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First Corinthians 6:12-14


Paul has already brought up two issues with the Corinthian believers in which they were failing to judge
matters in their assembly. One of these issues concerned an incestuous relationship between a man and his
stepmother. Now Paul must raise yet another issue with the Corinthians, which appears to have been an
ongoing problem for them.
Lets read through the passage first.
[First Corinthians 6:12-20]
So except for a brief mention of food, what is the issue here? Sexual immorality - also translated
fornication - which means any type of illicit sexual relationship; that which is outside the marriage between
a husband and a wife.
The incestuous relationship was a kind of fornication. Remember also that Paul had written to the
Corinthians in a previous letter not to keep company with sexually immoral people (5:9). And Paul had just
been calling them not to be deceived about themselves, naming several sexual practices in his list of things
which will exclude men from the kingdom of God (6:9). Does this suggest to you that there was a problem
with fornication, in Corinth? And of course, there was.
Promiscuity, characteristic particularly of Greek male culture, was so prevalent in Corinth that it was
coined in a proverbial expression. To act like a Corinthian meant to commit fornication. And its clear
from Pauls letter that fornication continued to be an issue, in the church.
What isnt clear is if the issue was that believers were lapsing back into this sin, or if they were just
contemplating it, in their minds - and trying to rationalize it, justify it - even spiritualize it - based on their
freedom, in Christ. But sin is never something the believer is free to do; its what the believer has been
freed from. And Paul is intent on making sure that the believers in Corinth understand that fornication is
indeed sin - and that they are to flee from it.
Now, how could the believers in Corinth possibly think that fornication is not sin? Certainly Paul would
have taught them it is sin.
But as some of them were revisiting Greek philosophy, they found themselves once again intrigued with the
idea of dualism - which conceives of the material body as evil, and the immaterial soul and spirit, as good.
We had seen this thinking in Gnosticism, last week, and it was vigorously refuted in Johns letter; but the
concept goes back centuries in Greek philosophy.
The basis for this thinking was a degraded perception of the physical, based on its temporal nature physical matter only lasted for a time. Since the physical body was temporal - since it would cease to be - it
was viewed as having no eternal value - and therefore, what was done in it was of no consequence.
Combining this thought with their freedom in Christ, some of the believers in Corinth were seeing this as
license to do whatever they pleased, in their bodies - and Paul was aware of this.
What Paul will endeavor to show these believers is that they are not free to do what they please; they are
free to please God with their bodies. God has a purpose for the physical human body - a purpose that He is
fulfilling, through Christ. Therefore, their physical bodies are important; and whats more, their bodies
belong to Him.

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Lets read verse 12 again.


v. 12 Remember that Paul has just completed his list of the unrighteous, who will not inherit the kingdom
of God - those who practice these, and other, heinous sins as a way of life - including sexual immorality.
And then he reminds the Corinthian believers that they are not that way, anymore; they have been washed sanctified - justified, through Christ.
But as Paul begins to address this next issue with the Corinthian church, he begins with the statement, All
things are lawful for me. Thats a strange transition; in fact, it isnt a transition, at all - its very abrupt which would tend to capture the attention.
Its also strange that Paul would say such a thing: that all things are lawful. It means all things are right; all
things are permitted. Are they? Coming off of that list Paul has just made in his letter, we would say that
all things are certainly not lawful.
And even understanding this within the context of the passage - with all things referring to what a
believer takes into and does with his body, for himself - all things are still certainly not lawful.
So would Paul be saying, All things are lawful for me - for him, Paul? Paul teaches everywhere that all
things are certainly not lawful; all things are not all right.
So why does Paul write it? Of course, he does so to qualify it. But notice that he repeats the phrase twice,
here. And not only that, hell repeat the phrase again, later in the letter. Turn to First Corinthians chapter
10, for a little peek ahead.
[First Corinthians 10:23] So Paul says the phrase again here - twice - this time, regarding the well-being of
other believers.
[Return to First Corinthians 6]
What Paul is doing is bringing up to the Corinthians what they have taken to saying. Theyre saying All
things are lawful for me - its an expression thats going around, in the church in Corinth.
Greek philosophers used various tests for whether one should do an act, such as whether it was lawful or
permissible. So here, what we can see is that some Corinthian believers were reveling in the freedom they
have, in Christ - all things are lawful for them, now.
But Paul knows that these believers misunderstand their freedom to mean they can do whatever they want;
whatever they desire. So Paul is responding to what they are saying - and thinking.
In fact, the beginning of this passage reads like a dialogue between what some of the Corinthian believers
are saying - things that, overall, are not true - and Pauls response to what they are saying - which is the
truth. Ive put this dialogue, as well call it, on the back of your word sheet, to make it a little easier to
follow.
Some Corinthians are saying, All things are lawful for me. Im free to do whatever I please, in this body.
Paul responds, But all things are not helpful. Not everything is profitable - not everything will benefit
you, that you can do with your body.

