Message # 23 | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 | September 4, 2016

Introduction: Principle of the Dynamic Heart

How many of you have ever changed what you believe to fit how you feel or what you want to do?  Have you ever changed your actions or how you feel about something because you came to think differently? The truth is that how we think is affected by our feelings and actions. Also, our feelings can be affected by what we think. We often will rethink something to fit what we feel.  We will also may feel differently about something due to a change in thinking. Our inner man, our heart, is a complex system. We are made up of a belief system and feelings and decisions. They all work hand in hand and affect and change one another.

Thinking changes feelings and actions.  For instance, I think that too much sodium in my diet can affect my heart and the length of my life. As a result, my feelings for healthier food has changed.  I desire healthier food and I choose to eat salmon patties over Culver’s butter burgers.

Feelings and actions change thinking. I have feelings for ice cream. I love ice cream. As a result, I try to manipulate myself into thinking that ice cream is healthy. “Ice cream has a lot of milk in it and milk strengthens my bones. I don’t want to have weak bones as I grow old, so therefore it is actually responsible for me to eat ice cream.”  Tada, I just changed what I think to match my feelings and what I do.

On a more serious note.  I think (know) that God judges sin. This belief results in me feeling a certain way. I have fear when I sin and often I will choose not to sin because of that fear. I also desire to please God and will at times not sin because of that desire. My thinking about who God is motivates me to both fear of disobedience and a desire for obedience, and as a result I obey him with my actions.

It can also work the other way.  Our feelings and actions can affect how we think. We men struggle with the particular desire of wanting respect. We want to be respected at work, among our peers, and in our homes. Those feelings or desires can work themselves out in anger when we don’t receive that respect. Correct? Our feelings affect or change our actions.  Take it a step further. We then justify that anger by changing how we think about that situation, don’t we? “I deserve to be respected in my own home,” or “I shouldn’t have to come to work and be belittled by my coworkers. My anger is appropriate.” Both my actions and thinking were changed because of my feelings.

Let’s look at a biblical example of this principle.  In Genesis 3, Satan deals with all three of the aspects of the complex heart.

Genesis 3:1–7 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent [she shared what she thought or believed], “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, [he offered her a new system of belief] “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 [This change of thinking led to changes in her feelings or affections.]  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes [note the change in her affections], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate [her actions towards that tree changed and then Adams actions changed], and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve had a certain way of thinking about that tree.  As a result, they didn’t have a desire for it and had chosen to not eat anything from it.  What happened?  Satan offered her a new way of thinking.  She accepted that new way of thinking and it resulted in changed affections and actions.  The results of this sin affected all those areas as well.

Genesis 3:7–13 (ESV) Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked [Their thinking changed.]. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden [Notice the change in behavior. They would not have hidden from God prior to this point.]. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, [Here’s a change of affections, the first moment of negative emotion. God’s presence when he had come to the garden had once brought delight but now brings fear.]

Connect this principle to 1 Corinthians 6. Paul’s approach in this passage grabbed my attention. Instead of addressing their actions like he has so often done, he addresses their wrong thinking. Paul has often confronted their actions. He commands them, first, to not be greedy, swindlers, and immoral.  He commands them in chapter 5 to not associate with believers that are characterized by those sins.  In chapter six he questions their sinful action of taking one another to court.  But, I came to realize that Paul as well confronts their beliefs as well, in an attempt to motivate them to appropriate actions.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 5:6 (ESV) . . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

1 Corinthians 6:2 (ESV) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? . . .

1 Corinthians 6:3 (ESV) Do you not know that we are to judge angels? . . .

1 Corinthians 6:9 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? . . .

1 Corinthians 6:15 (ESV) Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . .

1 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV) Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? . . .

1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you . . .

1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? . . .

There is an implication in each of these verses, that being, “you should have known these things.” Knowing these things should have resulted in certain actions. Since the Corinthians were not doing the correct actions, Paul is questioning whether or not they actually knew and believed certain things.

