“…members of Christ…”
Christians tend to be socially gregarious but spiritual loners. They will attend their churches and dutifully listen to sound teaching. They will attend their prayer meetings and do whatever the pastor asks. But, touch their personalised ‘holy’ beliefs and you can expect a very terse, if not angry, response.
What this means is that they will only agree to agree if what you say is part of their own internalised infrastructure of beliefs. If not, then their dutiful attitude disappears quickly and they are willing to leave the congregation rather than submit to a more scriptural interpretation.
Going deeper into their attitude, it means that this kind of Christian is a loner in matters of truth and doctrine. They have set themselves up as arbiters of God’s word and will not act upon the teachings of scripture or of men called by God. Thus, they are fighting against being ‘members of Christ’. They cannot submit because then they would not be free to think outside of scripture. They prefer their own opinions to the actual teachings of God’s word.
They are, then, rogue Believers who prefer to sin against the Spirit rather than listen and meekly apply what they learn to their lives. They do not want the truth, they only want the truth as they see it, even if it is contrary to scripture. Their response to a teacher who insists on adherence to scripture, is “Who do you think you are? That is not what I believe!” They accuse the teacher of arrogance when, all along, it is they who are arrogant, refusing the truth as set out by God. They try to cover their own sin by calling their critic ‘arrogant’… typical and sad.
Those of us who are privileged to be saved by grace owe it to ourselves and to God to cast off the dross that belonged to our ‘old man’, and to embrace the holiness and purity of the ‘new creature’. Only when we do so can we truly become ‘members of Christ’, a real working part of the Body that is the Church. To be a part of the Body we must work together in harmony, not as ‘loose cannons’ who disregard the truth in favour of our own musings. Many Believers have an element of this individualization within… do you?
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?”
Do ye not know the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to Judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?”
Evidently, Christians in Corinth were taking their brethren to the city courts. It seems there might have been financial irregularities going on that constituted theft of some kind, perhaps by stealth (fraud). In this text Paul is proposing an approach to civil problems between Christians that is unique and revolutionary even today.
Paul asks, ‘Do you dare, are you bold enough, to take your brethren to worldly courts?’ This seems to have a further reference in the New Testament, for example, when he speaks of Christians judging other Christians ‘before the world does’. In other words, keeping matters within the fellowship, so that they can be sorted out beyond the preying eyes of unbelievers who would inevitably see things in an entirely different light. It was an opportunity for the offending one to back down, repent, and make restitution, without any kind of civil involvement.
Of course, certain sins must be taken to the civil authorities, because they require a civil response. An example today is the way churches protect paedophiles in their midst. This is simply not acceptable, for such evildoers must be taken before the magistrates, though other sins, that only affect believers in non-violent or oppressive ways, may be dealt with within the churches. For example, a church secretary who takes money from the offerings may be offered the opportunity to repent and repay the money, rather than be reported to the police, an action that could damage the cause of Christ in that locality.
We are shown that it is not a good idea to take such matters before the ‘unjust’ or adikos, the unrighteous or unsaved, who are themselves sinful and maybe even deceitful. Today, how many adulterous judges preside over cases of adultery? How many lawyers commit fraud? And so on. But, more pertinently, how many are unsaved and therefore cannot understand the workings of God and mercy, repentance and restitution? Why involve the unsaved, if we can settle matters amongst the saints? It is rather like stabbing oneself in the back to seek good from an unbelieving judge!
Paul shows why we ought to deal with the brethren ourselves: one day we will judge the entire world, from the lowest to kings! Paul asks the Corinthians, ‘If you are going to judge the most important matters of the whole world, can you not settle the smaller things whilst still on this earth? Do you not realize that one day you will even judge Satan and demons? Then, why can you not judge the things of this life, that are of less importance?’ Less important? Yes, for the word ‘smallest’ means just that… elchistos: ‘very small’, the least, minor by comparison.
