glorifying God with our Bodies-Pt. 2

“Glorifying God with our Bodies”—Pt.2

(1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

Series: Chaos & Correction (1 Corinthians)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson



•Take your Bibles and join me in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6 (page 770; YouVersion).


We are making our way verse-by-verse through this very practical letter written by the Apostle Paul.  He is writing to help a church in chaos, a chaos of division among their membership, chaos of disorder, and chaos of theological confusion.  Paul aims to correct the chaos by writing this letter to the Corinthian congregation, hence our series title, “Chaos & Correction.”


Last time we were together we studied the first part of the last passage of Scripture.  Verses 12 to the end of the chapter talk about living in such a way as to glorify God with our bodies.  Last week we studied just the first few verses of the text so we’ll review those and then read on to the end of the chapter.  So we’re going to be looking at verses 12-20.


•Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.


12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 

13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 

14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

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! 

16 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.”

17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

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. 

19 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? 

20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.






I read recently about a research team seeking funding in order to create a watch that calculates the precise moment you will die.  The watch is called Tikker and, according to the creator’s website, “Tikker is a wrist watch that counts down your life from years to seconds, and motivates you to make the right choices,” reminding you, “to make most of your life, and most importantly, to be happy.”  Tikker is, “the death watch that makes every second count.”


I’m not really sure what to make of a watch like that.  The creators of the watch are interested in promoting the happiness of those who wear it, reminding them that life is too short to waste time on things like anger and unforgiveness.  So the idea is to live life to its fullest and to make every second count.  That’s not a bad idea in and of itself but the creators of this watch have no interest in bringing God into the equation.  You will search in vain on their website for any reference to God or the afterlife or the judgment to come. The team’s focus is on making the most of one’s present life by, in their words, “mak(ing) the world a happier place.”


I suppose many of the folks in Corinth would have liked to wear such a watch as anachronistic as that image is to us, ancient Corinthians in togas wearing a modern timepiece.  But if the point of one’s existence is simply to be happy then many citizens in Corinth would have appreciated the reminder to focus on the things that fulfilled the desires of one’s flesh.  Don’t let us bother with all this talk of the God of the Bible and afterlife and a future judgment.  Just feed your body what it desires and enjoy life to its fullest.


But we are not placed on this earth simply to “be happy.”  We are here to glorify God.  This is our greater purpose.  We read a moment ago that Paul concludes this chapter by reminding the Christians at Corinth that they belong to the Lord.  He says, “You are not your own.  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).”  You belong to God.


So if the wearing of a watch were to serve to remind us that we should live every second of our day to glorify God then maybe the wearing of that kind of watch would prove helpful.


In any case, this is the point of our existence: to glorify God.  Paul makes a similar summary statement later in chapter 10 and verse 31.  It’s a good memory verse, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”  This is the Christian’s higher calling, our greater purpose; to live every second of every day to the glory of God.


So this passage of Scripture reminds us how we are to glorify God with our bodies.  I said last week that this is what the passage is all about, “Glorifying God with our bodies.”  So let’e talk about how we do that.  Number one:


I. We must not abuse Christian Liberty (12-14)


Many Christians in the church at Corinth were wrongly influenced by popular Greek culture outside the church.  There was a popular philosophy in ancient Corinth that taught that a person’s body was not as important as the person’s spirit.  Many Greek philosophers regarded the body as something of a nuisance, a physical thing that had no eternal value or significance.  We quoted last time the Greek philosopher Epictetus who said of himself, “I am a poor soul shackled to a corpse.”  This was the thinking of Epictetus and others, that the body was a bothersome kind of prison and that one’s spirit or soul was the thing that really mattered.


This wrong thinking influenced many Christians in the congregation at Corinth.  This secular philosophy led many in the church to live as though their bodies were somehow detached from their spirit.  And the consequence of this kind of thinking led many in the church to indulge the desires of the body, to feed the body its so-called natural cravings, without any worry about one’s spirit.


The Christians at Corinth regularly voiced a couple popular slogans such as the one beginning in verse 12, “All things are lawful for me.”  They said this in order to defend the use of one’s body for indulgent purposes.  Another slogan occurs at the beginning of verse 13, “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.”  Both of these statements suggest that it really didn’t matter what one did with one’s body because the Christian had this freedom to sort of do as he pleases.


So Paul qualifies the Christian’s liberty by reminding them that while the Christian is free, he is not free to sin.  Paul says, “All things are lawful—true enough—but all things are not helpful,” nor should we ever be brought under the power of anything other than God.


And so we avoid things that are harmful to us and we avoid anything that would enslave us.  In the words of commentator Leon Morris, “Some things are not expressly forbidden, but their results are such as to rule them out for the believer.”

