Father, you are the God of my times, my days, my years. It is a great comfort to me to know my times are in your hands.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12–20
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, 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.”[a] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.
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‘Take my will and make it thine; / it shall be no longer mine. / Take my heart, it is thine own; / it shall be thy royal throne.’1
Paul has lived in Corinth. He knows the people and their lifestyle. In his earlier letter, no longer in existence,2 Paul had tried to deal with uninhibited sexual lifestyles.3 He had since discovered that his advice concerning sexual behavior was misunderstood and so he devoted much of this letter to dealing with it. Graeco-Roman culture spawned numerous maxims that justified or winked at unfettered pleasure-seeking; ‘I can do whatever I choose’ (see v 12); ‘My body is mine to use as I like’ (see v 13). These sayings have a modern ‘me generation’ ring to them: ‘If it feels good, do it.’
Our bodies are not a commodity, something we own to use as we wish. The word translated ‘body’ here has a deeper, more holistic meaning, sometimes translated ‘self’ or ‘being’.4 All that we are, flesh, spirit, and mind, no longer belongs to us to do as we like with. We are holy, that is, we are set apart for God. We who were ‘bought at a price’ (v 20) no longer belong to ourselves. Our salvation in Christ is not only the redemption of an inner, spiritual self but the saving of our whole integrated being. Our beings, our very selves, are members of Christ’s body and the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.
How do we ‘honor God with our bodies’ (see v 20)? Paul will spend most of the rest of this letter demonstrating that, but it can be summarized in two statements. First, we, as individuals who belong to God, must exercise stewardship of our own bodies, practicing self-control. This is not weakness but managing ourselves to fulfill God’s purposes. Second, as Christian sisters and brothers, we must strive to live lovingly and in an edifying manner, supporting and encouraging each other as fellow members of the body of Christ.
‘… the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’5
Mighty God, you love me just as I am, but you also see me as I can become. Help me see what can happen as I trust in you.
1 Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836–79, ‘Take my life and let it be’ 2 1 Cor 5:9,10 3 Greek porneia 4 Greek soma 5 2 Tim 1:7
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Last Updated on August 20, 2022 by kingstar