Second Sunday After the Epiphany January 13-14, 2024
“Not Yours But His” I Corinthians 6:12-20
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Do you know what the Internet is? The more I use it, the more I understand its real purpose – it is a vehicle intended to send to me thousands of advertisements, most of them unsolicited, in one day. Recently when I turned on my computer I was bombarded with advertisements from Planned Parenthood. They need support. They need money. They need my support and they need my money. And the reason they need me is that they are in a battle. The battle they are in is the battle for the body, and a battle for choice. They are screaming at me with their words: It is your body. It is your choice. Don’t let anyone take that from you.
I disagree. This body is not ours, but it is His. It is God’s. The choices that you have in life are not ours, but they are His. They are God’s. But isn’t that the battle that the whole world has against God – including us? We think that we are free to do what we want. In our bravado we say, “No one is going to tell me what to do.” That is the error of the unbelieving world and that is the daily struggle for the Christian. This body is not ours to do with what we want to do, it is His. The choices that we make in life are not to be guided by our own will, but by His. In our reading it said, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
Over this past year I received a few phone calls from a lady who needed to speak to a pastor about her sin. Recently she had started seeking the place of God in her life. But she recounted years when God wasn’t consulted at all. In her younger, much wilder years, she had given birth to a number of children all by different lovers. She also had had numerous abortions. She lost the battle of her sobriety to lots of different drugs and found too many different ways to get drunk. As she thinks back, she doesn’t take pride in the choices she made those many years ago. She regrets what she did with her body. She evaluated what she had done and spoke of her sin by using an Old Testament phrase, “I sacrificed my children to idols”.
Living under the lies of the devil and letting sin control us is not freedom but bondage. Peter writes, “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (II Peter 2:19) Paul would say, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14)
Do you think it matters what you do with your body? Do you think it matters how you behave sexually before marriage, during marriage or after marriage? Do you think it matters how much alcohol you drink and how often you do it? Do you think it matters if you get high and how much that controls your life? Do you think it matters if you pay any attention to the health of your body?
I think it matters. It should matter to you. It matters to God. You are not yours. You are His. In every way. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body; but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 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.
My, how God treasures your body. When you were baptized it was body and soul that was washed and claimed as the property of Jesus Christ. As Christians we not only confess our belief that our souls will reside in bliss eternally but that this very body will rise from death and ashes. Our new bodies will be formed perfectly.
You are His. Bought at a price. Do you remember Peter’s word, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (I Peter 1:18-19) What a price was paid for you and me!! His life. His suffering. His damnation. And we are now His.
Listen to this strongest word of bitter judgment and to the most amazing word of a changed outcome. This comes from the same chapter as our text: 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 not 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 were 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)
You are His because He treasures you and always has the best in mind for you. Think of how you and I have screwed up life. We made a mess of it. But He didn’t give up on us. He didn’t wash His hands of us. He didn’t say that there was no hope for us. He washed us. He sanctified us – set us apart from the path of death we were on. He declared us His. “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)
So what should we do with all of this? “Honor God with your body.” This is a temple!! Look at us!! This is a temple?? He could have done a little bit better, don’t you think? Sometimes it looks and feels like a worn out shack!!
Isn’t it amazing, though, what this body is and what it can do? When I was a boy in the cold of Wisconsin, (walking to and from school uphill in the snow, by the way) I remember coming home from school, and walking in the door, smelling the most amazing bread baking in the oven – a gift from my mom to us. God gave our bodies the delight of smell. Think of the view you have when you look west the day after a snowstorm, God gives a clear sky and you can see the mountains in stunning glory. Your body can see and smell. It can taste the sweetness of the perfect pastry or juicy fried chicken. We hear the sounds of the oboe or the violin from the orchestra, or touch the fur of a puppy or a kitten and it brings a smile to our face. God gave our bodies their senses and abilities, their health and stamina.
The body is not meant to do things that bring us shame or regret or guilt. It’s His and at the end of the day we should thank God for allowing us to honor Him by what we have done, how we have acted, and what we have spoken. Paul’s good words in Romans say, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7-8)
Don’t believe the lies that you are fed every day. “It’s my body!!” “It’s my choice!!” “No one can tell me what to do!!” Let God be part of all of this. Believe God’s truth. May His truth bring you true freedom. You belong to Jesus. You are His. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Amen!!