Elon, North Carolina
Our topic for this evening is the Bible and sexual immorality. Our text is I Corinthians 6:12-20. The church at Corinth was the church with problems. One of the problems the church had was the problem of sexual immorality. The city of Corinth was a very immoral city and the church of Corinth was an immoral church.
The sins of the city became the sins of the church. In chapter five, a member of the church was sleeping with his step-mother. In chapter six, another member of the Corinthians church was visiting a prostitute. Paul deals with that problem at the end of I Corinthians 6. He deals with the topic of sexual immorality and the Christian. Our topic is rated R for adult content.
This is a topic that is very important for teens but adults need to hear this message as well. What is sexual immorality? Sexual immorality refers to any type of sex outside of marriage. It refers to sex with any other person other than your husband or wife either before marriage or during marriage.
Paul gives six examples of sexual immorality in I Corinthians: incest (5:1), pre-marital sex (6:9), adultery (6:9), male prostitution (6:9), female prostitution (6:15-16), male homosexuality (6:9) and mentions female homosexuality in another NT book (Romans 1:26-27).
People use all kinds of arguments to justify sexual immorality. They did it in Paul’s day and they still do it today. What are some of the arguments that people use? Some of these arguments were used by the Corinthians, as we will see.
Arguments Used to Justify Sexual Immorality
1. Everyone is doing it.
Is that true? Probably not but, even if it were true, that would not make it right. Almost everyone on the planet has told a lie in their lifetime but that does not make lying right, just because everyone does it.
The majority is not always right. Just because the majority of people agree on something doesn’t make it right. How many court cases did the jury get it wrong? What is popular is not necessarily right and what is right is not necessarily popular.
2. It is socially acceptable.
Is this a valid argument? No. Society does not determine what is right or wrong. Societies make rules and laws for people. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. Some primitive societies practiced cannibalism. That does not make it right. Slavery was an accepted part of some cultures. That does not make it right.
Nazi Germany had some pretty bad laws for the Jews. Just because certain things are tolerated and accepted in society (premarital sex, homosexuality) doesn’t mean that they are right. That is why the Bible says, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).
3. It is perfectly legal.
This arguments says, “I am not breaking the law if I do it, therefore it is okay to do” (cf. 6:12). There are many things that are legal but are not moral (e.g., bankruptcy, divorce, abortion, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality). There is a big difference between sins and crimes. Moral values do not come from society or the state but from God.
4. It is fun.
This philosophy says, “If it feels good, do it”. That is a weak argument, because it is based on emotions and feelings. It may feel good to punch someone. Does that make it right? It may feel good to blow up at someone and completely lose your temper? Is it the right thing to do? Not necessarily. This argument actually contains on some half truths.
Is Sexual Immorality Fun?
Yes. The Bible doesn’t deny this. It talks about the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). Sin has its pleasures. Even the Bible says that sin is pleasurable (Proverbs 9:13-18). “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”. Eating and drinking are used here as a metaphor for sex.
There is an appeal to doing something that you are not supposed to do (stolen waters) and to do it in secret when no one else knows about it. If sin was not appealing, no one would ever do it.
Does God want us to have fun? Yes. Does God want us to be happy? Yes. God is not against pleasure. He created it and wants you to enjoy it in the right way (I Timothy 6:17).
Do you have to sin to have fun? No. Sex in marriage is also fun and it has no negative side effects. Sexual immorality is fun but what is the cost? You can get pregnant and have a child out of wedlock. You can get an STD. You can ruin your reputation and integrity. You can ruin your marriage.
You have to deal with guilt from violating God’s law and shame. In some cases, you can ruin your career. Eliot Spitzer was the Governor of New York. He was married with three daughters. He spent $80,000 on prostitutes and had to resign in disgrace. Did he have a good time with the prostitutes? Yes. Was it worth it? No. There were consequence for what he did in this world. There are eternal consequences as well (6:9).
