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Be A Moral Church !
1Corinthians 6:12-20
 
By Paul Robison

A teacher who was single told how he had just finished conducting a class at a retreat for single Christians.  The subject that the spoke on was: “Maintaining Sexual Purity.”  He felt his message had been well received, and he was packing up his notes and his transparencies after the those who attended the class had left.  Then he heard her voice: “Hi, I'm Sally.”  He turned to find an attractive young woman who was smartly dressed and carrying a well-worn Bible.  She continued: “I just wanted to tell you how wonderful your talk was.  I've been divorced for two years, and I've really had to fight my need for physical companionship.  Your presentation was exactly what I needed!”  “I'm glad I could help you in some way,” he responded politely.  She explained how what he had said really struck a chord, and that her ex-husband had really never understood her spiritually.  He nodded understandingly.  Then she reached out to touch his arm and said, “It's so wonderful to find a man who is so spiritual.”  Then he saw that look in her eye which enticed: “You're that spiritual man that I've needed in my life.  Why don't we get a little closer?”  He knew that it was now his turn to play or to pass.  He reflected for a moment how special appreciation in a vulnerable moment is heady wine, and how special attention when two are alone in a room is also so intoxicating (Smith).  We'll see the outcome at this sermon's close.
 
The members at the church in Corinth had problems with immorality.  There were brothels and pagan temples everywhere.  Part of the worship at a pagan temple often included having sex with one of the many temple prostitutes.  Such was done to promote fertility of the land and to show loyalty to the god or goddess being worshiped.  Sadly and shamefully, the Christians at Corinth had not broken with these immoral practices.  Paul has already admonished them to be a surrendered church, a pure church, and a spiritual church.  Now he challenges them to be a moral church, and our text shows four ways that he emphasizes this.  Let's look at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
 
First of all, Paul admonishes: Keep an eternal outlook!  Let's read verses 12-14: “All things are lawful fro me, but all things are not helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.  Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”  The Corinthian members were using this slogan: “All things are lawful for me,” and some versions have this in quotation marks.  They were using the slogan to justify their immoral conduct, but Paul quickly points out that all things are NOT helpful and that they should not make themselves slaves to their passions.  The Corinthians members were reasoning “that sexual desire is the same as the desire for food.  Both are natural; both deserve to be satisfied.  Whenever either urge is felt, one should move to satisfy it!” (Shelly).  Paul shows clearly that this reasoning is flawed: God has no permanent plans for our stomachs, but not so for our bodies since they will be raised, transformed, and glorified when Jesus comes again (Morris).  “God did not design the body for sexual immorality as He did the stomach for food. ... Just as food is necessary for the body to function, so the Lord is necessary for the body to function as well. ... If our body is to be raised, it is not to be put into the category of things that will be destroyed.  There is an exact correspondence.  Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, and both will be destroyed.  The body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body, and resurrection is the destiny for both” (Ibid.)!  Notice how verse 14 affirms that God raised up Jesus, and He will raise us up by His power! We will be raised; it will happen in the future!  The inspired apostle Paul also writes at 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 and 49: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  As so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.'  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. ... And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man!"  Paul also affirms in Philippians 3:21: “[He or Jesus] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:21)!  Keep an eternal outlook!
 
Our generation has a unique perspective: “Our ancestors believed in two worlds and saw this to be the poor, nasty, short one.  We are the first generation who expected to find bliss here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness” (Noonan).  We need to remember the immortal over the immoral.  Someone noted: “Nations, cultures, arts—these are mortal, are gnats.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, marry, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors” (C. S. Lewis).  Which of those two are you?  Keep an eternal outlook!  A grandma was looking forward to keeping her two grandsons while their parents celebrated their fifteenth wedding anniversary.  The first day was filled with rain, and the parents called at bedtime.  The boys were tired, and the tears flowed.  After that, things got better, and the parents called earlier in the day.  After five days, the parents returned, the boys had huge smiles, and stayed close to their parents.  Grandma knew that home was now home once again.  Brethren, Jesus is away right now, but He has promised us that He will return, and we'll be able to stay near Him, and enjoy our eternal home!  Two girls were excited about going to kindergarten.  One was just starting but the older one was returning.  The older one fell and skinned a knee, and her sister said: “Don't worry.  If you die, you'll go to heaven.”  The older one wailed: “I don't want to go to heaven, I want to go to kindergarten!”  Some members are so short-sighted and also wail: “I don't want to go to heaven, I to go to the rendezvouses!”  Verse 14 declares once again that God will also raise us.  Go for the immortal rather than the immoral!  Keep an eternal outlook!”
 
