John 8:31-32 (NIV)
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The messages in this series on Real Life Christianity have been a bit heavy. Paul deals with some pretty tough subjects that hit pretty close to home for a lot of us. I was thinking about maybe doing a “lighter” message this week – but then during our Thursday AM prayer time one of the people there brought up the verse I just read. “You will know the truth – and the truth will set you free.” They reminded me that unless I speak the truth – even though it may be a hard truth – people like you will be in bondage. And if I want to follow my calling as God as given it to me, I MUST tell the truth from God’s word.
So before I actually begin today’s message, which I’m pretty sure is going to make a lot of us feel uncomfortable at some point, I’d like for us all to pray for the fulfillment of John 8:32 in our lives – that we would know the truth, but more than that, the truth would set us free! Let’s pray….
Error in Corinth: God has saved me by grace and has freed me from the Jewish law. Because salvation is free Christians are free to do whatever they want with their bodies. After all, salvation is a “spiritual” thing, and our bodies are only “temporary”. They believed that as long as they loved the Lord with their spirits – it really didn’t matter what they did with their bodies.
This kind of living was especially “convenient” for the Corinthian men who had converted to Christianity from the pagan religions of Corinth. Many of these pagan religions considered it an act of “worship” to have sexual relations with a shrine prostitute, and so the city was filled with opportunities for sexual immorality that was acceptable to the culture. But evidently many of them did not consider this a problem, since sexual immorality only involved their bodies and not their spirit or soul.
This kind of thinking crops up all over the place in 21st century America. Thousands of people in America claim to be “Christians” and yet their lives are no different than the people around them who are not Christians. They have been “saved” or so they think – but their behavior has never changed. They still follow any desire their physical body has, with little thought of how this type of living is actually in opposition to the type of life Christians are called to live.
Paul addresses this in 1 Cor. 6:9-20, leading them to the conclusion that in everything they do they are to HONOR GOD WITH THEIR BODIES.
1 Corinthians 6:9-20 (NLT)
9Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers--none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. 11There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.
12You may say, "I am allowed to do anything." But I reply, "Not everything is good for you." And even though "I am allowed to do anything," I must not become a slave to anything. 13You say, "Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food." This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them. But our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14And God will raise our bodies from the dead by his marvelous power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. 15Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16And don’t you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, "The two are united into one." 17But the person who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
18Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
In order to apply this passage in our lives, let’s start with the conclusion Paul makes and then work backward.
1. I am a steward of my physical body, but it belongs to the Lord. (v. 19-20)
You may think that your body belongs to you – but the Word says actually you’ve been bought by a high price. God purchased you through the blood of his Son Jesus, and you agreed to the deal when you came to him in faith and turned your life over to His Lordship.
Because of this you have to think differently about what you do with your body.
ILLUS: When I drive my own car, I tend to take it for granted. I stop and start a bit quicker. I speed a bit more often. I do dumb things like trying to change the CD on my portable CD player while driving.
But if I drive someone else’s car my mindset changes. I don’t take chances. I keep my hands on the wheel. I do everything possible to avoid having to say to the owner “I wrecked your car.”
This is what we have to keep in mind about our bodies. They really aren’t ours. They belong to God – and we are simply stewards of them, in charge of their care while we live life on this earth.
So, we must HONOR GOD WITH OUR BODIES.
TRANS: But what does this mean exactly? Well, as you just heard Paul explain in some detail, first of all it means…
2. I must keep myself sexually pure. (v. 13-18)
13You say, "Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food." This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them. But our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.
There were those who were making the argument that since God made our bodies with stomachs – we should go ahead and fill it with food. In the same manner, they argued, God made our bodies with sexual parts and sexual desires, so we should go ahead and fulfill the sexual desires God has given us.
It’s a common lie today. I talked with a fellow CTK pastor last week and he told me of a discussion he had recently with a man in his twenties who wanted to know if this pastor really thought it was POSSIBLE to date someone without being involved sexually. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing.
Nearly every TV show, every secular music video, nearly every popular song and nearly every movie coming out of Hollywood shouts the message: “It’s your body! If it feels good do it! Sex is just a physical act like any other physical act. If your body desires sex, then fulfill that desire as often as possible.”
But remember - your body does not belong to you. Just as I don’t have a right to use my friend’s car in a dangerous way – I don’t have the right to use my body and join it with someone else.
Paul reminds us that though the world tells us our bodies were made for sex, and therefore all sex is permissible - God’s word calls us to a different standard. Sexual purity. What is sexual purity?
Sexual purity is when sexual gratification is found only in the marriage relationship.
God’s design, way back at creation, was for a man and woman to be joined in marriage and become one flesh – physically, emotionally, financially – in every way.