Paul Confronts Their Thinking.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-14, Paul quotes two Corinthian Proverbs and responds to each one. Paul quotes the first proverb twice and has two responses to it, and then he quotes an additional proverb.

1 Corinthians 6:12–14 (ESV) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

All things are lawful for me.

Believing that “all things are lawful for me” actually seems to resonate with the teachings of Paul. Being freed from the law was a truth that would have been passionate on the heart of Paul. For freedom Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1). For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight (Rom 3:20). You are not under the law but under grace (Rom 6:14). We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive (Rom 7:6). Creation will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:21). But as any of us can do and probably all of us have done, we take certain truths in scripture and we overlook others.  While the Corinthian believers embraced the idea of freedom, they failed to follow the important principle Paul taught immediately after one of these freedom statements. Consider Galatians 5:13.

Galatians 5:13 (ESV) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Paul had inevitably taught these truths over and over to them, but they took them and used them as a theological excuse to license what God had forbidden.

When Paul spoke of Christian freedom it was always in relation to freedom from works righteousness—that is, earning salvation by good deeds—whether by the Mosaic law, Pharisaic tradition, or any other means. The Corinthians had perverted this truth to justify their sinning.[1]

Paul’s first response, not all things are helpful. I don’t think that Paul is agreeing that all things are lawful. He would in no way say that adultery or fornication or stealing are lawful. But, even if Paul were to grant that in some way “all things are lawful,” it remains true that all things are not helpful. The word symphero includes the idea of something being profitable, beneficial, or helpful.

συμφέρω  (1) transitively bring together, gather, collect (AC 19.19); (2) intransitively; (a) be of use, be profitable or advantageous (1C 6.12); (b) it is better, advantageous (MT 5.29; 19.10); profit, advantage (HE 12.10); for the common good (1C 12.7)[2]

There are two ways in which “not all things are helpful.” (1) Not all things are helpful to the individual. (2) More importantly, not all things are helpful to the community. Paul likely had a corporate or community focus in mind when he responded to this sentiment – that all things are lawful.[3]

1 Corinthians 10:23–24 (ESV) “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Paul’s second response, I will not be dominated by anything.  Paul acknowledges the reality that we are all by nature “descenders.” We may at times think that the world is made up of people who are prone to addictions and others that aren’t.  Have you ever said, “I have an addictive personality”? If you have, you were right, not because you stand out from the rest of us with a certain addiction but because we all have addictive personalities.

“All human beings have already fallen into sin. We were born in the pit. Then, without Adam’s help, we made further descents on our own. We have all experienced ungodly cravings, and we all know something of voluntary slavery. The only differences is that some people have addictions that are more noticeable and have more tragic consequences. Also, some people are clinging to Jesus Christ, having been liberated from slavery and empowered to climb – and even soar.”[4]

Too often we fight for the right to be free. We don’t want to feel oppressed by law. We, with the Corinthians, shout, “All things are lawful for me.”  In our naivete we fail to overlook the biblical principle that sinners will twist so many good things and motivated by a desire for freedom become enslaved by their own cravings. Paul admits in this verse that he refuses to let this happen.  He will not be dominated or controlled by anything.

With little fanfare we entertain certain interests and activities. Like the naïve young man in Proverbs we entertain the seductive nature of our world.

Proverbs 7:7–18 (ESV) and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, 8 passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house 9 in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. 10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. . . . 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. 16 I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.

We simply entertain the activity at first. It brings moments of pleasure, but it’s not consuming. We then become familiar with the activity. A sense of caution is gone. When it calls to us we begin to set aside our sense and relationships to indulge. Our descent blinds us to the consequences of our decisions. We blame those around us. We blame people at work. We blame a spouse for their lack of love or disinterests. No longer is our addiction just an infatuation, it has become a treatment for everything. “Whatever the emotion, the answer is found in the addictive behavior. It can vent anger, alleviate depression, temporarily quiet the emptiness of loss or failure, celebrate a happy occasion, dilute guilt, and so on.”[5] Life is spiraling downward out of control. There is no control. We thought we could control the behavior. We thought we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted and yet we end up being slaves to our passions.

