I Cor. 6:12-20 - How to Please God with Your Body

Dr. Steve Viars October 1, 1991 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

- We're moving into a new and very important section in the
book of I Corinthians where Paul is going to share with
this church "How To Please God With Your Body"
- We're looking at I Cor. 6:12-20

- one of the thoughts that ought to be at the forefront of a
Christian's mind is the importance of pleasing God
- that’s our goal, our ambition
- when we think about how we relate to our spouses today, we
ought to want to please God in that area
- when we think about how we work, we ought to want to please
- when we think about raising children, serving in the
church...any area of life
- we ought to say with Paul in II Cor. 5:9 - "we have as
our ambition, whether present or absent, to be found
pleasing to Him"
- in these verses, Paul is going to talk to the Corinthians
about how it's possible... how it's important...and how
it's required that we please God with the body He's given

- now remember, the Corinthians had been saved out of a
society that was hardly concerned with what God thought
about how they used their bodies
- Corinth was an urban center, it was a seaport town
- sexual sin was rampant in every conceivable form
- in fact, the name of their city became synonymous with
sexual sin because in the ancient world, to Corinthianize
meant "to have relations with a prostitute"
- even the pagan religions got in the act, and made
prostitution a part of their religious worship

- now the Corinthians had been saved right out of the middle
of that
- we studied last week where Paul gave a whole list of
terrible sins and then reminded them, "such were some of
- the problem that we've seen over and over in this book is
that the Corinthians were having difficulty separating
themselves from the habits and patterns from their unsaved
- over and over, Paul has talked to them about ways they
needed to grow and change
- we've seen in many different contexts that Paul wants them
to live in a way that accentuates the differences between
believers and unbelievers

- they were having trouble giving up their love for human
wisdom, their worldliness, pride, divisiveness, their love
for suing
- and this passage shows they were having trouble giving
up their sexual immorality

- now the situation's not hopeless - we saw that last week
- it's not hopeless because they're not hopelessly tied to
their past
- it's not hopeless because God has performed a great work of
salvation in their hearts where, when they trusted Christ
as Lord and Saviour, He washed them, and sanctified them,
and justified them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

- but these verses are going to turn the coin over and look
at the Corinthian's responsibility
- there's hope because of what God has done, but now it's
time to talk about the how-to's
- it's time to talk about our responsibility
- it's time to talk about what practical steps we must take
in order to "Please God With Our Bodies"
- Let's look for three of them as we read these verses
- READ I Cor. 2:12-20

- the first step Paul mentions is to:

I. Understand Christian Liberty

- it's important that we see the argument in verses 12-14
- If you have a NIV of the Bible, you'll notice that the
translators put quotation marks around some of the
phrases in these verses
- if you don't have that particular version, I'd like to
encourage you to add the quotation marks in your Bible
or at least make note of the phrases in your notes
because it makes these verses easier to understand

- the two phrases are "All things are lawful unto me"
(occurs twice in verse 12)
- and "foods for the body and the body for foods"

- the apparent problem is this...

A. Apparent problem

- the Corinthians had taken two truths that Paul had
taught them that were right in their context, but they
had twisted them in order to excuse their sexual sin
- they were saying - "all things are lawful"
- that is - we have freedom in Christ (you taught us
that, Paul)
- therefore, since salvation is by grace through
faith, sexual sin isn't going to affect our
stand with God
- that's obviously fault - but the issue is - they
were coming up with excuses to defend and excuse
their sexual sin
- they were also saying "foods for the body and the body
for foods"
- that is - "there's no difference in one kind of
food from another"
- "God created our appetite for food and there's
nothing wrong with fulfilling that appetite for
- "we're not bound to dietary laws" (you taught us
that, Paul)
- which is true - Paul taught them that

- but they concluded - if the appetite for food is
legitimate and can be satisfied with any kind of
food, then the appetite for sex is legitimate and
can be satisfied in any way
- after all, foods for the body and the body for foods!

- overall point in these first three verses is that the
Corinthians were guilty of coming up with all kinds of
excuses to justify their sinful desires and practices

- let's just stop there for a minute (what an indictnment and
commentary on the day in which we live)
- let's think together about this question:

INPUT - what are some excuses or reasons people in
America give today to justify or excuse sexual sin?

