AN EXPOSITION OF 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12-14
In context, the Christians in Corinth were being instructed not to go to Law against one another. They should take their differences with one another to the Elders of the local assembly and abide by their ruling. The church has been reminded that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. No one should be deceived. Unrepentant and practicing fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, extortionist, will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Before anyone despairs under the weight of conviction, the Bible goes on to say, “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.” (1 Cor. 6:11) Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Christ comes to save individuals from their sins so that, in the sphere of redemption there is freedom to walk in the newness of life where all things become lawful.
12 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.
When Paul says that “all things are lawful” he does not use the word “all” in a comprehensive sense. Care must be taken with Biblical words lest false teachings arises. Christians are not antinomian, or lawless. There are boundaries to observe. But Christians are free. Specifically, in context, Christians are free to engage in moral behavior that glorifies God.
In matters of morality, the Corinthians were part of a moral morass that characterizes our 21st century. There was an emphasis on food, and inappropriate sex. Individuals were being brought under the power of their bodily appetites. Today, we use the word addiction. People are addicted to that which consumes and destroys them. There are people who are addicted to drama. They enter into a relationship that is full of anger, violence, and trauma. Millions of people are addicted to drugs. Others are addicted to food. Still others are addicted to inappropriate sexual behavior. The Corinthians struggled with their appetites and with fornication.
13 Meats [foods] for the belly, and the belly for meats [foods]: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication [(por-ni’-ah) harlotry (including adultery and incest)], but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
There is nothing wrong with food. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good meal. However, if care is not taken, then food can become an inordinate appetite, which is why one day God shall destroy both the inappropriate appetite, and the person who has made food their god.
The same is true with sex. As Billy Graham reminded a group of unruly young people on a beach one summer. He had been asked by the local police to speak to them. Billy asked the young people, once he got the attention of some, what they wanted to talk about. Someone shouted out, “Sex.” And Billy responded, “Sex is a wonderful thing. Sex is by divine idea. Without it none of us would be here.” Well, that had their attention. Paul had the attention of the Corinthians when he told them the body is for the Lord. They thought it was only for their own pleasure. If a woman of Corinth were alive today she would say, “It’s my body and I will do with it what I want.” That is not a Christian view of the body. The Bible says, “the body is for the Lord.”
What that means, is that God has many wonderful ideas for the body. The Psalmist said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14)So what does God have in mind for the body?
First, the body is designed to have fellowship with God. Originally, Adam and Eve were created in a mature state. In that state of maturity they enjoyed daily fellowship with the Lord each evening in the cool of the day. Then they sinned and the fellowship was broken, but the original intention continued. God still wanted to have fellowship with them, and came looking for them. “Adam, where art thou?” (Gen. 3:9)
Second, the body is designed for procreation. God blessed Adam and Eve and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. 1:28a)
Third, the body is designed to rule the earth. God told Adam and Eve to subdue the earth, “and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28b)
Fourth, the body is designed for pleasure. “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” (Prov. 5:18-19) In this area, Christians in general, and the Puritans in particular, have been falsely accused of being inhibitors of sensual pleasure. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Song of Solomon is one of the most erotic pieces of literature in the ancient world, and it is full of practical wisdom in the area of pleasure.
Fifth, the body is designed for the indwelling of the divine. My heart is to be God’s home. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23)
In the 2001 March edition of Our Daily Bread, the story is told of a woman who straightened up her house every night before going to bed. She did this because she did not want the Lord to catch her being a messy housekeeper if He should return before morning. Another lady tried to emulate her high standard of neatness, but as a young homemaker, wife, and mother, she usually ended the day knowing that her house would not pass the test.
Maintaining a well-kept house for the Lord’s glory is a worthy aspiration. But eventually the younger lady came to understand that the house on the street where she lived was not the Lord’s primary concern. He cared much more about the state of the house where He lives—in the heart.
In John 14:21, we find two ways to maintain the heart: love God, and obey His commands. Disobedience to God makes our heart—our home dirty. But obedience, that is expressed out of love for Him, will make our hearts a suitable home for God now, and we will be ready when Christ returns.
The following prayer can help differentiate between external standards and eternal ones: “Help me, Father, to clean my heart as I would my home. Take away all the dust and cobwebs of pride, ill feelings, and prejudice. I want to keep a clean heart-home for You.”
“My heart should be a royal throne,
For Christ has come to live in me.
I’ll keep it clean and free from sin,
That’s what His dwelling place must be.”—Hess
Sixth, the body is designed for eternity. One day the body will be rejuvenated in the resurrection. Though subject to the law of death because of the transgression, the Lord plans to redeem the body. The resurrection will take place on the last day of human history. The last day of human history will take place on the day when Christ returns the second time for all who believe.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
If you are curious as to what are some characteristics of the resurrected body, the prototype is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible has many wonderful facts about the glorified body that the righteous will receive. The promise is given. The Lord WILL raise us up by His own power.
14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.