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Life Matters

Part 4: Life Matters: Legal or Moral?

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(3/3) Today we’ll be in 1 Corinthians 6, beginning in verse 12. It’s a great text, with some great theological truths, and some challenging concepts for the world we live in. To establish the context, the Corinthian church that Paul is writing this letter to was a lot like Fells Point or the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Maybe the Georgetown area of Washington DC, or whatever place may come to your mind. It was that place where young, hip, cool, people hangout. Everybody’s on Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, they’re hanging out at Starbucks, trying to get lucky, breaking God’s commandments, doing whatever they want to do… that’s what they’re like in Corinth. And so there were new believers who came into this church with all kinds of baggage, all kinds of experiences; alternative lifestyles, total confusion about gender, the body, and sex. So even though they were Christians, they still had a lot of thinking and a lot of sexual activity that was in contrast to who they were in Christ.

So Paul is dialoguing with them, and he’s responding to their objections in a letter they had sent and he is patiently addressing each one and explaining them. So we jump right in talking about sex, beginning in chapter 6, verse 12. But we need to back up a little to catch the context before we dig in to our Word for today. Look back at verse 9, 1 Corinthians chapter 6, at verse 9: "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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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."

So the Apostle lays out before them… here is what you were… and here is who you are in Christ. And then in verse 12, he continues… "Everything is permissible for me" …but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me" …but I will not be mastered by anything. "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. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 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! 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." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (NIV).

1. Our Body is for the Lord.

The first thing we note is that Paul writes, "Everything is permissible for me." Actually, that is what the Corinthians were saying, notice the quotation marks. They were saying "We can do whatever we want." And Paul responds by saying, "But not everything is beneficial." The Corinthians they were so wise… so arrogant… and so proud… and they came right back saying, "Everything is permissible for me." And Paul responds saying, "But I will not be mastered by anything."

So here is what they were proposing… if there’s two consenting adults, there’s no rape, no abuse, what’s wrong with that? It’s not against the law! They were still law-abiding citizens. There’s no crime. Who cares? Who’s to judge? And Paul says just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral… Just because the Obama administration has changed their view on marriage again… doesn’t mean that God has… or that God accepts it. You see the ethical standards for God’s people and His kingdom is far superior to and higher than the world that we live in. And so obeying the laws of the nation is just the beginning and is by no means the goal of spirituality and morality of a life that’s committed to Jesus.

So in verse 13… notice the quotations again... the Corinthians say, "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food" and Paul is like, "but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality." And they’re like, "What do you mean, it’s not?" Here’s what they were suggesting, "We just have natural biological urges. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re thirsty, you drink. When you get a booger in your nose, you blow your nose. So their point was… isn’t our sexual drive and desire just a natural, normal, biological function? Do you see where they were going? Do you follow their thinking?

And Paul is just so patient… line upon line… verse upon verse… he teaches them again in verse 13… "The body is… for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."

Some of you have been told you’re a highly evolved animal. And you’ve fallen for that Darwinian mythology… if it scratches, itch. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you have an urge, then go find somebody... ‘cause you’re just an animal satisfying an urge!

But Paul says "No! You’re an image-bearer of God". And as an image-bearer of God, you have dignity, value and worth. As an image bearer of God, you have a soul, and when two human beings get together and are intimate their souls are connected. And that is a sacred thing that God has instituted… that’s why great damage is done when sex is inappropriate… when sex is outside of the boundaries that God has ordained… because it stains and contaminates the soul… The invisible, spiritual, image-bearing portion of who we are is corrupted by sexual sin.

So as image-bearers of God... Men and women created in the image of God are not to act like animals… It is not to be that way… because it takes away the beauty and intimacy of good sex within the confines of marriage as God intended it.

2. Our New Identity is in Christ.

So Paul writes, and God’s Word says, our body is "for the Lord" but the Corinthians argued: "It’s my body. I get to do what I want to do." Have you ever heard that? "It’s my body." "It’s my choice." They even had those bumper stickers. It’s nothing new, right? "It’s my body!"

So Paul’s like, "Really… it’s your body. Who told you that?" Look with me at verse 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!"

See… what he’s saying is this… who made your Body? …God. Who came to live without sin in a body… to be tempted in a body… to die and rise in a body… to redeem you and your body? It was your God, Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ who’s coming again to judge your body and the things you’ve done in your body. And the big question we need to ask ourselves is, "Who will you spend eternity with in your body? …it’s Jesus. So who owns your body? It’s not you. Jesus made it… Jesus redeemed it… and it’s going to be with him forever because it’s his body. Your bodies are members of Christ himself, Your body belongs to Jesus Christ who redeemed it.

