The Christian and His Body
Tim Temple


One of the biggest misconceptions about Christianity, I think, among unbelievers is the idea of the practicality of Christianity. They miss the point of the practicality of Christianity. The basic idea that most unbelievers or untaught Christians have about Christianity is that it is something that we do on Sundays, that there is some kind of a dichotomy between the way we live on Sunday and the way we live the rest of the week, that there is a separation between religious things over here and real life over there.

As we study the Word of God, we find that God does not make that kind of distinction, that God's Word deals with the various areas of life, that God's Word touches on those things that we would probably think of as secular and yet God calls them sacred, that there is not a difference between the sacred and the secular. The subject that we want to begin looking at today is one of those subjects.

We looked at the first part of the chapter in our last lesson, and we saw that that was a similar situation, the problem of settling disputes in verses 1-11. We saw that that which we would think of as a secular thing, God includes as sacred. In the second half of the chapter, at which we want to look today, is the problem of sexual depravity. Demonstrating the practicality of the Word of God, God takes the subject of the use of our body and deals with it as a very spiritual kind of thing, something that has a real bearing on our relationship with Him.

The Principle of Free Redemption

As we begin to look at this matter of Christian and the use of his body, the first thing that Paul develops is what we need to go back and look at–the basis out of which the use of the body comes–and that is what I am calling “the principle of free redemption”. We talked about verses 9, 10, and 11 in our last lesson. I want us to go over those verses again because they are the background out of which everything he is going to say in the last half of the chapter comes. Look at verse 9:

I Corinthians 6

9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11And 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.

Verse 11 establishes the fact that no matter what the sins of our past, those are completely forgiven. They are completely gone. Notice, too, that this is based on God's power to forgive, not on any kind of a rehabilitation program that we might undertake. It is not because we have just stopped doing those things; rather, it is because God has forgiven those sins and released us from them. Notice in verse 11 he says, “And such were some of you…” That indicates to us that when God forgives our sins, He looks on that as past tense. The effects of some sins, of course, continue into the present. If a person has been guilty of the sin of drunkenness and in the course of his drunkenness received an injury of some kind, that injury remains. If a person has been financially irresponsible or has stolen something or has committed some kind of sin, then it may be that he will have to pay the penalty of that sin. There are some human consequences of sin that may continue even after the sin is forgiven of God. The point of verse 11 is that when He has forgiven our sins, He no longer looks at us in that way.

Notice in verse 9, He talks about fornicators, idolaters, adulterers; in verse ten he talks about thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, “and such were [past tense] some of you.” There may have been extortioners or thieves who were enduring prison sentences because of their sins. From a human standpoint, they still had to pay that penalty. From God's viewpoint those people were thieves, extortioners, fornicators, but they are no longer such in God's sight because that sin has been forgiven.

Possibility of Faulty Reasoning

Paul is going to build on that beautiful truth, and he is going to talk about the possibility of faulty reasoning in verses 12 and 13. Because our sins are forgiven, because we have free redeption from God, it is possible for us to come into some faulty reasoning. For example, in the first part of verse 12, he says:

I Corinthians 6

12All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient [helpful] : all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication [sexual immorality] , but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Both of those verses are in two parts. The first part of each verse indicates that the realization that our sins are freely forgiven and that God looks upon our sins in the past tense could lead us to the false conclusion that anything goes. If our sins are forgiven, if we have eternal salvation and we are not going to lose that salvation, then we can do whatever we want to do. Notice the details of these statements. In the first part of verse 12, we have faulty reasoning number one–“all things are lawful for me”. If God forgives all kinds of sins, then I can do anything I want to do. That statement is true as far as it goes, but that truth can be used in a wrong direction. It can be used to justify wrong actions.

In the first part of verse 13, we have faulty reasoning number two. Notice in the first part of verse 13, all things are for human enjoyment. “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats…” is the way the Scripture states it. In other words, all things are for human enjoyment. The modern equivalent of this statement might be, “If it feels good, do it.” There are a lot of people who live by that philosophy in our day and time. Another statement of the philosophy was made in a song with the words, “It can't be wrong if it feels so right.” There are a lot of people who go on that basis. This view is going to be corrected a little farther down in verse 13.

Here are two false conclusions, two faulty reasonings, that believers can use if we don't look at God's perspective of our forgiveness. One is that all things are lawful for me because God forgives all sins. The other is that we might as well enjoy all that life has to offer because God will forgive anything that I do.

The Principle of Appropriateness

What is the proper attitude for believers to have about our bodily activities? What is the godly attitude about the things that we allow ourselves to be involved in with our bodies? The next verses bring that out. The presentation of full reality is in verses 12-20. In these verses, we find four principles that govern the use of the body under any circumstances in a way that will be honoring to God. First, there is the principle of appropriateness in verse 12:

I Corinthians 6

12All 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.