Very often, as human beings, we are offended deeply by the actions of others. Yet, if we compare these activities with, say, the judging of Satan and his demons, they are very small indeed! Are we fit enough to judge the world, but not the most important matters (which have a spiritual basis) of all creation? This tells us that spiritual truths are greater in value than physical problems.
I know that many people, including Christians, cannot see past their own lives. They concentrate everything on their own desires and fears and woes, and throw God over the side because they cannot be bothered to stick to spiritual answers. Thus, they display lack of faith and unbelief. They prefer to have a false reliance on things of this world, thinking that this is all there is to living. They may then spiral down into depression, never once realizing that God is waiting patiently for them to turn back to Him in trust, ready to deal with any problem they care to give Him, even if it is sometimes in anger!
“If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”
Most people, including Christians, cannot really see how faith can deal with everything in this world. They see ‘faith’ as something for the fairies! It is not real. It is something talked about by Christians but of no actual value. They think faith cannot change things, and so Christians wallow in self-pity when troubles come along. It is not until they reach rock-bottom that they cry out to God, and even then it is more of a magical charm thing than a genuine belief in God.
God, though, is a God of miracles! He is a God whose presence does change things. But, it needs faith to see it. He can sometimes act without one’s faith, but then the person might not see what has happened anyway! Faith is a door-way to seeing God at work. If you do not open that door, you will see nothing. Just push the door slightly ajar and the light streams out in all its glory.
God does deal with all our woes, in His own way. With faith, complete trust in God, all things are possible. He will move mountains for you and show you His true power. Faith, then, is vital. Not as a spiritual accessory carried about to match a pseudo-spiritual attitude of no practical value! Faith is the currency of our lives. Indeed, it is our very breath. It is a trust that ensures we see and use the power of God in our own lives. Things happen when we believe truly!
Faith in God, real trust, leads us to judge things on this earth with vigour and a sense of reality. Paul tells his readers, and all of us, that if we have things to deal with in a disciplinary manner, then the very least person can do the job! In a sense Paul is here making a wry comment. He is saying that men, by nature, automatically judge things, from the taste of olives to Who God is! Yet, they express a false shyness when it comes to judging fellow Believers... outwardly, that is. We all come to our own conclusions about people, even if we say nothing.
In our churches Christians judge their fellow believers all the time. They pretend they do not, because received wisdom dictates it is ‘wrong to judge’. But, where does this piece of folklore come from? It is certainly not found in scripture! As Christians we have the right to judge spiritual things as well as things ‘pertaining to this life’.
And if we pretend we cannot judge them ourselves, find the lowliest Christian in the churches and give him the task! (‘Least esteemed’, exoutheneo, is one who is despised, of no consequence, thought nothing of… this is not how we ought to really think of any other Christian, it is just a device used by Paul to depict something he wishes to talk about).
We cannot construe from this, that those who deal with discipline within the churches must always be the lowliest amongst us, for Paul is merely using an illustration to make his point. As with everything else, the one who must do the job is the one who has been called to do it by God… every one of us!
Interestingly, Paul uses the term ‘in the church’. What does this really mean? Is he talking about ‘the church’ as an entity separate from the people? Or, is he referring to ‘the church’ as the people themselves? It is an important distinction, especially as that great harlot, Rome, refers to itself as ‘the Church’.
For Rome, ‘the church’ means a continuing structure and organization centred at Rome itself. All authority emanates from this centre, for ‘the church’ is seen to be separate from its members, consisting of tradition, buildings, structures, the ecclesiastical hierarchy, from popes down to priests, and its many statements and declarations. It is this belief that is behind its resistance to change and its opposition to Protestantism and to scriptural belief itself, for scripture is not sufficient on its own, according to Rome.
