First Corinthians 6:12-20
The Body As Home Of The Holy Spirit

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1.  The phrase "all things are permitted for me" is repeated twice in verse twelve.  It appears again in chapter ten.  It seems to have been a slogan the people at the church of Corinth were using.  This phrase "all things are permitted for me" meant, in a nutshell, "I'm free!"  They were claiming they were "perfect people" who had attained special knowledge (gnosis, gnosiV) and they were a spiritual people who had obtained perfect freedom.  Since they were a spiritual people, they thought they were no longer influenced by the visible material world.  Naturally as a result of that, their claim lead them to loose living.  Because, according to their thinking, whatever they did in the body no longer mattered.  Many of the Corinthians were persuaded in by such an idea.  This idea became the heresy of gnosticism which afterwards threatened the entire church.

2.  Well, even though it might not come under the gnostic heresy, this situation of faith being divorced from the visible material world and its deterioration by an idealistic seed can take place in any time period.  This problem is always dangling before the faith understanding of christians living in Japan.  So, faith is highly likely to become just a head or heart matter.  Then, for example, one's cash, work, romance, home, sex, society, nation, organization of the church, and specific situations can't make their connection to faith.  Instead, they think it is faithful to separate it from these every day real situations.  We must learn through this epistle how we are to combat being changed by ideas that are analogous to gnosticism.

The Body For The Lord, The Lord For The Body

3.  First, we must remember the connection between the body and Christ.  Please look at the second half of verse thirteen.  "The body is not for immoral acts, but is for the Lord, the Lord is for the body."  In this verse the close relationship between our "body" and Christ is expressed.

4.  "The body" that Paul is speaking of here does not mean "the flesh" as in contrast to spirit or mind.  The body stands for the entire person including all of the flesh and the mind.  The connection between us and the Lord doesn't mean that our hearts are just joined to the Lord, but that our entire existence is joined to the Lord.  When he says that we exist for the Lord, this means not just our hearts, but that all of our flesh and minds exist for the Lord.  When he says that the Lord is our savior, this means that the Lord is not merely the savior of our hearts, but is a savior saving all of our being in its entirety.  Therefore, when when we offer ourselves in response to the Lord's grace, we do not only offer up our hearts, but we offer all our flesh, all our minds, both our insides and our outsides as the Lord's.  The Lord accepts unto himself not only our hearts but our entire body.  As a result then, we don't become christians in heart only, but involving the entire body, we become christians that include all of our day to day living that pertains to the body as well.

5.  The relationship of Christ and our bodies is compared to the relationship of food and the belly, which was [dealt with] previously in the text.  The connection between food and the belly is also close.  "Food is for the belly, and the belly is for food."  But, the relationship of these two is not for ever.  The text says, "God will destroy both of them."  They will be destroyed together.  In the world to come, food and the belly are not related.

6.  In contrast to this, the relationship of our bodies and the Lord are eternal.  Because our bodies will be resurrected.  Earlier we confessed The Apostles' Creed together.  What did we say at the end of it?  Did we say, we "believe in the resurrection of the body and in everlasting life?"

7.  In verse fourteen, this is what Paul says, "God raised the Lord from the dead and through that power he will raise us up from the dead as well."  When the Lord appeared again to his disciples, the Lord did not appear as a ghost loosened from the flesh.  The Lord appeared with a resurrected body, a glorious body.  Even this glorious state will soon be the state we will be given.  This state, where we are completely set free from the chains of sin and destruction and we take part in the glory of God, is a state in which all of our being as a person is saved.

8.  We live with the body here and now as persons who will one day be resurrected with our bodies.  Our bodies are for the Lord in both this world and the world to come.  Our faith life that we have in the body is a down payment to us on our risen bodies.  Thus, it matters much how we live in this visible physical world with our bodies.  We shouldn't live as if the body is for loose living and immoral actions.

As A Part Of Christ's Body

9.  Secondly, we must see that our bodies are a part of the body of Christ.  Please look at verse fifteen.  In this verse the depth of the relationship between our bodies and Christ as I stated earlier is given further clarification.  "Don't you know that your body is a part of the body of Christ?"