- it doesn't hurt anybody
- God gave me the desires, it doesn't matter how I
fulfill them
- everybody else is doing it
- if I don't get involved, I might miss something in
- I can't help it - I'm an addict

- Paul is about to blow those excuses away with an avalanche
of biblical reasons why we must, and how we can ...please
the Lord with our bodies

- and I would present to you tonight that it would be wise
for us to study, learn, memorize, and meditate on every
one of these reasons
- wise is the person who has his/her arsenal full of biblical
reasons for avoiding sexual sin
.... because there comes a time in the process of sin
that we're no longer thinking correctly and clearly
- sin is deceptive
- remember how James describes - "like a fish being drawn
away and enticed"
- that’s why the world has used the world addiction to
describe sexual sin
- of course the label is wrong, but the phenomenon
they're seeking to describe is accurate

- a person caught up in sexual sin or any sin both
feels helplessly out of control yet is at the same
time shrewdly calculating or purposeful

- but the best way to conquer this sin or any sin is to take
what I like to call the "Barney Fife method"
(when Barney wanted to stop something - "Nip It In The

- believers who want to please God with their bodies must
have their minds loaded with biblical truth to stop the
sin process in it's infant stages

- now Paul says first, Understand Christian liberty

- it's true there's great freedom in Christ

- as on of our hymns suggests
- you've been freed from the Law, Oh happy condition
- Jesus has bled, and there is remission
- Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall
- Grace has redeemed us, once for all!

- in Christ, we've been freed from the law, we've been freed
from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin
- Paul rejoiced in what he called in Romans 8:21 the glorious
liberty of the children of God

- but he also made this very clear
- that liberty was never intended to be a license for sin

- Rom. 6:1 - "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
God forbid!"
- Gal. 5:13 - For brethren, you have been called unto
liberty, only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh

- and Paul is saying this in I Cor. 6

B. Liberty must be regulated

- by two important questions

1. is it useful?

- the word expedient literally means "useful"
- a believer constantly needs to ask that
question - Is this thing useful?
- not, is it useful to me, but is it useful to
the kingdom of God?
- is my being involved in this particular thing
going to promote God's plan and goals in this
- and if the answer is "No", I ought to get as
far away from it as possible

- develop - TV

2. will it enslave?

- folks who talk about sexual sin as if it's
harmless haven't read what the Bible says
- the Bible talks about sexual sin apart from
marriage as being one of the most potentially
enslaving habits a person can possibly be
involved in
- Proverbs 5 - read 1-12

- Paul also said:

C. Body has a purpose

- the Greeks taught that all material was evil, and
therefore it didn't matter what you did with your
- the Corinthians transferred that right into their

- Paul said "foods for the body and the body for
- therefore, it's okay for us to use our bodies
however we wish

- Paul said - Oh, no
- it's true that food and your physical organ the
stomach are going to passed away
- but that can't be twisted to mean that we can do
whatever we want with our bodies

- our bodies have a purpose
- they are "for the Lord" as verse 13 says

- it's potentially much easier to please the Lord
because we have a body in which to do so
- see, we ought to think about our bodies as a
potential opportunity to please the Lord

- the way we walk, speak, look, dress,
- where we go, how we handle pain and illness
- how we view sexuality

- all is a potential opportunity to please the

- one night a couple of years back I was putting Bethany to
bed and she was saying she was scared of the dark
- of course, I like you would have, was explaining that Jesus
was with her, and that He would take care of her
- she looked at me and said - "But dad, I can't see Jesus"

- she had a point - and that gave a great opportunity for
some teaching
- but one of the things I thought about that was
- if she could see Jesus, if the Lord chose to appear
visibly to Bethany or anyone else and speak with them
directly, that would have made me unnecessary

- but instead, the Lord has voluntarily chosen not to appear
visibly, not to speak audibly, not to reveal his presence
and glory directly
- in so doing - He has delegated that opportunity for
ministry to us
- that’s what it means to be His ambassador or
- the Lord giving us, because we have bodies, a
part of his ministry that He has voluntarily
chosen not to have

- Corinthians were dead wrong in saying that the body was
amoral, it didn't matter how you treated it
- our bodies have a purpose - they're "for the Lord"

D. Body has a future

- Paul says in verse 14, God raised Christ bodily
from the dead (a theme he's going to develop in
great detail later in this book) and he will also
raise us bodily

- Phil. 3:20-21 - "For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus
Christ. Who shall change our lowly body, that it may be
fashioned like his glorious body, according to the working by
which He is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

- see, how can we please God with our bodies?

- by believing that our freedom in Christ was intended not
to be license for sin
- by regularly asking
- Is this useful?
- will this enslave
- by believing that our bodies provide a great opportunity
to please the Lord

- a couple of questions flow out of this

1) Do I have that view of my body and what evidence is
there to back up my answer?

- what habits of speaking, looking, walking, dressing,
eating...anything I do with my body...
- what habits have I developed that don't please
the Lord?

2) Have I developed any excuses that make obeying this
passage difficult?