The Bible, though, does not define ‘the church’ in this way. ‘The church’, ekklesia, can have one of many meanings, depending on context. Without expanding upon them in this instance, ‘church’ can mean:
Citizens gathering for a public meeting
A council meeting in its own chambers to discuss a civil matter
Israelites gathered together by tribes
A chance unruly gathering of men (as in football crowds)
In a Christian sense (but not an exhaustive list):
Christians gathered together for worship
Meetings of Christians as a local group, united by the same beliefs
Christians already died and received by God
All Christians everywhere in every age (the ‘church universal’).
Which meaning applies in this text? It must refer to 5(b), for Paul is writing to a specific group of Believers in a specific location. Note there is no indication of a structure or building. Really, a ‘church building’ is the place where Christians meet. It is not anything in itself. The emphasis, in Christian terms, is on a collection of Christians themselves and not the building. Nor can it mean a formal organization, for Christians are individually called by God. Thus, in this text, a ‘church’ is a collection of individuals called one at a time by God personally, and united together by the same beliefs and activities, being ‘brethren’.
The ‘church’, ekklesia, is a compound of two other words: ek, which is the point of origin, the point at which an action begins; Ekklesia is derived from kaleo – to call by name, out loud, and it is similar to the base of kakopatheo, which refers to suffering and enduring affliction and troubles.
These meanings are included in the word ‘church’ and show that it is not a collection of people who are indolent and enjoying their riches; it is a collection of people who know trouble and who suffer the evils of this world. The Corinthians were mainly rich and indolent, simply adding-on the ‘lifestyle’ of Christianity as an after-thought. Paul was bringing them back to reality with a shock!
So, the ‘church’ for Paul, meant a collection of Christians who met in a particular location. Surely, he complains, someone is capable of judging ordinary matters amongst yourselves? If not, just pick on any man who you think is the least capable, and let him do the job!
Paul was shaming the Corinthians in saying this. That is, he had no respect - entrope - for the way they were. It is a fallacy that we must always have respect for fellow Believers. If they do not deserve respect or reverence, then they should not have it! There is no doubt whatever that many of the Corinthian Christians thought they were elevated in status and above the others.
That is why, tongue in cheek, Paul asks if there is ‘any wise’ amongst them capable of judging others. ‘Wise’, sophos, meaning skilled, expert, cultivated, learned, teachers, able to devise and execute plans, having clarity (saphes) of mind sufficient to sort out points of argument.
Between the lines, Paul is exasperated: ‘Here you are, most of you businessmen and rich by reason of your ability to think out strategy and plans; you deduct and come to conclusions all day and every day. Yet, you are suddenly struck dumb and incapable when it comes to making some simply decisions about your fellow Christians… come on, for goodness sake – pull the other leg!” Can you not sense his impatience here?
Today, it is an absurdity for Christians to say we must not judge others, when, every moment of every day, they are engaged in the process of deduction and making judgments about everything else. Indeed, the Christian who says he never judges others is lying, for we all come to our own conclusions, whether or not we express them outwardly.
Unfortunately, too many Christians make their judgments and keep them secret, saying one thing and believing another. This is a source of trouble and deceit, not of Christian virtue. It is being double-minded. How can we have the same mind, if our minds contain conclusions about believers that are different from our daily communications with them?
Though the Corinthians were falsely ‘shy’ about judging their fellow Believers, they had no problem in making their troubles known publicly before unsaved magistrates! This, says Paul, is a dire ‘fault’, hettema – something that diminishes them as Believers, a loss. From hettao, meaning to make less or inferior, yielding to what is not up to the mark. It is ‘wholly’ a fault… holos, altogether, utterly. Paul, then, cannot comprehend why the Corinthians are like this. It is a complete and common error that leads to a diminishing of their Christian faith and lives.
Paul introduces another revolutionary idea, that it is better to suffer the wrong than to bring the case before unbelievers. Note that the total meaning is not that we should simply let offenders go free and unhindered. He is saying that if you have to bring a case, let it be amongst yourselves, so that the unsaved do not have the opportunity to sneer. It seems that fraud is the main problem in this instance, possibly because many were businessmen.