2 Peter 2:18–19 (ESV) For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

 Food is meant for the stomach.

The logic the Corinthians have embraced goes as follows. Our bodies have certain cravings and we need to satisfy them. We desire food and so we eat. What’s the big deal? Why does it matter what we do with our bodies? It’s our soul that’s going to be saved. The logic is then extended to other bodily cravings, specifically the craving of sexual desire. If our body craves something we need to satisfy that craving. What’s the big deal?  Paul has a few reasons that this is a big deal.

The resurrection indicates the significance of the body (6:14). The Corinthians have justified their sinful behavior because they have deemed the body as insignificant. After all, it’s the soul that’s being saved. Paul corrects their thinking.  The body is significant; otherwise why would God resurrect the body? Therefore, what we do with our bodies now is important.

That the Father raised the Son from the dead, and did not simply cause his soul to persist through bodily dissolution, shows something of the dignity of the body. Bodily life enshrines permanent values. The resurrection forbids us to take the body lightly[6]

We are part of Christ’s body (6:15-17). Let’s take Paul’s logic a step further. When we accept Christ, a few different things happen. Two of those events are going to be discussed in these next few verses.  One of those events is that we become part of the body of Christ. Who, in their right mind, would find it appropriate to join the body of Christ to a prostitute? No one would, and yet this is what occurs when sexual immorality occurs.


Sexual immorality has more comprehensive consequences (6:18). Paul tells us that sexual immorality affects the body in a way no other sin does. Other sins may affect the body but do so over a longer period of time. Many, if not most sins, affect our minds and not so much our bodies.  Sexual immorality immediately affects our bodies.

Perhaps no single sin has done so much to produce the most painful and dreadful diseases, to weaken the constitution, and to shorten life as this. Other vices, as gluttony and drunkenness, do this also, and all sin has some effect in destroying the body, but it is true of this sin in an eminent degree.[7]

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A second event that happens when we accept Christ is that we become the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.  He indwells us and in so doing illuminate our minds to the truth, convicts us of sin, guides and directs us.  So then, we should not defile and pollute his dwelling place.

You were bought. Your body is not your own (6:13, 20). When a price is paid for an item, the purchaser is usually willing to pay an amount that they find equal to the value of that being purchased. God paid the ultimate price of His own Son which indicates the immense value of the salvation we possess. While we can rejoice in the great value of our salvation, let us not overlook the immense commitment we owe God as a result of our salvation. We were bought, therefore we have no rights over ourselves.  We should simply obey – and that with gladness.


Flee immorality; run from immorality. Don’t entertain it. Don’t think you can handle it and control it. There is no reasoning with immorality in our lives. Safety from this sin comes only when it is shunned, escaped, and quickly avoided.

Let a man turn away from it without reflection on it and he is safe. Let him think, and reason, and he may be ruined. . . . How many a young man would be saved from poverty, want, disease, curses, tears, and hell, could these two words be made to blaze before him like the writing before the astonished eyes of Belshazzar (Dan. 5), and could they terrify him from even the momentary contemplation of the crime.[8]

Glorify God in your body. Let your entire person be devoted to the glory of God. Live for him in all parts.  Have a mind that is bent towards his will and knowing Him, but allow the actions of your body and the cravings of your body be subservient to His will, directions, and desires.




[1] John F. MacArthur Jr., 1 Corinthians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 145–146.

[2] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 362–363.

[3] The same word is used in both of these passages, translated helpful in chapter 10 and good in chapter 12. In verse 24 of chapter 10, there is no Greek word for the translation of good.  It is implied from the previous verse.

[4] Edward T Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub., 2001), 66.

[5] Ibid., 78.

[6] Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 7, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 99.

[7] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: I Corinthians, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 107.

[8] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: I Corinthians, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 106–107.

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