It’s Just Sex – Right?

Title: It's Just Sex - Right?

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians 6 : 12-20

Author: Mark Adams

Subject: Sex; Immorality; Body of the Christian; Purity



Do you remember this e-insurance commercial?

I don’t know about the rest of you—but I can relate to this woman — because the older I get — the more I find myself feeling “behind the times” when it comes to social media. Whether it’s understanding Facebook like poor Beatrice here—or Snapchat, Tweets, Linked In, Instagram, imogies, or Shazam It— I increasingly feel out of step with modern culture. Don’t tell anyone — but I still can’t fully-grasp the concept of a “hashtag!”

I got to thinking about this as I studied this week’s text because it deals with another area where today’s culture makes me LOOK like I’m behind the times — and I’m referring to our society’s practices when it comes to sex. You see, I still embrace the very clear teachings in God’s Word in this area — even though the world around us considers that kind of thing to be very “old school.” But that doesn’t embarrass me to the least — I’m sticking with the unchanging truth that is the Bible — not the ever-changing “morals” of our society.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to sound self-righteous — because I don’t feel that way. Instead I feel sad. Our culture’s views on sex grieve me — because I know that people who don’t follow our Creator’s teachings in this area not only suffer pain and heartbreak—they also miss out on the joy God intends when it comes to sex. It’s like C. S. Lewis put it, “They are playing in a mud puddle when there is an ocean to enjoy.” So the simple fact is people like myself who still teach the Bible may be behind the times but we are ahead of the game.

Well, many of the Christians in the church of Corinth were NOT ahead of the game because they were going with the flow of the sexually-charged culture around them — instead of obeying God’s Word—and Paul writes to correct that in the next part of his letter. Now — churches like the one in Corinth met in homes scattered across the city — and so Paul’s letter would be read in that setting — one home at a time. Many of these Christians would have been unable to read which means the only way for them to experience the letter was if someone read it out loud. So—take your Bibles and turn to 1st Corinthians 6:12-20. As I read — imagine 15-20 adults sitting in the first century version of a living room listening as these words are read.

12 – “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“ I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

13 – You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

14 – By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also.

15 – Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

16 – Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

17 – “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.

18 – Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

19 – Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

20 – you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.

Did anyone feel the need to fidget a bit? Anyone feel a bit uncomfortable? Well, I’m sure the first Christians to hear those words read aloud did. Maybe moms said to the leaders of these house churches, “We really should have had an alternative option for young children when dealing with this. This is not something they should hear.” In any case, I’m sure Paul didn’t like to talk about the uncomfortable subject of sexual immorality but he had to—because Christians were choosing to be “with the times” instead of behind them.

Of course, the sad fact is, this part of Paul’s letter is VERY relevant to OUR situation as Christians for we live in a culture with a very warped view of sexuality. Here’s some stats to help you see this. A recent survey showed that:

29% of those surveyed said they’d had sex on a first date.
The same survey showed that men have had an average of 20 sexual partners in a lifetime while women an average of 6.

Here’s some more sad statistics:

Eleven million adults say they visit adult-only web sites in a typical week.
65% of teenagers say they have had sex by the time they finish high school.
Almost forty percent of babies born in the U.S are born out of wedlock.

Even our greeting card industry reflects our society’s warped view of sexuality. I say that because there is a new type of card found in what is called a Secret Lover Collection. The publishers of this type of card say their goal is “to provide a greeting card collection with empathy and understanding, without judgment, to lovers involved in a secret relationship.” The founder of the company is a woman and she says she launched it to help the unfaithful “express their emotions,” but of course what she really wants is to cash in on this huge market. And if you’re wondering how you market greeting cards for the unfaithful—the answer is very subtly. These cards are displayed under special labels like “Love Expressions,” and “intimacy.” Card messages include statements like, “I used to look forward to the weekends, but since we met they seem like an eternity.” I’m guessing this is for an illicit work romance. And for holidays, these cards read: “As we each celebrate with our families, I’ll be thinking of you.” This week we read Psalm 119 in our Chronological Bible Reading group and the 136th verse comes to mind: “Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for Your law is not obeyed.” And as I said—that’s how all this makes me feel—so sad.

Now — before we go any further let me say that if you have messed up in the past in this area — and asked for God’s forgiveness—you received it. Your sins are forgiven — they are removed as far as the East is from the West. God buried them in the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. I mention this because a lot of Christians walk around in a perpetual state of guilt over their past—especially when it comes to sexual sins. So — if that describes your situation — then I want to affirm the fact that you’ve been forgiven; you’ve been washed. The slate is clean. There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sexual sin is sin but it is not the unforgivable sin. And if you are sinning in this area right now — God’s forgiveness waits for you. As someone put it, “One thing we continually underestimate about God is His loving longing to forgive.” God WANTS to give you a new start. All you have to do is ask.