He then turns to those who are the offenders, saying, “You are wrong by defrauding your own brethren! Cut it out!” If we piece the argument together, then, Paul is saying that to offend the brethren is a sin, and to take the offender before unsaved people for judgment is an error. It is a no-win situation that requires faith and purity on the part of both parties. In other words, do not sin against God and do not offend your brethren in the first place. Can you stand against the temptation to have revenge?
Verses 9 - 11
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Then Paul reminds them that certain people will never enter heaven. To put it in a more theological way, those who are predestinated will enter heaven no matter what they do, but if they are predestinated they will be made aware, by the Spirit, not to do unholy acts. They might submit to temptation at times, but they will then quickly respond to conscience and repent.
But, those who are pretenders to salvation will enter the church congregations, do wrong, and care nothing that they have erred. They are neither predestinated nor saved, but appear to be so. Thus, they will offend genuine Believers without real conscience, and will display all the marks of a person given over to a particular sin.
It is these to whom Paul is referring… the unsaved. In giving these examples, Paul is reminding them that people who do such things without conscience are unbelievers who will never enter Heaven, whereas they are saved despite their current penchant for offending their fellows. It is part of his ‘shaming’ process.
How do I know that this interpretation is correct? From the text itself. Paul says that those who do such things continually, without conscience, are ‘unrighteous’, adikos, unjust, deceitful and sinful. In other words, they are unsaved, wicked. They will “not inherit the kingdom of God” because they are not predestinated, and not only because they sin. We all sin.
The difference in status is that God chooses some to salvation and some to damnation. Those who are ‘unrighteous’ who will not enter heaven, will not enter because they are unelected. They cannot ‘inherit’ Heaven, because they were not elected in eternity to be sons and daughters. Paul is demanding, then, that the Corinthians should live up to their calling and not act in such a sinful and demeaning way.
The ‘kingdom of God’ is a synonym for salvation, and one cannot inherit what is not promised legally. Do not be fooled, says Paul. The non-elect will never enter heaven; do not mimic them! He gives examples of the non-elect who will never see heaven…
Fornicators, pornos: male prostitutes, those who indulge in illicit sexual activities (such as those who habitually have sex outside of marriage). In this text illicit refers to what God considers to be illicit, not men. To our shame the West now protects homosexuality by law, whereas God considers it to be a vile sin. It therefore remains illicit to Christians. Paul mentions this and the other sins, specifically because they are being committed by the Corinthians. He has already mentioned the illicit act of incest. It should be pointed out that Paul is speaking here of men, not women, as pornos indicates.
Nor will idolaters enter heaven. These are eidololatres, worshippers of false gods. It also refers to Christians who participate in any way in the worship of heathen people. Today, this can be applied to charismatics, and to ecumenists. It also refers to men who covet money and what it can gain them.
Adulterers, moichos, are mentioned separately to fornicators, though they are often classed as equal. However, this term can mean either a person who is unfaithful to his/her partner, or to the ungodly who cannot tolerate faith in God. This can, then, apply to all who denigrate God or His word, or who harm Christians.
The effeminate, malakos, will never enter Heaven. Mainly this means a catamite – a boy kept for adult homosexual relationships. It also means a man who acts like a woman in manner and sometimes dress (so-called ‘cross-dresser’ or ‘transsexual’), or who uses his body for ‘unnatural lewdness’.
In a similar way, those who are ‘abusers of themselves with mankind’, (one word in the Greek), arsenokoites, will not enter Heaven. These are homosexuals who ‘lie with a male as with a female’. The proper name of ‘sodomite’ should be given to such men. This is unlawful, as the root word koite tells us. Sodomy consists of far more than homosexuality.
Habitual thieves are also banned from Heaven. Kleptes are people who embezzle or steal, thus the name is also given to false teachers who teach lies in order to gain something for themselves, whether money, status or power.
