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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 6:12-20

15/01/2012

Christian Freedom!
1st Corinthians 6:12-20

We have seen that Paul has been speaking about immorality in the church, and the Christian reactions to it. We are to move quickly to stamp out any immoral conduct in the local assembly, lest it take root and affect the whole church. Nor are we to take other Christian believers to court, for in doing so, we destroy our testimony. But there is another issue that Paul must address, with regard to this matter of immorality among Christians. It is the central issue that lies at the very heart of the immorality of the Corinthians. As Christians, we boldly proclaim that Christ has set us free! But just how free to do what we want are we? “It is my body. I can do what I want with it!” Can I?

The True Character of Christian Liberty
Paul had been preaching the doctrine of Christian freedom! Now FREEDOM is a basic biblical concept.
The very epitome of the freedom of God’s people is seen in the Old Testament at the time when a number of Hebrew slaves, toiling and working under deep oppression in Egypt were granted their freedom. This freedom was not obtained by political negotiation, or by an armed uprising or by the magnanimity of the ruling authorities. This freedom was planned and enacted by God Himself! It was divine deliverance leading to national and personal freedom. The preamble to the Ten Commandments sums up the whole nature of freedom in the Old Testament. Exodus 20:1-3 And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. The point that Moses is making here is this; the people were set free to serve the Lord their God! Continually throughout the Old Testament, the remembrance of their deliverance was to be a spur for ethical behaviour. Deut. 15:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day. Because they had been slaves, but now were free, their lives should be different, they should walk with their God and their lives should reflect that freedom in their behaviour. Freedom from bondage did not mean freedom from responsibility. Deut. 5:12-15 Leviticus 25:42 Deut. 15:1-2 Leviticus 25:10

But Jesus also spoke about freedom. He proclaimed that he had come to set the captive free! Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Luke 1:51-53 Luke 1:71. There is a very important reference to Christian Freedom in John’s Gospel. There, Jesus speaks to the believing Jews, and shows the how freedom is obtained. John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. So Christian Freedom is closely related to, and dependent upon, the teaching, the doctrine of Christ. We can never say that Christian doctrine is unimportant! It is vital, for our freedom is dependent upon it.
But from what are we set free? The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking declared that they had never been slaves, for they were the children of their father, Abraham! Listen to the reply of Christ; Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. So Jesus taught that real Christian freedom is FREEDOM FROM SIN!

So we have seen two aspects to the Biblical doctrine of freedom. It is to be set free from sin, and the result of that deliverance is that the person so delivered will now serve the Lord! There is an illustration of this in the Old Testament. Exodus 21:5-6 teaches us what must happen if a freed slave loves his master and wants to devote his life to his master’s service! His ear is to be pierced! There is a Chorus that reflects this. “Pierce my ear, O Lord my God!” This is why Paul so frequently describes himself as ‘the slave of Christ’ and in respect of this, then, he was also the slave of everyone else! 1 Cor. 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. In Galatia, some people had argued that in order to be a Christian a person must become a Jew, must be circumcised and submit himself to the Jewish laws. Paul was appalled at this teaching, and called it another gospel, and claimed that anyone who taught such a thing should be accursed. It was totally contrary to the principle of Christian Freedom. We are free from sin and free from the Law. Galatians 3:28 Col. 3:11

It is here that the Corinthians come unto the scene. They knew Paul’s stance on Freedom, and they took it to the other extreme! As Greeks, they knew little about the traditional Jewish stance on freedom. They thought that Christian freedom meant that you could do whatever you liked! That liberty was the same as licence! The Greeks thought that the body was a tomb, which hindered the spirit, and mattered little to the spiritual well-being of the person, therefore, you could do whatever you wanted with your body, and it would never affect your spiritual welfare. So, they argued, just as food is made for the stomach, and the stomach for food, the body is made for sexual gratification, and sexual gratification is made for the body. They belong together, and so, since we have been freed from sin, sin committed in the body cannot affect the soul, and consequently, could be committed with total impunity by any Christian! “So,” say our Corinthian Christians, “Just do whatever you want, we are free, so it won’t matter!” Here is Paul’s reply, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 1 Cor. 6:12-1. So, the stomach will pass away, so will the food, but the body itself belongs to the Lord! One day it will be resurrected!

The Trusting Concord of Christian Love
Paul now uses the illustration of marriage to demonstrate how important Christian morality really is. In a passage similar to Ephesiansians 5, Paul reminds us that our marriage union is a reflection of the union between Christ and the Church!