That’s a great segue back to our text because sadly — many times when people sin — instead of repenting they RATIONALIZE — and that’s what the people of Corinth did. They justified their sexual sins in two ways — the same ways people justify sexual sin today — and Paul confronts them both. I’m not sure — but I think in today’s terms Paul’s response could be referred to as “hashtag — confrontation.” (Please note: Mark Mitchell’s message on this text on Preaching Today has been very helpful to me.)

Okay here’s RATIONALIZATION 1 – “I have a right to do what I want to do.”

Well, in verse 12 Paul gives his response to this kind of thinking. He says, “Yes–I have the right to do anything,” as you say—but not everything is beneficial.“ I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” And, as I said, we hear this same rationalization today. People say, “It’s my life I am free to do what I w ant!”

Well, Paul says, “Yes — you are free to use your God-given rights any way you want to—but there are questions you really need to answer before exercising your freedom.”

a. Here’s the first: “Is using your freedom like this BENEFICIAL?”

In other words, before exercise our rights, we should decide whether or not it is helpful, not just for us but for others.

I know that this is going to make me sound WAY behind the times but did you know that statistics say that people who live together before they marry — are twice as likely to divorce as are those who wait until marriage? So with that in mind would you say that using your “sexual freedom” to live together is beneficial? I don’t think so. We say too much about STD’s so I won’t mention them. I won’t point out all the obvious ways they are NOT beneficial. But what about unwanted pregnancies—are they beneficial?

And what about the people who are on the OTHER end of these kinds of sinful acts? I mean, I wonder if the Corinthians thought about the lives of those young ladies from the temple of Aphrodite — those “sacred” prostitutes that came down into the streets of Corinth every night. Did they think of those young girls when they exercised their Christian freedom? How many men today think of the young women on the computer screen as they watch pornography? Is it helpful to exploit that girl who, by the way, is someone’s daughter? Don’t these kinds of actions promote the sex slave trade?

You know, we live in a very SELF-centered society. In our minds we are the center of the universe. Think about it — we have I-phones, I-pads and pods, American I-dol, I-tunes, and Facebook with it’s “I like” options. All this reflects our cultures tendency to care about ourselves — often to the expense of others. And this is seen most clearly in society’s sexual mores. When researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked 2,000 people why they have sex, there were plenty of answers — 237, to be precise. Here are some of them. They finished the sentence, “I have sex because” in this way:

* “[I wanted] to boost my social status.”
* “my partner was famous.”
* “[I wanted] to get a raise or promotion.”
* “Someone dared me.”
* “I wanted to punish myself.”
* “I lost a bet.”
* “to keep warm.”
* “because my hormones were out of control.”
* “[Sex] seemed like good exercise.”
* “I wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease.”

Too many people don’t care about others — they don’t consider the pain their sin brings. Sex is just another way they put themselves first.

But the fact is, sexual immorality is NEVER beneficial. In fact, it always hurts everyone involved. More about that in a moment.

b. The second question Paul says we must answer before using our freedom to sin is this: “Is this behavior enslaving?”

Do you remember how he puts it? He says, “I have the right to do all things — but I will not be mastered by anything.” So the thing to ask yourself is this. “As I exercise my freedom in Christ, will I become enslaved to that very thing that I’m doing? Will it end up ruling my life? Will it become an addiction?” This is especially important when we talk about things that pertain to the body — like sex, because the body can develop dependencies on things. And when it does, we become a slave to whatever that thing is. In an attempt to satisfy that desire people continue to chase the counterfeit — and that only makes them long for the real thing. I think it’s ironic that in the name of Christian freedom we can actually become slaves of the very things we claim we can do because of our freedom!

Wendy Shalit is a feminist writer who has put out a number of provocative books calling for women to recover their sexual modesty as a protest against a world that has objectified them — in the name of sexual freedom. Her writings have caused an uproar among people who labeled them as “behind the times” — labeled them as sexually regressive and oppressive to other “free-er” women. But surprisingly her writings have caused a parallel stir among many women who have become disenchanted with the sexual revolution — and the whole new set of oppressions that came along with it. For example, Shalit points out that in the name of freedom — the sexual revolution puts down women who want to act and dress more modestly. She writes, “Today’s culture says, ‘You’d better be having many hook-ups or else! Shyness will not be tolerated! Ours is supposed to be a time of great freedom. Yet we have ended up letting others dictate our choices.” Shalit goes on, “A woman may be conveying to the world by her bashfulness, ‘I have my own compass, thank you. I have my own sense of what is good and what is right, and it’s not always what everyone else says.’”

