Your Body Belongs to Christ, So Flee Sexual Immorality (1 Corinthians Sermon 22)
March 17, 2019 | Andrew Davis
War Against the Flesh, Mortification, Sexual Purity
The Soul is Restless Until it Finds Christ
So turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians Chapter 6. We continue to make our way through this incredible book 1 Corinthians. In the year 397 AD, Augustine, writing his confessions wrote these timeless words, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and the heart of man is restless until it finds it rest in you." Restless, un-quiet, discontent, roaming ravenous, like the devil in Job Chapter 1, roaming over the surface of the earth looking for something, some way to cause trouble. Or the demons that Jesus spoke of when he said that when the demon is set out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and doesn't find it. Or in Isaiah 57, it says, "The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 'There is no peace says' my God 'for the wicked.'" Restless. Sin is what we do when we're not at rest with God. We try to find rest in lawful pleasures, and we become addicted to them, to food, and to hobbies and other lawful pleasures and they ensnare our souls and make us idolatrous.
Or we find rest in sinful immoral pleasures, illicit sex and other things, and we become enslaved by that. Sin is what we do when we haven't found rest in God. Now, here's the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And good news, hope is woven through the text that Alex just read. Some day every Christian will be perfectly at rest in God. Some day, we're going to be in a glorious world surrounded by the glory of God, we're going to be in the new Jerusalem, we're going to be in the new heaven, new earth, the glory of God will be freely revealed to us, and we'll be able to handle it, unlike Moses on that mountain when he said, "Show me your glory," and God said, "No one can see me and live." And as the apostle Paul said, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." We are not ready for a full display of the glory of God, but then we will be ready. And we will come into our Sabbath rest, our final perfect rest in Christ.
There's a picture in my mind this morning from one of my mission trips. Shared with you before, but it's powerfully on my mind this morning, of a swim that I took in a Salt Lake in the Karakoram mountains in a very remote area in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, the most unearthly earthly place I've ever been in. Karakoram mountain is over 20,000 feet high, snow cap year round and we're floating in this salty lake. We were so... Our buoyancy was so powerful, we could barely stay submerged for a few seconds and we will be pushed back up. And I just picture myself floating in a sea of the glory of God in heaven. And all of the lusts that ensnared our souls in this world will be gone from me, cast into the lake of fire forever and I will be drinking in the Glory of God, so will you if you're a Christian. And the more you can by faith see that future day, the more powerfully you'll be able to fight your present sins. You'll be able to cast aside every sin that so easily entangles your feet and run with endurance this race marked out in front of you, as the author of Hebrews put it.
As Satan cast nets around our feet every moment of every day, you'll be able to cast them aside if you have a vision of what you will be some day in heaven and through the Holy Spirit have a foretaste of that heavenly joy, and you will find your rest in God even today and sin will be nothing to you. A content person is as hard to tempt as an iron wall is to ignite with a flaming arrow. So to be totally content in Christ, but friends, we're not there yet, are we? We're not in Heaven yet, in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 speaks of the warfare that we have to fight, now, while we're in this present era, while we are assaulted every day by the world of flesh and the devil we have to fight for joy, we have to fight for holiness, we have to fight in order to be witnesses to the people around us who are not yet set free, they're dead in their transgressions and sins. And so the two journeys internal journey of holiness, external journey of Gospel advance are woven together throughout this book of 1 Corinthians.
I. Our Sexual Crisis is Nothing New
And as we read these Verses, we see that our sexual crisis is nothing new. The struggle that we are having, that's so evident, it's in the news of the church, sadly, it's in the news in the world. Much of it is tied to Internet pornography and to the allure, the continual allure and the enticements of those images, but it's not only that. The recent stories have exposed people's sexual immorality, their sexual abuse, the relentless disquiet that's in the hearts of individuals and they seek an outlet in illicit sex. Internet pornography is especially devastating. Statistics are terrible. 2.5 billion emails containing porn are sent or received every single day, 2.5 billion. 68 million search queries related to pornography. 25% of all searches are related to porn on the Internet. About 200,000 Americans are classified as porn addicts. One third of porn viewers are women, two-thirds are men. Beyond Internet pornography, there are there devastating statistics. 40% of kids in public high schools have had intercourse at least once, 40%.
