Studies in First Corinthians
“The Christian and His Body
1st Corinthians 6:9-20
One of the biggest misconceptions among unbelievers is about the practicality of Christianity. The basic idea that most of them have is that there is a “dichotomy” between the secular and the sacred – between Sunday and the rest of the week. Or another mistake is that it is only for the elderly and little children. But the scripture presents a much more practical view of the Christian life – and a few passages such as this one zero in on that difference. Because the subject of this second half of the chapter is the problem of sexual depravity in verses 9 through 20.
Remember that the first part of the chapter was the problem of settling disputes. So as we look at this matter of the Christian and the use of his body, the first thing that Paul develops is the principle of free redemption in verses 9 through 11:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, (10) nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God
Verse 11 establishes the fact that no matter what the sins of our past they are completely forgiven. But notice that this is based on God’s power to cleanse, not any “rehabilitation program” that we might undertake. But in the first part of verses 12 and 13 we find the possibility of faulty reasoning.
All things are lawful to ne, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (13) Foods for the belly and the belly 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.
Both of these verses are in two parts: The first part of both verses indicates that the realization that all of our past sins are forgiven and forgotten could lead us to the false conclusion that “anything goes” Notice the details in these statements: “Faulty reasoning #1: “all things are lawful for me.” In verse 12. This statement in and of itself is true – verse 11 says that we are “washed” and “justified” from our sins. But it can be used to justify wrong actions. (to be shown in a minute). Then faulty reasoning #2 is in verse 13 – “all things are for human enjoyment.” The modern equivalent of this statement is “if it feels good, do it.” Or “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” So what is the proper attitude for the believer about bodily activities? The next verses bring it out:
The third section of the chapter is the presentation of full reality is brought out in verses 12 through 20. In these verses we find four principles about the use of the body under any circumstances.
First is the principle of appropriateness in verse 12.
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.
Now as we saw in verse 11, all things are lawful – all of our sins have been forgiven on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross. But even though that is true, the believer must always consider “expediency.” The Greek word used here actually means “appropriate,” So the basic idea is to ask the question, “should a child of the king be involved in this action?” An illustration would be a well known Christian leader arrested for a sordid crime of some kind.
But there is a second principle to be considered here and that is the principle of addiction in verse 12b
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Someone has said, “true freedom is the ability to say “No.” There are some things that might be appropriate under normal circumstances could fall under this category. These are things that might be all right in and of themselves, but they become wrong because they gain control of the individual. This could be anything from too much TV to sports to overeating – or many others. The Greek wording of verse 12 is actually a play on words – a literal translation would be “all things are within my power, but I will not be overpowered by any.”
Then in verse 13 he gives us two examples of this principle, and they are very practical ones: overeating and sex.
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.
Notice how realistic God’s illustrations are. One or both of these subjects touch on the lives of every one of us. In fact, it is interesting to notice that Paul uses these same two subjects in other places to illustrate other deep spiritual truths. For example, eating is the focal point of the Lord’s Supper. And the legitimate use of sex is the focal point of the fact that we Christians are “the bride of Christ.” And yet both of them can become controlling forces in our lives if used incorrectly.
So those are the first two principles governing the use of the body: “the principle of appropriateness” and “the principle of addiction.”
But there are two other principles: “the principle of profanity” in verses 13 through 17 and the principle of possession in verses 19 and 20. And we will look at those two in our next study.
There are two assumptions that all Christians seem to make on a regular basis: The first is that since all of our sins are forgiven, it doesn’t really matter how we live, and, second, that the way we use our bodies doesn’t really matter that much to the Lord anyway. But these verses show that it does matter to God how we use our bodies. And if we don’t keep these two principles in mind two things can happen: we can find ourselves unfit for god’s greatest use, or, Satan can slip in and get us into even deeper sin.
The purpose of these studies is to draw you closer to Jesus Christ. If you do not know him, it is my prayer that they will help you understand that Romans 3:23 says that you, like all of us, have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And Romans 6:23 says that the result of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ. And Acts 16:32 says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. If I can be of help to you in understanding any of this information I can be reached at