The first principle is in the first half of the verse. On the basis of verse 11, as I have already pointed out, there is a sense in which all things are lawful. All of our sins have been forgiven on the basis of Jesus Christ's work on the Cross for us. Even though that is true, the believer must always consider this principle of appropriateness. The Greek word from which the word “expedient” is translated is a word that could be translated “appropriate”. The basic idea is that we as believers, in considering anything in which we may be involved as human beings, should always ask the question, “Is this appropriate behavior for the child of God, for royalty?” Really, we are royalty; we are all sons of God. In that sense, we have a much higher position than any earthly royalty that you can think of.

An illustration of this might be how from time to time, we hear about a person in a high place of responsibility who is discovered to have been involved in something that is completely out of keeping with his position. In the last several years, as you know, we have heard more than we want to about religious leaders in those kinds of situations; but let's think–in the terms of the family of God and the royalty of the family of God–of how sometimes we hear of elected officials who are even sometimes arrested for crimes that are a violation of the very Constitution of the United States that they are sworn to uphold. The thing that is newsworthy about those crimes is that they are so inappropriate for that person.

What God is saying to us in verse 12 is that certainly God forgives all sins. There is, perhaps, that sense in which I can do whatever I want to do; God will forgive it anyway. It is still sin and because it is sin and because I am a child of God, there are many things that are not appropriate for me to do. In fact, there are some things that may not be specifically sinful, things that may not be violations of the Word of God, per se, but still they are not appropriate for a child of God to be involved in. That is the first principle, the principle of appropriateness.

The Principle of Addiction

There is a second principle to be considered here. It is in the second part of verse 12 and that is the principle of addiction. Notice the second part of the verse:

I Corinthians 6

12…all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

We have a faulty conception of what freedom really is. If we don't think it through, we will think that freedom is the ability to do whatever we want to do, the opportunity to experience whatever we want to experience. At first hearing, that might sound accurate; it might sound right. But think about this: Many times that kind of freedom actually leads to bondage. For example, if the freedom to drink as much alcohol as I might want to drink is carried far enough, it will lead to the addiction of alcoholism. The freedom to ingest any kind of drugs that I might want to ingest will lead to addiction, so true freedom is not the opportunity to do anything I want to do. We live in sinful bodies; we live in bodies that include the sin nature. The freedom to choose will also include the freedom and the real probability of choosing to do things that are not right. Listen carefully to what I am about to say: Real freedom is the power to say “no” to those things that are not right. True freedom, the kind of freedom that God makes available to us, is the ability, the power, to say “no” to sin. That is what the last part of verse 12 is saying.

As we think about that, there are several applications that we might make. There are some things that we might apply the test of appropriateness to and on a limited basis, those things might be appropriate. It might be all right to indulge in this or that. It might be appropriate under some circumstances, but still it might be something that a Christian ought not to do because of the possibility of it's becoming addictive. These things become wrong when they begin to gain control over an individual. This could be anything from too much television to overeating to too much hunting to too much attention to our golf game to too much time spent on yard work. They may not be sinful in and of themselves; they may be appropriate in certain conditions and in certain amounts, but when they become in control of us, they become wrong for the Christian. It is a misuse of a Christian's body to come under the power of anything.

The Greek wording of verse 12 is actually a play on words in the Greek. If we could translate it literally, it would be something like, “All things are within my power, but I will not be overpowered by any.” God is not in the business of striking people dead when they have spent fifteen minutes too much time on the golf course. God is not in the habit of disciplining His children when we go over the line on how much television we watch. God is not going to condemn me for any of those things, but at the same time, we have to be careful that we don't become overpowered by any of those things.

Practical Examples

In verse 13, Paul gives us two very practical examples of this principle–the example of overeating and the use of sex, two very potent examples. Look at verse 13:

I Corinthians 6

13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

He is going to spend the remainder of this chapter talking about those two illustrations. Notice how realistic God's illustrations are. Those are subjects that touch the lives of every one of us today in one way or another. It is interesting to notice that God uses these same two subjects to teach other very important spiritual lessons. From a physical standpoint, what is the focal point of the Lord's Supper? It is eating, isn't it? We eat and drink in remembrance of the Lord. God uses eating as a very important spiritual lesson for us. In fact, as we mention when we have the Lord's Supper every week, it is a means of proclaiming the Gospel.

Another place in the Scripture he refers to you and me as believers; He refers to us as the “Bride of Christ”. So God uses that marriage relationship, which certainly includes the legitimate use of sex, as a picture of our relationship to Him. Eating and sex are very realistic subjects that God uses in very important ways in the Scripture. Either or both of those things can become controlling forces in our lives.