10.  Make no mistake.  When the Bible calls the church "the body of Christ," it is not merely some "allegory."  In all truth, it is the body of Christ.  The heavenly Christ had a body that historically existed upon this earth.  Even today through his body Christ is related to this present world.  By the workings of the Holy Spirit we are made a part of his body.  That we exist bodily in the visible church says that very thing.  When we are a part of Christ, "life isn't a neutral thing, neither here nor there," nor is it "a do as you please existence."  [Who we are matters.  What we do matters.]  We might need to reconsider the gravity of this truth.

11.  The Corinthian believers weren't discerning the seriousness of this truth.  Christ is related to the world through us, which put another way, would be that the relationship between us and the world cannot possibly be not related to Christ.  For example, if a christian associates with a prostitute, a part of the body of Christ has associated with the prostitute.  By that Paul is saying "Should you let a part of the body of Christ be part of the body of a harlot?"

12.  Sexual sin in particular is serious due to its being related directly to the body.  Sexual relationships make two people one body.  Paul spoke quoting the words of Genesis, "Two persons become one flesh."  We should not think lightly about any sin, but especially the problem of sexual sin.  When we consider the current situation in this country, we can't emphasize this enough.  The Bible commands, "Avoid immoral acts."  It is commanded to us today, too.

As The Temple Of The Holy Spirit

13.  Thirdly, we must see that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Paul put it like this, "Don't you know?  Your bodies are a temple in which the Holy Spirit whom you have received from God dwells and you are no longer your own," (verse nineteen).

14.  Earlier we were looking at the relationship between our body and Christ.  [The Bible] said that our body is a part of the body of Christ.  However, why in the first place is such an one made into part of the body of Christ?  In addition it says that [the body] is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  How could that be possible?  Paul speaks on that with "You were bought with a price."

15.  The debt of the sin that humankind commits with his or her bodies is profoundly real before God.  The problem of sin is not just some guilt feeling in our hearts.  It is an actual debt before God.  However, with Christ as the substitute he paid this debt.  With his body, shedding his blood on the cross, he redeemed our sins.  Because sin is so real in this world, redemption must also be real.  That's why it was paid for with a body that existed in the real world.  I am no longer my own.  Because of this, Paul continued on saying, "Therefore, make the glory of God manifest with your own body."

16.  So, how are we suppose to take this command?  In all reality, we think that people having an existence in a visible body is so troublesome.  Since people have flesh, they suffer and have sorrows.  They also sin through the flesh.  To the Greeks the flesh was only an evil worthy of destruction.  In some sense it seems that their having thought of the flesh as a prison of the soul was not too unreasonable.  And as I said before, "the body" is not just flesh.  It includes the spirit.  Therefore, it is every bit trouble and more.  Aren't we so replete and marked with faults in our wills, and in our feelings, and in our intellect?  When we see it like that, the command to "make the glory of God manifest with your own body" even seems totally impossible to ever fulfill.

17.  But, in spite of that, without hesitation Paul gives [them] the words of this command.  Why does he?  As I said before, to live as a believer is the same as living with the resurrection body ahead of time [as a down payment].  By God's grace, we are already made a part of the body of the risen Christ.  We are already made into the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.  In everything with which our body has to do, the Spirit of the living God is at work in this present world.  Since that's so, while it is a command, the command to "make the glory of God manifest with your body" is also a message of encouragement giving us hope to strengthen us.  We can live glorifying God.  God's glory is not manifested through our endurance and efforts.  When we live as God's temple, the glory of God will the Holy Spirit himself reveal.

18.  Finally, only one thing is important.  It is that we not make the claim that "This body is my body."  We are not to say, "What's wrong if I use my body for me?  What's wrong with using my life for me?"  To live in the awareness of ourselves that we were bought, that we belong to God is to live as God's temple.  A person who does that is one who glorifies God with his or her own body.

 
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