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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 6:12-13 Everything is permitted

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, January 18, 2023

12 “Everything is permitted for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permitted for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will destroy them both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.

Paul brings up the idea of things that are permitted. The theological term for this is adiaphora, things that are neither commanded nor forbidden by God. A dandelion, for example, is never mentioned in the Bible. God does not command us to eat dandelions, nor does he forbid them. I have been taught that every part of the dandelion is actually edible, but you may not like them. It is not a sin to eat them, but it is not a sin to leave them alone, either.

The Corinthians had this view of sex. They had been taught that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses, which is correct. But they had the wrong idea that because of this, restrictions about sex were all lifted, and now if one has an appetite for sex, that would be no different from an appetite for food. Peter, for example, had been shown by God that there are no longer any restrictions on the foods and especially the meats that we can eat (Acts 10:11-13).

A saying or slogan that they had was, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will destroy them both” (some translations end the quotation earlier). Their idea was that eating food has no bearing on the spiritual life, but is only part of human life on earth. And then they took it one step further: Since sex is only part of this life (Mark 12:25), then what we do sexually corresponds to the things we eat, and it doesn’t matter (they reasoned) regarding our spiritual life. Paul however has to deny that what we do with our bodies is only part of this life. God’s design for marriage is not part of his law given through Moses, but his plan for all mankind forever, given in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18-25). The body is not meant for sexual immorality. Our sexual actions matter, both morally and spiritually. What we do is an expression of our relationship with God.

In fact, Paul reminds us: “the body is for the Lord.” The Lord raised the body of Christ from the dead and he will raise our bodies, too. Jesus proclaimed the resurrection of the dead as the physical resuscitation of each actual human being from death. He quoted Exodus 3:15 to show this, when God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God, Jesus explained, is the God of the living. Therefore our bodies will be living bodies in heaven.

So what about our bodies here on earth? What about those of us (nearly all) who cannot go through life without sex? This is why God established marriage, so that it would be the loving way to share in sex for a lifetime. Apart from a man who has been made a eunuch (by violence, accident, or nature, Matthew 19:12), no man should presume to go through life without a wife, nor a woman without a husband. Paul will return to this fact later in the letter (1 Corinthians 7:1-9). But this is also the answer to the Corinthians’ argument here about their appetite for sex. The human body was not created for immorality, but for the Lord. Therefore love the Lord, appreciate his gifts, restrain sexual urges outside of the permanent bond of marriage, and be sure to satisfy your wife’s needs (or your husband’s) within marriage, for that is one of the three great blessings of marriage besides raising a family together (Genesis 1:27-28) and having a lifelong companion (Genesis 2:18).

Finally, Paul says: “The Lord is for the body.” God is not unaware of the needs of our flesh, and this is why he made us the way he did and why he established marriage. Marriage gives us the proper outlet for our physical needs, and allows us to set aside sinful thoughts about how to gratify the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:14), because those desires are gratified within marriage without sinning at all. Marriage allows us to avoid sharing in the sins of others, and to keep ourselves pure (1 Timothy 5:22). Then we are able truly to think about “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8), and to have a right spirit to serve God (Psalm 51:10).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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