Half of the 20 million new STDs reported each year are among young people between the ages of 15 to 24. Back in 2002, an online dating agency called Ashley Madison was founded with this tagline "Life is short, have an affair." In 2015 hacker stole the customer data and some noteworthy Christian leaders who were found to have been enrolled in the service much to their shame and the shame of the Church of Jesus Christ. Overall 25% of those enrolled claim to be Christians. All this points to what I've been talking about the last few weeks, a devastating weakness of sexuality for us human beings, it's the weak part of our character, of our lives. And this has been so since Adam and Eve ate the fruit and their eyes were open, they realized they were naked, and they were filled with shame. So, our sexual crisis is nothing new and we read about it right here in the pages of this ancient epistle, 2000 years old.
The Corinthians were involving themselves in illicit sex. It appears that some members of the Corinthian church were frequenting temple prostitutes. This was a regular part of the pagan religion and Corinth, and indeed around the pagan world. The natural drives of food and sex were woven together in a very satanic demonic kind of way, woven together and were harnessed in the service of pagan religions. Gods and Goddesses were worshipped in part by indulging these drives, especially the sexual drive, and also the desire to eat meat. This is the very thing that the Jews encountered when they entered the Promised Land with the Canaanites, and the religions that they had was the same kinds of things. Even worse, it seems that the members of this... Some members of the Corinthian church were arguing doctrinally for their right to frequent temple prostitutes. Basically saying, "We are people of the spirit, our faith in Christ has moved us to a higher plane, the grace of God has freed us from all guilt for sin. And what we do with our bodies is nothing, because our bodies are not important." So that's the doctrinal underpinning that Paul is seeking to address here. There is a false view of Christian freedom here in this slogan twice repeated in this text, four times in the epistle. "All things are lawful for me."
And it shows a misunderstanding of Christian freedom. So Paul has to address this ethical problem, this moral problem doctrinally. He assesses false doctrine or addresses false doctrine about their bodies and about their freedoms. And a key text is in Verse 13, look at it with me Verse 13, it says, "The body was not meant, or is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body." That's an incredibly important statement. That's why I began with the Augustine quote. "You have made us for yourself." Our bodies are for Christ and He is for our bodies. They match together. This assertion is proved by the doctrine of the resurrection, both Christ's resurrection from the dead, His bodily resurrection, and our future bodily resurrection. If God doesn't care about the body then why was Christ physically raised from the dead. And why will he raise our bodies from the dead in the future? So, a Christian's body does matter. And what we do with our bodies matters.
Next Paul goes arguing against temple prostitutes, frequenting temple prostitutes, the Corinthian church members failed to understand the true nature, both of sex, the two become one flesh and of Christian conversion. One is joined to the Lord, so we become one with Jesus spiritually, and therefore, you can't take Christ members and join them to a prostitute.
Next, he directly forbids sexual immorality with a clear command, "Flee sexual immorality." Greek word is "porneia," flee, porneia, flee sexual immorality. And then he shows how sexual immorality is an assault, not only on our souls, but actually on our bodies as well.
And finally, he roots all of this, and the fact that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, whom we have received from God. It's a very powerful argument here and he's speaking individually. We're going to unfold this. I'm just walking through the whole text now. We have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, so our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. And then he says very powerfully. You are not your own, you won't get to do whatever you want with your body. You have been bought at a price. This is the language of slavery. We are Christ's slaves, he bought us and therefore the culminating statement, so beautifully. Therefore, glorify God with your body. An incredible text and how much we needed to hear it.
II. “All Things Are Lawful”: Christian Freedom Rightly Understood
So let's just walk through it and it begins with this slogan in Verse 12, "'All things are lawful for me,' but not everything is beneficial. 'All things are lawful for me' but I will not be mastered by anything." So he's dealing here with the issue of Christian freedom and Paul is probably quoting some slogan here, some Corinthian slogan. That's why many of the English translations have it in quotation marks. Because he says it four times in 1 Corinthians, twice here in Chapter 6, twice in Chapter 10. And it seems that they are saying, "Look, now that I'm a Christian, anything goes. I can do whatever I want."
