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Friday, April 15, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 20)



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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
                                                          
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 20)

Welcome back to HBS. 
I want to thank you for being here and for being in God’s Word.

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Please open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 6:12 and I’ll meet you there.

The Body is the Lord’s

1 Corinthians 6

12: All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

Starting at v12, we know from our study of chapter 5 that the Corinthian church was guilty of arrogance and boasting in tolerating one of their members who had taken his father’s wife into his home, as his own wife, in an ongoing immoral relationship.

The majority of Christendom believes this woman to be the man’s step-mother (not a blood-relative), but upon closer examination of the facts, our Apostle Paul’s strong language in condemning this sordid activity, and in his judging the man so severely, I am of the mind this was in fact a more grievous sin than mere adultery.  The man was having ongoing sexual relations with a blood-relative i.e. (incest) with his mother.  Paul said this kind of immorality does not exist even among the Gentiles, and the pagan citizens of Corinth were steeped in immorality (see 6:9-11). 
 
It may interest you to know that consensual incest between brother and sister is frowned upon, but not prohibited in France today.  It’s been legal there since the time of Napoleon, but you still can’t marry your sibling.  It’s similar in Japan, legal between consenting adults, but not legal for incestuous marriages.  Sweden is the only country in Europe which allows marriage between siblings who share one parent.  But, they have silently been dropping anti-incest laws in other European countries too.  Although, technically, it is still illegal in many countries, police have a tendency to turn a “blind eye” to it, kind of like our speeding laws here in America, unless someone files a complaint – most police forces leave the happy couple alone.

I inserted this info so that you’d see that my teaching of this man taking his own mother, as his wife, in the biblical sense, as repulsive and shocking as it may be, isn’t “out of bounds” based on the known facts in this case.   

The Corinthian’s, believing they possessed superior knowledge, are saying, “All things are lawful for me.  Paul’s response is, and I’m paraphrasing, “Okay, you say all things are lawful, but I say that not all things are practical and I will not be controlled by anything.” 

I mentioned, briefly, last week that the Corinthians misunderstood God’s Grace.  They believed it gave them total freedom or liberty.  They believed they were free to do whatever they wanted; God’s Grace covered it all.  But Paul shows them (and us) in v12 how grace reigns in this present dispensation.  The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21). 

People are not sinners because they break God’s commandments.
People break God’s commandments because they are sinners.

God’s law does not encourage sin and it’s not the cause of sin.  The responsibility for sin rests with the lawbreaker, not with the Lawmaker.  For example:  if I put apples out in front of my home so people can examine them if they choose to do so thinking that they may purchase one or a dozen, and a person stopped by and took two or three of them without paying me, I’m not responsible for his crime.  The responsibility rests with the thief. 

Back in Genesis, the serpent used God’s single commandment about not eating the fruit from one tree to get the woman and then Adam to sin.  If God had not made the exception (Genesis 2:16-17), then it would not have been a sin to eat of this tree.  Where there is no law, there is no sin.  Much later, the Law of Moses caused a heavy burden of sin to be imputed to the nation of Israel, that otherwise might not have been, and turned many daily activities into sin.  Paul’s reply to this was:  Where sin increased, (God’s) grace abounded all the more.

Getting back to v12, Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Put another way, Paul is saying, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not productive and I will not be enslaved to any of them.” 
 
Jesus Christ said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).  But it’s a mistake to use this liberty Jesus speaks of to bring one’s self back into self-inflicted bondage to sin, shooting one’s self in the foot, so to speak.  This is what the Corinthians were doing even though they boasted of possessing superior knowledge (Romans 6:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:6-9).

So, what’s the wise response to God’s Grace?  I’m glad you asked.  There was a blind man named Bartmaeus.  The Lord Jesus Christ restored his sight and then said to him, “Go; your faith has healed you.”  Meaning, choose which way you’ll go, do whatever you want to do… Jesus didn’t attach any “strings” to His act of mercy. 

But, look at Bartmaeus’ response, this is the thing folks, he could have left Jesus standing there and gone on up the road.  But since his faith had saved him, he chose wisely, and devotedly followed Jesus down the road (Mark 10:46-52). 

That’s how grace is supposed to work.  God’s love and mercy toward the saved individual encourage in their hearts a strong desire to draw near to the Lord, an unfathomable longing to know Him, always giving thanks for all things in the name our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Ephesians 5:20). 

Let’s go to verse 13.

1 Corinthians 6

13: Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them.  Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.

Here Paul refutes the idea that it is lawful to gratify one’s sexual appetites along with their appetite for food.  Both of these are normal, physical appetites, but to surrender one’s body to any fleshly appetite is wrongful behavior and harmful to the body.  Paul is saying, the lusts of the flesh must be held in check (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 John 2:16).

