“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 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” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, NKJV).
The above Scripture is taken from 1 Corinthians, and we recognize it as teaching against sexual immorality. It is part of a more extended discussion on this subject. And the message is as important today as it was then. Sexual immorality—as God defines it—is a sin against God and against our own bodies, which are to be a temple for the Holy Spirit.
Verse 20 gives us the general teaching which applies to much more than just sexuality. And it can be easy to pass over the point that our bodies also belong to God. He is the Savior of our souls, and our souls belong to Him. This is true. But so do our physical bodies.
We may not realize it is in our culture, but this was not a widespread view in Paul’s time. I mentioned this from the pulpit recently but did not give any context. Here is a quote from Barclay’s Daily Study Bible on this passage to help:
“The Greeks always looked down on the body. There was a proverbial saying, ‘The body is a tomb.’ Epictetus said, ‘I am a poor soul shackled to a corpse.’ The important thing was the soul, the spirit of a man; the body was a thing that did not matter. That produced one of two
attitudes. Either it issued in the most rigorous asceticism in which everything was done to
subject and humiliate the desires and instincts of the body. Or—and in Corinth, this second
outlook was prevalent—it was taken to mean that, since the body was unimportant, you
could do what you liked with it; you could let it sate its appetites. What complicated this was
the doctrine of Christian freedom, which Paul preached. If the Christian man is the freest of
all men, then is he not free to do what he likes, especially with this completely unimportant
body of his?
So, the Corinthians argued, in a way that they thought very enlightened, let the body have its
way. But what is the body’s way? The stomach was made for food, and food for the stomach,
they went on. Food and the stomach naturally and inevitably go together. In precisely the
same way the body is made for its instincts, it is made for the sexual act, and the sexual act
is made for it; therefore, let the desires of the body have their way.”
This was the kind of world the gospel came to first. And God’s Word decried all this kind of
philosophical manipulation and justification. The Creator God, Who made man’s body, exercises complete authority over all our being. All of our being was bought and paid for by
the blood of Jesus Christ. It was an exogenous shock, a lightning bolt to their culture.And to ours. What of freedom? Are we not free in Christ? Consider again from Barclay:
“It is Paul’s insistence that, though he is free to do anything, he will let nothing master him.
The great fact of the Christian faith is, not that it makes a man free to sin, but that it makes
a man free not to sin. It is so easy to allow habits to master us, but the Christian strength
enables us to master them. When a man really experiences the Christian power, he becomes
not the slave of his body but its master. Often, a man says, ‘I will do what I like,’ when he means that he will indulge the habit or passion that has him in its grip; it is only when a man has the strength of Christ in him that he can really say, ‘I will do what I like,’ and not, ‘I will satisfy the things that have me in their power.’"
Freedom in Christ is freedom from the control of sin...it is not freedom to indulge every appetite, to be slaves to them. That is actually bondage. God calls us to be the masters of
our desires and bodies through self-control, guided and ruled by the Spirit of God. How timeless and true is the Word of God. Written to one culture, but able to speak life to all cultures. Written to one time, but able to speak life to all times. Today, we are reminded
that all that we are has been bought with a price. Let us, therefore, glorify our God in our body and spirit.