So you can’t say, "It’s my body!" because you didn’t make it... you didn’t redeem it… and you can’t resurrect it. It’s on loan, so take care of it. Jesus didn’t give you this body to go whoring around. That’s not why he gave you the body…

He gave you the body to enjoy life, to honor him, to worship him, and to obey him… not to dishonor, disregard, and disrespect Him. That’s not what he intended when he gave us physical bodies. So as Christians we view gender, we view sex, we view marriage, we view relationships, altogether different from the world, because we have a new identity in Christ.

And Paul drives his point home in verse 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.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit."

Here’s what he’s saying: "If you think that what you do only affects you… particularly sexually… If you think that what you do doesn’t involve others… that it’s private… it’s a personal thing… Paul says, the truth is, that it does involve others.

How many of you know someone who had an affair, destroyed their family, ran off with their lover, then looked at you and said, "Don’t take it personally. It’s my life. It doesn’t affect you"?

That’s crazy!

When you are intimate with anyone other than your spouse, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re 13, 21, or 30… it affects everybody and everything. You’re betraying your spouse, your family, your friends, their family, and their friends. You’re betraying your church and the relationships that God has given you. It affects us all. We’re not islands. We’re connected together with our family, our friends, and our church. And most importantly, we’re connected to Jesus. Paul says, "He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit."

And I think that most of you would live differently if Jesus was always hanging out with you?

Well, here is a news flash… if you’re a Christian, he is! And Jesus sees everything. He knows everything. He’s always present, and in some real sense, Jesus goes with you everywhere in spirit. That’s what the Holy Spirit said through Paul in verse 17.

So you gotta think of that… you got to know… because our temple has a new owner.

3. Our Temple has a New Owner.

That’s why the Lord was trying to convey this to the Corinthians. We need to understand that we’re never alone. We’re not individuals. We’re always with Jesus… and that’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing. But it’s a tragic and terrible thing when we run off into sexual sin, because in some real and supernatural way, we’re connecting Jesus in our sin. He’s involved… He’s incriminated… because He’s present with us… because in some mysterious way He is associated with us… and Paul is saying that when we’re out whoring around, we’re dragging Jesus along, and soiling his reputation. That’s tragic considering He died to free us from sin so that we could live for Him!

So here’s what we do, then… in verse 18: "Flee from sexual immorality." So what does that mean? Let me make it clear… you don’t have sex before marriage. I want to be as clear as I can be, because we’re in MD right? Bad sex, sex that God calls sin, is all sex that’s not with your heterosexual spouse. If a Christian isn’t married… If a Christian doesn’t have a spouse… then there’s no intercourse, no outercourse, uppercourse, downward course... there’s simply no coursing of any kind. You just don’t have sex. You honor God with your body.

And Paul says to "Flee." Run like crazy, right? You see because "All other sins a man commits are outside his body," like stealing and slandering others, that’s out there. But sex… that’s a little more intimate isn’t it? And "He who sins sexually, sins against his own body."

So if you’re a Christian… if your identity is in Christ… and you belong to Jesus. You can’t say, "It’s just me." You can’t say, "It’s my body." You can’t say, "I get to do what I want." Because your body has a new owner… you were bought at a price… and if the Holy Spirit was invited in… if you’re a Christian… if you belong to Jesus… your body is now a temple of God… you’re not your own…because you were bought with the sinless life… the substitutionary death… and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, who came as our eternal God in a body, to purchase us, and to claim us as his own!

You see God dwells in you and Paul says, "Therefore… honor God with your body."

So will you accept the offer He made? Will you welcome the new owner? You see as the tenant you have rights… it’s called free will… you have rights over your body… but will you surrender those rights to Jesus? Will you look to the cross where he died in your place? Will you accept the price He paid? And will you allow him to transform your house… your temple… into a holy place? A place where God is honored… a place where God is worshiped… and a place where as the Bible says in Romans chapter 12:1, you "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God as your spiritual act of worship." A place where you no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but are transformed by the renewing of your mind?

You see what we do with our bodies is just one of the ways that we honor and worship God. What we do in the body reflects our relationship with God and I know if any of you are like me there have been times when you have crossed the line, you’ve made mistakes, and you wonder what you can do? Well that’s where Jesus comes in… because He came to fix our lives… here’s the bottom line… you give that sin to Jesus Christ, and allow Him to do His work, forgiving, cleansing, healing, restoring, and sending the Holy Spirit to empower and enable you to live a new life, as a new person, free of all of that shame and guilt.

So this morning, you need to take Jesus on his word. You need to give your sin to him and allow him to be the Lord who will heal you and reshape your life, including your sexuality. I invite you to do that… I invite you to Jesus. Because it doesn’t matter how you walked in here, if you take the hand of Jesus, when you walk out, all things will be made good. I assure you of that… by his grace, through his power, by his death and resurrection, people and things change.

And as we close I want to give you a chance to respond to Jesus. Maybe your god has been your body, or someone else’s body, and you’ve had the wrong god. You need to let that god go, and take the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ; your new God, the real God, the only true God, and you need to repent, confess your sin, and allow Jesus to change you.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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