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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, January 24, 2023

18 Flee from sexual immorality. Each sin a man commits is outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

“Flee from sexual immorality.” The best example of this in the Bible is Joseph physically running away from Potiphar’s wife. Joseph’s refusal to her lustful advances had four parts: (1) His master (her husband) trusted him, and that included trusting him not to violate his wife (Genesis 39:8). (2) His master withheld nothing from Joseph except his wife (39:9a). (3) It was a sin against God (39:9b), and finally (4) he ran out of the house (39:12). He endured trouble because of it. She lied about him and he ended up in prison, but he had not sinned. The cross he bore on account of it was hard for him, but his faith and his actions were approved by God.

Someone might ask, aren’t there other sins committed against one’s own body besides sexual immorality? What about drunkenness and drug abuse? What about gluttony, self-mutilation, and suicide? No sin dishonors and defiles the body the way that fornication does. But more than this, other sins (such as mutilation, drug abuse, etc.) don’t cause the soul to become so bound together with the sin as it does in sexual sins.

A medieval commentator (Lyra) said: “Fornication defiles not only the soul but also the body because… the intellect becomes absorbed for that time and man becomes like a horse or mule.” And our own Professor Gerhard warned: “The blood, the marrow of one’s bones, and the brain itself are dried up in that frenzy of passion, and from this arise very disgusting and serious ailments.” The Apocryphal teacher writes: “Wine and women lead intelligent men astray, and the man who consorts with harlots is very reckless. Decay and worms will inherit his body, and the reckless soul will be snatched away” (Sirach 19:2-3).

These men come close to the point. The minds of men and women shut down during intercourse (as Lyra says, “like a horse or a mule”). When I was in (public) high school in the late 1970s, Dr. James Dobson came to speak to us in an assembly about sex and dating (this was just before he published Preparing for Adolescence). One of his comments about sex was this: “When a young man starts to have intercourse, his brain stops working, and he would rather give his right arm than to stop doing what he is doing.” Gluttony and other sins disturb the mind, and gluttony, alcoholism and drug abuse, like fornication, can become addictions. But in sexual sins one also sins against the other part of one’s own body (that is, the spouse). A long warning about sexual sins is also found in Proverbs 7:6-27; “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death” (7:27).

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore give glory to God with your body.

Every human born of human parents is subject to sin. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in our life” (1 John 1:10). And “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). By the grace of God, our bodies have been forgiven by Christ together with our souls, because man is both body and soul. Just as man enters heaven in the body and well as in the spirit, so also his body is forgiven as well as his spirit (that is, his soul). Therefore, the forgiven Christian will naturally want to take care of the temple he has been entrusted with, the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is his body, his very flesh. A person cannot set aside this temple for a while, like an ornament he wears sometimes and takes off at other times. The temple of the Holy Spirit is not in one place or the other. It is not only in his spirit but not in his flesh. The temple is his flesh as well as his spirit.

The price, the cost of our bodies and souls, was the life of Jesus Christ on the cross; his blood was the price (Acts 20:28). He made peace “through his blood shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20), and our redemption is “through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7). Since his blood “purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7), we do not want to restore all of the horrible weight of our sin once it has been cleansed and swept away by Christ. What a terrible act it would be for a man, once his sin was paid for with the blood and life of Christ, to buy all of that sin back again to set it back on the man’s account, and never be able to pay for it all even with the price of his own immortal soul! For he would go down into the grave and down deeper into hell itself once he rejected Christ’s payment and tried to supply his own, for “the ransom of a life is costly, no payment is ever enough” (Psalm 49:8). Spare us, dear Lord, from temptation and sin! Remind us daily of what the blessed Dr. Luther taught:

God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.

Let us ever walk with Jesus,
Follow his example pure.
Flee the world which would deceive us
And to sin our souls allure.
Ever in his footsteps treading
Body here, yet soul above,
Full of faith and hope and love,
Let us do the Father’s bidding.
Faithful Lord, abide with me.
Savior, lead; I follow thee.

Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus
Text: Sigmund von Birken (1626-1681)

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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