Next, Paul admonishes: Recall your identity!  Look at verses 15-17 and 19-20a: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot?  Certainly not!  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her?  For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh.'  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. ... Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you are bought at a price ..."  So, these passages tell us that we are Christ's bride, the Spirit's temple, and God's slave.  Now these roles have consequences.  Notice what these commentators say.  The first observes: "There is a horrible profanation of that which should be used only for Christ” (Morris).  Another explains that since we are joined to Christ, we take on His personality.  Let's call it a blue one.  A prostitute, however, has a red personality.  In intercourse, these personalities are intermingled, and one commentator sustains: “So much so ... they would take on a purple hue” (Smith).  A third commentators states that God's temple belongs to God, and one must conform their activities to its sacred nature (Coffmann).  One other comment was: “But we are God's slaves.  He has bought us to be His own, and we belong to Him” (Morris).
 
When the pressures on, will you live up to your identity?  Christ's bride, the Spirit's temple, and God's slave makes sense now, but will you remember this identity when the heat is on, the hormones are raging, and the violins are playing?  A father once told his teenage daughter who was about to leave with a young man on a date: “Remember Whose you are and be a blessing!”  Recall you identity and act accordingly.  There was a sheriff in Florida who told his deputies that they would be suspended if they were caught committing adultery.  Here was his reasoning: “Adultery affects other people in the workplace, and people's ability to do their job, and I think that is relevant” (Fowler).  A preacher was once having difficulty in resisting temptation.  He was away from home and staying in a hotel.  He called a friend with whom he was going to have breakfast the next day and confessed his struggle.  He then said: “Pray for me and ask me what I did last night” (Smith).  You see, he was forcing himself to recall his identity and live accordingly.  A writer made this good observation:  "The bottom line is fleshly desire uncontrolled ... a battle between flesh and spirit ... Spiritual leaders fall sexually because they work in God's temples but forget that our bodies are temples. 'Be holy for I am holy' is still the challenge” (Smith).  Recall you identity: you are Christ's bride, the Spirit's temple, and God's slave!  Based upon what Paul says in this text, we can see that there is no such thing as “casual sex” because what we do bodily does affect our relationship with God and does have a bearing on our eternal destiny!  Notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  Our judgment and our eternal destiny will be determine by those things that we did in our bodies!  Recall your identity as Christ's bride, the Spirit's temple, and God's slave!  Christ gives you the freedom NOT to sin (Barclay).  Be a moral church!
 
Thirdly, Paul admonishes: Flee sexual immorality!  Verse 18 commands: "Flee sexual immorality.  Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."  "Flee" means “to escape, to seek safety in flight, to shun that which is detestable."  And a better translation might be: “Keep on fleeing sexual immorality!”  We continually flee and shun it so that it becomes a habit.  How do you sin against your own body?  Commentators usually respond: “Because you deny your personhood or destroy your personality.  This sin can leave you emotionally scarred and psychologically scorched, and that takes a toll on your personality. 
 
Flee sexual immorality!  That not a long verse to remember.  Can we memorize it and put it into practice when necessary?  A football coach once had some professional snake handlers bring a cage to his locker room where the boys were gathered.  “Show 'em what you got there!”  They opened cage, and out slithered a diamond back rattler that slowly began to work its way into a coil.  Guess what those tough and stocky college boys began to do?  Yes, they all started scrambling for the exit.  The handlers then got the rattlesnake back into the cage, and the coach called the boys back into the locker room.  “Boys, let this be a lesson to you.  If anyone offers you any illicit drugs, you flee from them, just like you fled today from this rattler!”  Those boys didn't hesitate to run, and when we hear Satan's rattlers behind a seductive offer, we need to start post haste heading for the nearest exit!  Consider these awful consequences the next time you are tempted to commit immorality:
* Your mate will experience betrayal, shame, and heartache
* Mistrust and suspicion will increase
* Your children's outlook on God and holiness will be severely
  damaged
* The heartache to your parents will rise
* The confidence and respect of other Christians will be
   injured or eroded
* Others will be influenced to act the same way
* You'll never forget it, and neither will Satan
This sin can wreck havoc upon your personhood in the same way that the tsunami wrecked havoc on Japan this past week!  This is the side that Hollywood and our media fails to show us! In 2007, there were more single females than married females (Larson-Elshof)!  I just wonder how much of that was due to men who broke their marital vows and committed sexual immorality!  Flee sexual immorality!  Proverbs 6:27-29 states it this way: “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one walk on coals and his feet not be seared?  So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent!”  Hebrews 13:4 declares: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers, God will punish” (Heb. 13:4)!  Perhaps my voice is like peashooter when compared to the tanks of promiscuity that are firing all around us, but remember: "Flee sexual immorality!"  Remember your immortality, recall Whose you are, and run from the rattlers of immorality!  Be a moral church!
 
