I am still trying to find time to learn how to play my banjo. In the meantime, I can listen to and dream of pickin’ some classics like Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Dueling Banjos, and of course, The Ballad of Jed Clampett. Revisiting the old episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies brings back some fond memories and quite a few smiles. Even as a youngin’, I didn’t quite understand how the poor hillbillies became wealthy and still lived like they were poor. I guess the old adage holds true, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Now that I am older, I still laugh and enjoy the show, but I see it in a different light.
I can understand the down-home attitude of the hillbillies who refused to become people they weren’t because of their new money and status; they stayed as they were because of habit and familiarity. Paul understands that similar attitude in the believers at Corinth and made it a point to change their thinking. There were believers, formerly in bondage to all manner of sin, who were bought with the blood of Christ, but continued to live as if they never received a new life, an inheritance of inestimable worth (1 Cor 6:9-11). They came to the conclusion that their lifestyle did not have to match their faith; their walk did not have to match their talk.
Paul may have understood that some Christians were not living up to their inheritance, but he in no way endorsed their cavalier approach to God.
Three times in verses 15-20, Paul uses the term “Do you not know?” The answer the apostle is expecting in response to his rhetorical questions is YES! Yes they do know! Yes they do know that their bodies are members of Christ (v.15); his hands and feet in the world. Yes they do know that they should not unite themselves with a prostitute (v.16); some translations use the word cleaves or join. Regardless of the translation, uniting, cleaving, or joining to a prostitute is much more than a physical act, there is a spiritual component to that level of intimacy; a bonding (v.16a). And yes they do know that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit (v.19); their physical bodies belonging to God and home to His Holy Spirit.
A Husband and wife become one flesh in marriage and are united one with the Lord. When one breaks that bond with their spouse, they also break their bond with the Lord. Now you may be thinking that since you have never been with a prostitute, this does not concern you; Oh contraire. The word used for immorality, porneia, throughout the Bible connotes all manner of illicit sexual behavior. That’s why the admonition is to flee from all manner of sexual behavior (v.18). Here is where I am reminded of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph, righteous and God-fearing, is presented with an opportunity to commit adultery, and instead of rationalizing the situation and caving into powerful pressure, he flees, leaving his coat behind (Gen 39: 6-20).
Do we as believers flee from sin like Joseph? Do we actually believe that our sexual immorality, whatever that may be, is truly a sin against God first? When we get a grasp that God has purchased us at great cost to Him and His Son, and understand that we are no longer our own but belong to God, it is then we see that our infidelities insult our Owner before anyone else (vv.19-20). Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Christian has the power to say no to sin and live in the purity God has called him to (v.19). Will you take a risk and believe that is true for you (Rom 7:6)?
It’s good to know this stuff, but even better, for the sake of your soul, to put it into practice. You can begin to put it into practice by Repenting of your sin. Confessing your sins to God and repenting of your actions. Believe that God’s forgiveness is for you and powerful enough to cleanse you thoroughly (1 John 1:9). And finally Fight. Fight like your life depends on it. Fight for your purity knowing that it is possible because of God, His Son, and the residence of the Holy Spirit. Repent, Believe, and Fight.
Why? Because you are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Dr. Seuss has a word for those who may need encouragement to stay away from certain things in order to live righteously. From Oh, the Places You’ll Go, he writes in part:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. For me, as a metaphor for avoiding sin, I like it.
Because of the Gospel, and only the Gospel, you can live the life God has called you to live. You have a millionaire’s wealth in Christ, don’t squander it.
Grace and Peace,