So the applications are numerous: we will not be enslaved by food, drink, or a behavior that is neither edifying or glorifies Christ.  The misuse of alcohol, drugs, food, and other things would apply.


And Paul is writing primarily about the Corinthians’ misuse of sex.  He writes in verse 13, “Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body—verse 14—and God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”


And Paul’s point is that our bodies are gifts from God that have eternal significance.  God has a temporary plan for the belly and a permanent plan for the body.   The body has eternal significance so it does matter what the Christian does with his or her body.  This thought continues into the next two points.


We have seen that we must not abuse Christian liberty; that’s point one.  Now, secondly:


II. We must Understand Sexual Unity (15-17)


Before we read again verses 15 and following, let us remember that many Corinthian

Christians were so influenced by the pagan culture of ancient Greece that they were engaged in behaviors that we can hardly imagine.  The primary matter Paul is addressing here is a behavior that was common outside the church.  It was common for unbelieving Greeks in Corinth to engage in sexual relations with so-called temple prostitutes of Corinth.


Many of you will remember from our introductory message in 1 Corinthians that the city of Corinth was located at the base of a mountain called the Acrocorinth.  The Acrocorinth is a mountain rising nearly 2,000 feet in height.  At the top of the mountain was a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess, Aphrodite, the goddess of love.  In fact history proves that there were some 26 temples dedicated to various Greek gods all over Corinth.  But in this particular temple, the Temple of Aphrodite, some 1,000 priestesses served and they served as prostitutes.  Local Corinthian men “worshiped Aphrodite” by having sexual relations with these temple prostitutes.


It is that behavior that infiltrated the church.  It sounds very bizarre to us and it should.  But if you understand that background and you understand that this is the culture and context of the Corinthian church, then perhaps you can better understand why a new Corinthian Christian may have to be told that what he thought was acceptable behavior before is no longer acceptable behavior today.  Apparently, a number of Christians in Corinth were still engaged in this temple prostitution, thinking it was okay since they were now following the God of the Bible rather than all the false Greek gods and goddesses.


So Paul addresses this error by teaching about sexual unity.  Verse 15:


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! 


Paul says when you think of your physical body think of your body as being integrated with Jesus Christ Himself.  When we come to faith in Christ we are united together with Him.  This is the Christian’s mystical union with Christ.  It is a real union, a uniting together with Jesus such that we are inseparable from Him.  So Paul says in verse 15, “Remember that your bodies are integrated with Christ.  Your body is intermingled with His body, interwoven with His body, part and parcel of the body of Christ.


I don’t know how often you think of that, but if you remember that in a way one cannot see that our bodies are united together with Christ, then it will motivate us to greater holiness in our living.  And that is the point Paul is making here.  He asks in the second part of verse 15, “Shall I then take the members of Christ—that is, the body parts of Christ—and make them the members—or body parts—of a harlot, of a prostitute?  He says, “Certainly not!”


Then he explains further in verse 16:


16 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.”


Here is a quote from Genesis 2:24, the place in the Bible where we read of the first marriage, the marriage of Adam and Eve.  This is where God says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”


When a man and a woman consummate their marriage through sexual intimacy, they become a one-flesh union.  The two become “one flesh.”


So Paul is warning these Corinthian Christians.  He is saying to them, “Don’t you realize that when you engage in sexual intimacy with a prostitute that you are taking your body—which belongs to Christ—and uniting your body with the body of another, and a prostitute at that!  To quote William Barclay, “a body which rightly belongs to Christ has been prostituted to someone else.”


And again, this is why it is important for us to understand what really happens in sexual union.  Sexual activity with another person creates a one-flesh union.  That is precisely why those who have lived sexually promiscuous lifestyles often feel deep regret when they find themselves in the presence of someone with whom they had sex sometime ago.  There is often a strange awkwardness and discomfort because these two persons shared an intimacy with one another that is somehow felt on a much deeper level than outward friendship.  Even if for only a brief moment in time, they had become one.  And it is very difficult to shake that interconnectedness.  It is always there.


So Paul warns Christians to avoid this sexual sin.  He writes in verse 17:


17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.


When persons receive Christ as Savior they are joined together with Christ in such a way as to become “one spirit with Him.”  Applied to sexual intimacy, then, this union with Christ is a union that is to be shared only with another believer in the context of marriage.  Sex outside of marriage is wrong.  There is a spiritual component to sexual intimacy that is right and proper only in the context of Christian marriage.


We must understand sexual unity.  That is point 2 and it leads naturally to point 3:


III. We must Flee Sexual Immorality (18-20)


That is precisely what Paul says in verse 18:


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. 