The covetous, pleonektes, are banned, too. These are greedy for whatever they want to gain that belongs to someone else. They loathe what others have and come to believe that they ought to have it for themselves instead. They become very bitter that they have nothing, or do not have what everyone else has.
This is reflected in socialist thinking today and in socialistic schemes that spread wealth from those who have more, to those who have less, simply on the basis that the rich have sufficient to lose. No thought is given to the fact that many who have little are in their position because they have no ability to become richer, or have no desire to work or to save. Nor does such thinking take into account that Christians are allotted their place in life by God, and their lot is determined divinely.
Covetous Christians are sinning by lusting after what their neighbour has, and are thus greedy and envious at heart. Neither state is acceptable to God, and not conducive to a stable and loving Christian community. Paul expressed the true Christian response in his own life, for he says that sometimes he is poor and sometimes better off, sometimes physically attacked and beaten and sometimes left in peace – but always looking to God for whatever he receives, remaining grateful for all and anything, in faith.
The main problem with this sin is that the whole heart and mind are given over to desiring what one cannot have, to such an extent that it is dominant in the life. It is the state many robbers and thieves are in. it also leads to bitterness and hatred of others who have more, and a lack of respect for people and property.
Drunkards, methusos, are simply those who are intoxicated as a way of life. Today they are given the name ‘alcoholics’, but this tends to detract from the plain fact that they are just drunk all day! This is an act of the will, not something forced upon them by genes or some mysterious medical condition.
It is sad that medical experts now include ‘alcoholism’ amongst the genetic ailments, because, in truth, no such ailment exists. There are no medical proofs that drunkenness is an illness. It is merely a bad habit that men and women get into and do not wish to lose. The word can also refer to one who is a serial killer (e.g. ‘drunk on blood’). It is probably that Paul is referring to the former kind – those who drink to excess.
Revilers or loidoros are ‘railers’ or revilers. From loidos, it means someone whose life is spent in creating mischief for others. Euphemistically, they are sometimes referred to as ‘busy-bodies’. Others might call them ‘backstabbers’ or many other names! They are people who cannot stop putting their noses into the lives of other people in order to discover secrets that can destroy their reputation or lives.
Such people are very tiring and few wish to be near them, because they complain constantly and always see the bad in people without true reason. They loathe sin in others and are quick to highlight what others do, seemingly oblivious to their own sins.
Nor will extortioners, harpax, get into Heaven. Simply put, these are robbers. They have an oppressive appetite for wealth, goods and power, and are not too fussy as to how they get them. They take their booty by stealth as well as by force and are both opportunistic and crafty, planning how to take this or that for themselves, whether it is a paper-clip or a gold bar!
None of these people can inherit the kingdom of God (verse 10). Their continuous acts of evil denote people who are given over to their sins by God, who has not elected them to salvation. In no way should a Christian mimic any of these acts of wanton sin, for how can they call themselves saved by grace, when they appear to be the same as the wicked around them?
Paul says that some of the Christians at Corinth were just like the people he says cannot inherit the kingdom. If they were just like them, how could they now be Christians if the text says they will never inherit the kingdom of God? It means that Paul is referring to those who die without ever changing or being saved. He is simply illustrating the kinds of sins that the unsaved can get up to, because it is in their unrighteous nature.
The Corinthians were now saved, ‘washed’ or apolouo, their sins were ‘washed away’ by the blood of Christ. Romanists take from this that baptism is therefore the means of salvation. This is not the case. ‘Washing’ of a person to have salvation is a reference to the blood of Christ, which symbolically cleanses us. It is the washing (louo) of a dead person, or the cleansing of wounds. Before we are saved we are dead in sin. Hence the analogy holds true.
We are not just ‘washed’, we are ‘sanctified’ or hagiazo, made holy, purified, separated from the world and dedicated to God. Though the Corinthians did not appear to be holy, they were nevertheless children of God, pure and undefiled through and in Jesus Christ. In themselves they were sinners worthy only of death and hell, but in Christ they were holy and God’s people, though they did wrong.