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Like what? That becomes clear in the next exchange. The Corinthians say, All things are lawful for me but Paul qualifies this, for the believer: I will not be brought under the power of any.
The word power here means rule. The idea is that, when what the believer considers to be his freedom
in Christ is used by him as license to indulge his bodily appetites - such as for food, alcohol, drugs, sex that so-called freedom is no freedom at all.
Paul says it is bondage; the believer has put himself back under the power of sin. And it is a dreadful kind
of bondage, because the believer insists on calling it his freedom in Christ; he is rationalizing, even
spiritualizing, his sin.
Paul continues with this dialog he has created between himself and these particular believers.
v. 13a the NKJV and some others translate the little word in front of God as but; but God will destroy
both it and them.
This makes it sound as if this was the beginning of Pauls response to the Corinthians adage about the
stomach and food, but it is definitely not; it is instead a continuation of the Corinthians thinking, as well
see in a moment.
So the little word but would be better translated and, showing that continuation. The word in the Greek
can mean either but or and; the context determines which is meant.
So this is another saying, that the Corinthian believers would know, and perhaps even believe. It speaks of
the purpose of things.
Foods are for the stomach. What does that mean? That God created foods for the purpose of being taken
into the stomach, so that the body can obtain what it needs to thrive. Thats the purpose of food.
And the saying continues - the stomach is for foods. The stomach is designed by God to digest those
foods, to process them, to break them down so that the body can derive nourishment from them. Are these
things generally true? Yes.
The problem comes in with the next part of the saying. And God will destroy both it and them. It
refers to the stomach; them refers to the foods.
Food comes from the plants and the animals that populate the earth. Is it Gods plan to destroy the earth?
No; Hes going to regenerate it; there will be a new heavens and a new earth (Rev 21:1).
The stomach is part of the human body. Is it Gods plan to destroy the body? No again; Gods purpose is
to transform the human body (Phil 3:21), into a body that will live forever.
You can see now that Paul wouldnt have made this statement; its part of a saying familiar to the
Corinthians. But where did the saying come from? Clearly, from those Greek philosophers that had a
disregard for the material things - like the physical body.
But what was behind the saying - what did it mean? That since both food and the human body were merely
physical forms that would be destroyed by God - they would degrade, corrupt, and go back to their
elemental atomic forms, to become other forms - it didnt matter what you did with them.

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Eat as much as you like. Indulge your appetite. Be a glutton, if you want. Your body will go back to dust
anyway; its all coming to nothing - so it doesnt matter what you do in it. And some believers in Corinth
were seeing in this their freedom, in Christ!
Paul is bringing up this saying, which was about food, but it was viewed as true for any appetite of the
body. And there was one appetite with which the Corinthians had a particular problem. Paul now brings
this into the discussion, as he refutes this false thinking about the human body.
v. 13b-14 So this is now Pauls response, to the Corinthian saying about the human body. First Paul writes
of what the human body is not for; it is not for sexual immorality - fornication. This is the appetite that was
an issue, in Corinth.
And then Paul states the true purpose for the body. The body is for the Lord. Notice that in verse 13 and
14, Paul speaks of both God (the God, in the Greek) and the Lord; and that in verse 14, the Lord clearly
refers to Jesus Christ; so Paul is speaking of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, in their unique roles
with mankind.
The human body - each individual body - is for the Lord; for His purposes. Each one is the temporary
dwelling of a soul of spirit being; a human being. Each of those human beings is given the choice to
receive Christs life, for the body - eternal life. So then, each body has the potential to be glorified.
Each one can become a son of God, so that Christ can bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10), for His
Fathers kingdom. So Christs purpose for the temporal human body is to become an ever-living body, to
house a son of God.
Toward the fulfillment of His purpose, those who have chosen to receive His life - eternal Life for the body
- have the ability to live that Life, in the here and now. Why not just take them up to heaven right away,
and finish out the Lords purpose, for them? It all has to do with glory.
The more the believer chooses to live the Life Christ has given him in his human body, the more glory he
will have, for eternity; and the more glory he will shine out, even here and now.
It is that glorious light - with its warm glow of love - that draws others to the Lord, so that they too can
fulfill the purpose the Lord has for their bodies - to glorify them, as Gods sons, so that they have an
inheritance in Gods kingdom. In this way, the human body is for the Lord - for His purposes - to produce
sons for Gods kingdom.
And following the same language used in the Corinthian saying, Paul says that the Lord is for the body.
Again, were speaking of individual human bodies.
Paul is saying that the Lord Jesus was purposed for human bodies. How so? It was the design of the
Father that the Son should take on a human body - a flesh and blood body - in order to share the Fathers
Life with men.
God the Son had to come in a body of flesh in order to die in the stead of men for sin, and in so doing, give
to them the Life of the Father, that He brought down from heaven.

