19 February 2015

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (vv. 19-20)

Psalm: Psalm 112


The season of Lent began yesterday, on Ash Wednesday. It's a time for Christians to reflect on how well they are living their lives for God - and where they need to put things right.

Paul is trying to put things right within the church at Corinth. He's writing to a church that's full of people who think they know what's best for themselves, but whose lifestyles are not giving glory to God. In particular, they are claiming to have found in Scripture the right to satisfy all God-given natural appetites - of hunger, of thirst, and of sexual desire.

It's hard for the Corinthians, given the society in which they live. Their city is full of taverns (one row contains 33 of them) and brothels. It's the 'party capital' of the Roman Empire. In the common language used throughout the empire, people speak of "living like a Corinthian" when describing those who live depraved and debauched lifestyles; prostitutes are known as "Corinthian girls". After all, the temple here alone has a thousand of them. So Paul has an uphill struggle - he's expecting people to stop doing what has come naturally to them.

Yet he reminds them that to be part of Christ is to be part of Christ's body. If they are joined to Christ in Baptism (1 Corinthians 6:11), then it is Christ they are defiling when they "become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24) with a prostitute. Their bodies belong to the Holy Spirit and are not their own. Are they going to degrade themselves by uniting themselves to prostitutes? Or be raised by uniting themselves with Christ?

To Ponder

  • It isn't just the spectacular sins which cause us to fail. You may or may not have visited a brothel recently, but have a look at James 3:4-6 - what does that say to you about another part of your body?
  • Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) said, "Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours". How might thinking this way change the way we act?
  • How much can Christians enjoy life?


Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

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