Therefore, it was time they acted like it. After all, the root of hagiazo is hagios – most holy thing, a saint. Can you truly think of yourself as a ‘saint’ in God’s eyes, even though you know, in your heart, that you sin daily? Well, that is how God sees you. That is why you not only offend God, but you dishonour yourself when you sin. What you do when you sin is hagos, an awful thing.
The Christian is also ‘justified’, dikaioo, freed from the penalty of sin, made to be what he ought to be in the eyes of God though he might easily sin at times, pronounced acceptable to God despite sinning. The root of ‘justified’ is dikaios, meaning to be upright, righteous, virtuous, and keeping the commands of God, innocent before God, and without flaw or guilt.
These are states before God that we do not deserve, no matter who we are. Whether you have done the worst or the best, you are a sinner who needs God. It is Christ Who gives you authority to enter Heaven, not your own holiness or lack of it.
So, next time you sin, bear in mind how God sees you and try not to do that wrong or think that evil thought. In Christ you are free, so why not live up to that promise and come to know the real and continuous love of God, shunning evil and doing what is pure and good? Of yourself you cannot do it, but will always fail. So, hand over your life to God and forget trying to do it alone, because you will never make it in your own strength.
Whatever pulls you down, give it over to God. Tell Him you are weak and want to continue sinning. Then ask him to take the burden of sin from you, so that you can at last begin afresh… you owe it to yourself as well as to God!
Remember, you are ‘justified in the name of the Lord Jesus’ and by the Holy Spirit, not in your own name or strength. We are all weak and prone to sin. That is why it takes God to remove our guilt and help us to live holy lives. It is only when we live holy lives that we know true strength.
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and he will also raise up us by his own power.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
Paul says; ‘All things are lawful to me”. ‘All’ things? Clearly this English translation cannot convey the idea that everything is lawful, for some things are not! The term ‘all things’ in this text means ‘many things’. ‘All’ is pas which can mean ‘all manner of things’, though it can also mean ‘everything’. ‘Lawful’ is exesti – be lawful, or may be presently lawful.
So, many things are legal to Paul. But, not all things are ‘expedient’ or sumphero, profitable, better or good, or conducive with a Christian life, or helpful. This interesting little word is a compound of sun and phero, which both convey Paul’s true meaning – that some things cannot ‘accompany’ what is being brought forth; some things cannot bear an equal burden, or be borne in the mind at the same time, or prevent one from falling from Christ, or stop one from destroying.
Putting all this together, we see what Paul means by things not being expedient. He is saying that the things of sin cannot be joined with the things of God, because sin tends to destroy whilst holiness builds up; sin is in no way able to bear the same weight as holiness and cannot stop one from falling from Christ. Therefore, Paul refuses to be enslaved by the things of this world, for they stop him from being holy (verse 12).
For Christians there are what previous ages of Christians called ‘besetting sins’. It is very descriptive and accurate, for it speaks of a particular sin that tends to follow us around and it is the sin we tend to fall into the most. If allowed to proliferate, it will take over, as does say alcohol or drug abuse, violence, hatred, stealing, and so on. The sin we might commit once in a while then becomes our Waterloo, for it crushes us and gets rid of any strength to withstand it.
Paul says that though he is not immune from the temptation to participate in these besetting sins, he refuses to be ‘brought under the power of any’. That is, he refuses to let any sin have authority in his life, or to be his master. Rather, he wants to keep his own will and choice, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Any Christian who cannot think this way is actually saying “I want this sin to take over. I want to disobey God.”
He then tells the Corinthians that there are things that we imbibe (here, ‘meats’) into our bodies (‘belly’)… this is another way of talking about the soul, as the word koilia (belly) suggests. That is, we take into the soul many things, both good and bad. God will destroy both… the things we take in as well as the soul. As we read elsewhere, do not fear that which kills the body. Rather, fear him (Satan) who can kill the soul.