Here’s something else. The sexual revolution has not only dictated to women who they have to be, but it has actually restrained them further by putting them at the mercy of men. I mean, have you ever wondered what happened to that old “behind the times” concept of chivalry where women were treated as queens? Have you ever wondered why these days young men don’t come to the door when they pick up their dates—or why men don’t open the door for women any more—“old fashioned” things like that? It’s because today’s culture says they don’t have to. So Shalit is right—women are less free—more enslaved today than they were in the good ole days BEFORE the feminist movement “freed” them.

Here’s a second RATIONALIZATION we see both in Corinth and in our culture. People say that they can do what they want sexually because it’s NATURAL.

Look at 13–14 where Paul says “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” Now, Paul hasn’t changed subjects here from sex to eating. This is just another excuse that people then and now use to justify their immorality. The idea is that sex is just like eating. In the same way that we have a natural and God-given need to satisfy our stomach with food — we have this natural and God-given need to satisfy our body’s sexual hunger. I mean, when we get hungry and head for the refrigerator, no one preaches a “behind the times” sermon about sin. So our culture says, why should it be any different with sex? Why object to something that’s perfectly natural and God-given? The following quote from M. Scott Peck reveals the flaw in those arguments: “Calling it natural does not mean it is essential or beneficial or unchangeable behavior. It is also natural to defecate in our pants and never brush our teeth. Yet we teach ourselves to do the unnatural until the unnatural itself becomes second nature. Indeed, all self-discipline might be defined as teaching ourselves to do the unnatural.”

Here’s something else I want us to note. With this rationalization that there should be no rules when it comes to sex because after all it’s just a natural function — with this way of thinking we come face-to-face with a very important truth: The world, regardless of all the emphasis it places on it, has a very low view of sex. The world sees sex as another bodily function like eating.

There’s nothing special about it, nothing unique, nothing worth protecting. But, as we’ll see shortly, the Biblical view of sex is that sex touches us and affects us at a much deeper level than eating. It’s something that involves not just our physical body but our soul and our spirit as well. So — Bible-believing Christians actually have a MUCH higher view of sex than our culture. And that’s what Paul gets at in his response. He says, “Yes, food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. I don’t disagree with that.” But then he says, “God will destroy them both.” In other words, although it’s true what you say about the stomach and food, all that’s just temporary. But sex involves something altogether different because it has a spiritual aspect. Sex impacts us on a soul level — so it’s not at all like eating. Plus, our bodies were made to further God’s eternal purposes not to satisfy some mere sexual appetite.

And this principle is what Paul deals with in the rest of the passage. He expands on this idea of how our physical selves (bodies) are connected to our spiritual selves. He points out three things the Corinthians had forgotten about their bodies — the same three things many people today have forgotten.

I. Our Bodies are Part of Christ’s Body

First, as Christians our bodies are part of Christ’s body. Look at vs. 15 where Paul says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!” Notice the sentence begins with the phrase, “do you not know?” He asks that again in vs. 16 and in vs. 19. Paul is saying, “You know this, I’ve taught you this, but you’re not living by this, so let me remind you about it.” This is how we are many times. We know better, but we choose not to live by what we know. Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you didn’t know immorality is wrong? Of course we do — all Christians do. In fact, God’s Spirit reminds us when we are about to sin. But many people ignore that still, small voice. They don’t live by what they know. This is one reason God inspired Paul to write this letter. It’s not just for the Corinthians. It’s to remind us to live by what we know.

Well the first thing we KNOW — but still need to be reminded of—is that our bodies are parts of Christ’s body. They’re intimately connected with Christ, so we’re obligated to serve Him and do as He pleases. Think of it like this. My hands are part of my body. They do what I tell them to do. I give the orders for my hands. They’re connected to me. How would it be if my hands rebelled and started slapping my face? Well it’s the same way when we use our bodies in ways we know Christ — our Head — would not want us to. When we do this we are a disobedient body — we are acting like someone with cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease.

Basically, Paul is warning us about compartmentalizing our lives. I mean, we think we can be involved in immorality with our bodies and somehow have it not affect our relationship with God. We think we can isolate this one area of our lives, our sexuality, from our relationship with Christ. We pray, we go to church, we read the Bible, we do all those things, but in this one area of our lives, we think we can do what we want; it won’t infringe on our relationship with God.

