The Christian's body is not his own - he needs to possess his vessel in sanctity and honour

12 All things are permitted for me, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, however God will do away with both of them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ? Shall I then take away the parts of Christ and make them parts of a prostitute? Far from it! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit18 Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the [k]sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a [l]temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from [m]God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1Cor6:12-20)

I indicated in the last post that what may be permissible (or excusable) for the majority may not be so for the Christian. Even if something is technically permissible it may not be beneficial (v12). Why? Because the Christian should be mastered by the Lord, never his or her sensual appetites. Still more awesome is the fact that the Christian’s body is no longer his or her own but has been acquired by God through the shedding of His Son’s blood. It has become a temple for the Holy Spirit. None of these things directly apply to the non-Christian, albeit as I have been outlining, every person consists of body, soul and spirit (1Thes5:23). The latter is from God but it is not God whereas the Holy Spirit is God and the Christian alone possesses Him. So, if a man sexually unites with a harlot he becomes one flesh with her (v16), whereas the one who spiritually unites with Christ becomes one spirit [not of course one soul else he/she would become Christ and vice versa; likewise human sexual unions with respect to the body].

As Paul goes on to explain, sexual immorality is the most serious of sins because it is against one’s own body; at least that is the case for the Christian. Again, that is effectively because in their case it becomes a form of sacrilege. There is no sense in which the unbeliever’s body is a “part of Christ” (v15); they are certainly not betrothed to God’s Son and their body is not currently a temple for the Holy Spirit. To a degree, the non-Christian may legitimately say “This is my life and my body” – the Christian is not at liberty to do so: “You are no longer your own but have been bought with a price” (v20).  

The Christian to possess his vessel in sanctity and honour

Behold if you will, the disparate qualities, blessings and responsibilities of the proportional few whom God has chosen for Christ compared to the many who remain unbelievers – it is nearly as great as that disparity between the many whose souls have been planted by God (Mt15:13) – soiled by sin yet retaining the image and compassionate instincts of their Creator (cf. Mt25:40), and the proportionally few vessels fitted for destruction (Rom9:22) who like Cain belong to the Evil One, whose divine image/nature and the compassionate instincts that spring from it have been obliterated (cf. 1Jn3:12; Jude1:11; 1Jn3:9). The point I am making here is that whilst one is either a Christian or one is not, and one is either “of God” or one is not (1Jn4:7-8), these binary comparisons in no way overlap – resulting in three soteriological outcomes. All this is worked out in detail in “The Little Book of Providence” (free PDF HERE ). Paul’s point in summary is that the Christian in particular needs to shun sexual immorality and glorify God with his body, or as he writes elsewhere: “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1Thes4:4)

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Related post: the body of this death


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