5. “It is my body. I can do whatever I want with my body”.
That is one of the main arguments that feminists who are pro choice or pro abortion use. They argue that women have the right to their own bodies and should be able to commit abortion. We looked at this argument when we studied the Ten Commandments.
Paul develops a theology of the body. He says that our bodies are not our own. Our bodies are the property of Christ (6:19-20).
Paul says, “You are not your own” (6:19). We are the property of Christ because we were purchased by Christ. We were bought with a price (6:20) and it was an expensive price (Acts 20:28; I Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9).
Christians are servants of Christ (Romans 14:7-8). We are not at liberty to use them any way we want. Even non-Christians do not have the right to do anything they want with their body. If that were the case, you could punch people in the nose any time you felt like it.
6. Sex is perfectly Normal.
The argument goes that it is as normal as eating, drinking and breathing. You have a natural appetite for food and a natural appetite for sex. Both are physical appetites. God created both. Both are not wrong. They are perfectly legitimate. This is what the Corinthians were saying. They were saying that food is for the stomach, like the body is for sex”. Is this a valid argument?
- There is a half truth to the argument.
Sex is a perfectly normal. God was the one who created it. He was the one who created the sex drive. It is not sinful but he created it exclusively for marriage. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to HIS WIFE, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God designed the body for sex in the context of marriage.
He did not design it for unmarried people to have promiscuous sex with as many partners as they can. As Paul says, the body was not designed for that. He says, “The body was not meant for sexual immorality” (6:13). That type of sexual activity can actually be harmful to the body, because it exposes you to all kinds of STDs.
- There is also a logical fallacy to the argument.
The comparison involves apples and oranges. If you do not eat, you die. You can go through your entire life and not have sex. You cannot go through your entire life without eating or drinking. Sex has more serious social consequences (pregnancy, STDs).
Why is Sexual Immorality Wrong?
1. It is a sin against your body.
Sexual sins are different from other sins (6:18). In some ways sexual immorality is different form all other sins that you can commit. Now there are many other ways that you can sin against your bodies. What are some of those ways?
People can drink too much, eat too much, smoke cigarettes, do drugs, cut their bodies and even commit suicide. Those are all bad but Paul’s focus in I Corinthians 6 is on sexual immorality, not gluttony or drunkenness. This is because of what happens in sex. The two become one flesh. It creates a bond with deep emotional and spiritual consequences.
2. It is a sin against God.
How is it a sin against God? God says that this behavior is sin and that he will judge it. We are commanded not to commit sexual immorality. A person who commits this sin deliberately defies the will of God (I Thessalonians 4:8).
They say, in essence, “I don’t care what God says or the Bible says, I am going to do whatever I want.” The Bible says that for these things God’s wrath comes on people (Ephesians 5:6). It says that he will punish people who do this (I Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 13:4) and that those who do this will not inherit the kingdom (I Corinthians 6:9).
3. It is a sin against Christ.
How is it a sin against Christ? As we have already seen, our bodies are the property of Christ (6:19-20). We are also the members of Christ (6:15). What does that mean? It means that we are part of his body (12:27; Ephesians 5:30). Every Christian is one of the members, the limbs of Christ. When we sin, it is like He is sinning, because we are part of his body.
4. It is a sin against the Holy Spirit.
How is it a sin against the Holy Spirit? Our bodies are not just the members of Christ, they are the temple of the Holy Spirit (6:19). What does this mean? Why are our bodies called the temple of the Holy Spirit? Because the Holy Spirit indwells every believer. He lives in us. If you are saved, you don’t have to pray for the Holy Spirit to be there. He is already there. That is very significant.
- This shows that the Holy Spirit is God.
A temple is the place where God dwells. Right now God is not dwelling in buildings. He does not even dwell in a church. He dwells in people (II Corinthians 6:16). Wherever we go, the Holy Spirit goes with us. Whatever we do, the Holy Spirit does with us.
- This shows that our bodies are sacred.