Here’s why:  The (Believer’s) body is not for immorality (or fornication; any more than it is for over eating), but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.  The Lord has sanctified us (set us apart) as sacred to Himself, and this because He first loved us (Romans 5:8).  This biblical truth should instill the desire in each Believer’s heart to be true to Jesus Christ in practicing self-discipline (Galatians 5:22-23).  In other words, do not surrender control of your bodies or the flesh to each and every sinful desire that enters your mind (Ephesians 4:27; 6:10-18; James 1:15).

Let’s go to verse 14.

1 Corinthians 6

14: Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

If the Bible student elects to keep this verse in its present context instead of looking ahead to the future resurrection of the saints, which Paul speaks of in chapter 15, you’ll find that our Apostle Paul is telling these Corinthians (and us) that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in them (and us) and provides the power to live a Christ-like life.
 
Consider the other places in Paul’s letters where you’ll find our Lord’s resurrection associated with the power of God.  You’ll find one of these at Romans 1:4: who was declared the Son of God with power (how) by the resurrection from the dead.

Please turn to Ephesians 1:18-20 for the next one:  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

This means every Believer, along with Christ Jesus, is involved in that mighty demonstration of God’s power; it has been extended to the Corinthians and to us as Paul goes on to explain in Ephesians 2:5-6.

In Romans 6:4 Paul teaches us it is God’s will that the Corinthians (and us) practice living a Christ-like life:  having been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might (do what exactly) walk in newness of life.  God the Father, in His grace toward us, gives Believers the power to live a Christ-like life, if like our Apostle Paul, we truly long to “know Him” and desire to experience the power of His resurrection. 

This is what Paul refers to in Philippians chapter 3:11, with the phrase, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  The word attain clearly implies that he is not speaking of a future resurrection, but of the resurrection life to be attained to, and enjoyed, during this present sojourn here on earth.  In the very next verse Paul emphasizes this fact by acknowledging that he has not already obtained it fully (v12).  But this is the prize he daily seeks to lay hold of.  (See also Colossians 3:1-3)

Paul said the body is not for immorality but for the Lord (v13b).  The Corinthians were taking that which was holy, set apart for the Lord, that which was made uniquely in the image of God (with the express purpose of honoring Him), and were guilty of using it in an unholy activity instead.  Paul says, this is abominable behavior because, “the body is for Lord.

Let’s move on to verses 15-17.

1 Corinthians 6

15: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  May it never be!

16: Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?  For He (the LORD God) says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”

17: But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

In verses 15-17 Paul asks the Corinthians three questions that they should already know the answer to:

·         Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? 
·         Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? 
·         Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? 

The word prostitute used here is the Greek term pome, which comes from the verb, “to sell” (i.e. permemi, cf. Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 6, p. 580).  In Corinth you could find the cults of the gods of Egypt, Rome, and Greece.  The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, stood atop the Acrocorinth.  One thousand cult prostitutes plied their profession up in the temple during business hours and below in the city after hours.  Many of them, no doubt, were housed in the lofts above the 33 wine shops uncovered in modern archeological excavations. 

Two types of prostitutes operated in Corinth, one cultic, i.e. related to pagan worship and slaves, i.e. for profit.  Pagan fertility worship was expressed in sexual acts.  The Corinthians had grown up participating in these “religious rituals” and “rites,” and in the “after hours” revelry and it remained part of their lives; but they are Believers now.

Paul has given the Corinthian Church (and us) a second reason why immorality is such a serious sin.  It defiles our spiritual union with Jesus Christ.  Paul is saying fornication is an abominable sin because it involves taking one’s body, which is the personal property of Jesus Christ, and uses it in an unholy relationship with a prostitute. That is equivalent to making Jesus Christ Himself commit prostitution; a repulsive and reprehensible act. 
 
Paul said:  May it never be!  Never means never; under no circumstances should Believers subject their bodies to moral pollution.  Believer’s are one with Jesus Christ who was wholly pure; without sin, and we have been sanctified (set apart) unto Him (1 Corinthians 12:20, 27; Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:12, 16, 25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

The words one spirit in verse 17 are used in a similar sense to that in which a man and his wife, two souls, become one flesh, (see verse 16) in a close and intimate relationship known as marriage (Genesis 2:18-25).  Paul’s argument being, as the union of souls in the marriage relationship is more important than the union of two bodies merely for sexual gratification, i.e. more enduring and precious; infinitely more so is the union of one’s spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ, because it is so much more holy and precious than any human bond. 

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  The Lord Jesus Christ is a Spirit, and we are more than just human bodies we are human spirits.  When regeneration occurs there is a fusing of identity.  This is what the Apostle Peter refers to in his letter as having, “become partakers of the divine nature,” (2 Peter 1:4).  Every Believer should spend some time thinking about this, for we are one spirit, fused eternally with the very nature of God.

This being the case, every Believer is able to face every circumstance with a new power and with the ability to resist temptation, and a new ability to understand; to see things he or she never saw before in a new Light.  This explains the whole change, which occurs inwardly first in Believers, when they become converted, born again by the Spirit of God.  Our spirits are fused with His Spirit and from then on you can hardly tell the two apart – because we are one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7).