Lastly, Paul admonishes: Glorify God in your body and spirit!  Note the later part of verse 20: "... therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."  "Glorify" means "to honor" or "to clothe with splendor".  We honor God with our obedience.  Note what these commentators say.  One affirms:  “There is no such thing in this world as a self-made man.  The Christian thinks not of his rights but of his debts.  He can never do what he likes; he must always do what God likes, because He bought him at the cost of His Son” (Barclay).  Another observes: "The prime motive is to please our Master.  There's an urgency: do it as if it's already a done deal" (Morris)! 
 
PPaul says “therefore,” so glorifying God is the bottom line.  Will we put into practice this bottom line?  Notice how God's law is personal: “God gave the law with a personal introduction: 'I am the Lord your God; you are My people.  Thus, you shall not ...'  This isn't law for law's sake but for people's sake” (Sproul).  General Charles Duke was part of the Apollo 16 mission who drove the “Rover” lunar vehicle.  Someone heard him give a fascinating speech about the mission, and then he fielded and answered questions.  So that person asked, “Once you were on the moon, could you sort of do what you wanted?”  “Sure,” he replied, “if I didn't want to get back to earth.”  He told about following precise instructions and having only one minute's wroth of fuel left after their touchdown on the moon.  After hearing all this, the listener said: “I got the distinct impression that a rebel doesn't fit inside a spacesuit.  Whoever represents the U.S. in the space program must have an unconditional respect for authority.”  We might change that a bit an apply it to us as Christians: “A rebel doesn't fit in the church, and a disciple must respect authority” (Swindoll).  Glorify God in your body and spirit!  To honor God doesn't make us mindless fanatics.  One writer states: “In God's Word, we find rules for pleasing God.  If we abide by those rules, we aren't fanatics, but true children of the King” (Sproul).  One source said that 60% of American men will have an affair and 40% of American women.  Then ten ways were given to affair proof your marriage.  Here they are quickly:
* Nurture safe friendships    BR> * Pray together
* Stay off drugs       
* Find a creative outlet
* Learn to listen 
* Compliment your spouse often
* Learn how to fight fairly
* Hang out with happy couples
* Keep dating
* Communicate: “I'm taken!”
Now those were some practical ideas, but Paul gives you just one that you always need to apply.  Don't sing: “I did it my way.”  Just practice: “I did it God's way.”  Glorify God in your body and spirit!  Let's be a moral church!
 
He reflected how special appreciation in a vulnerable moment is heady wine, and how special attention is also so intoxicating.  But he chose not to drink, spoke coolly that they needed to keep battling against Satan, wished her the best in her Christian life, didn't make much eye contact, and started walking towards the building's exit and towards the parking lot where they parted ways.  He later wrote that this incident was a very forceful reminder that sexual temptations could happen at the oddest of moments, even after you had affirmed publicly your stance against it!  Keep an eternal outlook—it's immortality over immorality!  Recall your identity: you are Christ's bride, the Spirit's temple, and God's slave!  Flee sexual immorality when you hear Satan's rattlers.  And glorify or honor God in your body and spirit.  Certainly, God wants us to be a moral church!
 
Let's pray: "Father, this is sin that affects each one of us.  None of us are immune.  Help us to recognize when the evil one is near and help us to flee.  May all that we do bring glory to You.  In Jesus' name, Amen."
 
““... but as He who called you is holy, be holy in all your conduct, because it is written: 'Be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:15)!  Our culture pulls us in the wrong direction, but God's standard is still holiness.  Are your turning down the rendezvouses?  Are we living up to our identity and roles?  Are you fleeing or flirting with sexual immorality?  Are you continually seeking to glorify God with your body and spirit?  Are you striving to be holy just as God is holy?  Immorality is not the unpardonable sin, but it is one that we don't need to take lightly!  Do you need prayers for greater holiness or do you need to repent of immorality, confess Christ, and become a disciple who will be dedicated to the holy conduct that Christ Himself displayed?  Be holy for I am holy is still the challenge.