READ: 1 Corinthians 6
BACKGROUND: Today we continue reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. Made up primarily of formerly pagan Gentiles, these believers needed lots of instruction. Paul needed to start with the basics….and then just keep on reminding this early church of the basics! Here, Paul repeats the good news that Christ followers are not the same anymore! We’ve been changed, transformed, and given a new life following Jesus. It is for HIS glory that we live and breathe! Paul brings up some issues that are particularly confusing and challenging for us today. I like the clarity and simplicity of the following translation by Eugene Petersen in The Message:
1 Corinthians 6: 11 – 20
11Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.
12Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.
13You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!
14-15God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.
16-20There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
THINK: These are tough words for the Corinthians. These are tough words for us. In a world that tells us to do whatever we want, whenever we want, with whomever we want, it’s a bit of a shock to be told “NO!” When I read Paul’s words, an old-fashioned word comes to mind: SCOLDING! Have you ever gotten a good scolding….or given one? Scolding is different than nagging or yelling or berating. It’s telling someone something they already know in a tone that says, “You know better!” But the thing about scolding is that it will only work on a person who is willing to be convicted, who is willing to change, who is willing to feel remorse, and who has a contrite heart (one that acknowledges wrong doing and wants to do better.) I think when we read this passage we are sometimes in a hurry to draw a conclusion about someone else, or some group of people rather than let these words penetrate our own hearts. We want to use these words to make judgments about others, when the message of 1 Corinthians all along has been to examine ourselves! As we read these words, let’s concentrate on how we can give GOD complete honor and glory!
ASK: Have I made a commitment to purity? Consider what we listen to, view, and think about as well as our physical actions. Why does GOD consider sexual purity so important? If GOD makes such a big deal out of this, we can be certain he will abundantly bless us when we turn from our own way and follow him!