In making his point, Paul stresses the unique nature of the sin of sexual immorality.  He says it is unlike other sins, sins that don’t affect one’s body the way sexual immorality does.


Of course there are sins that affect the body.   Overeating, alcoholism, smoking, and so forth.  These are sins that affect a person’s body, but sexual immorality is far worse in that it involves the uniting together of the Christian’s body—which belongs to Christ—with the body of another person outside the context of marriage.  This is a unique sin against the body.  Sexual immorality involves others in a way that was not intended.  Paul continues in verse 19:


19 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? 


Unlike popular Greek philosophy, the Christian’s body is not some bothersome physical entity in and of itself.  The Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Paul says in Ephesians 1:13, “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.”  God lives inside our bodies.  When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, to guide us, to warn us, to bless us.


The Spirit of God Himself lives within us.  The Spirit within us means we are “not our own.”  We belong to God.  Verse 20:


20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.


Christians belong to God.  We are not our own.  We are His own.  We belong to Him.  He owns us because He purchased us.  We were slaves to sin and He came to us and purchased us from the slave market.  He redeemed us from our slavery to sin and now we belong to Him.  He purchased us, redeemed us, from our sin with the purchase price of the blood of Christ, the atonement.


We sing of this in our Christian hymns:

O victory in Jesus,

My Savior, forever.

He sought me and bought me

With His redeeming blood;




Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child, and forever, I am. 


We belong to Him because He purchased us.  He owns us.  We are not free to sin, we are free to not sin.


This is Paul’s greatest point.  Because our bodies belong to God we will take care of them as the special bodies they are, temples in which resides God Himself.


Do you take care of your temple?  I mean we have trustees here and volunteers and a custodian who take care of the appearance of this temple, this church.


Do you take care of your temple?  We wouldn’t be pleased if there were trash all around here, but what about your temple, the temple of your body?  Do you allow trash into your temple?


The primary application Paul has in mind is the taking care of our temple by avoiding sexual immorality.  He actually doesn’t just say avoid it.  He says to run from it.  Verse 18, “Flee sexual immorality!”


Note that.  He doesn’t say, “Resist it,” he says, “Flee from it!”  Why such strong language?  Why not just say, “Be careful, resist it, try to avoid it.”  Why the imperative, “Flee sexual immorality!”


Well, we are weak persons.  We often find ourselves in places of great temptation.  I wonder if Paul had Joseph in mind here.


Many of you know the story of Joseph in the latter chapters of Genesis.  Some of you reading through your Bibles this year read the story not too long ago.  Joseph was living in the house of Potiphar an Egyptian of great power under Pharaoh.  And Potiphar had a wife who was a beautiful Egyptian woman.  And she was attracted to Joseph.  And do you remember what she did?  She came up to Joseph, close enough for him to see the beauty of her face and the splendor of her clothing, close enough for him to smell the intoxicating floral notes of her perfume and she said, “Come to bed with me.”

And I just love what Joseph did.  Remember this?  She grabbed him by his coat in an effort to pull him to her side and Joseph wriggled out of his coat, left it in her hand, and ran away.  He “fled sexual immorality!”  He may have lost his coat, but he kept his character.


How do you flee sexual immorality?  In much the same way.


You don’t linger around things that tempt you.  Books, magazines, internet pornography; certain kinds of music that has an affect upon us.  Men, ladies, it’s wrong to look a long time at someone other than your spouse.  Be careful.


It’s sometimes said, “It’s okay to look once, but not to look twice,”—not if you get a really good look the first time.  Right?


Be careful thinking about someone other than your spouse.  Be careful embracing someone other than your spouse.


Proverbs 6:32 says, “He who commits adultery lacks common sense; he who does it destroys himself.”


Flee sexual immorality.  Paul concludes verse 20 with, “Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”


We glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits when our lives demonstrate that nothing is more satisfying to us than Jesus Christ.  Nothing the physical body craves is more satisfying than the Lord Jesus.  Nothing else the body yearns for will satisfy as Christ satisfies.  When we live our lives demonstrating that Christ is all-satisfying and that we will not settle for the cheap and tawdry substitutes of sex, food, or drugs, or drink, then we are glorifying God in our bodies.



Here’s an exercise for every Christian this week:


Ask yourself, this thing I am thinking about doing—will it draw me closer to Jesus Christ and will it draw others closer to Jesus Christ? Or will the thing I am considering doing push people further away from Him?


When a Christian indulges his or her body in alcohol, drugs, bad habits, pornography, and illicit sex, the Christian tells the world that Jesus Christ is really not all-satisfying.  And there’s no power in our Christian testimonies because people see that we are enslaved by something other than our being enslaved by our rightful owner, the Lord God.


•Stand for prayer.


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