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First Corinthians

Great Bodily Injury

1 Corinthians 6:9-20

The second least popular teaching of the church concerns sex. The teaching is at once simple and profound, and we should deal with it directly:

(1 Cor 6:9-20 NIV) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders {10} nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. {12} "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. {13} "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. {14} By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. {15} Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! {16} Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." {17} But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. {18} Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. {19} Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; {20} you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Before and After

It is instructive to see just exactly what Paul lists as being wicked – for we shall see that our own sense of wickedness has declined even from this time.

· Sexually immoral – the root word is the one from which we take our word “pornography” – it means those whose attitude and actions toward sex is just like ours – leering lust.

· Idolaters – a common thing in Paul’s day; one who worshiped at the shrine of another God. Today it is fashionable again – we call it New Age thinking.

· Adulterers – the word means exactly what it says: those who have sex outside of their marriage.

· Male prostitutes – perhaps the reason Paul mentions these explicitly is that Corinth had over a thousand female prostitutes as priestesses in the Temple of Aphrodite. This may just be equal opportunity.

· Homosexual offenders – just in case you’ve been told that the Bible never says anything about homosexuality, here it is.

· Thieves – even we have our limits. Theft is still considered a sin – unless you do it from poverty, revenge or the theft is small enough.

· Greedy – this is no longer a sin for us; it is now called being an entrepreneur. It is now considered a Republican virtue.

· Drunkards – even this has lost its sense of sin, and is now an illness.

· Slanderers – we now refer to these as political commentators.

· Swindlers – still a sin in our time, if you do it on a petty scale. If you swindle billions, however, you can still be admired.

A pretty collection, that. But remember that the only qualification for becoming a Christian is this: you have to be a sinner first.

We’ve lost the sense of that. We ask people to “join the church.” To do that, you must be, in some sense, “good enough.” You should be able to fit in with our crowd – and we go to great lengths to see that you will have a smooth fit. Our worship services are remodeled; no longer based on the rock, but rock and roll. If people will not join, perhaps it is because they no longer see any point in it.

Paul would have had a different appeal: good news. His call would have been based upon Christ and the good news of the Gospel. But is it good news? Only to those who know themselves to be sinners. It is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and judgment to come. We do the world no service – and, I think, deny our Lord – when we tell the world, “There, there – it’s all right. It’s just your hormones acting up.” That’s why this list of sins is here: to remind you there is a right and a wrong – and that we all are sinners.

But look at us now – washed!

The word in the Greek means “to wash completely.” It carries with it a sense of complete cleansing. There is no sense of “good enough to get by;” it is a thorough cleansing. It is the process of getting rid of the filth. But do remember: if you do this, you must have needed it.

But look at us now – sanctified!

The word is also the root of the Greek word for “holy.” It means consecrated, purified, set apart for the service of God. This brings two challenges to the typical Christian:

· Do you feel that you really are “different” from the rest of the people in this world? That you really don’t belong here; the world is not my home, I’m just passing through? Or do you desperately want to fit in with this world?

· Do you know that God has a purpose for you. The word means “set apart” – but why? God sets things apart not to sit on the shelf, but to be used for his purposes. One reason our youth spends its time being “against” this and that (mostly their parents) is that we have never given them anything to be “for.”

But look at us now – justified!

The word means to be regarded as innocent, to be regarded as pure.

I once sat in a courtroom, waiting for a friend’s trial. As we sat, the judge went through a stack of folders, each one representing a drunk driving arrest. He would review the record, and if the person had finished the required measures he would announce to him, “Mr. Smith, you may now say that you have never been convicted for drunk driving.”

At first I thought this absurd. Then I remembered how difficult it would be to get a job if you had been arrested for drunk driving – something no respectable firm would want. But the real impact came when I remembered: my Lord did the same thing for me, at the Cross. I am justified, by His blood.

Legalism and License

Truth is always stuck between two lies. Christian liberty lies between legalism on the right and license on the left. It’s interesting to compare the view of the Corinthians with our own:

· Their view was this: God’s grace has set us free from the Law. Therefore, we might as well go ahead and have sex with whomever, wherever. God’s grace will abound even more; we’re covered. The Law no longer applies.

