First Corinthians 6:12–20 . . .

Of Drives and Appetites

Paul's teaching in today's text is an abbreviated version of what he has taught in Romans 6. The structure of the text may be viewed from at least two vantage points.

1)  In 12–14 (see below), Paul focuses on a statement of the Corinthians' doctrinal basis for their immorality. This is either a false or distorted premise held by the Corinthians, which Paul proceeds to correct. Verses 15–20 deal with the problem of immorality from the perspective of the ignorance of the Corinthians — what they don't know (or choose to forget). Thus, three times in these verses we find, "Did you not know…?" Paul turns their attention to what they should know and its implications for sexual morality.

2)  There's a second way of understanding the structure of our text. Verses 12–20 give the biblical basis for sexual morality; specifically why sexual immorality is wrong for the believer: it's an obstacle to one's spiritual growth. Verses 13–20 demonstrate that immorality is an offense against the Triune God:

Verses 13–14

  Sexual immorality is an offense against God.

Verses 15–17

  Sexual immorality is an offense against the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 18–20

  Sexual immorality is an offense against the Holy Spirit.

Short-term drives and appetites lead to long-term disaster. Nowhere is this truer than in the area of sexual immorality. For a few minutes of pleasure, countless men and women will throw their lives away. Just think for a moment about the potential consequences of sexual sin: loss of fellowship with God, divorce, disease, pregnancy, guilt, estrangement from family and friends, damage to one's reputation, and countless others. The consequences of this sin are brutal. This reality ought to keep us from sexual sin. Yet, if we're honest, most of us assume that we'll be the exception to these consequences. So we go on our own merry way, sinning.

Therefore, the apostle Paul uses another approach in helping us overcome sexual immorality. He uses a positive affirmation: "Your body is God's body." In today's text, Paul provides two ways that we can honor God with our bodies.

1)  Refuse to be mastered by your body (6:12).  In this opening verse, Paul shares a principle that governs this entire passage. He argues that he and the Corinthians have certain freedoms in Christ, but these are to be used for our good and God's glory. God wants to be glorified in your body and He wants the best for you, so He urges you to refuse to be mastered by your body, for your body is God's body.

2)  Refuse to dishonor God with your body (6:13–20).  In these eight verses, Paul argues that sexual immorality is an offense against God the Father (6:13–14), the Lord Jesus Christ (6:15–17), and the Holy Spirit (6:18–20). The last three verses bring tremendous encouragement about the resources God has given us to live a life of sexual purity.

Sexual allurement is extremely enticing and powerful. Your drive and appetite for it promise nothing but pleasure and satisfaction; but rarely are the promises delivered.

It Makes You Wonder . . .
  • Q. 1  How can we go about guarding ourselves from temptation?
  • Q. 2  Do you see the following as a help or hinderance for your sexual immorality appetite? If so, how do they help or hinder you?
  •          Television and movies   |   Books and magazines   |   Internet accessibility   |   An accountability partner
  • Q. 3  How do you feel about the statement: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price" (vv. 19b–20a)?

This Week’s Passage
1 Corinthians 6:12–20

New International Version (NIV)
[You can view it in a different version by clicking here; you can also listen to this chapter.]

Sexual Immorality

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. 13You 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. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do 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! 16Do 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." 17But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19Do 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; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.