You Are Not Your Own— you were bought with a price
1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Key Verse 6:19-20
I believe that in the original letter to the Corinthians, the portion of instruction in chapters 5 & 6 Paul meant to be as one. In these two chapters, Paul is dealing with the problem of sexual immorality in the church. In chapter 5, he addresses the church about the man who had taken his father’s wife for himself. Paul was utterly surprised at their reaction to such an outrage in the church community. Instead of confronting the man about his outright sin, they not only were tolerating that the man’s actions, but they were also proud about it. At the end of the chapter he tells them: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” (5:12-13) Paul meant that while they had no business judging those who are outside the church for such behavior, they should be able to judge those within the church who commit such sins— especially the sins of sexual immorality.
Chapter 6 begins with the legal issues— lawsuits— that were going on between church members and how they were handling such issues between them. What exactly was going on in that church among the Christian brothers and sisters? In verse 8 he tells them: “Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” In other words, the sins of immorality went far beyond sexual immorality. They were guilty of cheating and doing wrong to each other. That is indeed a big problem! One of our Lord Jesus’ most vital commands to his disciples was about love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn.13:34-35) Christians are to love one another. Its how the world would recognize us as his disciples. The author of Hebrews tells the church these words: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) He bids us “consider” how we may “spur”, encourage, one another on toward love and good deeds. And that’s because the Lord knows that to love each other in the way that Jesus loves us does not come so easily to us. So he urges us to think about ways we can love each other, and do good to each other. But rather than considering how they should practically love each other, they were cheating and doing wrong to one another. It was unthinkable to Paul that they should wrong each other— and to the point of taking each other to court. In verse 6 he says: “But instead, one brother goes to law against another.” Look at the last part of verse 6, what’s even more outrageous than taking each other to court: “and this in front of unbelievers”! Unbelievers shouldn’t have to witness this among Christians, so as not to dishonor the name of Christ, for whom they claimed to live, and to serve. Paul was aghast that they should do such harm to each other, and to the church which belongs to the loving Jesus.
Of course, it was a grievous crime that these Christians were behaving this way towards each other. But there was more! Paul’s gripe against them was because they were not only doing such things in the view of unbelievers, but they were suing each other in the courts. So Paul counsels them. In verse 1 he says: “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” In verses 4-5 he continues: “Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!
I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” In these words, Paul echoes the words of our Lord Jesus who admonished that believers take issues between them to the church, to their brothers and sisters in the Lord. Regardless of what the outcome maybe, the judgment of my Christian brother and sister, whether for or against me, is a better judgment than any outsider who does not have the heart and mind of Christ. True believers are endowed with the best gift— that of the Holy Spirit who resides in us and is with us in all things. The Holy Spirit in my brother and sister, regardless of how mature or immature they may be spiritually is far better judge than the outside world, which has no spirit of God in them. They judge from a place which no non-believer is able to rise to. They have the love and compassion of a Christian, blessed by the Holy Spirit’s presence as a measure for the truth they must judge by. According to Paul, even if my brother and sister’s judgment seems unfair to me, it is better than brining Christian disputes before unbelievers. Paul insists in verse 7 saying: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” Indeed, even if I am wronged, it is better than receiving my just due, if receiving my just due will dishonor the name of Christ whom I love.
The Corinthian Christians were clearly not thinking about what is better or best for one another. Clearly they were not thinking about what is better or best for the church of our Lord, nor for his holy name. They were not thinking about the damage such disputes will incur on souls and communities. When we bring charges against each other before a worldly court, the damage is most severe first to my own soul. My soul is stained with a spirit of a false sense of justice. When I want justice for a wrong done to me by my brother or sister, it is clear that I have no concept of what true justice and injustice are. When I sinned against God, God did not demand justice for the sake of justice from me, he did not drag me before the courts in order to exact the penalty that is due me. He did not think that for the sake of justice, we must bring this issue of your sin out so that others may not misunderstand the gravity of this sin and sins. My Lord did not think, that in all fairness, we must do what is right, what’s fair is fair after all. Rather God gave his one and only son in a most unjust way, in order to pay the penalty for my sins, sins that he did not commit but sins that I committed. Thank God that my Lord did not exact justice from me, but pardoned me in his grace and in that way brought life and healing into my heart and my life. And when he bid us love each other, he did not ask for that love be done fairly. Unconditionally, is the kind of love he asks that we love each other with. Those who hold grudges against their brothers and sisters; those who think of exacting justice and getting what is due them; those who consider what’s fair is fair expecting nothing more than fairness from others; those who judge others without mercy with no thought to what they had been given or forgiven; those who walk around with their noses in the air, forgetting what wrong they had done and looking down on those who had done them wrong; those need to stand once again before the crucified Jesus and consider yet again the justice they demand from others. There is a story Jesus told about a wicked servant who was forgiven abundantly for what he owed, yet who found one who had owed him little. Then he demanded that the one who owed him little to pay him what he owes. Jesus did not look kindly on that servant when he found him again. The Corinthian Christian were like those who need yet again to stand before the Gospel and consider again the justice they are demanding.
