I want you to imagine that you are in a foreign country and that you are about to take a road trip. Let’s say that you are hired to transport something to another city as soon as possible. You are given a fueled up car and a road map and an address. What do you do? The logical thing to do is to plot out the best route on the map and follow it in order to get there as quickly as possible. Still, some will accept the job, then be led astray and take their time to get where they are going, possibly going the wrong way intentionally, running out of gas, food, getting lost, etc. In the same way, we have a goal that we are challenged to reach in life and that is addressed by this passage (in addition to other things). Read the 1 Corinthians 6.9-20.
9,10. Implication from the previous section is that the lawsuits are unrighteous and the unrighteous do not have an inheritance in heaven. Paul contrasts the lawsuit issue with more extreme examples of immorality and says that they too do not have an inheritance in heaven.
11. Paul identifies that some of them were guilty of some of these sins, but now they are forgiven (washed), life transformed (sanctified) and pardoned (justified).
12. In saying that all things are lawful, Paul is saying that God will allow us to do whatever we want, even as Christians, including sin. In spite of this, sin is not good for us because, as it is implied, sin will master us if we allow it to be a part of our lives. So instead of serving Christ, we will serve ourselves, our sinful nature.
13. It seems here that we could try to justify immorality on the grounds that it is our nature, as humans to be involved sexually with one another. Where there is some truth to this—the first command was to multiply and fill the earth—it is not an excuse for sexual immorality. Paul acknowledges that the reason we have food is because we have a stomach that needs it, but we do not have a body which is designed to serve sex; rather it is designed for serving God.
14. In the same way that Jesus’ body was raised and transformed into an imperishable heavenly body, our physical bodies will also be raised up and transformed to be just like His. I think Paul brings this up to imply that the effects of our sin, will be a part of us for eternity. We won’t have guilt or pain because of it, but I do believe we will remember our sin even though we have been forgiven of it. Certainly those who do not accept Christ will spend eternity troubled by these scars.
15-17. Since in the act of committing sexual immorality, you are becoming one in flesh with another, and you as a believer are already one in spirit with Jesus Christ, then you are in essence binding Christ to a prostitute. Now it is not that the prostitute could not be forgiven or that Jesus would not be happy to forgive a prostitute; it’s not that at all. Jesus would happily bind Himself to a prostitute that recognizes the need for a savior and repents of sin. If we commit sexual immorality, we are binding Christ to the practice of immorality. It’s like we talked about in chapter 5; we are defaming the name of Christ.
18. Immorality, where it is equally as forgivable as every other sin, it is different. It is a sin which is inside the body, while others are outside. This means that we are effected internally by it. This is likely a reference to STD’s. One thing is certain, and it is clear still today; there are consequences for your physical body from practicing sexual immorality. These could be STD’s or unwanted pregnancy. It is in this way that you are actually sinning against your own body, not just against God or other people.
19. Your body is a temple. This is not a direct reference to the physical side of the body, rather it is a reference to the spiritual. If they Spirit resides inside you and you commit internal sins, then it is like a Hebrew taking a prostitute beyond the veil and into the Holy of Holies where God resides. Our bodies are not our own and while we have freedom to do this, it is not good. In Hebrew times it would have been promptly punished with death.
20. We are not our own because we have been purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must glorify God, not just in action, but also with our bodies. “…whatever you do, do for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10.31).
There is a very specific application when we talk about sexual immorality. Let’s take a quick look at the details of what is meant by immorality as addressed in verses 9, along with modern equivalences of them. Notice that the sins in verse 10 are all addressed in chapter 5 as being equally as bad as immorality. We won’t go over those again.
- Fornicators: Those who have sex outside of wedlock and/or with multiple partners. Promiscuity.
- Idolaters: Idolatry is worship of false gods or worship of anything except God. In context I would say that this is anyone who places their sexual needs higher than their call to follow Christ, either intentionally or because of a lack of self control.
- Adulterers: This is someone who has sex with someone who is not their spouse.
- Effeminate: This is a specific reference to the ancient practice of catamites, specifically in Romans and Greeks. It is a mature man who takes a young man as a prostitute in exchange for physical things (in most cases). I think this translates into modern times into all forms of molestation and sexual interaction with children, voluntary or involuntary.
- Homosexual: This is specific to homosexual offenders; those who have a sexual relationship with a member of the same sex. It should be noted that homosexuality is forgivable and repentable. A homosexual must repent of the offense of it, but not be expected to change sexual preference or to marry someone of the opposite sex. In most cases it will mean refraining from all sexual contact and never marrying, since their desires lead only to sin.
In the end, I don’t think there is any argument that these sins are bad and that they should be avoided at all costs, but there is a more specific application that we can take from this. Like in the driving example, we have accepted the challenge to follow Christ. Where we are at complete liberty to go off the path which we are on, there will almost certainly be consequences of doing so. Yes, our sins are forgiven for all sin, past and future, but if we allow sin in our lives, especially of the kind addressed in this chapter, there will most certainly be long term and possibly eternal consequences.