“Your Bodies are Members of Christ!”

1 Corinthians 6:9-7:9

I would like you to look at one of your hands. They are amazing. They are wonderful members of your body. They have a strong but light-weight bone structure. Your hands have powerful muscles. At the surface, they have very sensitive nerves. Soft skin covers them and protects them. Your hands can be very strong one moment and very gentle the next. You can control your hands to do amazing things. Now your hands are just one part of your body. Your entire body is equally as amazing. In Psalm 139:14, David praises God because he is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Now if I were to ask you, “Whose hand is this?”, you may say, “It’s mine.” How would you respond if I said to you, “No it’s not?” You might say, “It’s attached to my body, of course it’s mine.” What if I said, “It’s not yours, it’s Gods. In fact your whole body is not yours, all of you belongs to God.”

Today, it’s my job to convince you of two things. First, that you are an awesome creation of God. Second, that your body belongs to God. I probably don’t have to work very hard to convince you your bodies are an amazing creation of God. God tells us in Genesis 1:26 that He made us “in His image.” He made us male and female. When a baby is born, one of the first things we do is ask if it’s a boy or a girl. Either way, we see them as amazing and unique. It’s harder for us in our world to convince ourselves that we belong to God. This morning, it’s my job to convince you of this and leave you with one powerful image: to see your body as “Property of God.” This person is “made in heaven” and is “Property of God.”

Why does this matter? If we think that we are not amazing, we may have low self esteem and seek approval of others. If we see ourselves as “Property of Me” we will try to write our own destiny and fulfil our own desires. This can lead to big trouble.

To illustrate this, let’s go back to the City of Corinth in the early A.D. 50’s. There’s a young man in the church there. He doesn’t know he belongs to God. He sees himself as his own man. It is likely that his biological mother is not on the scene. He has been getting to know his father’s new wife. They have become very friendly. He is attracted to her. They spend time together. After a while he makes advances to her and develops a sexual relationship with her. In the first century world of the Roman Empire sexual mores were very loose. He was doing what a lot of people did, fulfilling their own desires, setting their own destiny.

Notice how Paul describes what happened in 1 Corinthians 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality f such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” Notice that he had what did not belong to him. He possessed what belonged to someone else. Ultimately, he had what belonged to God, not to him. The Old Testament Law of Moses, this kind of relationship was expressly forbidden and punishable by death. (You can read about this in Leviticus 18:8, and Deuteronomy 22:30, 27:20 and 22:22.) This man dishonoured God, and his father and mother.

Paul runs a thread through chapters 5, 6 and 7 of 1 Corinthians that reveals several moral problems in first century Corinth. In 5:1 he talks about incest. Notice some of the things that are happening in Corinthian culture, fornication, adultery, homosexuality and effeminate or “soft” behaviour typical of males who allow themselves to be abused sexually (6:9, 13). Men are indulging their desires with prostitutes (6:15, 16). There is a general climate of sexual immoralities (6:18 and 7:2). See if these related words that Paul uses to describe this climate ring any bells:

porneia is prostitution, un-chastity, fornication, every unlawful sexual relationship, porneouow means to prostitute, practice prostitution or sexual immorality, pornay is a prostitute, harlot and pornos is a male prostitute, fornicator, or sexually immoral person of this world.

What is the key to these problems? Certainly, one important factor is that people desire what is not their own and at the same time think their bodies are their own and they are masters of their own destiny. Destiny in the minds of many is to fulfil selfish desires. And people are completely ignorant of their Creator. They don’t know that He has a claim on them. His hand has a claim on theirs.

How is it in our world today? In a way, not much has changed. Our bodies function the same way they did 2,000 years ago. People see their bodies as their own. Naturally, they are fulfilling selfish desires, what feels good for the body. Pornography is increasing. There are two parts to this word “porno” and “graphy,” literally to write about prostitutes or sexual immorality with the purpose of inciting desire in the reader or watcher. The result is that men and women are not seen as precious souls belonging to God but as objects. TV trains us how to look at people. In an average week, most people watch about 15 hours of television. This amounts to about 50,000 images flashed before our eyes.

With all this enticement, it’s hard to resist. We can’t resist atomic bombs alone. We can’t resist the devil alone. It’s hard to resist hormones alone. These chemical messengers are like atomic bombs. We are powerless on our own. This is one reason why sexual images are so rampant in society and used to create desire in us and make us want what is not ours.

People in Corinth wanted what was not their own too. Paul could have told them, “Don’t do that, you can resist on your own strength!” But he didn’t say that. What was God doing to help the Corinthians? Instead of just saying, “No, no, no,” God was giving them a whole new perspective on their bodies, a view that is 180 degrees from how we usually look at ourselves. God is saying in 6:13 that He has a purpose for our bodies. They are for His service. He is for our bodies. They have value. In 6:14 God says that our bodies have a future. They are not just destined for dust in the grave. He is going to raise our bodies up and give us resurrection bodies, just like He raised Jesus and gave Him a resurrection body.