It was a terrible thing that the Corinthian Christians were taking each other to court over issues of grievances against each other. When Paul counseled them; “Why not rather be wronged”; when he counseled them to “find a competent Christian” among them to settle their disputes, he was incensed at them. He had a good reason to tell them that they ought not to bring their disputes before non-believers. In verse 2-3 he counsels them. At the same time, he also gives them a heavenly perspective regarding his counsel. Read verses 2-3. “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” In judging the world, and in judging angels, Jesus was referring to the time when all those who belong to Christ will stand in judgment of the world as they stand side by side with their Savior and King Jesus— in the last day— at the end of time. However, we may think a little of how believers stand as judges over the world even now. Believers hold in our hands the greatest only and absolute truth of all time— we hold the word of God. We have the 10 commandments, the most precious and glorious standard of how men must live before God and before all other men as well. We also hold in our hands the teachings of our Lord Jesus. We hold therefore, the greatest of teachings that this world has ever heard or seen. We also have the Holy Spirit who corrects our path of life, who counsels us in our errors, who keeps our hearts planted in the word of God. We are commanded not to judge others. But in a sense, when we live by the teachings of our Lord, we judge the world by the life we live as Christians. By the life we live, by our obedience to the word of truth, by the sacrifices we make in our convictions, we pass judgment on the world. Especially by the power of our love we pass judgment on the world that the world cannot truly love because it is fallen; that it needs the touch of God’s grace in order to rise to the love and faith and hope that we have in Christ Jesus. When we live in Christ and for Christ, especially when we obey to love, the world stands stunned at what is impossible for the world to do on its own. In that way, the world and its people are judged that it falls short of he glory of God. And it compels the world to look to Jesus and to come to him in repentance and confession that he alone is Lord Christ and Savior indeed.
Look at verses 9-11. “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.” The deception Paul is talking about is the deception of freedom. He makes it clear in verse 12 that “everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Do not be deceived he tells them— the deception that as long as we are free in Christ, all things are permissible for us to do, including getting engaged in all the immoral activities that these Corinthians had a desire to engage in. There was a heresy being entertained by them at the time that the body and the spirit have nothing to do with each other. That if the spirit is sanctified by Christ, then nothing the body does can effect or change the soul’s destiny. They even used the “food for the stomach analogy” to explain that as much as neither food nor the stomach can affect the soul that has been sanctified by Jesus, so also all other functions of the body will not affect the soul either. What a deception they were entertaining. It was a most diabolical deception of the devil. They had allowed the man who sinned by taking his father’s wife to himself, continue in the church, without considering what he did a sin. Now what else were they entertaining in that heresy that body and soul are separate and what we do with our body has no effect on our spirit, nor on our salvation.
Look at the list of things Paul mentions in verses 9-11. What is wicked in the sight of God? Sexual immorality. Idolatry. Adultery. Male prostitution. Homosexual offenders. Theft. Greed. Drunkenness. Slanderers and swindlers. He tells them twice: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?” they were being deceived by the devil’s most powerful deception— that the freedom we enjoy in the body, is of no consequence to our soul nor has any bearing on salvation. They were corrupted by a most ancient and powerful trick of the devil. “Don’t be deceived” Paul told them. “You are tricked”— “deceived” he tells them by one of Satan’s most convincing trickery. Freedom to do as I wish— freedom to live the Christian life and at the same time to engage ourselves in all of the body’s desires and appetites and all on account that we have been freedom by Christ. They were deceived by the lure of freedom. But they should not be deceived. They should realize several truths about the Gospel that are Gospel facts deeply rooted in the truth and cannot ever change. (Found in 11-20)
In verses 12-20 Paul turns his attention to sexual immorality again. But he does so from a different perspective than what we saw in chapter 5. In verse 12, Paul teaches that freedom is a precious gift that must be used properly to be maintained. It seems that the Corinthian Christians were fond of saying, “Everything is permissible for me.” They thought that they could use their freedom at random. They almost sound like the people of our times who claim that there are no absolute truths— and that everything is a matter of personal preference— or a matter of personal feelings— or according to the cultural trends. So they believe in having or putting no boundaries to anything in our lives. They also believe that “If it feels good, then go ahead and do it.” But they do not know that this kind of thinking and action leads to great damage. We know that in the Bible God gives us some moral absolutes— which Christians must honor as they live in the world. God himself set those absolutes and boundaries! If one uses his or her freedom against what God has set as a boundary or an absolute, the consequences would surely be fatal. If one uses his or her freedom to engage in sin, he or she will become a slave again to that very sin which Jesus died for. True freedom can only be achieved in the truth of God— and when the Christian submits his or her will to the will of God. (Jn 8:32).