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God the Son was the Seed; His human body, the seed coat, that fell away in death, bringing forth eternal
life - for His body, and for the bodies of all who believe into Him. So in this way, the Lord is for the body;
the Lord Jesus Christ was purposed for the human bodies of men, in order that those bodies may live
forever.
It was to fulfill this dual purpose - the body for the Lord, the Lord for the body - that God the Father raised
up Jesus from the dead. Christs resurrection was the seal upon the whole plan of God, for man; the
culmination of Gods great design. And the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is our assurance that this plan of
God for us - for our bodies to be raised in glory - will indeed be fulfilled.
How can we be certain of this? One reason is because we have Gods Word on it. Turn to Romans chapter
6, for a most familiar passage. Paul was writing about something that some of the Corinthian believers
might have asked - should we continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul said, certainly not!
[Romans 6:3-5]
v. 3-4 To be baptized into Christ Jesus is to be immersed in Him, figuratively speaking. This occurs when
a person unites himself to Christ, through believing in Him.
Notice as Paul goes on what it is that he indicates the person is then baptized into - what is it? Christs
death. So united to Christ by faith, the work of Christ becomes our experience - His death, His burial, His
resurrection.
In this passage, Paul speaks of the believer being raised in newness of life, in a glorified body, as his future
hope. Notice in verse 5, Paul says, we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection; and in verse 8, we shall
also live with Him.
But at the same time, Paul indicates that the believer can live that new life, here and now; in verse 4 - we
should walk in newness of life - we can choose to conduct ourselves in it, here and now; and in verse 11,
we are to reckon ourselves alive to God - in the same way that Christ is now alive to God - in an ever-living
body (v. 10).
The work of redemption was finished at the cross - the soul of man was loosed from sin, and the body of
man was loosed from death (Eph 1:7, 14). And by faith, through our union with Christ, that work is made
real to us, in the here and now.
In Galatians chapter 3, Paul says, For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ
(Gal 3:26). This speaks of your new covering - your clothing that fits you for Gods presence, in heaven your glorified body (2 Cor 5:2). You have already put in on, by virtue of being in Christ - through union
with Him, by faith. The work has been finished for you, in eternity - and is being realized in your life,
through time.
Now look at what Paul says in verse 5, as he explains what baptism into Christ means, for the believer.
v. 5 The last part of verse 5 reads literally, also of the resurrection, we shall be. Whose resurrection?
Christs. Our ever-living bodies will come out of His - based on our union with Him, in death.
The word united in the NKJV is more literally planted. It means to be sown or planted together,
speaking of seed.