The Principle of Profanity

There are two other principles that I want to mention. In the next verses, Paul is going to take these two illustrations, food and sex, and he is going to develop two further principles. The third principle is the principle of profanity in verses 13-17. Someone might say, “How in the world could profanity be that important to God?” Let me digress for a minute and ask you, have you ever wondered what is really so wrong with swearing and cursing? We refer to that kind of language as profanity. Do you know what profanity really is? Profanity is much more than just saying that list of dirty words; it is much broader than that. Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 15, talks about that profane person, Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Why was Esau a profane person? Because he sold his birthright for one morsel of meat. What is so bad about that? Esau didn't use any dirty language; he didn't use swearwords when he sold the birthright. Why would God say that was profane? Because the birthright was never intended to be used as a medium of exchange. God never intended that anyone take their birthright and gain something with it. That was a holy thing. The birthright not only included all the possessions of the father, but it included the right to be the priest of the family.

Remember the story in Genesis where Esau, who was the firstborn son, gave his birthright to the younger son for a bowl of stew. He sold his birthright. He used it as a medium of exchange. What is the point? Profanity is taking anything out of the context that God intended it to be used in. Esau was profane because he used the birthright in a way that God never intended that he use it, and God said, “That man is profane.” “Hell” and “damn” and all those other swear words are words that God never intended to be used in that way. It is completely true that God damns people to Hell; but God never intended you to say that to someone else on the parking lot or in the hallway or anywhere else. That is not your prerogative; that is God's business. To use holy words in a casual conversation is profanity. It is taking those things out of the context that God intended that they be used.

Profanity Related to Sex

He develops that principle of profanity around the matter of sex. Another very important verse that you need to be aware of is in Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 4, which says:

Hebrews 13

4Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

On the one hand, marriage and sex within marriage is a beautiful and honorable thing. There is nothing to snicker about; there is nothing to be secretive about; there is nothing smutty about sex within marriage. On the other hand, sex outside of marriage God will judge. A fornicator is a person who uses sex outside the bounds of marriage. Why? Because sex, taken outside the bonds of marriage is profanity. It is using it in a way that God never intended it to be used. That is just a summary of what we are going to see of this third principle, the principle of profanity. It is a principle that we always ought to apply to anything we are going to do as Christians: Is this what God intended this activity for? If I do this, will I be using this body of mine in the way that God intended?

The Principle of Possession

The fourth principle is the principle of possession, in verses 19 and 20:

I Corinthians 6

19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

When Jesus Christ died, He paid for our sins, and He bought us for Himself. Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 18, says that we as believers are Christ's inheritance. We talk a lot about our inheritance of Heaven, of being a part of the family of God. That is true. The Scripture says a lot about our inheritance, but it also talks about Christ's inheritance. When Jesus Christ paid for your sins, when you accepted that gift of salvation, you became Christ's possession. You became Christ's inheritance. Therefore, you don't own your body any more. Christ owns your body, and there are things in Christ's Word that says, either by specific statement or by principle, as we have been talking about today, that we should not be involved in. One of the reasons that we should not be involved in those things is that we belong to Him, and another is that simply because He said not to do, we don't do it.

From a human standpoint, sometimes it is easier, for some reason, for us to understand human relationships than it is for us to understand our relationship with God. Anyone in the military knows that when the superior officer gives a command, you don't stop and debate the relative points of that command. You don't stop and question whether it makes sense or not. You obey the command. Most of the time, because God honors the principle of authority, you discover that that command was exactly what you should have done. But whether the officer's commands are always what they should be or not, God's commands are. It doesn't matter whether you understand it or not. It doesn't matter whether it makes sense to you or not. It doesn't matter whether it is what you want to do or not. You don't belong to yourself any more. If God says, “I want you to stop doing this,” or “abstain from this,” or “do that,” then even though it is true that God has forgiven all of our sins, and even though it is true that God is not going to strike any of us dead, it is also true that we are His possession, and the things that we do in our body should be based on that knowledge that we are His.


There are two assumptions that I think all Christians seem to make on a regular basis. One is that since all our sins are forgiven, it doesn't really matter how we live. The other is that the way we use our bodies doesn't really matter that much to the Lord anyway. He doesn't pay that much attention. These verses that we have been talking about show that it does matter to God how we use our bodies. If we don't keep these principles in mind, two things are going to happen. First, we can find ourselves unfit for God's use. There are some sins that if we persist in, we will be disqualified from ways that God might have used us otherwise. Secondly, Satan can slip in and get us into even deeper sin and further disqualify us. One or the other or both of those things can happen if we don't pay careful attention to these principles in the use of our bodies. In reality, who does your body belong to? Technically it belongs to Christ, but does it really? In the way that we actually use our bodies and the ways that we actually make our decisions in life on a day to day basis, does your body really belong to Christ? Who is going to make the decisions about the way you live? You or the Lord?

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