He then extends this picture: the body was not made for fornication, but for God. He calls our bodies His ‘temple’, where He lives and which must be kept holy and clean. He is the Master of our soul, not our sins or Satan. That is why none of us can allow any sin to take hold so that it takes over everything we do and say and think. To do so is to dishonour and make dirty the dwelling place of God within our souls. The danger is very clear: if our soul, His temple, is not clean, He will remove His active Presence from us and we will not know peace or grace in our lives whilst we continue to sin.
As Christians we are bound by election and God’s demands to remain pure. If we sin we must immediately repent and turn back to the right path, or God may destroy our bodies in this lifetime. How can we submit to Satan, asks Paul, when God raised up Christ from the grave and will likewise raise us up at the last day, to enter Heaven?
We are promised spiritual riches beyond compare and a life of grace and gifts in Heaven that cannot even be imagined. Yet, in our human faltering wisdom we prefer sin and the grubby offerings of this world! What idiots we can be at times! Stop that sin and get back to God, my friends!
Whilst you use your bodies for sin, remember that they are part of the body of Christ. Each one of us has a designated part to play in God’s world. If we continue to sin instead, we thereby cause the whole Body of Christ to be deficient and to be weakened. As Paul asks, how can I take a body that is part of Christ and join it with a prostitute? It is just not possible, for both are against each other. They cannot cohabit the same Body of Christ. So, the evil use must be put to death.
God forbid (verse 15) that we should try to sin and yet call ourselves Christians! We must stop the sin straight away and get back to God before He leaves us alone in our squalid sins. Is this what you really want for your life? No, says Paul – ginomai!! Let it not be fulfilled! God forbid it! Do not act against God, for it might be the last time you will be allowed to get away with it.
When we join with a prostitute (this can also mean anything sinful) it means that we join with that person or sin. When we join with sin we cannot, by definition, join with God. When we continue in a ‘besetting sin’ we give ourselves over willingly to Satan and reject God; we become as one with Satan and the sin he has insinuated into our life.
But, if we join only with God, we become as one with him, and share His spirit or ways. We share His gifts and benefits or blessings, and are given all that is good for our souls. This will show itself not only to ourselves but also to others.
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Because this joining with sin and evil is so destructive, we are commanded to ‘flee fornication’, pheugo, escape, run away as fast as we can to reach safety, shun any invitation to join, vanish from the scene! You will see in this an imperative action, not a passive wailing and gnashing of teeth that is all words and no activity.
If any Christian truly wishes to remain in God’s favour then he must run from sin as fast as he can, not look at it for a few seconds to think about it! If the opportunity arises to sin, do not make excuses, just say “No!” and turn away. Simple as that. If you do not, it means you want to sin.
Paul says that every other sin is external to ourselves; theft, and so on. But, when we join with someone else sexually we become as one with that person, sharing his or her sin. If we join with sin, we then join with its master, Satan. Thus, whilst sin is primarily an action against God, it is also an action against ourselves. We do ourselves no favours when we sin, even if enjoying it, for every time we sin we destroy another bit of our holiness. We sin or trespass against our own bodies! What fool wants to harm himself? Sadly, every one of us at times.
‘Do you not know’, asks Paul, ‘that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? He lives in you and is part of you. So, you do not own your own body.’ How can you take part in a sinful activity, whether it is illicit sex, hatred, drunken behaviour, theft, etc., when God is residing within? He is watching what you do and listens to what you say, yet you continue to do it? Beware, friends. Repent immediately and stop what you are doing, or reap the awful consequences.
You are ‘bought with a price’, redeemed with something precious - the blood of Jesus Christ. Every time you sin you despise Christ Who died for you. Is this what you truly wish to happen? Well, why continue to sin? If you are saved, then show it. Glorify God (verse 20)! Glorify him in your body and in your spirit. Top to toe, outside and inside. Body, soul and spirit. Live holy lives and desire after obeying and praising God alone, because you belong to Him.
© November 2002 (Revised 2016)