The sexual drives he gives us are good – when channeled in the right direction. And that right direction is within the confines of marriage. That’s why it says…
Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Let me put it this way: sexual purity, though scoffed by the world is to be the NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE. It may seem impossible – but that is only because we have bought into the lies the world gives us that single people can’t live healthy, fulfilling lives without sex. We’ve come to believe the lie that we can’t possibly be fulfilled in a lifelong marital union with only one sexual partner.
How can you keep yourself sexually pure?
-be realistic about what tempts you.
Alcoholics don’t frequent bars if they are trying to stay clean and sober.
If you are tempted more in certain places or when doing certain activities – you need to recognize those places and actions. Then…
-set boundaries that will keep you from tempting situations.
Because I had failed in a previous relationship, I knew when I was dating Ann, and especially when we were engaged that I needed some strong boundaries.
“Nothing good happens after 11:00.”
“Bedrooms are off limits.”
“kissing only” – I’ve known some people who knew that kissing would only get going too far and who actually set the boundary at holding hands. The point is you need to know yourself and where the line of sexual purity starts getting crossed. Then set a boundary a couple steps away from that place.
-refuse to date anyone who is not equally committed to sexual purity.
If you are committed to honoring God with your body, you will need to make this known to anyone that you enter into a dating relationship with. You’ve got to realize that just because you’re dating a Christian person doesn’t mean they necessarily share the same desire to honor God with their body and be sexually pure. You need to talk about it with them so you’ll work on it as a team. If the other person does not respect the boundaries you need to establish, you know very quickly that this person is not marriage material, and should spend your energy finding someone who is.
-guard your mind from sexually charged media.
It doesn’t matter if you are single or married, young or old. If you are committed to honoring God with your body, you’ve got to be vigilant about allowing sexual images into your mind.
ILLUS: Pink Panther movie when I was a kid had a picture of a naked woman falling out of a window. I don’t remember anything about the movie – the plot was over my head. I do remember that image.
Men especially – make the commitment to “bounce your eyes”. Walking through a mall and all of a sudden you come up on a Victoria’s Secret store? Bounce your eyes.
Flipping through the channels and come across a sexual scene in a movie? bounce your eyes (and turn off the TV and do something else!)
Working with a woman who is wearing revealing clothes? Bounce your eyes.
Be vigilant and guard your mind from any image that will tempt you to begin thinking sexually about anyone who does not belong to you and to whom you are not committed for life.
Having said all that – there will still be times when a sexual temptation presents itself. Paul, a single man, knew this, and his advice to the Corinthians was very clear.
18Run away from sexual sin!
When you know you’re in a situation that is getting too tempting – RUN! Get out of the situation. We’re told in 1 Cor. 10:13 that whenever we face a temptation, God always provides a way out. Oftentimes that way out is simply to get out of the tempting situation!
My prayer for you is that you would be set free from the bondage of sexual sin by the truth that your body is not yours to do whatever you want with. Your body is the Lord’s and was meant to bring him honor and glory!
TRANS: But the idea that my body actually belongs to God has more applications than just in my sexual behavior. In verse 12 we learn that there is a much broader principle we must keep in mind.
3. I must not allow my body to be enslaved to anything. (v. 12)
12You may say, "I am allowed to do anything." But I reply, "Not everything is good for you." And even though "I am allowed to do anything," I must not become a slave to anything.
Paul tells us that if we are to honor God with our bodies, we must not allow our bodies to be enslaved to anything.
OK get ready because here comes some hard truth that most people won’t want to hear. If there is anything, other than time worshiping God, that you CAN’T GET THROUGH THE DAY WITHOUT – THAT THING IS ENSLAVING YOU.
Are you a junk food junkie? A sugarholic? Is there any sort of chemical - yes caffeine included - that you are dependent upon?
I urge you to take whatever measures you need to free your body from enslavement to anything.
Let me be clear about this: I don’t believe that if you’re addicted to caffeine or nicotine or sugar that you are sinning. We talk about keeping the main thing the main thing – this is not a MAIN THING. I am much more concerned with the fruit of the Holy Spirit growing in your life than whether you need a caffeine fix to get going each day.
But I will say that God desires to be your all in all. He wants to be that one to whom you run when you are stressed out. He wants to fill you with his strength and his power. If there is something other than God that gives you the power to get through your day – this is awfully close to the definition of idolatry.
CONCLUSION: OK have I stepped on enough toes yet? Let me close with a quick word about why honoring God with your body is so important.
--Because God loves you and wants what is best for you.
--It will lead to a life without regret.
--It will lead to a life full of spiritual intimacy and spiritual power.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Satan wants you to believe the lie that honoring God with your body will lead you to be repressed and unhealthy.
God says if you want to enjoy LIFE you’re going to have to trust me that purity is the best way to go – and then commit yourself to living a lifestyle that honors me with every choice you make with your body.
The abundant life awaits all those willing to follow God’s word. How about you?
Lord what area of my life needs your touch today?
What do I need to repent of?
Who do I need to talk to get help?
What boundaries do I need to set up?