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

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
  God
- 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
    us

- 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
  you"
- 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
  lives
- 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
              food"
         - "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
            life
        - 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
      Bud")

- 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
              age?
            - 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
          body
        - the Corinthians transferred that right into their
          faith

        - Paul said "foods for the body and the body for
           foods"
             - 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
               Lord

- 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
        representative
          - 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
           family
        - 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
          creation

        - 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
  to:

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
          Savior

        - 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
      another
    - 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
       all."

    - 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
    Lord

    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
   doing

- 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
           habituated

        - 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
    wife

- 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

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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