Let’s go to verse 18.

1 Corinthians 6

18: Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man (or woman) commits is outside the body, but the immoral man (or woman) sins against his (or her) own body.

Flee immorality.  This solemn command (and not a suggestion) comes from the very throne of God.  It’s as explicit as any command that thundered from atop Mt Sinai.  Ignore it at your peril. 

Human sexuality is a gift from the LORD God, but there are appropriate and inappropriate aspects related to how we exercise this gift.  Our Apostle Paul affirms marriage with his quote of Genesis 2:24, but firmly set the limits on premarital or extramarital promiscuity.  Believers must be constantly diligent in this area, especially when today’s culture is “fast and loose.”

I suggest following Paul’s apostolic advice on how to handle the arousal of sexual desire, if it’s not being expressed within the proper confines of marriage, “Get out of there!  Besides avoiding prostitutes altogether, if you’re in a parked car with your sweetheart and you’re beginning to get aroused, start the engine and drive away.  If you’re reading a magazine or a book and turn to something that’s dark and smutty, discard it.  If you’re watching television or if you’re at a movie, and suddenly the scene involves nudity or sex and you’re feeling aroused because of this, change the channel; go read a book.  If you’re at the theater, get up and leave; “Don’t fool around with it. 

We were all taught not to play with fire when we were young, well this stuff is “fire” my friends and it’s not to be played with.  God considers this serious business so you should too.  Believers are called to live sexually appropriate lives (2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5).

Every other sin that a man (or woman) commits is outside the body, but the immoral man (or woman) sins against his (or her) own body.

If you don’t understand what Paul means by this passage, please know you’re in good company.  Many theologians have struggled to understand these words from Paul.  Sexual promiscuity is not the only sin that affects the human body negatively.  Many sins drag the body downward and out such as drunkenness, drug addiction, and gluttony; all these sins were practiced in Paul’s day.  We know too much hard work destroys the human body too.  Stress kills.  So what does Paul mean?  We don’t have to go far to find the answer.  Paul gives it to us in verse 19:

How Are You Going to Act

19: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

What saith the Scriptures?  Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul (Paul), and having found him, he brought him to Antioch.  Now it came to pass that they also gathered together an entire year in the church, and taught a large crowd.  And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:25-26).  They weren’t called Christians by the unbelieving citizens of Antioch because they attended church regularly, because they built huge elaborate structures, or because they tithed a certain amount on occasion; the unbelievers called them Christians because there was something different about these people.  They didn’t act like everyone else.  Their attitude and outlook on life matched Jesus Christ’s. 

Christianity replaces the physical temple of the Jews with God’s Church, Jesus Christ’s corporate body, in this dispensation (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:29, 12:12-27).

Paul uses this concept in two senses in 1 Corinthians:

1.      In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 it is used of the entire local church.
2.      Here it is used of the individual Believer.

Paul’s point is clear the corporate body and the individual Believer are to be different than the world.  They are to be Christ-like; set apart, verse 20 gives us the reason why.

20: For you (insert your name here) have been bought (redeemed) with a price:  therefore glorify God in your body.

Here’s a bit of theology – redemption is an act of God by which He pays as a ransom the price of human sins which has outraged His holiness.  This makes redemption the payment of a “set price.”  It is simply deliverance from bondage by the payment of a price.  What everyone needs to understand is we all come into this world (Satan’s dominion) as captives.  We are slaves to sin, per Scripture.  No one is righteous not even one… (John 8:34; Romans 3:10, 7:14, 8:21).

Paul appropriately uses a metaphor that comes straight out of the slave market.  Something everyone understood back then.  Buying and selling slaves in the market was a common activity; just like they bought and sold animals.  But every now and again someone desired to purchase a slave to set them free.  There could be many reasons for this, perhaps the slave was thought highly of, perhaps someone fell in love with the slave, perhaps the slave had served faithfully for many years and you simply wanted them to taste freedom, etc.  Whatever the reason, you simply approached the slave’s owner and offered to give them a certain amount of money in exchange for the slave.  If there was an agreement, you purchased the slave and then set them free.  The word for this in the Greek language is Lutroo (pronounced:  loo-tro’-o), a verb, and it means – to redeem, liberate by payment of ransom.

God the Father said sin demands a price to be paid to release its victim.  Scripture informs us that the wages of sin is death, which makes the price of sin – death (Romans 6:23).  Scripture goes on to say, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).   So, in order to purchase all sinners from the grasp of sin there must be death.  This is what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross:  who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (Galatians 1:4).

At Galatians 5:1 Paul writes:  It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (to sin of any kind).
Then at 5:13-14 he adds: you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through (what; agape) love serve one another (walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk).  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement,”YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Therefore glorify God in your body.

(To be continued)

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