The Problem of the Proper Use of the Body - Page 6 of 8 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
Every sin that a man doth is without the body;
Every other sin (lying, robbery, murder, etc) is “without the body.” Fornication is singular in the catalog of sin; it is against the body in that it makes the body itself (and as a consequence the whole being) the very motive for as well as the instrument of sin. The practice of fornication will eventually bring about the complete destruction of the personality of the individual, and render the living organisms of the body helpless in the fulfillment of the Lord’s design of the human body which He created to be devoted to His service. There is no other sin that will destroy personality, character, and vigor so quickly and completely as the sin of fornication. It is not that other sins are NOT committed by the body, and by the members of it as instruments; but they are generally committed by the abuse of other things that are outside (or not connected to the body), and do not belong to the body; and so do not bring that hurt unto and rebuke upon the body, that fornication does.
Every sin—"Every sin whatsoever that a man doeth." Every other sin; even gluttony, drunkenness, and suicide are "without," that is, comparatively external to the body: “And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him” (Mark 7:18; KJV). AND, “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Prov 6:30-32; KJV). He certainly injures, but he does not destroy the body itself; the sin is not terminated in the body; rather he sins against the soul more than against the body, which has been designed "for the Lord." "But" the fornicator alienates that body which is the Lord's, and makes it one with a harlot's body, and so he "sinneth against his own body," that is, against the integrity and nature of his body.
Without the body—The body is not the instrument, but the subject. But when man commits fornication, then he sinneth against his own body. Here the body becomes the instrument of the sin.
but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
No doubt Paul had specifically in mind the impact of sin against the physical body; his words are true in the widest possible application. No matter how "body" is understood, whether the physical body, the body of the family, the body of the Lord, the body of the social order, or even any corporate body—fornication is "against" any and all of these—many corporations have been wrecked through fornication.
Paul isn't saying sexual immorality is worse than any other sin; but he does teach that sexual sin has a unique effect on the body; not only in a physical way, but also in a moral and spiritual way. Augustine was a Christian who had a lot of trouble with keeping sexually pure. For a long time, it kept him from really following God. He used to pray: "God, make me pure—but not just yet." But there came a point where he really turned everything over to God. He stopped hanging around with his companions in sexual immorality, and stopped going to the neighborhood where he used to meet them. But once, he had to go there on business, and on the street he met an old flame. She was glad to see him, and started running to him with arms outstretched, saying "Augustine! Where have you been for so long? We have missed you so!" Augustine did the only thing he could do: he started running the other way. She called out to him: "Augustine, why are you running? It’s only me!" He looked back, while still running, and said "I'm running because I'm not me!" He was a different man because of Jesus, and he was living a different way. If we have had our lives changed by Jesus, it will show in the desire to flee sexual immorality.
Because God saw the loneliness of man, He created woman and gave her to him to make his life more complete; but neither man nor woman has the right to abuse those bodies to satisfy the lust of the flesh. Our bodies were created for the Lord, and if we as believers refuse to surrender our bodies to the Lord, holy and acceptable and yield our members as instruments of righteousness, we will reap a harvest of corruption in our bodies. That does not mean that the soul will be damned; it simply means that the body will be destroyed because of “the sin unto death.” Some of the Corinthians had already committed the sin unto death and others were on the verge of it.
In this verse the apostle has given to us a fourth argument against fornication; it is a sin against our own bodies. Every sin that a man does is without the body; he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Every sin, that is, every other sin except fornication, is an external act of sin. It is not so much
an abuse of the body as it is of something else, such as of wine by the drunkard, food by the glutton, etc. Nor do the other sins give the power of the body to another person. Nor do they tend to bring reproach to the body and cause it to be vile. This sin is designated as uncleanness and pollution, because no sin has so much external vileness in it, especially in a Christian. He sins against his own body; he defiles it, he degrades it, making it one with the body of that vile creature with whom he sins. He casts vile reproach on what the Redeemer has dignified to the last degree by taking it into union with himself. Note, we should not make our present vile bodies viler by sinning against them.
My friend, you cannot live in immorality and serve Christ. Unfortunately, we find that public opinion generally accepts immoral persons; but God does not accept them.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost
WHAT AN ASTONISHING SAYING IS THIS! What Paul had said earlier with reference to the Church being the “temple of the Holy Spirit” is declared here to be true of individual members of the Church. God's temple belongs to God, and therefore the individual who becomes a living stone of the temple does not belong to himself, but to God—for you were bought with a price.
Any honest person will take better care of something that doesn't belong to them. The bodies of believers belong to God. They are His purchased possession. We don't have the right to pollute and abuse God's property! This principle applies to more than our sexual conduct. If our bodies belong to Jesus, we also have no right to be idle, or wasteful of what belongs to Him. Our bodies should be put to use glorifying God! (Therefore glorify God in your body). "Your body was a willing horse when it was in the service of the devil; let it not be a listless nag now that it draws the chariot of Christ." And it follows that he is not free to indulge his lusts and appetites but is obligated to conform his activities to those things which will honor and glorify the Lord whose property the Christian is.
As truly as the living God dwelt in the Mosaic tabernacle, and in the temple of Solomon, so truly does the Holy Ghost dwell in the souls of genuine Christians; and as the temple and all its utensils were holy, separated from all common and profane uses, and dedicated to the service of God, so the bodies of genuine Christians are holy, and all their members should be employed in the service of God. What is said in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 of the saints in general, is said here of their bodies in particular: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you... If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor 3:16-17; KJV). A temple is a place sacred to God, and pure from immorality. If it is true we are filled with the Spirit, it must influence our sexual behavior. And if we commit sexual immorality as Christians, we are polluting God's temple. Because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have God Himself living within us. This means we have strength, and power, living within us to give us power over the sins of the flesh. We should expect sexual purity from Christians more than from those who are not, because they do not have God living within them as we do.
The Holy Spirit, when he begins that good work of grace on a man by regeneration and sanctification, takes possession of his whole person, soul and body, and dwells there as if he was His temple. Therefore the Jews call the body of a righteous man, the "habitation" of the Holy Spirit. Now it is a revoltingly scandalous, and shameful, that that body, which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, which is as sacred to Him as a temple, would be defiled by the sin of fornication. In sinning against the body, the fornicator sins against "your (ideal) body," that of "Christ," which according to 1 Corinthians 6.15, “your bodies are the members of Christ.” This is the sin of fornication; it is a sacrilegious desecration of God's temple by putting it to profane uses. The unseen, but much more efficient, Spirit of God in the spiritual temple has taken the place of the visible Shekinah in the old material temple. The whole man is the temple; the soul is the innermost shrine; the understanding and heart, the holy place; and the body, the porch and exterior part of the edifice. Chastity is the guardian of the temple to prevent anything unclean entering which might provoke the indwelling God to abandon it as defiled. No one but God can claim a temple; here the Holy Ghost is assigned one; therefore the Holy Ghost is God.