6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Today Mouse looks at the second half of 1 Corinthians 6. The Corinthians were getting into sexual sin so, horrified, Paul feels he must put a stop to it before people shipwreck their faith. He points out that sinners cannot inherit the kingdom of God so sinning has to stop. They must not give up the freedom Christ bought for them so dearly. Finally he looks at the effects of sexual sin and the reasons it is so devastating to each saint and to his assembly.
9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived: neither the promiscuous, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals,
10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunks, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Here Paul returns to the subject of their sexual misconduct. Basically, in whatever way you behave unrighteously, you disinherit yourself. This is not intended to be some kind of exhaustive list, just a scattering of the types of people who cannot be heir to the kingdom of God. This is really pointing out that sin—any sin we choose to cling to—will close the kingdom of God to us.
11 And that’s what some of you were, but you’ve been cleansed, sanctified and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
It was clear to them that such behaviour is not appropriate for believers, so they repented and came to faith. But here they were returning to their old sins.
12 Everything is allowed but not everything is helpful; everything is allowed but I will not be mastered by anything:
The Corinthians had been told, (by Paul) in respect of eating food sacrificed to idols, that “everything is lawful” but they had extended the application of this liberty to include the illicit sexual practices which are also related to idolatry.
Clearly this is not acceptable, as sexual sin cannot be equated to eating or abstaining from food offered to idols, so Paul points out that some things are not helpful. He then repeats the phrase, so that he can, through a wordplay, make a further point about freedom. The wordplay is something like, “everything is lawful, but I won’t let anything become a law to me,” in other words, if we are enslaved by anything—any habit we can’t, or won’t break—then we have given up the freedom so dearly bought by Christ.
13 foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will bring them both to nothing.
Here he confirms his instruction regarding their possible liberties in food, pointing out that it’s really unimportant because, in the Day of the Lord, both foods and stomachs will be no more.
The body is not for promiscuity but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body;
Misusing the body however, in this way, is not appropriate since Jesus died to purchase us complete: body, soul and spirit, we belong to Him—so our bodies should be consecrated to Him to live a pure and holy life.
When it says “the Lord for the body” it is talking about how God feeds, shelters and clothes the body; how He is preparing an eternal dwelling for it; and He gives strength, healing and life to it daily, here on earth, by means of the Holy Spirit, so that we are fully equipped to serve Him.
14 and God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
Finally we read that we will be raised up into resurrection bodies because we are in Christ who has risen. How magnificent is the Lord God who has prepared all this for us!
15 Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I then take away the members of Christ, by making them members of a prostitute? Of course not!
This is clear enough, but note the word ‘away’ because it tells us that if I unite my body with a prostitute, I am, at least temporarily, no longer a member of Christ, because I have cancelled my own membership. Many translations simply drop the word and thereby miss the implication.
16 Have you not seen that the one who is joined to the prostitute is one body, for it says, “the two will become one flesh”?
Sexual contact forms a permanent flesh-bond between those involved, simply because God declared that it would be so. This was so that marriage would be everything that God intended at creation, honouring Him and His word. This bond may be undone through repentance and renunciation when we come to faith, but it is very much better never to have made the join in the first place—and particularly if we are already part of the body of Christ. The point is that we would be forming that bond, in sin, on behalf of all our brethren in Christ, against their will and that of Jesus.
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.
When we come to faith through repentance the Lord joins our spirit to His. This is supposed to be a permanent arrangement, ie, eternal, but since we can break that join with our sin, we need to trust Him to keep us. Being one spirit with the Lord, and therefore with all true brethren in Christ, is a magnificent privilege and honour—one we would be wise to cherish and guard.
18 Run from illicit sexual activity! Every sin a person commits is expressed by the body, but the promiscuous draws sin into his own body.
All the translations struggle with this. The problems (in the Greek) are: 1 The first part talks about ‘every sin,’ while the second part singles out sexual sin as different to ‘every sin.’ There is no ‘other’ in any form, but many feel they have to insert it to make sense of this line. 2 Every sin (in the Greek) is ‘out of the body,’ while sexual sin is ‘into his body,’ but they put ‘outside the body,’ which is clearly not true of ‘every sin’ and, not grasping the ‘into,’ put ‘against’ which really doesn’t mean the same thing. However, ‘out of the body,’ means ‘expressed by the body,’ which easily includes sexual sin, covering ‘every sin,’ and ‘into his body’ means brings, or ‘draws sin into his own body.’
Not only is the sinner directly hurting himself by bringing corruption into his own body—and thereby also risking demonic attention—he is drawing corruption into the assembly of Christ, which he shares with all the believers, bringing weakness and compromise.
19 Don’t you realise that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you received from God, and you are not your own?
Translation note: the ‘your’ here is plural, so Paul is not talking about individual believers at all, he is saying that the bodies of all believers form the temple of the Holy Spirit because He indwells us all. He also clarifies our new ownership now we are disciples of Christ.
20 You are bought in honour, so now honour God in your body.
All the translations translate tē-mā’ as ‘a price’ where its far more common meaning is ‘honour.’ Clearly ‘a price’ tells us that a value is put on us, but it doesn’t indicate high or low. ‘Honour,’ however, in itself implies ‘high honour.’ It also ties far better to the ‘so honour God’ in the second phrase.
‘In your body’ includes the plural form of ‘you’ and the singular of ‘body,’ so Paul is saying, ‘Being purchased by Christ is the ultimate act of His highest honour, so (everyone) honour God in the body (the assembly) by individually fleeing from sexual sin.’