So that's misunderstanding Christ freedom. Now, there is a powerful doctrine of Christian freedom, Romans 6:14 says, "You are not under law, but under grace." We have been set free from the law and its condemning power. The law has no power to condemn us to help. Christ drank in our condemnation at the cross. So we're set free from the law in that sense. Paul also taught that idols themselves are nothing. They're just chunks of material made of stone or wood or metal. So there's nothing in an idol in and of itself, and so, meat sacrifice to idols is still just meat. And so, he's going to unfold all this in Chapters 8 through 10, on meat sacrifice to idols. But they took this and they brought it too far, they applied it to something that they shouldn't have applied it to, and that was sexual immorality with the temple prostitutes. Well then, whatever they're doing down at the temple, we can do. He's like, "No, no, you're misunderstanding Christian freedom."
So Paul restricts the slogan. "All things are lawful for me," or "Everything is permissible for me." In all four times that he quotes it, twice here in Chapter 6, twice in Chapter 10, he answers it back, restricts it. It's kind of like this, "All things are lawful for me, as you say, fine, but not everything's beneficial. All things are lawful for me. So you say, but I will not be enslaved by anything." He does it again in Chapter 10. So, true freedom there, Christian freedom is not doing whatever your flesh wants to do. If it feels good, do it. No, not at all. That's not what freedom is. True Christian freedom is being delivered from sin to serve God, that's what freedom is. As Psalm 119 says, "I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free." Jesus said in John 8, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin, but if the Son sets you free, you'll be free indeed." Jesus by his life, by his demeanor toward his father defines freedom for us, in that same Chapter, John 8:29, he says, "I always do what pleases my Father," that's freedom.
Jesus was the only truly free man that ever lived. And he was free to serve his father every moment of his life, that's freedom. Everything else is slavery. We are enslaved by hidden spiritual chains towards sin. That's not freedom. And so Paul says in Verse 12, "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything [or enslaved] by anything." The image is definitely one of enslavement. We are mastered by anything we habitually do. We can't break the habit of that pattern. The drive of the flesh toward food and sex, and sleep, and pleasure, five cents pleasure is normal, but in sin, it's relentless and inevitably pushes across boundaries that God has set. So we're jumping fences that he's set up in his moral law. And as it pushes us towards satisfying those sensual desires, it also pushes us toward habits that end up in addictions. We end up being enslaved by what we do over and over. This is the essence of the flesh. It takes normal bodily desires and pushes them beyond boundaries and toward enslavement.
So the Corinthians who are going to temple prostitutes were actually enslaved by their lusts and their habits. Paul addresses also the food aspect of it, the eating aspect of it. In verse 13 he says, "Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food, but God will destroy them both." Probably another slogan from the Corinthians, seems they had written him a letter and so he's addressing certain things, he's going to do the same at the beginning of Chapter 7, when someone said it's good not to touch a woman, and he's going to address that. They say things to him and he has to answer them back and give them a better understanding of what they're saying. It's like, food for the stomach and stomach for food seems to be something you're saying. Well, Paul sees that and would like to point to their fleshly mindset. It is true that the stomach and food were meant to go together, that makes sense, alright? God knows that we need food, he feeds us, because Jesus said he feeds the birds of the air, and he feeds us too, he feeds every living creature. He knows we need food.
And not only that, he knows that he designed food to be delicious. There are different... So many different flavors. And so, the tongue with its taste buds was designed to sense the flavors that God put into food and to enjoy them. God knows that. But here's the point. We were not put on the planet to eat. That wasn't the reason God created us. Both food, and the stomach are temporary and neither one are the reason why God created you. They were a means to an end. And the end is to glorify God with your body. We were made for eternity, we were made for heaven, we were made for God. We were made to enjoy him, not to eat. So he's addressing this drive toward food. Now, at this point, I just want you to see the two different themes Paul's dealing with. There's one issue, and that's the enslavement of our habits and he just wants us to be free.
