1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
Some in the church did not think their bodies had much to do with their relationship with God. Therefore, it did not matter what they did with their bodies, such as having sex outside of marriage. But Paul taught that the bodies of believers are temples of the Holy Spirit, and should be treated honorably. Pleasure is a gift from God (Psalm 16:11), including sexual pleasure, but it should only be expressed between husband and wife, as God designed (Genesis 2:23-25).
1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
We ought to honor God with our bodies, not only because of the indwelling Spirit, but also because of our redemption. We do not belong to ourselves, but to the one who bought us for himself.
When I was sixteen years old, I said to my mom, quite emphatically, It’s my life and I will do what I want with it. This is a common idea, but it reveals a stunning immaturity, and lack of understanding. We do not belong to ourselves, but to the God who made us and redeemed us.
Furthermore, God made us for our family, friends, neighbors, country and world. First he created us, then he bought us with his blood, then he commanded us to love and serve others (Matthew 22:37-39). When we understand who and whose we are, we will live quite differently than if we think we belong to ourselves.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. . . . Do not deprive each other.
The church in Corinth had questions about sex, which Paul was happy to answer. God created sex not only for procreation, but also for pleasure in marriage. But the sexual needs of husband and wife are seldom the same, so one can feel deprived if the other is unresponsive. Paul instructed married Christians to not deprive each other, but to attend to each other’s sexual needs.
Sex in marriage is only as important as it is to the one to whom it is most important. If it is not important to either, it is not important at all. But if it’s important to one, it’s precisely that important to the marriage. Attending to each other’s sexual needs is the proper thing to do, and is also a safeguard against immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:35 [L]ive in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
The best way for Paul to live in undivided devotion to the Lord was to remain single. Other apostles were married (1 Corinthians 9:5), but Paul enjoyed serving God without concern for a family. He recommended it to others, not as the ideal, but as an excellent way for those who were able. Whether married or single, however, we should live in undivided devotion to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
This, of course, only makes sense. Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? (1 Corinthians 9:7), wrote Paul. Unless a preacher is paid, the gospel will not be proclaimed, and the church will suffer badly.
Every Christian, therefore, ought to feel some responsibility to help pay the salaries of those who serve their church. They should not be overpaid, or under paid, but fairly paid–for the worker deserves his wages (Luke 10:7), said Jesus. God wants his gospel preached around the world (Mark 13:10), and it’s the duty of every Christian to participate. If believers will not pay to have the gospel preached, no one else will.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Athletic games were common in Corinth, and Paul saw them as an illustration for the Christian life. If Paul was going to run a race, he did not want to come in second. Like a professional athlete, Paul was willing to do whatever he could to come in first.
Many Christians have wondered, What is the least I need to do to go to heaven? I have wondered that myself, because nobody wants a more difficult life than necessary. But the Bible never answers that question. It only tells us how to be our best. Paul wanted to be the best Christian who ever lived, and he likely achieved his goal.
1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall!
The church in Corinth had an appearance of strength that was making them careless. They were a large church (Acts 18:10), with enthusiastic worship, and many spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). But they also had some problems such as disorder (1 Corinthians 11:17-34), immorality, (1 Corinthians 5), and doctrinal confusion (1 Corinthians 15). If these were not resolved, they could lead to a serious fall (Proverbs 16:18).
A certain tree in California stood tall and strong for hundreds of years. It survived earthquakes, storms, floods and other natural disasters. But then it came down with a crash. The problem was not lighting or wind, but tiny beetles that ate the tree from the inside out. It appeared to be strong, but had become hollow. The same can happen to churches if issues are not resolved. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall!
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Corinth was so immoral that some believers may have thought the only way to survive was to compromise with sin. On the contrary, Paul wanted them to know that all their temptations were common, and that God would provide a way out.
This is one of the most helpful verses in the Bible for overcoming sin. Temptation can be wickedly forceful, but our temptation is not unique—and we are not alone. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), said God.
Reflection and Review
Why don’t we belong to ourselves?
Why should Christians pay for ministry?
Why is temptation dangerous?