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Summary: In today's lesson we learn about the evils of sexual sin.

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Scripture

We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.

One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of sexual freedom. Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “Flee Sexual Immorality.”

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20:

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

Introduction

As you read the history of the Christian Church—and I hope you do!—you will soon discover that the Church has not always behaved well.

You will discover that Christians throughout the ages engaged in practices that were considered acceptable in their day. They thought that they were following Christ, but today we realize that they were cultural blind spots.

You will find examples of this in every period of history: the atrocities of the Crusades, the executions of heretics, the wars between different denominations, the horrors of slavery, the sin of apartheid, and the list goes on and on.

You read about these examples and wonder how Christians could ever justify such bad behavior. How could the Church ever have endorsed such horrific practices?

The fact is that God’s people have been behaving badly ever since the beginning. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul addressed a cultural blind spot in that church. He wrote to them about the practice of visiting religious prostitutes.

Corinth was well known in the ancient world for widespread prostitution. In Paul’s day prostitution was often associated with pagan religious practices. The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, stood on the highest peak overlooking the city of Corinth. The thousand female prostitutes who served there contributed to Corinth’s reputation for immorality. The word “Corinthianize” described the prostitution that was going on in Corinth. Pagans believed that participating in religious prostitution promised good fortune and blessing from the gods.

Some in the church were convinced that religious prostitution was a benefit to their spiritual lives as they continued the practice.

From our modern outlook, it is hard for us to believe that any Christian could think this way. And yet, that is exactly the situation that the apostle was dealing with when he wrote to the Corinthians.

We may not have this particular cultural blind spot. But, we have our own blind spots. By looking at what Paul said to the Corinthians about their cultural blind spot, we can learn how to deal with our own blind spots.

Lesson

In today’s lesson we learn about the evils of sexual sin.

I would like to use the following outline for today’s lesson, which I have taken from John MacArthur’s 1 Corinthians:

1. Sexual Sin Harms (6:12a)

2. Sexual Sin Controls (6:12b)

3. Sexual Sin Perverts (6:13-20)

I. Sexual Sin Harms (6:12a)

First, notice that sexual sin harms.

Paul said in verse 12a, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.”

The statement “All things are lawful for me” may have been a common slogan in Corinth. But, as commentator Gordon D. Fee says, “The source of the slogan is debatable.”

It is possible that the Corinthians had turned one of Paul’s statements into a slogan to justify their sexual sin. But, if that is the case, they had misunderstood how Paul used the statement.

Paul would have meant, “All things are lawful for me in Christ.” For Paul the qualification would have applied to what we call the adiaphora (that is, the things indifferent, or the non-essentials) and not to biblical ethics.

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