Lawful Pleasures and Illicit Pleasures
But there are two different types of habits that he's looking at: Lawful pleasures and illicit pleasures. Do you see them both in the text? You got the food aspect and the porneuo or the sexual immorality aspect. So I want to put two kind of substances in front of you: Honey and poison. So we're dealing with the issue of honey and the issue of poison. Why do I choose honey? Because the Book of Proverbs uses honey as a metaphor, a literal thing, true, but a metaphor for lawful pleasures, and it gives you kind of the rules of the road on honey consumption.
The first time honey is mentioned in the Book of Proverbs, Proverbs 24:13, where we are told under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste." Thank you for the advice. I appreciate it. Honey is sweet, so you should eat some. It's right there in the word of God.
So what is this saying? Well, I think symbolically what we're saying is we're not called on to an aesthetic life of denying physical pleasures. That's not the answer here is asceticism. We're supposed to enjoy the sweet things of life, but that's not all the Book of Proverbs has to say about honey, and the next three proverbs about honey are all restrictive, like Proverbs 25:16. "If you find honey, eat jut enough- too much or and you will vomit." Well, that's just good advice, friends. Don't glut yourself on honey or you'll throw up. Okay. And then Proverbs 27:7 says, "He who is full, loathes honey."
So what's going on there? The more you partake of things you enjoy, the less you will enjoy them. All of this says let's not be ascetics, but let's live self-controlled, upright lives when it comes to lawful pleasures. And all of that is packed into this statement, certainly food for the stomach, but I'm not going to be enslaved by anything. I don't want to be enslaved by anything I do. American Christians are surrounded at all times by a sea of amoral pleasures more I think than any generation of Christians in 20 centuries of church history. We have lawful pleasures galore, food and drink and possessions, things you can buy on Amazon Prime, and you have movies that you can stream and music you can listen to and you're just...
We are swimming in an Olympic-size swimming pool of honey, and the question is, "Are these lawful pleasures enslaving us? Are we enslaved by our habits by the things we say we can do?" One simple test: If any one thing is enslaving you is fast from it. Give it up for a time. The harder it is for you to do, the more you may suspect that you're enslaved. Let me give you an example. Let's talk about the smartphone. I got my smart phone right here. It's timing my sermon, 20 minutes and 27 seconds. I'm very well aware. But the smartphone is a marvelous thing. It's just staggering the technology in this thing. It's amazing. I've found that there are two words that sum up what it does for me: Tool and toy. Tool and tool. Tool, it helps me work. It helps me to be productive. Toy, not so much. So those would be apps, things you can stream, all that kind of thing. You know. Well, however you define toy, you know what I'm talking about. So, how can you tell whether you're enslaved to your smartphone? Well, if it's near you, can you avoid reaching out for it every 47 seconds? Someone once was talking quite recently, say, "Something's wrong with my hand. It just has... It just keep reaching for this thing and checking it." So try fasting from at least perhaps toy aspect of the smartphone. The harder it is for you to do, the more you may suspect that you're enslaved.
Same thing for streaming videos or food. Try fasting. Try a day of the week for a month, let's say Tuesday, a Thursday, something like that, and just not eat and just spend the time praying. Fasting is a Biblical theme, but this is one way also a diagnostic tool to say, "Is food enslaving me? Am I living for sweets, or I'm living for meat or I'm living for something?" You're not put on the planet for that, and so a life of self-control, "I will not be mastered by anything. I'll not be enslaved by my habits." So that's the honey aspect.
Now, let's talk about the poison aspect. It's like, "Oh, how much poison should I ingest and how much?" It's like that's the wrong question. The answer: None. None. So, he addressed his sexual immorality and there is an enslavement there too. Sex is a very powerful thing, and the allure through the eye, very attractive. Proverbs 7, for example, describes an immoral woman who uses alluring techniques to draw young men into committing adultery with her. And you know the account, and she's beautiful and she's dressed. It says like a harlot, and she speaks enticing, flattering words, and she is spreading a net around him.
You can't see it, but that's what's going on. And then it says, "All at once, he turned and went in with her little knowing it would cost him his life." An arrow would pierce his liver and he would die. So there is that enslavement, and that's I think what's going on with internet pornography. There's just that enticing and that alluring that goes on and the beauty, and there's an attraction to it. So many people are addicted. They are enslaved by poison, and Christ has set us free. You're set free. If you're a Christian, you're set free. You're not a slave to sin. You don't ever need to sin again ever the rest of your life. Every single temptation that comes to you, you can see dead at your feet by the power of the Holy Spirit by specific Scripture, just like Jesus did in Matthew 4. You can kill every temptation.