- we mentioned earlier a number of excuses that exist
that justify or explain away sin.
- isn't this true - the world has a way of rubbing off
on us

- Paul was upset with the Corinthians because they
had come up with some excuses to justify sinful
uses of their bodies.
- I think we need to ask ourselves - have we done
that in any way?

- illustration - Westminster professor
- professor in a well-known seminary
- had been studying at a school in France with his
- discussing the problem of all the beaches near
where he lived in France as being nude beaches
- they had to decide what to do

- decided to go - but teach himself and his kids to
learn to, when they looked at a nude body, not to
lust, but to thank the Lord for the beauty of His

- I wanted to stand up in the lecture hall and shout
- how about not going to the beach?

- here's a guy with degrees as long as your arm from
several Ivy league schools
- a supposed theological expert
- yet he had justified sinful behavior with an
intellectual argument

- the next way Paul gives to please God with our bodies is

II. Understand The Nature of Sexual Sin

- Paul makes three main points in verses 15-18

A. A Christian who commits sexual sin involves His Lord

- Paul's alluding to a very blessed truth, the union
of the believer and Christ
- Scripture teaches that when a person is saved, they
become united with Jesus Christ
- Bible talks about us being "in Christ" and Christ
being "in us"
- there's an inseparable union between us and the

- that’s a great comfort for believers in trial and
difficulty and stumbling
- nothing can separate us from the love of God
in Jesus Christ our Lord

- but truths that can be a source of great blessing in
one context can be a source of great conviction in
- Paul says - because of your union with Christ -
wherever you take yourself - you take Him
- Your relationship with Christ isn't like a suit of
clothes you can take off and get away from
- "Christ is the head over all things to the church,
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in

- illus (Jesus Christ Superstar) - back in the late
sixties during the hippie movement, the play Jesus
Christ Superstar was popular
- that play was offensive in a whole number of
ways, but perhaps the most offensive was the
supposition that our Lord had physical relations
with Mary Magdalene
- now you might say - that's disgusting and I don't
even want to think about it

- you're right - but that's exactly the image Paul
wants us to call up in our minds -
- we're united with Christ - and what we do with
our bodies affects the one we're united to

- that ought to affect the way we view our bodies
- see, understand the nature of sexual sin - It involves our

B. Sexual sin involves a union with that other person

- regardless of what the world wants to say, there is
no such thing as a one night stand
- verse 16 says that a person who commits sexual sin
becomes one body with that person
- Paul even quotes Gen. 2:24 to back up his argument

- now the oneness spoken about in Gen. 2 is not only
a sexual union - in fact I don't think it's even
primarily a sexual union
- people who want to say - if you have sex with a
person you're now married to them are ignoring some
other parts of the Scripture

- when the woman at the well came to Jesus in John 4-
Jesus told her to go get her husband
- when she said - "I don't have a husband, Jesus
said" - you're right - you've had five - but the
man you're living with now is not your husband
- in other words - you're living with someone now but
that doesn't mean you're married

- so the oneness in marriage isn't only a result of a
physical union
- but the other side of that is - Paul is making it
clear that sexual sin involves a union
- C.S. Lewis said it this way in the Screwtape Letters
- "Every time a man and a woman enter into a sexual
relationship a spiritual bond is established
between them which must be eternally enjoyed or
eternally endured."

- see, Paul is arguing with our minds because we are
bombarded daily with messages through our world and
through the media that glorify sex, and make sex something
to laugh at, and sexual sin something that everybody is

- Paul says - arm yourself with this - sexual sin involves a
union with that person

- Paul also says this:

C. Sexual sin is a sin against your own body

- the Bible teaches very clearly that while the body
is not intrinsically evil, the body is
intrinsically weak
- the reason for that is - our bodies are so easily

- that's why the Bible refers to what we're fighting
in the Christian life as the "flesh"
- sinful habits of thinking have a physical component
- " " speaking " "
- " " behaving " "

- that’s why Paul says in Romans 6:6 that’s the old man
has been crucified so that we may now put to death
this "body of sin"

- our physical bodies are easily habituated
- we come into the Christian life with a number of sinful
habits that must be fought and addressed and changed

- the last thing we want to do is what Paul says here - to
sin against our bodies
- the last thing we want to do is open ourselves up to
additional sinful habituation
- that's why Paul says - "run from it" (flee fornication)
- just like Joseph ran from the situation with Potiphar's

- get as far away as you possible can from people or
situations that might lead to sexual sin, by understanding
what the Scripture says

- A Christian who commits sexual sin involves His Lord
- Sexual sin involves a unity with that person
- Sexual sin is a sin against your own body

- Paul gives one last cluster of reasons

III. Understand The Bible's Teaching About Your Body

A. it is God's temple

B. It belongs to God

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video