The apostle Paul has entered into instruction concerning sexual immorality before he tackles their questions about marriage. As we noted last week, our notions and beliefs about our bodies, sexual immorality, and marriage will have a big impact on our marriages. If we think that sexual immorality, adultery, idolatry, or homosexuality are acceptable in the sight of God, then marriage is going to be negatively impacted, which is what we have seen in our society. Attitudes about immorality will change everything about how we approach our expectations in marriage and our commitment to marriage. Having a good marriage requires both husband and wife to work together in the fight against sexual immorality.
The apostle Paul recognizes that while it ought to be enough to tell Christians that sexual immorality is condemned by God, he must deal with the arguments the Corinthians are making in justifying their sexually immoral behavior.
Not Mastered By Anything (6:12-14)
The apostle Paul begins by quoting what the Corinthians were saying to justify their sexually immoral behavior, which most translations rightly add quotation marks to show this. Their first declaration was, “All things are lawful!” “I can do what I want to with my body. It’s my body. I have rights over my body. I can do as I please with my body.” The same arguments used today for sinful behaviors like sexual immorality and abortion were used back then. “If it is my body, then I can do what I want! All things are lawful!”
Notice Paul’s response to this argument. He is going to use four arguments against this kind of thinking. First, just because you may think that something is lawful does not mean that it is helpful. We destroy ourselves with this kind of thinking that I have rights and freedoms to do whatever I want to with my body. The problem is that the things you are doing to yourself are not helpful. This is childish thinking and behavior. It is a little child who arrogantly and foolishly believes he can do what he wants as he runs into the street. Sure, you can do what you like but that does not make it helpful. Paul is pointing out that just because you think you have a right to do something do not mean you should do it because it is not spiritually or physically helpful to you.
Second, Paul responds by saying that he will not be dominated by anything. Something may be lawful for you to do, but you must not become mastered by it. So many things in life may not be inherently sinful, but they are addicting and cause you be to dominated and mastered by it. We must not be brought under the power of anything. Your freedom must not be used to enslave yourself to the flesh. With sexual immorality this is very true. Sexual immorality is very addictive and difficult to break. Even if one could successfully argue that sexual immorality was lawful, it still must not be done because it is going to master you and enslave you. Pornography is enslaving. Sexual desire are enslaving. We should not be surprised that God calls for us to remain pure until marriage because sexual desire is very powerful. Yet God says that it must be and can be controlled. We are not be dominated by anything.
The third response is in verse 13 where Paul declares, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.” They were saying that the food is meant for the stomach and the stomach is meant for food. Therefore, the body is meant for sexual behaviors and is natural and right to give into those desires. In essence, their argument is that if you have these desires, it must be right. It must be acceptable because you desire to do certain sexual things, just like having the desire to eat. But just because you have a desire does not mean it is the right desire. It does not mean it is a lawful or approved desire from God. Let me illustrate this truth. When you are driving, you might have the desire to run someone off the road who has cut you off and is causing you difficulty driving. But we would agree that this is not a God-approved or right desire. You do not have a right to fulfill your desire. God is in charge of your body. The body was meant for the Lord. Your body was not created and given to you by God for you to live fulfilling your sexually immoral desires. The Lord is lord over your body. Just because your body has an appetite or desire does not mean you have the right to fill that desire however you please.
I also want you to see the rest of what Paul says in verse 13. The body is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. The Lord is for the body. There are at least two things we need to take away from this statement. First, what God is commanding your regarding your body and sexually immorality is for your own good. The Lord is for you and your body. He is not being oppressive against your desires. He is commanding what is in your best interests. Second, the Lord is for the body means that the body is not inherently evil. Some think that sexual desires come from a source of evil and that sexual relations are sinful. God made your body. God is for your body. He created your body and sexual desires should not be described as inherently evil. Men and women should not feel bad for having sexual desires or think that there is something wrong. But your body was not made for immorality but for the Lord. We must fulfill our desires in the way God instructed. God made your body and these desires and he is for you.
The Problem of Sexual Immorality (6:15-17)
Here is the ultimate problem with sexual immorality and Paul’s fourth argument against sexual immorality: your bodies are members of Christ! You are joined to Christ as a disciple. Your body belongs to Christ. Therefore sexual immorality is unthinkable. How can you take your body which you have given to the Lord and join that body to a prostitute? How can you give your body to sexually immorality when you were washed, you were made holy, and you were justified? You were set apart for service to the Lord. Now it appears that the Corinthians Christians were asking what the big deal is. Who cares if we are sexually immoral? Who cares if we are joined to a prostitute?
Paul declares that this is a really big deal. Sex is not just sex, according to verses 16-17. It is not. You are joining together with that person. You are becoming one spirit with them and you are supposed to be in one spirit with Christ. Sex is not just a fleshly act and anyone who says so is lying. Verse 16 points out that this act is reserved for marriage because there is to be a joining of your life to this person in this act. Joining to another in sexual immorality means you cannot be joined to Christ because you were to have given your life to him. Those joined to Christ will not join in sexual immorality.
Now, some have read this and argued that if you have sex with a person, that means you are automatically married. That is not the point Paul is making. Further, that has not been true in the scriptures. Nowhere do the scriptures teach that if you have committed adultery, you are no longer married to your spouse but because married to the person you committed adultery. The point is this: (1) You are joined to Christ. Your body belongs to him. (2) Sex is not just sex. It is an emotional joining of body and spirit to another person. (3) Therefore, sexual immorality means you are no longer joined to the Lord. You are either joined to another person in sexual immorality or you are joined to the Lord in purity. But you cannot be both. Paul is describing the spiritual problem with sexual immorality.
Listen to what Paul saying. Flee sexual immorality because (1) it is not helpful, (2) it will master you and you will become enslaved to it, (3) your body is for serving the Lord not the flesh, (4) you are not joined to Christ when you are joined in sexual immorality. Friends, we are wrecking ourselves by allowing sexual immorality into our lives. Not only are you wrecking your soul and wrecking your body, you have wrecked your marriage. There is a reason why sexual immorality is a God-given reason for marriages to divorce. You have wrecked your marriage. Pornography destroys marriages because are living in a fantasy and not in reality. You want easy, self-gratification rather than a deep, emotional, loving relationship with another person.
Sexual immorality destroys marriages. Many studies have been conducted which show that if you live together before marriage and have sexual relations before marriage, the odds of marital problems and divorce are dramatically increased. According to the Journal of Marriage and Family, the divorce rates of those who cohabit have a divorce rate that is 50% higher than those who do not. There are a couple recent studies I read in preparation for this lesson indicating that this is no longer the case and that the divorce rate is only slightly higher. But here is the problem with these studies. The divorce rate among those who cohabit first is not lower. Rather, divorce in general in on the rise for all circumstances. Not only are you violating God’s law by living together first, you are putting your future marriage in grave jeopardy.
May we listen to the wisdom of God. These are not innocent, insignificant sins. These sins destroy marriages. These sins destroy children. These sins destroy homes. These sins destroy your soul. These sins destroy you. Do not be deceived. You are enslaved to something that you are unable to will yourself into stopping. Your heart is captured by lust and you do not have control over your flesh any longer. You are no longer joined to the Lord when you are involved in sexual immorality and you are hurting yourself. Flee sexual immorality.