Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, July 10, 2011
1 Corinthians 6:12-20, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
What does it mean to be truly free? Last Lord's Day we explored that question as we prepared to celebrate the Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation. Jesus answered our question about freedom, didn't He? He said simply, that freedom, true freedom, comes from knowing the truth. And the truth, He declared, is to be found through abiding in His Word.
For obvious reasons, our emphasis in our Scripture study was on freedom, liberty, independence. However, there is a side to Jesus' words in John 8 that we must not miss, nor misunderstand, if we are to experience true freedom in our daily lives. I'm talking now about the subject of slavery. I'm referring now to the issue of ownership and control.
Deep within the heart of every person, I think there is a yearning for true freedom. However, this is where we often begin to go wrong. In our sinful condition, without the divine insight God supplies through this Book, we think freedom, true freedom, means anything goes. Like the Israelites in the days of Gideon and Samson and Jephthah, without the guidance and instruction of God's Word, and with the deceptive lies of the devil being whispered in our ears, we believe that true freedom is the right for “every man to do what is right in his own eyes.” To live and let live, to have it your way!
But when Jesus spoke to those Jews who believed Him, saying, “If you abide in My Words, then you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” When He exclaimed, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, then you shall be free indeed.” Jesus wasn't talking about anything goes, total permissiveness. He wasn't hearkening back to a day-of-the-Judges-style freedom! As a matter of fact, if you study out the conditions of people's lives and of Israelite society in the days of Gideon and Samson and the other judges, you'll find that the situation was closer to anarchy, and a long ways from freedom as God intended it.
What does it mean to be truly free? In the words and wisdom of Jesus, true freedom is not without its limitations! True freedom has its conditions, and even its costs. Writing with a similar train of thought in mind, the apostle Paul told the Corinthians that an 'anything goes' kind of freedom, actually is no freedom at all. Rather, he indicates that such utter permissiveness – you know, “all things, are lawful for me...” - actually brings a person under the power and control of those things, food, drink, sex, or whatever. Furthermore, Paul points out that a mindset to the effect that our freedom is to be without restraints forgets, perhaps even, rejects two or three basic spiritual principles, two or three elementary truths that ever Christian should know and abide by.
Take a look – 1 Corinthians 6:13. The body, our flesh and blood, physical bodies, God did not make them, did not intend for them to be used simply to consume food, to participate in sex, to enjoy carnal pleasure. Why? Fundamental truth about being a Christian that I'm afraid many a Christian may have never learned. Fundamental truth about being a disciple of Jesus, going all the way back to His words in John chapter 8. Here's the fundamental truth about being a Christian that you and I must always keep in perspective when we think about the subject of freedom, when we wave the flag of patriotism and independence: as a Christian, I am not my own! As a Christian, I do not belong to me! As a Christian, I belong to God. He is my Owner, body, soul and spirit! Why? Because He bought me, that's what the whole idea redemption is all about, right? God, my Owner, bought me with His Son's precious life's blood being the payment!
And so, where does all this lead us? In the language of slavery, the language Paul uses in verses 13, 19 and 20, God is my Master and I am His servant, His slave. My body and my mind, my spirit and my soul, for that matter, are not ultimately intended for me, for my purposes and desires, but for Him and His. And, He and His for me! (Verse 13)
Referring to the issue of slavery or slave-like submission and obedience to the will of the Master, Jesus put it like this, in John 8:31-32, “If” - key word underscoring what? A condition, a requirement that must be met, in order for the promise He is about to offer to be fulfilled. “IF you abide in My word...” What's Jesus talking about there? He's talking about obedience! In the context of His radical pronouncements about freedom, Jesus declares that to know, to experience the liberating power of truth you must first be ready and willing to obey Him! To put it simply, to be free, truly free, you must become His slave!
What does it mean to be truly free? If you listen and follow the lead of the Israelites of Samson's day, or of way too many Americans and even American 'Christians' of our day, you'll be led to to believe that true freedom means having it your way! Oh, but listen, my Loved Ones, Jesus says – Paul says – this Book says, that true freedom comes only when we let God have His way in us!
The fundamental truth about being a Christian – do you know it? Do you live according to it? 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20: You are not your own! Your body and spirit are God's! Knowing, understanding, and, most importantly, abiding by this truth, that's the pathway to true freedom. But, where will you end up, if you take that path?
For all the single folks among us, what I'm about to show you may be the very news you've been waiting for... 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 – Where does that fundamental truth about being a Christian, belonging to God, lead us? It leads us into marriage!
1 Corinthians 6:15-17, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
To be a Christian, to belong, to to me, but to God, means not only that I am God's slave, Christ's servant, but that I am Christ's bride, I am married to Him! And, being married to Him, you know what that mean, don't you? It means that I can flirt with all the other potential husbands that are out there, right? It means that I can give my heart, my love away to all the other attractive ones out there, right? It mean that I can join myself, in “two become one” fashion, to any of the other 'mates' offering themselves to me that are out there, right? Wrong! No! If I am a Christian, I am married to Jesus Christ! And just like my earthly spouse, my Heavenly Husband doesn't look kindly toward any flirting or fornicating that I might be tempted to do with other 'husbands'.
What does it mean to be truly free? Well, what it doesn't mean, since I already have a 'husband', what it doesn't mean is that I can engage in polygamy! I am not my own! I am His 'bride'! His, and His alone! Furthermore, look what else it means: 1 Corinthians 6:19 – To be a Christian, to belong, not to myself, but to God, means that my body is not merely a hollow place to be filled with food and drink and other kinds of carnal, temporary pleasures! No! Because I am a Christian, because I belong to God, spirit, soul and body, what is my body? It is a hallowed place. It is a holy place! 1 Corinthians 6:19, read it again with me and weep. Read it again with me and rejoice.
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
This body God has given to me, the beer advertisers would have me believe that it was made for Michelob. This house of flesh and blood, entrusted to me by my Creator, the restaurant chains would have me believe that it was made for Chipotle, or maybe for the buffet line at Golden Corral. Yes, this fearfully and wonderfully made creation of God, the publishers of Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler – and Glamor and Redbook and Victoria's Secret – would have me believe that it is meant, made only and always for sex and for whatever kinky and unnatural way in which you want to have it. But, what does my God say? Acts 17:24 (and 2 Cor. 5:1ff), He says, “I don't dwell in temples made with hands,” “in building made of stones and bricks and mortar!” “No! Rather, if you are a Christian, if you belong to Me as My slave, and as My spouse,” listen, God says, “you also belong to Me, you are indwelt by Me, as My Sanctuary! My Holy of holies sanctuary!” (See Ephesians 2:19-22)
What does it mean to be truly free? Well, despite what we may always have been taught, growing up in this great land we call America, being truly free is not synonymous, it is not one and the same as being an American! As glad as I am to be here, to have been born here, my freedom AND my allegiance, ultimately, is found elsewhere, not in a country, but in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that? Because He has bought me, with His precious blood. I am His! I am His servant. I am His spouse and, perhaps, most amazing of all, the infinite God of the universe, the Almighty Creator Who spoke the universe into existence, and Who knit me together in my mother's womb, He has chosen me to be His sanctuary! So, what?
1 Corinthians 6:20 - “Therefore, glorify God. I am to make Him look great, in both my body, and in my spirit, which belong to Him...”