III. A Holy Understanding of Our Bodies
You don't ever need to sin again. You're set free. So why be a fool and why allow yourself to go in for the poison that Satan's handing to you? We need to have therefore a holy understanding of our bodies. Look at Verse 13 and 14, "The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body, and by his power, God raised the Lord from the dead and he will raise us also." So God did not design us for food as we've been saying, but even more, he did not design our bodies for porneia, for sexual immorality. He built us for himself, for his own glory.
Therefore, honor God. Glorify God with your body. The reason God will raise your body from the dead is he wants you to have a body in the New Heaven, the New Earth. He wants you to be physical. Like Jesus is right now, you will be conformed to his image in every respect, and you will be energetically able to serve him in that new world. He wants you to have a body. So we need to understand that. We need to understand our bodies are a marvelous gift from Almighty God, part of his redemptive plan. The Greek philosophers, in which these Corinthians were swimming in these mentalities, were very dualistic, many of them, and they looked on the physical body as not worthy of even being mentioned. They were wanting to ascend to a higher, mental, spiritual plane.
And so, the idea of the resurrection from the dead make no sense to them. Why would you want to spend eternity in a body? And bodily processes were disgusting and repulsive to that Greek philosophical, dualistic mindset. But the biblical view is quite different. The biblical view says I will praise you. Psalms 139, "I will praise you for I'm fearfully and wonderfully made." So many marvelous things about the human body, like the fact that there're as many neurological interconnections in a single human brain as there are leaves in the Amazonian rainforest. It's incredible.
2The human brain is the most complex, physical thing God ever made. And then think about the hand. I used to be a mechanical engineer. First thing that I designed was robots. I worked on robotic things. There's nothing that we can make that even comes close to the marvels of the human hand, the dexterity, the gentle, skillful movements of the fingers, the powerful grip of the hand, the fact that fingers can play a sonata by Beethoven, where you could see a rock climber hanging by four fingers over the valley of Yosemite and his entire life is entrusted to the strength of his four fingers. It's incredible and in an incredibly small package. This is a very small area and this is what God has made.
Or the ability of the ear. The ear is more remarkable than you might think. The fact is that you get, the ear is responding to pressure waves, and they become composite pressure waves. All the things are kind of summed up in one composite pressure wave, and then your ear sorts them out. So you can, for example, take a quarter and a dime and drop it on a hard surface like a glass countertop or something like that or a marble countertop and you can hear two coins, one large, one small... You could probably even say what the denomination is, quarter and a dime, and you can say how many there are. You can listen to instruments, a guitar and a piano playing the same note, different spaces in your ears just sorting that. Well, our bodies are amazing, fearfully and wonderfully made, and God intends for us to have for all eternity, only perfected.
And so we are to celebrate that, and Christ's incarnation is proof of that. God wanted his son to be physical. And so, the second person of the trinity, the word, became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and he experienced a physical, fleshly life in this world. He knew what it was like to be hungry and then have his hunger satisfied by chewing and swallowing food. I'm getting that physically. He knew what it was like to have searing first when from the cross, he said, "I thirst." When they flogged him, he felt pain. When they crucified him, he died. He was physical. But that wasn't the end of his physicality. God raised him from the dead on the third day, and he took on a perfect resurrection body that you could touch. You could put your hands, your fingers, in the nail marks.
He said, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." He was completely physical. And he is the first fruit from among the dead, so we're going to be conformed to him. We're going to spend eternity in physical bodies that you can touch and we'll spend eternity in that. And all of 1 Corinthians 15 deals with the doctrine of our resurrection from the dead based on Christ's resurrection. So what this means is in Verse 14, "By his power, God raised the Lord from the dead and he will raise us also." So that means the body is a major part of God's salvation plan for us. The body matters. What you do with your body matters. So you should have a holy esteem for your body, and the doctrine that I would commend you is in Romans Chapter 6, Verse 13 and 14. Listen to this. This is exactly what I think Paul would say to the Corinthians. He doesn't say it here, but he says in Romans. "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness, for sin shall not be your master, for you are not under law but under grace." That's what you're supposed to do with your body as you'll say later in a recap, present your body to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
IV. Sexual Immorality Offends the Lord Jesus
Now, sexual immorality offends God. It is offensive. Look what he says in verses 15-17, it offends Jesus. "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! Never! 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. But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit."