· Our view is this: what sin? How could anything so beautiful as sex be a sin?

Both of these are moral stupidity; theirs does seem a bit more sophisticated, however.

Paul asks these people freed of the law two simple questions.

Is it beneficial?

The King James uses the word, “expedient.” The original Greek word carries the sense of something which “comes together.” In other words, just from the point of view of this world, is this a very bright idea?

· We speak as if adultery were a victimless crime. Perhaps I have been incredibly lucky in this, but I have never seen it so. His adultery shatters her; hers destroys him. Children suffer in either case. Adultery causes years of pain for a few minutes of stolen pleasure.

· If that were not enough, we have the specter of venereal disease. Hard enough to bring this on yourself; even more so to inflict it upon your wife. And if you and your wife both die of AIDS, what have you done to your children?

· Even with the greatest of repentance and forgiveness, the sense of trust which rests so innocently in marriage is destroyed. Trust is very difficult to rebuild.

Is it slavery?

Slavery? Anything which masters you makes you its slave. The word used here is one which connotes “authority.” Any passion which masters you has authority over you – and that is a denial of Christ.

You think not? Have you ever seen a man addicted to pornography? I have struggled with this myself, and it is not until you admit its mastery – and appeal to your Master to take his right place – that it can be conquered.

The classic example of this is in Alcoholics Anonymous – everything depends upon God, not upon your own efforts. If your own efforts were sufficient, you’d not be in the mess to start with.

Doctrine of the Body

This brings us, then, to the root of the matter: the human body. It often surprises Christians to learn that there is actually a doctrine of the body, and that it is not completely concerned with sex. But, in its rudiments, we need to understand it.

To be human is to have a body

That which distinguishes the angels from man is the body. We are hybrids; we are spirits in an animal body.

· Which is why our Lord came in the flesh. Any argument – and there have been many – which says that our Lord is not fully human is false. For if He is not fully human, then he is not acceptable as the Atonement. Therefore, our Lord has a body just like ours. Moreover, as He lives forever, the body MUST be resurrected from the grave – as it indeed was.

· Therefore, our resurrection from the grave is also required. We are to live forever with Him; we are human, and therefore must have a body. Therefore we must be raised from the dead, just as Christ was. His resurrection is the first; and the promise of ours.

Sex unites one human body with another

Note that it is sex – not marriage. In a very real sense, food is temporary; we will not need it at the resurrection. But sex is permanent. How do we know this? Because Christ describes the church as his Bride. From the earliest days of faith, it is known that “the two become one flesh.” The entire doctrine of how a husband should treat his wife comes from this thought.

But – by the same reasoning – sex with someone not your spouse is a sin against your own body – for the two of you are one flesh. It is worse than that, however.

We are united in Christ

We, the church, are called the Body of Christ. We are united spiritually with Him, just as I am united physically with my wife. How did this happen? It is simple: I was bought with a price, the price of Christ’s blood. Note that this too is from the body.

Chrysostom gives us an example that would have been practical in his time; stretch your mind to accept it, for it is instructive. Suppose, woman, that your father tired of feeding you and (in a fit of madness, says Chrysostom) sells you to the local whorehouse. There you are required to be a prostitute, selling your body to any man who comes along, for the benefit of the pimp who owns the place.

But then suppose that the son of the King comes by. He redeems you; he buys you out of that slavery in the whorehouse. He takes you to his palace and makes you his bride. Can your father now return you to prostitution? No, he has his money.

Then consider, woman, how ungrateful, how horrible it would be if you decided, on your own, to go back to the whorehouse after marriage to the King’s son. What an insult to your husband! What an insult to his Father, the King! Should you not expect the most severe of punishment for such a thing?

You and I are like that woman. We are bought with a price, redeemed from the whorehouse of Satan. He no longer has authority over us; why, then, should we surrender ourselves back into his slavery?

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