A temple is a sacred building. We need to treat our bodies with reverence. The Greeks despised the body. They believed that matter was evil. They called the body a tomb. Paul said that your body is not a tomb but a temple.
The Greek word he uses does not just mean the temple in general but the most sacred part of the temple (the Holy of Holies). It is sacred. It is holy. Psalm 139 says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. If the Holy Spirit made a temple out of our bodies, there must not be anything wrong with our bodies.
- It shows us that temples can be desecrated.
Just as a physical temple can be defiled by sacrilege, we can defile the temple of the Holy Spirit with certain behaviors and practices. We can defile and pollute the temples of our bodies. It doesn’t mean that we can’t have sex with our bodies. God was the one who created sex and he made us sexual beings but God designed sex only in the context of marriage.
There are three applications from this section. Two are negative and one is positive.
1. Avoid any kind of addiction (6:12)
Sexual immorality enslaves people. Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Sexual immorality is highly addictive, because it sends a chemical to the brain. Paul said, “I will not be mastered by anything” (6:12).
People can be addicted to all kinds of things (drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, video games, gambling, food, shopping). Paul said, “I will not be mastered by anything” (6:12). He says that he will not be a slave to ANYTHING. It is not wrong to enjoy things.
The Bible says that God has given us all things richly to enjoy, so it is not wrong to enjoy things. It is wrong to be addicted to things. How do you know when enjoyment has turned into an addiction?
What are some of the signs of addiction? There are many signs. If you are addicted to something, you do it out of a compulsion. You are driven to do it against your will. It controls your life. It is something that you do, despite the negative consequences. You continue to do it, even though it may be harmful to the body but you feel powerless to stop. You feel that you cannot change. It becomes a preoccupation and an obsession. These are just some of the signs.
2. Flee Sexual Immorality
Paul says that we are to “flee sexual immorality” (6:18). What does this imply? It implies four things.
- We abstain from sexual immorality. We don’t do it.
- We try to get as far away from it as possible.
- Sexual purity is not optional for Christians. This is a command.
- We do this all of the time.
The verb in Greek is a present tense verb. He doesn’t just say, “Resist or refrain from sexual sins,” he says, “Run from them”. He doesn’t say, “Fight this sin as hard as you can,” he says, “Flee from it”. What do we tend to do? We try to get as close to the sin as we can without committing it.
That is like trying to get as close to a fire without burning your hand. Some teens get around this by having sex without having sex. They have outer course, rather than intercourse. They are called technical virgins.
Some people have no problem fleeing sexual immorality in body but pursue it in their mind and in their thoughts. If you have a problem with lust, as most men do, you want to stay as far away from pornography as you can. Men tend to be visually oriented. That is like putting gasoline on a blazing fire.
Paul not only said, “Flee from sexual immorality,” he said, “flee from youthful lusts” (II Timothy 2:22). Paul says, “Run from it. Get as far away from it as you can.” Why? This sin most people are too weak to resist (Matthew 26:41). Even the strongest man in the Bible (Samson) was too weak to resist this sin.
3. Glorify God in your body (6:20)
Ways to Glorify God in your Body
1. Take care of your body.
We need to take care of what God has given us. That is good stewardship. We can do that by proper diet, exercise and by avoiding food or activities that are bad for the body. You can’t really glorify God in your body if you don’t take care of it. It is a sin to harm your body.
2. Don’t sin against your body.
There are many different ways that people use their body to sin (Romans 6:13). They can use their eyes to sin, their hands to sin, their feet to sin. They can use their tongue to sin.
3. Use your body for God.
Use your body for worship. If your body is a temple, you should use it to worship. That is Romans 12:1. Present your bodies to God as an act of worship. Use your body to serve God. Use it to do good, not evil. Christ bought us with a price. We should want to serve him in return.
4. Dress modestly.
We can’t glorify God in our body if we are dressed immodestly (I Timothy 2:9). This applies to both men and women.