So he expands the doctrine here. The body was made for the Lord. That means our bodies are members of Jesus Christ. Christ is intimately connected with our bodies. He is our head spiritually. We are his physical bodies here on earth. And so he uses our bodies to reach out and do things, controlling our minds and hearts by the Spirit, he uses your hands to reach out and care for the poor and needy, do acts of service to the sick and dying, to do actual things. He uses your actual physical feet to walk, beautiful feet to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I mean, he uses our bodies to serve him. We are one with Christ physically. And then he asked the question then, "If that's true, then how could I take the members of Christ and then unite them with a prostitute? Never!" There's a sense of horror here. It's not, "I'd rather not." It's not that at all. It's a sense of horror. Never, may it never be. It should be considered impossible. There's like an emotional reaction to this. How could we take this body which is consecrated in Christ and united immorally?
It's kind of like the logic of James 3 where he's talking about our tongues. Remember how he says, "With the tongue, you praise our God and Father, and with it you curse men who have been made in the likeness of God, out of the same mouth come praising and cursing, my brothers. This should not be." We'll just take that and expand it to the whole body. With the body, we serve our Lord and savior, and with the body, we send sexually. How could this be? May it never be.
And he says in Verse 16: "Do you not understand what's actually going on with the temple prostitute, what's actually happening when you're with her?" Look at Verse 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." They were underestimating sex, underestimating the sexual union as we all tend to do, looking on as a casual thing, a physical function. Well, it's not. Our language tends to minimize it like an affair. An affair is just something that happens, right? That's what we use. The affair was a such and such affair like in history.
This is not an affair or a fling or modern terms like hooking up. It's minimizing. But Paul says, going back to Genesis 2, "Do you not understand what's happening here with the act of marriage, the marital act?" Which is sexual intercourse, the actual act. "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." That's the exact same thing that Jesus quoted in Matthew 19 to talk about marriage, what marriage is. Paul applies it to the time you visited the temple prostitute last week.
So you just in some sense married that girl. Do you not understand what's happening there? It's never casual. There's no such thing as casual sex. It's just not biblically true. It's significant what's going on. So we need to make our sexual lives then deeply connected to our lives as Christians. Verse 17, "But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." Our union with Christ is deep and it is eternal. We tend to think that I'm with Jesus most of the day, but if he would just leave me alone for a while, and then you go do whatever you want to do and then get reconnected with Jesus later on, it's just not how it is. And it extends to imaginary union with pornographic images online.
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said, "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." And so he prescribed in the Sermon of the Mount radical measures. If your right hand causes you to sin, then cut it off and throw it away. "If your right eye causes you to sin, then gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." And you may say, "I don't need to think about hell. There's no condemnation for those who are in Christ." Yes, that's true. For those who walk by the power of the spirit as described in the following verses in Romans 8, but if you're walking according to the flesh, you have no right to say, "I'm certain that there's no condemnation for me." So if you're enslaved to sexual sin, how do you know you're a Christian? That's the question. So Jesus does mention hell, and we need to fear it and flee to Christ.
V. Sexual Immorality Offends Our Bodies
Sexual immorality also offends our bodies. Look at Verse 18: "Flee sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body but he who sins sexually, sins against his own body." So here's the clear command. Flee. Run for your lives. As Greg said in his prayer, make like Joseph with potter for his wife. Remember that woman? She saw that he was attractive, was coming after him, and he wouldn't even talk to her or be with her, and then when she had orchestrated time for them to just be alone, he would not be in the house, but ran, left his garment in her hand and ran. So that's a physical thing that happened, but it's a metaphor also for us. We need to run. We need to escape, escape the temptation. So First Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. But God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation, will provide a way of escape so you can stand up under it." Now that's a strange image. Escape so you can stand. It's exactly what I'm talking about. Escape the temptation so you can stand spiritually in Christ still holy. So find the door, whatever door God opened up for you in that tempting situation, and run through it, and also pray, "Lead us not into temptation." Don't be a fool and lead yourself into tempting situations which you've already shown you can't handle. So escape.