But that’s impossible because our bodies are part of Jesus’ body. Ours is the flesh He uses to do His will in this world. He’s our head.

This leads to a second thing people forget when it comes to sex.

II. Jesus’ Spirit lives in us.

Look at verses 16–17. “Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ ” This is part of the joy of marriage — this physical union—but it’s more than physical. Sex is an act that unites two people in a one-flesh RELATIONSHIP. The idea here is a strong spiritual bond is created. In fact, the Greek word “joins” in vs. 16 was used to refer to glue. It reminds us that when two people come together that way they’re glued together. I can’t help but think of Crazy Glue. If you apply that glue properly, the bond that’s created is actually stronger and harder to break than the thing itself. If you try to break that bond you can’t do so without doing great damage to whatever it is you’re gluing together like your fingers.

Paul is saying the sexual union is like that. It unites us, not just in body, but in soul as well. Sex, whether we realize it or not, acts like glue in a relationship. C.S. Lewis once said: “Each time a man and a woman enter into a sexual relationship, a spiritual bond is established between them that must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.” 

You know we talk about safe sex, but you can’t put a condom on your heart. Sex is far more than just a physical act. It’s an act that involves the whole person — body and soul. There is no such thing as casual sex. Don’t ever buy that lie. Something mysterious and deep takes place in this union. This is why the Word of God absolutely insists that sex be practiced within the covenant of marriage. Sex is a life-uniting act and to do it justice sex has to be experienced in the context of a lifelong union, and that always means marriage. Within that context sex is a beautiful expression of intimacy and vulnerability that should be celebrated.

So — even though sex with no commitment can be enjoyed on a certain level, the end result of immorality is a sense of hollowness, frustration, and aloneness. In this way it is NOT beneficial.

But Paul says that for those who are believers it even has a greater impact. Look at vs. 17, “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with him.” Just as two people joined in sex are one flesh, so those who come into a relationship with the Lord are joined with Him. Our spirit has been glued with the Lord’s Spirit. So, when you engage in immorality, you’re actually dragging the Lord along with you. After all, as a Christian You’re united with Him. You’re one spirit with Him. You can’t separate your spirit from your body, and so you are involving the Lord Himself in this act.

As Christians we are united with Jesus — so when we sin — He feels the pain of that sin. As Paul says, our bodies, “are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God. We are not our own; we were bought at a price…so we must honor God with our bodies.” Jesus lives IN us — He paid the penalty for our sins — so these bodies are not our own. This is not our real estate. Jesus lives here now.

I like what John MacArthur says about this verse: “Could you imagine committing sexual immorality in this church sanctuary?” No way. But that’s no worse than what happens every time a believer is involved in sexual immorality because our bodies are the sanctuary of God. God dwells in here. So — in a very real sense when we disobey God’s loving laws regarding sex — we kick Jesus off the throne of our lives. We commit idolatry. Okay — with all this in mind — what should we do when faced with today’s warped view of sex?

FLEE! - In verse 18 Paul literally says, “Flee immorality. Flee and keep on fleeing.” He doesn’t just say stop immorality. He uses much stronger words—flee from it, run from it. I like what Wayne Wright says: “The best weapon against immorality is geography.” In other words, get as far away as possible. Our sexual urges are so great and so powerful that we can’t afford to hang in there and duke it out with temptation because if we do, we’re going to lose. Sooner or later you’re going to lose that battle if you don’t flee from it, if you don’t run as far away as you can.

Essentially, we must get out of the situation, whatever it is, that might lead us into immorality. This includes being very careful with the kind of things that we allow ourselves to be exposed to. I’m speaking of the kinds of books we read, the kinds of movies we watch, and the kinds of websites we visit. Many times we justify reading or watching trash because it has a good story—or interesting characters. But it impacts us—it warps our views.  So steer clear of it.

III. We Must Glorify God In Our Bodies

The second thing we must do is GLORIFY GOD in our body. Now - why should we glorify God in our bodies? Because, as I said, our bodies have been purchased by God with the precious blood of his Son. Our bodies aren’t our own.  Think of it, would you take your new I-Phone 6 and use it as a ping pong paddle? Sure - it’s big enough - but you’d never do that because it cost too much.  Plus, if you’re in the same plan I am - until you pay it off - Verizon owns it. Would you take a rental car and spray paint silly patterns on the hood? NO! In the same way, you who’ve been bought at tremendous cost - you have to remember not to throw your bodies in the mud of immorality, but rather to glorify God with it.

Your body is under new management. Use it in a way that honors the One who owns it.

Posted in


Scroll to Top