– United in Christ’s Body. 1 Cor. 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. As Christians, we are part of the body of Christ. But did you know that there is a physical dimension to this! We are physically part of His body! Paul says in Ephesians 5:30, For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Romans 12:5 Ephesians. 4:12 Ephesians. 4:15-16) When we abuse our bodies, in whatever way, we rend those bodies from Christ and make them part of the body of a harlot!
– United in Marriage. When a man and a woman marry, the Biblical teaching is that they become one flesh! V16. Genesis 2:24 Matthew 19:5-6 Mark 10:8 Ephesians. 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
– United in Spirit. Not only are we united to the Lord physically, but also we are united to Him spiritually! Just as a man must leave his father and mother at marriage, and cleave to his wife, Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. so a spiritually regenerate person has a new family! He leaves his old life, and he cleaves to the Lord! He is one with the Lord, (just as he is one with his wife); he is one in spirit, and he is one in obedience! It is therefore impossible to be united with Christ and with sin!

So, sexual immorality destroys the unity of the marriage. – There is an external effect! It ruins marriages and ruins testimonies and ruins the unity of the body of Christ! It is so implied and stated throughout chapters 5 and 6 of the book we are reading. It also destroys the body. There is an internal effect! 1 Corinthians. 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

The Tremendous Challenge of Christian Life
Here is a great challenge! If you are saved, your body belongs to the Lord! I hear Christians saying, quite frequently, “I am free from the law, I can do what I want,” or, “I’m not under law, I’m under grace!” I can go where I want, drink what I want, live as I want! This is totally dishonouring to the Lord who sets you free! You are not your own!

Paul sums up the believer’s testimony in Romans 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. V19. The Lord is indwelling the Christian, in the person of His Holy Spirit! And we have been purchased at great cost! The cost of our freedom from sin and condemnation was a great cost. The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life that we might be bought back from the very slave market of sin! We are now His purchased possession! We are His jewels! 1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Because of this great redemption, at such a great price, our purpose now is to glorify God! So we are to glorify God in OUR BODY and in our spirit! Are we doing that?

There is one more aspect to this doctrine of Christian Freedom and the responsibility it brings, for it determines the Believer’s walk!

It affects our WORSHIP. When we come to worship the Lord in His Church, we will seek to worship in such a way as to please Him, rather than to please ourselves! We will not just go along with the latest trends in worship, we will examine the Scriptures, and seek the true nature of worship and do what is honouring and pleasing to the Lord.
It affects our WITNESS. Our whole lives will reflect the Lordship of Christ! After all we are set free to serve. WE will not abuse our Christian freedom; we will rather restrict it, so that others will mark us out as different and long to know the Saviour also.
It affects our WORK-LIFE. For we will never work at anything which would bring us into conflict with the Lord’s will and purpose, and make us disobedient to Him.
It affects our whole WAY OF LIFE! Romans 6:15-23. Our lifestyle will reflect our faith.

But, do please be aware that in a spiritual sense, even the unregenerate person does not own the body in which he dwells! The natural man was created to bring honour and glory to God. Yet, without Christ in our lives, look at how we have taken what was intended to be honouring to God and destroyed it with sin! We are proud of our physical appearance! We go out of our way to look nice, and respectable and clean! While the inside, the important part, is still contaminated with the filth of sin!

We dishonour and disrespect our bodies, for example, when we indulge in impurity, for Paul says in Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. We do despite to our bodies by indulging in the common things of this world. By alcohol, with drug abuse, by driving cars that in our hands become lethal weapons and cause death and injury and misery to thousands. We dishonour our bodies when the Sabbath Day rest is ignored, and the body is harmed!

Not only do we harm our bodies through our everyday activities, but we deny our bodies their true spiritual food. When we are out of Christ, we are denying our bodies the essential spiritual nourishment and sustenance that is essential to keep them properly functioning! The whole spiritual dimension of life is either missing or distorted. We persist in the pursuit of physical and mental well-being, but a vital ingredient of life is missing, and we deprive ourselves of the spiritual nourishment that is essential to a complete life. Deut. 32:6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
Eventually, we discard our bodies! All our efforts at physical achievement will be pointless, for one day this physical body will be laid in earth to rot, and we shall stand before God in judgement with a spirit that is dead and sin cursed and under God’s terrible condemnation!

So Christ sets us free, and that freedom is undeserved and unconditional. It lifts us out of our sin and gives us a new life in Christ. A life that is new and changed and different. What will we do with that new life, with that newfound freedom? A grateful Christian believer will take his freedom, and he will give it back to the Lord, to love Him and to serve Him forever! To keep His laws and to walk in His ways from this time forth!

From → Sermon Notes

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