Thursday, March 21, 2013
Honoring God With Your Body
1Cor. 6:12 ¶ “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1Cor. 6:13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1Cor. 6:14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
1Cor. 6:15 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!
1Cor. 6:16 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.”
1Cor. 6:17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1Cor. 6:18 ¶ Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
1Cor. 6:19 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;
1Cor. 6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
This portion of Paul's letter to the Corinthians covers a number of different topics including meat offered to idols and sexual promiscuity. Both of them had to do with defiling human flesh. It was important for the Corinthian Christians to understand that living a life with Christ was not just about the saving of your soul, but for the whole individual. Transformation as a follower of Jesus Christ was not just about a mind-set, but it was a whole new way of life.
Paul's understanding of Christ's physical resurrection was paramount to this understanding. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead not just in a spiritual, but also in a very physical sense. Jesus Christ is the first of all human flesh to be resurrected in human form for all eternity. And we are invited to participate with him -- in his divine nature. By his incarnation and living life in the flesh he sanctified human flesh -- making it holy so that we are able to participate together with God, for the power that has resurrected Christ is also at work within us. The power that could raise Christ will also raise us.
If the goal is Christlikeness then that includes a goal of sanctified human flesh and this through participation in Christ. Again, we must understand that this is not just in a spiritual sense, but we are physically participating in God. That is where the problem lies when it comes to sexual immorality. We have been told clearly that in sexual intercourse the "two will become one flesh." This is God's plan for intimacy and it is an incredible mystery. When sexual intimacy occurs within the sacred space of marriage it becomes a bond between a husband and a wife who deeply love one another and become driven by a desire to help each other become all that God intended them to be.
The problem with prostitution is that the physical bond between the individual and prostitute occurs, just as in marriage, but now it is corrupted. There in Corinth there were hundreds, if not thousands of temple prostitutes and it was common for people to engage in sexual activity as a part of their religious worship. When visiting Corinth a number of years ago I was overwhelmed by a particular scene. There in the museum were stacks of plaster casts of human genitalia. Back in the time of Paul the people of Corinth would have plaster casts made of the body parts that needed healing and then bring those before the god they believed would heal them. It was obvious that this was a city filled with people afflicted with sexually transmitted diseases. It must have almost been at epidemic levels.
No wonder Paul says to flee sexual immorality for it is destroying the community both spiritually and physically. While we have spoken earlier about the communal sense in which we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, now Paul brings it down to the individual. Our bodies are both physically and spiritually temples of the Holy Spirit. Whatever we do in our bodies is also united to Christ through the Spirit. Therefore we must recognize the importance of honoring God "with our bodies." And as we head to the beginning portion of the argument, not only are we to honor God with our bodies in regard to sexual practices, but also in regard to our stomach. And I believe that we can conclude from this that there is an expectation that transformation in the life of a believer means submitting our entire bodies, minds, souls, etc. to the will of the Father and bringing ourselves into submission before him.
We live in a "if it feels good - do it" society. That may be in regard to eating all we want, having sex with whomever we want, and doing whatever we want. However, to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ we must realize that we are united with Christ -- we are a part of his body physically and spiritually and all that we do has an affect on the body. His body. Therefore we are challenged to practice spiritual and physical self-discipline, all within the empowering relationship of the Holy Spirit. We can flee from practices which are harmful to us and to Christ for we must honor God with our bodies.
Lord, please help me be disciplined today in the care of this body which you have given me. May my life in the flesh be a form of worship. Amen.