The Problem of the Proper Use of the Body - Page 4 of 8 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The resurrection of Christians is promised here, the proof of it already having been demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ. Just as the resurrection of Christ was bodily, so will the resurrection of Christians be bodily; and, in this light, an eternal purpose with reference to the body itself is indicated; which is that the resurrection is a telling argument against wasting the physical body through lust and sensuality. Here the apostle speaks of the possibility of him being found in the grave when Christ comes; elsewhere, of him being possibly found alive: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17; KJV). In either event, the Lord's coming rather than death is the great object of the Christian's expectation: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19; KJV). Paul’s argument runs something like this. It was an uncommon honor that God should raise up the body of Jesus Christ. It will be an undue and unwarranted honor that our bodies will also be raised by His power. Therefore, let us not abuse those bodies through fleshly lusts. Note, The hopes of a resurrection to glory should restrain Christians from dishonoring their bodies by fleshly lusts.

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.

Know ye not that your bodies are the members, of Christ?
This verse adds additional truth to that found in verse 13. The body of the believer not only belongs to God and is for His use, but the body of the believer is united to Him. This part of the personality of the individual believer is a member of the body of which Christ is the head, because he has taken your nature upon him, and as a result, believers are in him, you are the members of Christ. If the soul is united to Christ by faith, the whole man has become a member of His mystical body. The body is in union with Christ as well as the soul. How wonderful is this for the Christian! His very flesh is a part of the mystical body of Christ. Note, it is good to know in what honorable relationships we stand, so that we may endeavor to “live up” to them.

In Romans 12.1 Paul begs us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. Ephesians 5.30 declares in unmistakable language, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” He has partaken of our nature, as we have partaken of the nature of Adam. And as he is the head of the Church and the Savior of this body; so we, being members of the Church, are members of his mystical body. That is, we are united to him by one Spirit in the closest intimacy, even similar to that which the members of the body have. The relationship of the individual believer with Christ involves the divine fact that the body of the believer is the instrument through which the Lord works in the ministry and activities committed to that person. All the persons of God's elect were chosen in Christ, and given to him, and made one with him, their bodies as well as their souls; and both are redeemed by him, and, in union with him, are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. The believer’s body as a member of the body of Christ is a living organism, fitted and fashioned for God’s purpose of carrying out God’s will and purpose through grace. Since this is true, how can a born again believer take away that which is divinely united to Christ, rightfully His, and unite it with that which is unlawful and unholy, thereby robbing God of the instrument through which He is to be made manifest and glorified in the world.

“Know ye not” is still being used sarcastically in this passage, not in the sense of denying that Christians' bodies are members of Christ, but by protesting the absurdity of degrading such members in immorality. Paul's use of "body" in this passage makes it certain that the physical body is meant. The real thrust of Paul’s concern is now taken into account. In the first place, your bodies are the members of Christ. The body is not only for the Lord (vs. 13), but it belongs to Him by virtue of His redemptive work, and because they are united with Him. This union pertains not only to the soul, but also to the body: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6-7; KJV). It is this fact; above all else, that makes fornication such a wicked and malicious sin.

It takes what belongs to Christ and makes them the members of a harlot. To this Paul recoils with God forbid.

shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

These bodies of ours are instruments through which Jesus shows Himself to an unbelieving world. It has pleased God to dwell within individuals in the person of the Holy Spirit; and a life controlled by the Holy Spirit bears fruit that glorifies God, with no desire to be joined with a harlot or to be a party to adultery, fornication, drunkenness and other such practices. “God Forbid” that such practices are allowed to bring disgrace and criticism upon the Church, and upon Christ—and upon the individual who is guilty of such things. It is absurd, indecent, abominable, and detestable for the bodies of the saints, which are the members of Christ, to be joined in carnal copulation with a harlot.

Young people today think that they can live together without being married. One such couple went to their pastor wanting to talk about getting into Christian service. They weren’t married, but they were living together! He told them, “You get married.” They asked, “Why?” He said, “Because God commands it. That is the way God wants it to be. Until you are willing to do that, you cannot serve Him.” If they would have asked Paul the same thing, he might have replied, “Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Apparently, many of the Corinthian Christians did not know, and thought their sexual conduct with prostitutes was not connected with their relationship with Jesus. But the truth is, “Your bodies are members of Christ: When an individual Christian commits sexual immorality, it disgraces the entire body of Christ, linking the body of Christ to immorality. He who is joined to a harlot is one body with her . . . one flesh: In their sexual relationship, a husband and wife become "one flesh" in a way that is under God's blessing. In sex outside of marriage, the partners become "one flesh" in a way that is under God's curse. A person desiring a casual sexual encounter may not want to become one flesh with their partner; but in some spiritual sense, they do. Part of their being is given to that person, and it means there is less to give to the Lord and to the partner God intends for them. In the Biblical understanding of sex, there is no such thing as "casual sex." Since we belong to Jesus – body, soul, and spirit – we have no right to give any part of ourselves away to an "unauthorized" person! "By being joined to her a prostitute in immoral sex the believer establishes someone else, outside of Christ, as the unlawful lord over one's own body."

"Sex outside of marriage is like a man robbing a bank: he gets something, but it is not his and he will one day pay for it. Sex within marriage can be like a person putting money into a bank: there is safety, security, and he will collect dividends." (Wiersbe)

16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

I pointed out earlier that Paul asks and answers many questions in his epistles. This is true in this verse, the last part of which is quoted from 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.” With this quotation Paul points directly at the decree made by God concerning husband and wife. Genesis 2:23, 24 contains the very words of the marriage ceremony: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. This is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” How happy such a person must be where God's institution is properly regarded, where the parties are married, as the apostle expresses it, in the Lord; where each lives only to contribute in every possible way to the comfort and happiness of the other! Marriage might still be what it was in its original institution, pure, affectionate and happy; but how few such marriages are really like that!

What the apostle is saying here is "With all of your conceited knowledge, has it never occurred to you that participation with a harlot makes the participant and the harlot one flesh?" Paul proved it by the reference to Gen. 2:24. However, the words spoken by God (in the reference cited) were spoken about marriage, but here they are applied to an unholy union. Paul does not place the two on the same plane but only points out that in this one respect they are similar.

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