First Corinthians 6:12-20
The Body Of Christ - The Temple Of The Holy Spirit

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. In today's passage of scripture the word for "body" is found repeatedly. In the Bible, this word "body" does not simply point to the flesh as distinct from the spirit. The word stands for the entire human being with both mind and body included. It [means] the whole me, that's me and my "body." How we understand [our] "bodies" is very very important for us because in the way a believer understands his or her body will settle for him or her how one is to be in one's faith life. In today's passage of scripture, two important concepts related to our bodies are shown to us [for our understanding]. The first one is that our bodies are a part of Christ's body. The second one is that our bodies are a temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Today, I would like for us to listen to the word of God as it speaks to us about our bodies along these lines, and I would like for us to ponder what it all still means.

The Parts Of Christ's Body

2. For starters, please look at verse fifteen. "Don't you know that your bodies are a part of Christ's body?," (6:15), says Paul. The phrase, "Don't you know?," has as its assumption that "If you're a Christian, you're supposed to know that automatically." Therefore, if you're hearing this for the first time, and since this is foundational stuff, I would like you to really remember this. The Bible teaches that "The church is the body of Christ." The Christ. who was crucified, who has risen from the dead and who has ascended into heaven, has a body. It is not in heaven. It is on earth. While on earth, while in history, he had a body to fulfill the will of God. In this world he has hands and feet. This body of Christ's is the church which has been put into the world. Therefore, being a Christian, by default, means to be a part of Christ's body. These bodies of ours are made a part of Christ's body.

3. Don't be mistaken. To say that the church is the body of Christ is not some simple analogy. It is the very body of Christ. Thus then, at least two things can be said about Christ's body. First, there is a vital connection to each part of that body and Christ. Our bodies and Christ are inseparably intertwined. This body is for Christ, Christ is for this body and gives it life. The phrase that "The body is not for lewd deeds, but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body," (second part of verse thirteen), expresses this close relationship.

4. Secondly, it says that this relationship with Christ is not temporary but eternal. It is not bound by a person's death; for, Christ is the risen one and the risen Christ is not under the rule of death now. Since Christ is not under the rule of death, the body that is joined to Christ will also not be under the rule of death. Because Christ is risen, Christ's body is also risen from the dead. It says this in the Bible, "God raised the Lord from the dead and will also raise us from the dead by that [same] power," (verse fourteen). Thus, to those who have been made a part of the body of Christ, death is essentially already conquered. [Christians] have that type of relationship with Christ and the parts of his body.

5. In this way then, Paul said to them, "Don't you know?," and stated again the foundational teaching that Christians are a part of the body of Christ. Why did he do that? It was namely because in the Corinthian church whether they knew it or not, there were people living like they didn't. What these people were thinking and how they lived can be found in Paul's words just before. The words that have come up most often on the people's lips in the Corinthian church, like slogans, are recorded there.

6. One is in verse twelve. It is the phrase of "All things are permitted to us." In short, they are saying, "I'm free." People who make such a statement are saying that they think they are special. In other words, they think themselves to be spiritual people who have obtained perfect freedom. They are not effected by the physical world because they are spiritual people. Therefore, in anything pertaining to the physical world, whatever they want to do is all allowed, so they think.

7. There is another slogan that has to do with that type of thinking. It's in the first half of verse thirteen. "Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will destroy both of them." This doesn't have quote marks around it in the New Interconfessional Version that we are using. But, it is believed that this is a phrase from the Corinthians that Paul was quoting. If we ask what does this mean, in a word, it would be "What's wrong with eating what you want?" They said, "Whatever we eat or whatever we drink, both the stomach and the food belong to this dying world, and have nothing to do with eternal salvation as related to the spirit." But, by their speaking like that, they did not only mean we should satisfy our appetites. The same thing was being said [by them] about [their] sexual appetites. [They said,] there's nothing wrong with having a physical relationship with a prostitute. There's nothing wrong with having sex with someone other than your marriage partner. There's nothing wrong at all with having any pleasure with your body. Don't all these belong to the passing and dying world? What does any of that have to do with eternal salvation? Claims like that were being made.

8. Thus, Paul just had to speak out on the body of Christ. "Don't you know that your bodies are a part of the body of Christ? Should you make a part of the body of a harlot a part of the body of Christ?," (verse fifteen).

9. As I mentioned earlier, to say that we are a part of the body of Christ is not making a comparison or an analogy. Our bodies are really parts of the body of Christ. What we do with our bodies has everything to do with Christ. For example, if a Christian commits adultery, a part of the body of Christ has committed adultery. Sexual sin is particularly serious because it is related to the deepest personal part of the body. Paul speaks on by quoting from the words of Genesis that "Two people will become one body." In particular, it must be emphasized repeatedly that when we consider the situation of our country today, we could say this about any sin, but we should especially not take the problem of sexual sin lightly.

The Temple Of The Holy Spirit

10. Well, let's go on to the second concept related to the body. In verse nineteen, the text says it like this: "Don't you know? Your bodies are temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells, which you have received from God, you are no longer your own," (6:19). This sentence is another that is to be taken as a presupposition of something "you're supposed to know." If you are hearing this for the first time, since this is also foundational, please by all means remember it. It is that when you're a Christian, you're a temple of the Holy Spirit.

11. A temple is a residence of God. Our bodies' being a temple means that our bodies are a home for God. The scripture says, "the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells." Also, the temple is a building dedicated for worshipping God. It is a building for honoring God and which was made for him. In the same way, our bodies' being temples means we are dedicated to God for his glory. Since our bodies are temples of God, we longer belong to ourselves. We're Gods. The text says, "You are no longer your own."

12. However, I notice a surprisingly large gap in these words. It is the gap between "your bodies" and "the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells." Check it out and see. Back then, the temple was still being built in Jerusalem. Once a disciple of Jesus looked at it and said out loud, "Master, please look at it. What marvelous stones, what a marvelous building!," (Mark 13:1). But it was a building that was being built back then at the time. As the residence of God, as a public place of worship, a splendid building dedicated to God was there. But on the other hand, there are these bodies of ours. There we are with both mind and body included. There we are truly running over with weakness and brokenness, there we are full of sin and stains. As the Bible points to us in our totality and to our whole body, it says, your body is a temple of God. Can you flat out accept that? Can you bridge that gap?

13. When we do accept these awesome words, it will only be on one basis. It is written in verse twenty. "You were bought when he paid the price," (6:20). Christ paid the price and bought [you and me]. On the cross he shed his blood, gave his life, paid the price and bought us. He bought us and paid in our place for the debt of all our sin. He paid a whopping amount for a useless dilapidated building full of holes. For that reason we don't belong to ourselves anymore. We have been made Christ's. So, by becoming Christ's, we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit; for, by our own natures originally we were not fit to be temples. This is all the work of God's grace.

14. Paul continues with "Therefore, show forth the glory of God with your body." The temple is a place where God is worshipped and his name is revered. The temple exists for the glory of God. "Therefore, show forth the glory of God." - In sum, this means live for the glory of God for that original purpose because we have already been made into temples.

15. When the Bible said, "Live for the glory of God," we don't need to think of anything big. Big things are not necessarily associated with the glory of God. The important thing is that we do not [go around] claiming, "This is my body. This is my life." We are to always keep in mind that we do not belong to ourselves. We are to truly make for our own prayer the prayer of "Let thy name be honored" in our every day clean living.


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