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1 Corinthians 6

Community Ethics: A Call to Holiness
1 Corinthians 6:9-20

Teaching Moments

1. Last week we studied chapter 5 where a believer was excluded from the community because he violated community standards. Paul believed the immoral person was to be excluded, and he gave us some other moral standards by which the community should be bounded (see 5:11). This week we see something of the rationale for these ethical standards (6:12-20).

2. The list of 5:11 is also expanded in 6:9-10. Here we see some of the moral expectations God has for his community, and those who do practice (habitual, deliberate) these things are excluded from the kingdom of God (both on earth and in heaven). However, notice that the church is now made up of people who were once like this (6:11), but now they have been sanctified (made holy), justified (declared righteous), and washed (cleansed by the blood of Jesus through baptismal obedience). God will save even the immoral, the adulterer, the cheater, the homosexual if they will seek his forgiveness and seek to live by his moral expectations.

3. Apparently some Corinthians believed that it did not matter what you did with your bodies. As long as your spirit was pure, you could use your body for whatever you wanted. Afterall, God will destroy the body, right (6:13)? But Paul argues that God will raise up the body so it is important what we do with it (6:14).

4. Paul offers another argument in 6:15-17. Our bodies are part of the body of Christ. If my body shares the body of Christ, then I should not join my body to that of a prostitute. The sexual act joins bodies ("one flesh"), so if I join my body to a prostitute, then I have joined Christ to a prostitute. If I am joined with the Lord in "spirit," then I would not want to join him to a prostitute in my body.

5. The third argument that Paul offers is one he has already used in 3:16-17 when talking about the whole body (the church) as the temple of God. Now he specifies that this temple is the human body. The person who has been redeemed (bought) by the Lord is the temple of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit dwells within that body. The Holy Spirit dwells in the redeemed human body as God's gift to us. Our body does not belong to us. It belongs to God and he lives in it through the Spirit.

6. Paul's principle is clearly stated in 6:20: "use your body to honor God." The ethical principles by which we judge the proper use of our bodies are (1) whether it will honor God or not, (2) whether we would want to include Christ in our action (can we join his body to this act?), and (3) our bodies have dignity because God will raise them from the dead so it does matter what we do with them.

Discussion Questions

1. How does the list of 5:11 compare with 6:9-10? Any differences, additions? What does this tell you about the sort of problems that were part of the Corinthian culture? What does this say about moral expectations within the kingdom of God and the Corinthian church?

2. What is the meaning of "washed, sanctified and justified"? How does this offer hope to the Corinthian culture and church? How does it offer hope to us? How does this statement reflect the grace of God and the changed lives of people?

3. Paul's first argument against immorality is the resurrection body. How does the resurrection signify the importance of the body? What implications does this have how we use our bodies?

4. Think about the principle "the body for the Lord and the Lord for the body" (6:13). What does that mean?

5. Paul's second argument against immorality is that our bodies are joined to Christ's body. What is the ethical argument here? How is this principle applied to prostitution? How might we apply this principle to other concerns and issues in our setting?

6. Paul's third argument against immorality is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. What is the ethical argument here? How is this principle applied to immorality? How might we apply this principle to other concerns and issues in our setting?

7. Who owns a Christian's body? Why does God own it? How does this apply to an American attitude that says: "It's my body; I can do what I want with it as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else!"?

8. How does sexual immorality "sin against the body" (6:18) whereas other sins are committed "outside the body"? What is it about sexuality that enables Paul to make this distinction?

9. What are the possible applications of "honor God with your body"? How might we apply this basic principle to other questions in our culture?


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