Avoiding Sexual Sin (Day 10)

Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
   Paul emphasizes God’s action in making believers new people. The three aspects of God’s work are all part of our salvation: Our sins were washed away, we were sanctified, or set apart for special use by God, and we have been justified, or made right with God. 
   Paul is describing characteristics of unbelievers. He doesn’t mean that all those who have indulged in sexual sin or who have been idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers are automatically and irrevocably excluded from heaven. Christians come from all kinds of backgrounds, including these. They may still struggle with evil desires, but they should not continue in these practices. Paul clearly states that even those who sin in these ways can have their lives changed by Christ. However, those who say that they are Christians but persist in these practices with no sign of remorse will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Such people need to reevaluate their lives to see if they truly believe in Christ. 
   In a permissive society it is easy for Christians to overlook or tolerate some immoral behavior while remaining outraged at others. We must not participate in sin or condone it in any way; we cannot be selective about what we condemn or excuse. Staying away from more acceptable forms of sin is difficult, but it is no harder for us than it was for the Corinthians. God expects His followers in any age to have high standards. 
   Apparently the church had been quoting and misapplying the words “everything is lawful to me.” Some Christians in Corinth were excusing their sins by saying that 1) Christ had taken away all sin, and so they had complete freedom to live as they pleased, or 2) what they were doing was not strictly forbidden by Scripture. Paul answered both these excuses: 1) While Christ has taken away our sin, this does not give us freedom to go on doing what we know is wrong. The New Testament specifically forbids many sins that were originally prohibited in the Old Testament (Romans 12 and 13). 2) Some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our life and lead us away from God. 3) Some actions may hurt others. Anything we do that hurts rather than helps others is not right. 
   Sexual immorality is a temptation that is always before us. In movies and on television, sex outside of marriage is treated as a normal, even desirable, part of life, while marriage is often shown as confining and joyless. We can even be looked down on by others if we are suspected of being pure. But God does not forbid sexual sin just to be difficult. He knows its power to destroy us physically and spiritually. No one should underestimate the power of sexual immorality. It has devastated countless lives and destroyed families, churches, communities, and even nations. God wants to protect us from damaging ourselves and others, and so He offers to fill us; our loneliness, our desires, with Himself. 
   Many of the world’s religions teach that the soul or spirit is important but the body is not; and Christianity has sometimes been influenced by these ideas. In truth, however, Christianity takes very seriously the realm of the physical. We worship a God who created a physical world and pronounced it good. He promises us a new earth, where real people will have transformed physical lives: not a pink cloud where disembodied souls listen to harp music. At the heart of Christianity is the story of God Himself taking on flesh and blood and coming to live with us, offering both physical healing and spiritual restoration. 
   We humans, like Adam, are a combination of dust and spirit. Just as our spirits affect our bodies, so our physical bodies affect our spirits. We cannot commit sin with our bodies without damaging our souls because our bodies and souls are inseparably joined. In the new earth we will have resurrection bodies that are not corrupted by sin. Then we will enjoy the fullness of our salvation. 
    Freedom is the mark of the Christian faith: freedom from sin and guilt, and freedom to use and enjoy anything that comes from God. But Christians should not abuse this freedom and hurt themselves or others. Drinking too much leads to alcoholism; gluttony leads to obesity. Be careful that what God has allowed you to enjoy doesn’t grow into a bad habit that controls you. 
   Paul’s teaching about sexual immorality and prostitutes was especially important for the Corinthian church because the temple of the love goddess Aphrodite was in Corinth. This temple employed more than a thousand prostitutes as priestesses, and sex was part of the worship ritual. Paul clearly stated that Christians are to have no part in sexual immorality, even if it is acceptable and popular in our culture. 
   Christians are free to be all they can be for God, but they are not free from God. God created sex to be a beautiful and essential ingredient of marriage, but sexual sin, sex outside of marriage, always hurts someone. It hurts God because it shows that we prefer following our own desires instead of the leading of the Holy Spirit. It hurts others because it violates commitment so necessary to a relationship. It often brings disease to our bodies. And it deeply affects our personality, which responds in anguish when we harm ourselves physically and spiritually. 
   What did Paul mean when he said that our body belongs to God? Many people say they have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. Although they think that this is freedom, they are really enslaved to their own desires. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. Therefore, we no longer own our bodies. That God bought us with a high price refers to slaves purchased at an auction. Christ’s death freed us from the slavery of sin but also obligates us to His service. If you live in a building owned by someone else, you try not to violate the building’s rules. Because your body belongs to God, you must not violate His standards for living.