Sex in Light of the Gospel (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

2. The Gospel calls us to be unified in purity
While we’re on the topic of judging rightly, it seems that Paul wants us to consider the petty divisions that sometimes develop between the saints of God. Paul is speaking of professing Christians who run back to the world whenever there is a dispute between believers. They didn’t keep their disagreements in-house, they published them. For the sake of Christ, Paul asks in verse 7, “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” If the dispute was so bad, then surely someone in the church would have the wherewithal to arbitrate with the situation.
I found out about the Florida woman’s story because she decided to go to the local news. The church was hurting her, but she was now going to hurt the church. What does this do for the name of Jesus Christ among unbelievers?

This is the mark of a selfish culture. Today, people sue at the drop of a hat, a sign that we feel entitled to whatever we want. Recently, in two unrelated cases, people called 911 because the fast food restaurants ran out of advertised product. Christians, who know the Creator of all things, who have been forgiven of all sins, should have a more gracious attitude than to take one another to court… especially before an unrighteous judge for mediation
Remember, says Paul, “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and Paul lists some examples of behavior in which the unrighteous engage. This list is one of those passages that is good for noting what Christ does not want in His followers. It also is one that clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin—both the passive and active acts of engagement, as well as the gender-blurring behavior that is inherent in the act.
Before going further, though, we must note the Good News of verse 11. Paul states that believers are washed, sanctified, and justified from these things. He says of the unrighteousness he listed, “And such were some of you”—and he says it in the past tense.
This brings us more along our discussion points. Is it possible for a homosexual to change his orientation? Only with the power of the Gospel is it possible, and according to Paul, some of the Corinthians were saved from that lifestyle. Are you tempted to fall into sexually immorality? If you are a Christian, you too are washed and have power in the Gospel to overcome. Don’t settle for your old life of unfulfillable sensuality, but learn to desire the unsurpassing supremacy of God’s glory!
There is more to be said on that later. In short, though, follow the sound council of verse 18 and flee from immorality.
The point I’m highlighting is a pure unity. Since you have the power in the Gospel to overcome the sin of your past and present temptations, then that same Gospel should draw you together with other believers. When the unity of the body in the race and truth of our Lord is everyone’s goal, the urge for base, sexual acts begins to fade. You are encourage in righteousness, and others are encouraging you in the same.
Let’s look at the next section of verses for further illustration on what Christ has done for us, and how it affects our pure unity. First, note in 1 Cor 6:12–20 that Paul affirms Christian liberty in the face of such impurity and divisiveness in the church. He doesn’t write his letters like grocery lists of rules. John Piper writes,
He means that when you cease to live by legal lists of dos and don'ts, you must start to live by Christian love and Christian liberty. Yes, the old law of the letter that coerces the flesh with threatenings should give way. We are no longer under law (Romans 6:14). We are under the sway of grace. [1]
Paul’s doesn’t say, “So have fun.” He says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.” The question is whether an action will benefit his Christian walk and the walk of others. Compare to 10:23–24: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” If the answer is not clear, 8:1 says that love builds up. Compare this to Paul’s words in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Is it starting to make sense? You shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage simply because there is a rule in the Bible that says so (though that is good enough reason). You should consider the question of whether anything you do is beneficial to you and those around you.
  • Are you building yourself up in the Lord if you are content to satisfy your pleasures on some person?
  • What if you love the individual? Are you showing biblical compassion toward the one you love by drawing that person into sin with you?

3. The Gospel calls us to be given to the Lord without impurity
This point overlaps the last in some of the verses. Look at verse 13. There may have been a catchy slogan floating around Corinth that said, “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food.” That slogan probably didn’t simply refer to the local McDonald's. An alteration of the slogan may have been “Sex is meant for the body and the body for sex.”
However, Paul proposes a different slogan: “The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” Note that Paul said “I will not be enslaved by anything” in verse 12. His body is for the Lord, so Paul cannot afford to be enslaved to something else.
Part of the Good News is that when you become a believer, you are joined to Christ. If that is true, Paul asks why you would take Christ’s body that you are sitting in and join it to sin (v. 15). In verse 19, it is even referred to as the temple of the Holy Spirit, (which makes it seem dangerous to have prostitutes too close). This is an interesting description of the believer, given that the temple to Aphrodite was just down the road. Don’t defile Christ’s body and the Spirit’s temple on a selfish whim.
Rather, believe what the Gospel says about you, and live your life accordingly.

4. The Gospel calls us to be content in purity
In fact, Paul says in verse 1 of chapter 7 that it is better never to have sex! That statement will test how much you love Jesus and the Gospel. If you never had sex (or never had it again), could you live a fulfilled life in Christ? Sex is not a sin, but it certainly becomes a distraction for millions, and your contentment with God should not be based on whether you can get married. That is the sign of an idol in your heart.
God does provide sex for those of us who need it, though, through the blessing of marriage. He knows the temptation we face. In fact, God goes a step further and commands that married couples satisfy each other. So, if you had any doubts, sex is not a sin. It is a gift from God to married couples (v. 7). The question is how rooted you are in the Gospel as to whether or not sex becomes a sin or an idol.
This is because chastity is also a gift. Some of you hearing this message are thinking that you need to get married right away. Maybe some of you do. But ponder, for a moment, the consequences of marriage on the Gospel in your life. Skip down to verse 32. It says, “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.” Verses 33–34, however, state, “But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.
Single folks usually have fewer bills and much more expendable income. You may not believe that while you’re in college, but expenses grow as you get married and start a family. Until that point, what money you have is free to be invested in the work of the Lord—you don’t need it to buy diapers and formula. What free time you have can be invested in the service of the Lord—not in helping your children with homework. There is nothing wrong with families, of course, but they simply have fewer resources to invest in Gospel ministry than single folks.
So consider what is more important to you today: sex or the ministry. No pressure! J
Seriously though, God wants you to learn contentment in whatever state you find yourself. In 1 Cor 7:17–24, Paul lists three scenarios:
1. Circumcised
2. Uncircumcised
3. Slaves
In each case, the individual can but should not worry about the flesh. The uncircumcised does not need to receive circumcision to receive the good news of the Gospel. Similarly, the circumcised should not worry about having to remove the marks of circumcision to become more Gospel-oriented. Slaves do not need to worry about escaping so they can be free to serve the Lord that saved them.
As a side note, Paul is endorsing slavery. In fact, he says in verse 19, “But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.” He is simply saying do not let the concerns of this life, even your personal freedoms or lack thereof, get in the way of what God is doing in your life.
If you learn contentment, you will be more freer to the Gospel and free from sexual immorality.

Closing Remarks
There is so much more to be said. You are not alone if you seem to be trapped in sexual sin. 1 Cor 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Put off your old, unrighteous self and put on the new, unleavened self (cf. Col 3:9–10).
None of this is possible unless you believe in the power of the Gospel. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes….” The Gospel is not a card you signed at church but a message resulting in God's grace and power in your daily life. If you don’t believe that Jesus did enough for you, or you don’t believe His promise of a Comforter was fulfilled in you, you are resting in your own power to make it through this life and you will fail.
Now, Chapter 8 marks a shift in the Apostle’s thinking, a shift we could not fully incorporate today. We are moving along the themes of Christian liberty introduced in Chapter 6 and exploring it in-depth for three chapters. Next time, Luke will be teaching beginning with Chapter 8 next week.


[1] John Piper, “I Will Not Be Enslaved by Anything.” Message preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1 September, 1985. Available at the Desiring God website, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/19/505_I_Will_Not_Be_Enslaved_by_Anything/. Accessed 23 March 2009.

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