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What does it mean to be planted together in the likeness of Christs death? That was the planting of the
Incorruptible Seed, which contained the Life of the Father, for a body of glory.
Through our union with Christ by faith, He has shared with us the very Life He brought out of death - His
glorified body is the Seed Grain for all of the sons of glory.
Now that Life becomes a living seed in us, within the coat of our mortal body, which will one day bring
forth the fruit of a body of glory like our Lords. In this way, we recognize that our new Life is from the
same seed - the Seed Grain, Christ: of His resurrection, we shall be.
One of the feasts of the LORD is a picture of exactly this reality. Were going to look at that briefly. Turn to
Leviticus chapter 23.
You may remember from our study in First Corinthians chapter 5 the first festival time on Israels calendar
in the spring, which had three feasts associated with it: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. These
picture the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
The next festival time was summer, with the feast of Weeks, known later as Pentecost. Were just going to
be considering the grain offerings of Firstfruits, and of the feast of Weeks.
[Leviticus 23:9-11, 15-17]
v. 9-11 So this was when the children of Israel possessed the land promised to the nation. They were to
take a sheaf of ripened grain from the harvest, its firstfruits, and the priest was to offer it as a wave offering
before the LORD.
Firstfruits means the first grain of an entire field, that had reached its maturity; its fruition. The feast of
Firstfruits was the third feast day of the spring, and represented the resurrection of Christ out from among
the dead on the third day: the firstborn Son of God, in a glorified body.
Firstfruits also signifies the promise of a completed harvest. As the first of the seed planted had matured to
produce its grain, it was certain that the same seed planted subsequently would do so also.
Now skip down to verse 15.
v. 15-17 So fifty days were counted from the feast of Firstfruits - this linked the two feasts together. Then
another offering was brought to the LORD, from a field planted later, but likely of the same grain, as the
feasts are joined in their timing.
In Exodus chapter 34, this grain is specified as wheat (Ex 34:22). The ripened wheat was crushed and
sifted, then baked into loaves, which were waved before the LORD. Notice that these loaves contained
leaven; and what do you remember leaven symbolizes? Evil, or sin.
In the Law of the offerings, the grain offerings that represent Christ never contained leaven, for He was
sinless. But these loaves do contain leaven.
The loaves represent the Body that came out of the death of Christ. There were two loaves, but one
offering - two peoples, Jew and Gentile, but united as one Body, the true church (Eph 2:14-16).

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And just as the leaven was rendered inoperative by the fire of the baking process, so the action of sin in the
body of Christ has been overpowered by the righteousness of God, in Christ (Rm 8:2-4) - we are sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all (Heb 10:10).
The connection between the springtime feast of Firstfruits and the summertime feast of Weeks may imply
that the some of the seed from that early harvest was planted to generate this later harvest.
But we see that the first-ripened grain from this later harvest is also described as firstfruits to the LORD because it is also the first ripened grain of the field - and therefore the promise of a completed harvest.
We see the beginning of the fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks in the book of Acts, by then known as
Pentecost. Thats when the harvest of the church was begun - the firstfruits, of all the sons of God. It is a
harvest that has yet to be completed - but assuredly, it will.
What we see pictured in these feasts are two harvests that come from the same seed - which bears out the
reality that we are of Christs resurrection - He was the Seed Grain, for the sons of God. Now lets turn to
Second Corinthians chapter 4, and just grab a single sentence that Paul wrote to them.
[Second Corinthians 4:13-14] We can see the entire picture right here. In that Jesus was raised up, we
recognize the finished work of redemption - the soul loosed from sin; the body loosed from death.
But we also understand that we have not yet been raised, from the perspective of time - God will raise us up
- future.
And in addition to that, we also see an anomaly - God will raise us up with Jesus - our being raised up in
the future will occur with Jesus, who was raised in the past. God is outside of time; and through faith, we
join Him there. Thats our certain, know-so hope - Based on Gods Word.
But as if Gods Word was not enough, God gives us even further assurance. What - or rather, Who - is that
further assurance? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been given to each believer as the guarantee that
we will be raised in glory.
Were going to look at just one of several references on this. Turn to Ephesians chapter 1. Were have to
jump in on Paul here, as he is citing to believers all of the blessings that they have, by virtue of being in
Christ - having trusted in Him.
v. 13-14 The redemption of the purchase possession speaks of the earthly body which has been redeemed
- loosed from death - by being changed into a body of glory. Our bodies have not yet been changed, but the
Holy Spirit is Gods seal upon this promise to us, showing its certainty. This seal shows Gods ownership,
and authority; we are His sons; that good work which He has begun in us will be completed (Phil 1:6).
The word for guarantee means earnest or pledge. The same word is used in the modern Greek for an
engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is kind of like an engagement ring, which our beloved Bridegroom has
given to us; the Holy Spirit is His promise that He will return for us, and take us to the home He has been
preparing for us - as His bride of glory.
As the ring is the sign of an engagement, the Holy Spirit is the sign of our union with Christ. That union
guarantees our future with Christ, in glory.

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So, far from the degraded Greek thought, that God has no plan for the body, and will dishonor it with
destruction, the truth is that God does have a plan for the body - to honor it - as a forever dwelling of the
sons of God (Rm 9:21-23).
Reading: 1 Cor 6; John 17; Gen 2:18-24; Eph 5:22-32; Rm 6:14-23