Paul makes this amazing statement in 6:15, that our “bodies are members of Christ.” Our bodies are members of Christ. Hey Paul! “I knew my soul is part of Christ. Are you telling me that my body is part of Christ too?” That’s right. “Your bodies are members of Christ.” What you expose your body to you expose Christ to. What you look at and indulge in with your body is what you do with a “member of Christ.” Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28 that to look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery. To put it positively, we need to “give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons” Deuteronomy 4:9). We need to look straight ahead and not turn aside to the right or to the left (Proverbs 4:25-27) to those things that would hurt us and bring down the name of Jesus. We need God to train us with His eye (Psalm 32:8). Our eyes need to focus on what He would have us look at, things that are good. “Your bodies are members of Christ.” Take every thought captive to His obedience (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Paul goes on to show that in marriage the bodies of a husband and wife are “one flesh” (6:16; Genesis 2:24). A husband and wife are one with each other and one in union with the Lord (6:17). One who sins sexually is sinning against his own body (6:18). The 180 degree viewpoint from here is seeing our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (6:19). God’s Holy Spirit lives in us. He empowers us and guides our thoughts to a higher plane. A fruit of God’s Holy Spirit is self control. We can’t resist on our own. We need His power. We are His. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We His people and the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). Our bodies are His. Our “bodies are members of Christ!”

Paul saves the best until last. We “have been bought with a price” (6:20). God owns our bodies yet He buys them back. He pays an extremely high price for our bodies. He buys them with the priceless precious blood of Jesus. As blood brings food, healing, and cleansing for our physical bodies, Jesus’ blood brings food, healing, and cleansing to our spiritual bodies. Jesus died, was buried, and was raised for us. His amazing hands were pierced for us. He washes, sanctifies, and justifies us (6:11). We are united with His death and washed by His blood when we are immersed into Christ in baptism. God raises us up to walk in newness of life. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “glorify God in your body” (6:20). Walking in newness of life glorifies God. We look at and do things that bring honor to His name. We bring honor to His name. Instead of dragging it down, we life it up. We do this in our marriages by honouring the co-ownership of bodies that husbands and wives share and by having children, “holy offspring” (7:4, 14). Our “bodies are members of Christ” and bring glory to God just as Jesus did with His body when He was on earth.

This is not easy in the world in which live today in 2004. We are bombarded with hundreds of messages that are telling us to satisfy the desires of our body. This week the average Canadian will watch about 15 hours of TV. They will see people use their bodies for ungodly purposes. They will see many bodies killed. They will see the body as a means of pleasure and watch many commercials enticing them to care for and gratify their bodies. In 15 hours of TV the average Canadian will see 55,000 images. This morning in one short half-hour, I’m asking you to remember one image: “Your bodies are members of Christ!” It takes time to train our minds in God’s way of seeing our bodies. We need to grab onto this image and make it ours over a life time of practice: “Your bodies are members of Christ!”

You are God’s. You belong to Him. Your body is God’s. He will raise your body from the dead just like He did Jesus’ body. Let this thought sink deep into your mind: “Your bodies are members of Christ!” Where you go, Jesus goes. What you look at Jesus looks at. What you watch, Jesus watches. So think higher positive thoughts. See others, not just as physical, but as precious souls. Remember that sexual immorality is not just about actual physical adulteries. It’s about our thoughts. This is Jesus point in Matthew 5:27-28. Lust is adultery. So, we have to watch what we let into our minds. It is sooooooo hard to get unclean thoughts out once we let them in.

“Your bodies are members of Christ.” Take every thought captive to His obedience (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God is the one who determines what we should be looking at. He is the one who determines that the physical relationship between a man and a woman is with the boundaries of love in marriage. It is not entertainment. Paul says “Flee immorality” (6:18). He repeats this twice to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22). Fleeing immorality is a valid safety mechanism, a safe guard that God gives us. Proximity to trouble puts us in harms way. We don’t have trouble with temptations 1,000 miles away. It’s the things that are near that tempt us. So getting our bodies away from immoral situations is one of God’s safeguards. This is much of what Proverbs says to young people. Watch the situations that you are going into and stay away from those where you can see trouble coming. Flee from immorality and pursue righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11). Stay near God’s people.

The Holy Spirit lives in you as a temple and in the temple of God’s people (3:19-20; 6:). He helps us overcome. See yourselves for what you are. You are amazing. You are made in the image of God. Let your bodies bring glory and honor to Him. “Your bodies are members of Christ!”

Paul Birston

July 2004©

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