Summary: Ethical living for resurrection people.


1 Corinthians 6:12-20

This passage is a perfect weaving together of the doctrinal with the ethical.

It begins by dealing with what appear to be two slogans of the Corinthians.

First, something which we hear quite often upon the lips of certain Christians even in these days: “all things are lawful for me” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

After all, they argue, quoting one half of another verse: ‘we are not under law, but under grace’ (Romans 6:14).

[Let us cross-reference Romans 6:8-15 to find out what that verse is really teaching.

[First, the context is that of the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:8-10), and our death and resurrection in Him (Romans 6:11).

[Second, because of our union with Him, our bodies should not be surrendered to unrighteousness and sin; but we should yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our bodies as instruments of righteousness in His service (Romans 6:12-13).

[Third, Paul emphasises, ‘For sin shall not have dominion over you…’ Why? ‘for you are not under law, but under grace’ (Romans 6:14).

[And listen! ‘What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Emphatically not!’ (Romans 6:15).]

We all know that the Son came to ‘make us free’, and that when He does so, ‘we shall be free indeed’ (John 8:36). However, that does not give us a licence to be irresponsible. We are set free, at best, to ‘serve’ the LORD - even if that does put us ‘in the wilderness’ in relation to our past activities and acquaintances (Exodus 7:16).

Paul’s reply to the Corinthians’ slogan is not to deny it, but to point out the danger of their attitude. Yes, says Paul: “All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” - i.e. anything other than God (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Going on from there, Paul picks up the second slogan: “Food is meant for the stomach, and the stomach for food” (1 Corinthians 6:13). Well, says Paul: “and God will destroy both the one and the other.”

I wonder if Paul suspected that there were some among his first readers who were using this slogan about FOOD as a metaphor for SEXUAL IMMORALITY? After all, there were some in the church in Corinth who were tolerating incest. And some seemed to be excusing themselves for participating in pagan temple activities - which included not only feasting, but prostitution.

It is for this reason, perhaps, that Paul opens out the point to the wider issue, (more pertinent to our generation): that our bodies are not meant for fornication, but for the Lord.

But the passage is peppered with theological gems.

First, “God has both raised the Lord (Jesus), and will raise us by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). The primary reference here is to the resurrection of the body of Jesus, and therefore to the resurrection of the body of the believer.

Second, “Anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This is held in contradistinction to the forbidden “one body/one flesh” relationship with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:16).

Third, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). This individualises the wider teaching that the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

Fourth, “You are not your own. For you are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And what a price! The blood of God’s dearly beloved Son!

What better motive to “glorify God” in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20).