Second Sunday After The Epiphany January 14, 2018
“Do You Not Know?” I Corinthians 6:12-20
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
The Colorado Legislature began their sessions this week. We have many things that have to be addressed in Colorado. Our population growth has us needing to address schools, roads and transportation. It seems that water and where it is to go is always a question to be addressed. But what got the headlines on the first day? “Sexual-harassment issue a focus at start of session”. (Denver Post, January 11, 2018, Pg.1) Sex, sexual abuse and sexual harassment was the issue to grab headlines. That’s been the issue in our country lately. That was the issue when Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
“Do you not know?”, that is the question that St. Paul asks the Corinthians Christians 6 times in this chapter: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself?” (I Corinthians 6:15a) “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?” (6:16a) “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (6:19a)
Some of the Corinthian Christians were going to the pagan temples and sleeping with the prostitutes. They would come to church on Sunday and worship God and take Holy Communion, but on Saturday night they were sleeping with the Temple prostitutes!! They defended their actions with the words – “Everything is permissible for me.” They felt that as Christians they could do as they wanted. They had the mistaken notion that they could do whatever they wanted to do with their body as long as they kept their soul pure. They were taught by the non-Christian world at that time that the body was evil and therefore it should do what it wants to do. The body could sin, but the soul, the spiritual element within you, would rise above that. They saw no inconsistency with doing all types of evil things on Saturday night and coming to church to sing praises to God on Sunday morning.
Do you not know that such inconsistency is damning to the Christian and his soul and his body? I wonder for how many of us that this battle with being pure sexually is the greatest challenge in life. For how many of us is our sexual purity, what we have done, or what we are doing, the downfall in our life? I have known too many people, and I bet you do too, where what they did sexually was the destroyer of their life. They ruined their relationship with their spouse, they ruined their career, they lost their family, their job, the respect of others and their own integrity all because their sexual lives were not controlled by God. Their guilt has destroyed their life and removed the joy of living from them. Regrets over wrong choices eat them up.
Do you remember in the Old Testament when Esau came in from the field and was so hungry that he was willing to give up his birthright, his future in the family, for a bowl of soup? How foolish, right? He gave up so much for so little!! But we do the same today!! Because we are overwhelmed with passion before marriage, during marriage or after marriage we look for someone or something other than our spouse to fill that need!! We give up everything for so little!! Pornography is a huge destroyer of lives. Millions of folks have sold their soul so they can watch an X-rated movie, or view a magazine or watch something filthy on the Internet. The Scripture says, “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (II Peter 2:19b) I read that in the early church, when immersion was the primary manner of Baptism, soldiers would hold their fighting arm, the one that they would use to kill others, out of the water. They were saying ‘this arm is mine. I will do what I want to do with it.’ I wonder if we have parts of our body that we consider outside the waters of our Baptism?
Do you not know? Yeah, we do!! What we do in the body touches the soul. What we do on Saturday evening influences how we benefit on Sunday morning. Paul says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable… for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (I Thessalonians 4:3-4,7)
Do you not know that you belong to the Lord? That is the most wonderful truth!! You don’t belong to the devil, you don’t belong to the sinful ways of the world and you don’t belong to yourself. You belong to God. When the day comes for your body or your ashes to be committed to your place of burial these words will be spoken, “May God the Father, who created this body; may God the Son, who by His blood redeemed this body; may God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.” Our text tells us such good news, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
Sex and our sexuality is not an evil thing. It is a good thing. It is one of the most wonderful ways that a husband can speak to his wife and a wife to her husband their deep love for each other and that the other is the most precious gift that they have. It is a gift that God has given to marriage. In the next chapter of this book Paul says, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” (I Corinthians 7:4)
This is dangerous sermon. We normally don’t talk about such issues so publicly. But that is not why this is dangerous. I know I have crushed the hearts of a number of you. This sermon has opened some old wounds or exposed some fresh ones. Sexual sin is guilt that we carry. We know better but it is our thorn in the flesh.
So, I have another “Do you not know?” that you must hear. This is what God says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you have been washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:9-11)
Do you not know? Please hear about the forgiveness and the cleansing that Jesus Christ brings. Jesus paid for every sin – even the sins that are private or the ones that are public and have touched the lives of others. For every messy sin there was a messy death of Calvary that has brought us a new beginning to life. The Proverbs give us this wisdom, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” (Proverbs 24:16a)
When I saw that phrase “Do you not know?” in our text I thought of a passage from the Old Testament that you probably have heard – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tied and weary, and young man stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
To all of us who have struggled with this sin, we look for a new guide, a new power, a new way. In the Old Testament lesson for today, the account of Eli, the old Priest and Samuel, the young boy, Eli gave the best advice whenever Samuel heard God’s voice. It was, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:9b) We must say the very same!! To all of this we say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Do you not know how gracious God is? Do you not know how He willingly bought us at a great price through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? In the movie Fireproof the main character and his wife have a marriage that is heading quickly toward divorce. Through the advice of his father he begins steps to save the marriage. But he is addicted to pornography on the Internet. It lures him in regularly. But in one of the final scenes he comes to the point of having to choose between the pornography and his wife. You see him ripping out the computer and using his baseball bat to smash it into little pieces out on his deck. And where the computer had been, the place of his many sins, there was a rose in a vase with a note written to his wife that said, “I love you more!!”
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you not know that you have been bought at a price? Do you not know that God has forgiven every sin for the sake of Jesus? Do you not know that you can tell God and the dear ones in your life, “I love you more!!” Amen!!
(The majority of this sermon was first preached at Ascension on June 15, 2012)