Look at verse 13a. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.” This was another popular saying of the Corinthians. It expressed their thought that eating was a purely physical activity. It was a philosophy that claimed that the spirit was good— But that all matter, including the body, was evil. They thought that since the body was evil anyway, they could indulge in any kind of sinful behavior and it would not effect their spirit or spiritual life. In that way, so many young and growing Christians in the church were infected with this philosophy and were influenced by it. And the result was severe damage to their spirit, to their spiritual life, and to their Christian faith in general. Though the Corinthian Christians had accepted Christ, their way of thinking had not been changed to the Gospel truth. They thought that Christ had redeemed their spirits but not their bodies. So they justified indulging their bodies and glorified food and sex. Paul warned that God would destroy them both.
Paul went on to correct the Corinthians’ wrong view of the body. Look at verse 13b. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” When Christ died for our sins, he redeemed not only our spirits, but our bodies as well. Christ redeemed our whole man so that our whole man might belong to him. Christ wants to dwell in our whole being, body, mind and spirit. When we accept Christ, our soul is made alive immediately with everlasting life. The body, however, begins a process of renewal or sanctification. Eventually that renewed body would also be resurrected in Christ. When we are aware of bad habits and false ways of thinking in us or around us, what must we do? We must deal with them with the truth of God— with God’s word. And we must do so not only once or twice, but until we have begun to live a holy life in our spirit, and also in our body.
Therefore, we Christians need to overcome our past sinful habits and lifestyle. Our bodies must be sanctified. Our daily lives should be made holy. We should become more like Jesus every day through godly living and divine discipline. Finally, our bodies will be fully sanctified. Look at verse 14. It says: “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” The day will surely come when our bodies will be like that of our Lord Jesus who defeated the corruption of the flesh and rose to a new body in the Kingdom.
Look at verse 15a. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” Our bodies are members of Jesus’ body such that Jesus Christ lives in his people. In that sense, Paul was appalled to even think to unite a Christian’s body with that of a prostitute. It is like trying to unite God and Satan, or holiness and sin. No human being can handle the terrible struggle of such a union; it will tear him or her apart. Some Corinthians thought that free sex was like eating a good meal. But Paul corrected that kind of thinking in verse 16. Sex is a special God-given gift that produces a mysterious union. One can eat a good meal and forget about it several hours later. However, no one can just forget about a sexual partner. This is why “the gift of sex” must be used properly. It is given by God for his good purpose, to be enjoyed between husband and wife— and only within the bounds of marriage. It is to consummate their love relationship and, for the purpose of having children. But when Christians misuse the gift of sex, their bodies are damaged and their character is distorted. They become totally useless and miserable. The Bible’s advice for all of us is that even from a young age we must keep our bodies pure. Even if it seems un-cool in modern terms, the result is great. They could actually hope to live happily ever after.
Read verses 18-20. These verses give us clear direction in how to use our bodies. First, we must flee from sexual immorality. This means we must run away from it as soon as we detect it. If we see a bad image on the computer or television, we must shut it off immediately. If we see a provocative member of the opposite sex, we must run away immediately like Joseph did when his master’s wife tried to seduce him. If we hear the enticing words of a promiscuous person we must close our ears to them. You can also sing hymns in times of temptation, as loud as you can sing. We know that it is not easy for young people to overcome lustful desires. Even so, they must fight and fight and fight until they win the victory over their desires.
We must also honor God with our bodies. Let’s read verses 19-20. “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 with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. God lives in us and wants to use us for his purpose. Therefore, we have great potential to do amazing things in our lifetimes. When we recognize God’s presence in us and pray for his guidance, we can find many ways in which we need to develop our bodies to be used for the glory of God. When we offer ourselves to God with a pure heart he will use us for great things. Therefore, let’s offer our bodies to God and pray that he may use them for his own glory. Let’s pray that we may have a right attitude toward our bodies and use them properly and honor God with our bodies.