And he says... The reasoning here is that sexual immorality assaults the body. Now, it is true other sins hurt the body, no doubt about it. Overeating can produce heart failure. Drunkenness can produce liver failure, cirrhosis of the liver. There's no doubt about that. But Paul's saying there's a unique assault of sexual immorality on the human body and we're talking about clearly STDs, AIDS, HPV, chlamydia, syphilis. All of these terrible diseases assault the body and they're gained sexually. As it says in Romans 1:27, speaking there about homosexuality, but it's true also of illicit heterosexual sex, "Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." I think that's talking about the destruction of the body through sex.
VI. Sexual Immorality Offends the Holy Spirit
Sexual immorality also offends the Holy Spirit. Look at verses 19 and 20: "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. You were bought at a price, therefore honor or glorify God with your body." This is powerful. We've had many times, and I love the image in Ephesians 2, also in 1 Peter 2, of the whole universal church as a temple. And there's this massive architectural project going on. Living stones quarried out of Satan's dark kingdom put in the walls of this rising temple, and it's just awesome. Here, the image is totally individual. We are individually, individually temples of the Holy Spirit.
And why is that? Because Jesus promised that the counselor, the Holy Spirit, would come and be with us and live in us. That's staggering. You have the third person of the trinity inside you if you're a Christian. The Holy Spirit is in you, and Christ promised, if we obey his teachings, he said, "My father will come to him and I will come to him and make our dwelling with him." So you have the trinity, the Father, the Son, the Spirit, dwelling inside you if you're a Christian. It's powerful. Powerful. So therefore, he says, "You are not your own." You don't get to do whatever you want with your body. You don't get to do whatever you want with your time. "You were bought at price." That's slavery language. We are... That's why Paul calls himself Christ's bondslave.
I am a purchased slave. And so Jesus bought me with his blood and that means he gets to tell you what to do. Every single day, he can tell you what to do. So this is something that I am continually having to remind myself and learn. Don't just say, "Hmm, what shall I do today? What shall I do with my afternoon? What shall I do with Sunday after we go home from church? What shall I eat? Where shall we go?" I would say, "No, don't." Say, "Lord, what do you want me to do with my afternoon? How do you want me to spend my time? I'm not my own. I'm bought with the price of your blood." Therefore glorify God with your body. That's what you're called on to do. Use your body as a vehicle for the glory of God.
Applications: first and foremost is the Gospel. I pray every week that God would bring people to hear the Gospel here to First Baptist Church. And if you are not yet a Christian, if you weren't a Christian when you walked in here, only Jesus Christ can set you free from sin. You can't set yourself free. There's not enough different 12-step programs for all the sins you're doing, and even then those resolutions could only make a temporary moral change in your drinking of alcohol or your sex addiction or whatever. The problem of sin is comprehensive and Jesus came. Our Savior died on the cross for sin universal and all of the individual sins that we committed. And so trust in Christ. Come to Christ and he will set you free and forgive you and make you his own.
Now, if you're a Christian, you've already done that. The clear command here is be very careful what you do with your body. Are you enslaved to anything? Are you enslaved to any honey? Are you enslaved any poison? So look at your lawful pleasures. Are there things that you own that really own you? Are there things that habits that you do that are amoral, they're pleasures, but you can't seem to live without them? And frankly, you seem to do them more and more, but you enjoy them less and less. Is it food? Is it entertainment? Is it hobbies? What is it?
So just look at that and say, "Am I enslaved to any of the honey here?" And then, even more deadly, "Am I enslaved to drinking poison? Is there any illicit sexual aspect of my life?" The answer this week is the same as it was last week. Put the sin to death by the power of the Spirit, death by starvation. The longer it's been since you last yielded to a lust, the weaker that lust gets. So put it to death by the Spirit. Close with me in prayer.