Many times Christians want to hide from the world by ignoring the conversations that are taking place. Other times they want to engage the world, but not in a manner to serve. In those instances they come across as judgmental and hate-filled people. Therefore, I desire to avoid these two extremes. Therefore, we will be discussing sex today, because God wants us to. Sex is not an easy thing for me to talk about—trust me they make me completely uncomfortable. But in my mind this is the beauty of expository preaching—I have to deal with themes, topics, and etc. that require me to talk about what God wants. I cannot avoid talking about sex because it is right here in front us.
I will not be able to cover everything today, so I will be trying to connect the theme of sex and worship. In our text today those themes are interwoven together. Therefore, I there is one big idea you should take home with you today it is this...
Theme: Everything we do with our bodies should be an act of worship—and I mean everything!
1. Worship is the context of the conversation—I Cor 6.12.
Paul opens this section with a quote. Scholars debate the origin. Some believe it was a cultural phrase, while others believe it was phrase Paul used that was being abused by the Corinthians. Despite the origin Paul recognizes there is truth in the statement, but believes the statement needs clarification.
Paul quotes the statement twice, and adds two clarifications. The first we cannot just do anything we want because not everything we want to do is always helpful. Many of us here have made decisions before that we were not able to carry out. But when we look back we can see how that would have been a foolish decision. That decision could have hurt ourselves or others. The second begins to stir the conversation more toward worship. The word “dominated” here can be translated, “overpowered” or “overmastered”. What Paul understands is everyone has a “master” “greater power” and the only thing we can do is “choose” the master. Paul gives a wonderful illustration in I Cor 9. Turn with me over there.
Paul uses the illustration of athletes. You do not see runners running randomly all over the place. You don’t see boxers practicing by swinging wildly everywhere. What Paul is teaching us is our worship requires discipline. If you want to use your body to glorify God then it will require discipline. Worshipful discipline is about “overarching”, “overpowering”, “overmastered” passions. We go where are hearts go. When an athlete wants a gold medal or to be called the best in the world they work toward that goal until they get it. If we want God then we work toward that end. God becomes our overpowering, overarching passion. He becomes our Master. Since God has the good everyone in mind then if He becomes our Master, then when pursue Him the things we do become helpful. If our goal is to help others around us treasure Christ more than anything, if our goal becomes worship, then we truly help them. Is that our life goal? Is that what we want for ourselves and others?
2. Embrace our resurrected identity—I Cor 6.14-17, 19-20.
If we are going to understand what God wants for our sexual desires then we must first recognize worship is the context of the conversation. But secondly we must embrace our resurrected identity. Listen to what Paul says in I Cor 6.14.
When we accept the message of the Cross, we died with Christ, and we are being raised with Christ. Paul goes over this in II Cor 5.14-15. We no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us. Our bodies, our old fleshly desires were crucified. They were violently killed when Jesus died. And when we truly embrace these truths we receive a new identity. Once again in II Cor 5 Paul tells we become a “new creation”. Therefore, Paul is trying to instruct us on what this new identity looks like in I Cor 6. He gives us a couple of principles we can apply.
First, when we embrace this new resurrected identity we understand our lives are connected to others. I Cor 6.15 connects for us the decisions we make with our bodies do not just effect ourselves, but the body of Christ. In the ancient world it was common when you had a party to bring in prostitutes toward the end of the meal. Paul wants the wealthy people Corinthian Christians to know this hurts their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This type of behavior does not have place in the church. Before we are so quick to dismiss ourselves, we need to think through what are the socially acceptable sexual sins in our culture? What are the things God has been convicting you about concerning your sexuality? Are there things you shouldn’t be watching? Are there things you shouldn’t be doing? Don’t get so good at ignoring the Spirit of Christ that you can’t hear Him anymore.
The second thing we need to embrace in resurrected identity is that we are now living temples. Church is not somewhere you go friends, it is something you are. No other religion in the world would say this. No religion would say that humanity can be a dwelling place for God. Humanity is to dirty, filthy, to finite to ever allow the God of the universe to live in them. But this is what we believe as Christians. As cliché as it may sound, God goes where you go. The things we do with our bodies communicate what we think about God. What we look at. How we speak to each other. What we put into our bodies. All of these things are acts of worship. Paul wants us to understand when we think about our bodies we should be thinking about worship—about what honors God. In this text, this is especially true when it comes to our sex lives. When was the last time you thought about what God wanted you to do with your sex?
The last thing Paul wants us to embrace in our resurrected identity is that all of this hinges on the fact that we were BOUGHT! As I said earlier, we all belong to something. We are all serving something. The difference between the Christian the non-Christian is what, or should I say who, we are serving first served us. Other gods do not serve their servants. Money does not serve—in fact money will kill you. Careers do not serve you—it will kill you. Nothing else in this world will serve us like God in Christ. If that truly means something to us, then we Paul instructs us to worship—“glorify God in your body.”
3. Sex as an act of worship—I Cor 6.13, 18.
As I have been talking about sprinkled throughout this sermon the final point Paul wants us to understand is the connection between worship and sex. Honestly this is theme all throughout the Bible, therefore, if you are uncomfortable with it then you might miss out on some great truths from God’s Word. So let’s talk about it.
In I Cor 6.13 the quote Paul uses is of an unclear origin. Some believe it is a quote from Plato while others believe it is based on some things Christ mentions in the Gospels. Despite the origin the point is clear—whatever we eat, or drink, or whatever we do we do to the glory of God (I Cor 10.31). Our sexual desires and behaviors are meant to be acts of worship. Sex is an opportunity to express our love and devotion to God. Paul closes I Cor 6.13 with the phrase, “The body is...for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” One could replace the word with “Christ”. Paul expresses this in another place in Colossians 1 when he says, “all things were created through him and for him.” Our bodies were created for Christ. This means our sexual desires, and habits, were created by Christ for Christ. Our sexual desires and practices are acts of worship. That sounds odd, but it is true.
Paul wants his readers to understand that sex is not a lower desire for lower beings, like Plato would say, but a higher one. Some Christians have a Platonic view of sex. They view sex as dirty and sinful. This is when the world thinks we sound crazy, because we do. Our view of sex should not be lower than the world, but higher. Sex is a gift, and all gifts are meant to be enjoyed. But this does not mean we use the gift for destructive behavior. For instance, I recently gave my son a gift, but I do not want him to use to hit his sisters. Christ gave us sex as a gift, but we should not use it to hurt people with it. When we do not honor Christ with our sexual desires and habits we hurt Him.
But the second friend gives us a ton of hope—“and the Lord for the body.” Christ is for our sex. He wants us to have joy and happiness in our sexual lives. Therefore, we need to trust His instruction on sex. Notice Paul does not gives us instruction on sex here, but motivation. What motivates our sexual desires and habits—worship—making much of Christ. This is why Paul says what he does in I Cor 6.18. We are RUN (“Flee”) from all sexual desires and habits that would cause us to love something more than Christ. There is constantly “stuff” fighting for our sexual desires. Anything that will even give a hint of something else ruling your heart requires you to RUN, FLEE, fight, cutting off your hand, plucking out you eye. These are obviously metaphors, but metaphors of extremes if that is what is necessary. Worship is a fight—it requires discipline. Worship is a war. I fear many of us are loosing the war for worship in sexual desires and habits. We are to pursue purity, cleanness, and holiness in our sex.
In the words of one scholar, “Paul does not view human beings as simply a body; they are embodied.” This goes back to what I said in the beginning—we are always worshiping something. Everyone who has sex is worshiping something. As Christians, we should be asking ourselves, “who or what are we worshiping with our sexual desires and habits?”